The Wind in the Willows: An Annotated Edition / Edition 1

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Overview

Begun as a series of stories told by Kenneth Grahame to his six-year-old son, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the most beloved works of children’s literature ever written. It has been illustrated, famously, by E.H. Shepard and Arthur Rackham, and parts of it were dramatized by A.A. Milne as Toad of Toad Hall. A century after its initial publication it still enchants. Much in Grahame’s novel—the sensitivity of Mole, the mania of Toad, the domesticity of Rat—permeates our imaginative lives (as children and adults). And Grahame’s burnished prose still dazzles. Now comes an annotated edition of The Wind in the Willows by a leading literary scholar that instructs the reader in a larger appreciation of the novel’s charms and serene narrative magic.

In an introduction aimed at a general audience, Seth Lerer tells us everything that we, as adults, need to know about the author and his work. He vividly captures Grahame’s world and the circumstances under which The Wind in the Willows came into being. In his running commentary on the novel, Lerer offers complete annotations to the language, contexts, allusions, and larger texture of Grahame’s prose. Anyone who has read and loved The Wind in the Willows will want to own and cherish this beautiful gift edition. Those coming to the novel for the first time, or returning to it with their own children, will not find a better, more sensitive guide than Seth Lerer.

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Editorial Reviews

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

You might think it a bit extreme to painstakingly annotate a children's book, but, oh, what a children's book. And oh, what an annotation...[This] is an exquisite examination of the nuances, allusions, Britishisms and context of Kenneth Grahame's wonderful 1908 novel...This big, lovely book is illustrated by some of the most famous Grahame illustrators—Nancy Barnhart, Arthur Rackham, Wyndham Payne and, of course, Ernest H. Shepherd, who brought to life the brash, cigar-smoking, swaggering Mr. Toad. This book is a labor of great scholarship, but it is also, clearly, a labor of love.
— Laurie Hertzel

Forbes

A handsome edition of Grahame's great classic...One of the delights of this edition is the collection of beautiful illustrations from each edition, from Nancy Barnhart's wonderful 1922 version to Arthur Rackham's in 1940, as well as Paul Bransom's deliciously weird 1913 images for Scribner's.
— Lawrence Osborne

Washington Post Book World

Lerer's book perform[s] magic. [It] demonstrates how much of a writer's life can wind up distilled in a stack of paper—in this case, how Kenneth Grahame's daydreams, fears, heartbreak, upbringing, era and locale all sneaked into a fanciful children's book about talking animals. In what other book can you find slapstick auto theft, a dirge for lost arcadia and a numinous encounter with that pagan refugee and mascot of the Edwardian neo-romantics, the great god Pan?...Lerer's preface is a thoughtful and elegant survey of the biographical and literary context for this beloved book.
— Michael Sims

Globe and Mail

[An] exquisite new annotated edition of Kenneth Grahame's masterpiece...It takes us into a pre-modern world of lyrical beauty, with animals that behave like humans, landscapes that are painted for us rather than described, and language more literary than spoken...Rereading this volume, which Harvard University Press has given all the high production values it deserves, led me to understand more fully the soporific effects of The Wind in the Willows on children. Under the spell of an artist who animates his fictional world with something akin to solar energy ("Suddenly the sun was with them again, and grey was gold and colour was born and sprang out of the earth once more"), readers enter dreaded conflict zones but always return to that consummate comfort zone known as Home...By turns ecstatic and elegiac, and always without pathos, sentiment or pyrotechnics, The Wind in the Willows is also always there, ready to provide us, when we feel lost, with all the comforts of Home.
— Maria Tatar

Times Literary Supplement

[A] handsome edition...[Lerer] provides a wealth of information that will be welcomed by anyone who wants return to the riverbank and discover just how enduring and endearing Grahame's masterpiece remains a century after it was published.
— Peter Parker

New York Times Book Review

For all its apparent celebration of neatness and domestic orderliness The Wind in the Willows is really a book about letting go. It begins with Mole, tired of spring cleaning, putting aside his whitewash brush and taking to the road, and its true hero is Toad, who is anarchy incarnate.
— Charles McGrath

Virginian-Pilot

An enduring masterpiece of children's literature.
— Bill Ruehlmann

Sign On San Diego

Full of luminous little notes on the story.
— Robert Pincus

First Things

The pages have a slight gloss, the typeface is elegant; the margins are pleasingly wide, and the annotations are terse, informative, and properly infrequent...The images are also well chosen...Reading Lerer's edition is a great pleasure. The notes are there when you need them and are easy to ignore when you don't. This book is, among other things, a delightful testimony to the bookmaker's art...His edition will be the one I return to when the book, as it often does, calls out to me and in its quiet and gracious tones requests my attention.
— Alan Jacobs

popmatters.com

This annotated version of the children's classic holds a college course's worth of information between its covers. Giving the gift of Toad's adventures with Rat and Mole will always be, and always has been, an appreciated gift. This edition, however, takes the reader deeper into the world of The Wind in the Willows with relevant annotations and cultural contexts. This book deserves a spot on the bookshelf to be enjoyed by the old and young alike. Revisited, or newly discovered, Kenneth Grahame continues to inspire imaginations.
— Katharine Wray

San Antonio Book Review

Seth Lerer steps in to educate and entertain in this delightful new edition of a timeless classic. In the generously spaced margins running along the outer side of each page Lerer provides the etymological origins of words, the references and influences that Grahame drew upon to create his stories, and a description of the flora and fauna of Great Britain...Whether readers are nostalgic for the stories of their childhood or looking to experience The Wind in the Willows in an entirely new fashion, this is a book that simply can't be passed up.
— Kate Maruska

Ellen Handler Spitz
Lerer's annotated edition of The Wind in the Willows not only seeks to respond to every possible question a contemporary reader (of any age) might pose, but it goes beyond that aim to make the most penetrating and astute interpretive asides, and it does so economically, judiciously, and--what is most delightful--in a graceful prose of its own that matches the gleaming poetic style of Kenneth Grahame himself and thus honors him both in form and content.
Maria Tatar
[An] exquisite new annotated edition of Kenneth Grahame's masterpiece...It takes us into a pre-modern world of lyrical beauty, with animals that behave like humans, landscapes that are painted for us rather than described, and language more literary than spoken...Rereading this volume, which Harvard University Press has given all the high production values it deserves, led me to understand more fully the soporific effects of The Wind in the Willows on children. Under the spell of an artist who animates his fictional world with something akin to solar energy ("Suddenly the sun was with them again, and grey was gold and colour was born and sprang out of the earth once more"), readers enter dreaded conflict zones but always return to that consummate comfort zone known as Home...By turns ecstatic and elegiac, and always without pathos, sentiment or pyrotechnics, The Wind in the Willows is also always there, ready to provide us, when we feel lost, with all the comforts of Home.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune - Laurie Hertzel
You might think it a bit extreme to painstakingly annotate a children's book, but, oh, what a children's book. And oh, what an annotation...[This] is an exquisite examination of the nuances, allusions, Britishisms and context of Kenneth Grahame's wonderful 1908 novel...This big, lovely book is illustrated by some of the most famous Grahame illustrators--Nancy Barnhart, Arthur Rackham, Wyndham Payne and, of course, Ernest H. Shepherd, who brought to life the brash, cigar-smoking, swaggering Mr. Toad. This book is a labor of great scholarship, but it is also, clearly, a labor of love.
Forbes - Lawrence Osborne
A handsome edition of Grahame's great classic...One of the delights of this edition is the collection of beautiful illustrations from each edition, from Nancy Barnhart's wonderful 1922 version to Arthur Rackham's in 1940, as well as Paul Bransom's deliciously weird 1913 images for Scribner's.
Washington Post Book World - Michael Sims
Lerer's book perform[s] magic. [It] demonstrates how much of a writer's life can wind up distilled in a stack of paper--in this case, how Kenneth Grahame's daydreams, fears, heartbreak, upbringing, era and locale all sneaked into a fanciful children's book about talking animals. In what other book can you find slapstick auto theft, a dirge for lost arcadia and a numinous encounter with that pagan refugee and mascot of the Edwardian neo-romantics, the great god Pan?...Lerer's preface is a thoughtful and elegant survey of the biographical and literary context for this beloved book.
Times Literary Supplement - Peter Parker
[A] handsome edition...[Lerer] provides a wealth of information that will be welcomed by anyone who wants return to the riverbank and discover just how enduring and endearing Grahame's masterpiece remains a century after it was published.
New York Times Book Review - Charles McGrath
For all its apparent celebration of neatness and domestic orderliness The Wind in the Willows is really a book about letting go. It begins with Mole, tired of spring cleaning, putting aside his whitewash brush and taking to the road, and its true hero is Toad, who is anarchy incarnate.
Virginian-Pilot - Bill Ruehlmann
An enduring masterpiece of children's literature.
Sign On San Diego - Robert Pincus
Full of luminous little notes on the story.
First Things - Alan Jacobs
The pages have a slight gloss, the typeface is elegant; the margins are pleasingly wide, and the annotations are terse, informative, and properly infrequent...The images are also well chosen...Reading Lerer's edition is a great pleasure. The notes are there when you need them and are easy to ignore when you don't. This book is, among other things, a delightful testimony to the bookmaker's art...His edition will be the one I return to when the book, as it often does, calls out to me and in its quiet and gracious tones requests my attention.
popmatters.com - Katharine Wray
This annotated version of the children's classic holds a college course's worth of information between its covers. Giving the gift of Toad's adventures with Rat and Mole will always be, and always has been, an appreciated gift. This edition, however, takes the reader deeper into the world of The Wind in the Willows with relevant annotations and cultural contexts. This book deserves a spot on the bookshelf to be enjoyed by the old and young alike. Revisited, or newly discovered, Kenneth Grahame continues to inspire imaginations.
San Antonio Book Review - Kate Maruska
Seth Lerer steps in to educate and entertain in this delightful new edition of a timeless classic. In the generously spaced margins running along the outer side of each page Lerer provides the etymological origins of words, the references and influences that Grahame drew upon to create his stories, and a description of the flora and fauna of Great Britain...Whether readers are nostalgic for the stories of their childhood or looking to experience The Wind in the Willows in an entirely new fashion, this is a book that simply can't be passed up.
Kirkus Reviews
Does The Wind in the Willows need an annotated edition? Suggesting that Grahame's prose, "encrusted with the patina of age and affect," has become an obstacle to full appreciation of the work, Lerer offers the text with running disquisitions in the margins on now-archaic words and phrases, Edwardian social mores and a rich array of literary references from Aesop to Gilbert and Sullivan. Occasionally he goes over the top-making, for instance, frequent references alongside Toad's supposed mental breakdown to passages from Kraft-Ebing's writings on clinical insanity-and, as in his controversial Children's Literature, a Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter (2008), displays a narcissistic streak: "This new edition brings The Wind in the Willows...into the ambit of contemporary scholarship and criticism on children's literature..." Still, the commentary will make enlightening reading for parents or other adults who think that there's nothing in the story for them-and a closing essay on (among other topics) the links between Ernest Shepard's art for this and for Winnie the Pooh makes an intriguing lagniappe. (selective resource list) (Literary analysis. Adult/professional)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674034471
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Edition description: Annotated
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 658,058
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego.
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Table of Contents

  • Texts and Editions
  • Introduction
  • The Wind in the Willows: An Annotated Edition
  • Afterword: Illustration and Illusion
  • Bibliography

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 146 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(93)

4 Star

(29)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 147 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2009

    wind in the willows

    I was disappointed when I got it home to find it had been abridged- the language simplified. I kept it for the illustrations but was very disappointed in the simplified style.

    16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2011

    Read this book to a child!

    I have come to this book for the first time very late. I was swept away by it. This is a children's book only in that it is meant to be read *to* children, not read by them. The vocabulary and sentence structure is out of reach for most young readers, but the rhythmic flow and loveliness of the prose cries to be read aloud. Find a child, cuddle up on the nearest sofa, and read. The story and characters are enough to entrance a child. The prose will entrance the adult.

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Read it on my nook

    I got this book on my nook.Its alot better then the hard cover or paper back.You can find the meaning of a word so much faster.Being only 12 this was a great help.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2000

    A Great Book

    The book called The Wind in the Willows is about animals named: Water Rat, Mole, Badger, and Mr. Toad. In this book, Mr. Toad gets hooked on driving motor cars. He crashes them each time and gets hurt, but he still buys more and more. Water Rat, Mole, and Badger all try to stop him from this craze that Mr. Toad had brought on himself. They were finally able to stop him and set him straight by keeping him in Toad Hall and watching over him so he could get out and buy more motor cars. Right after they did that, the bad, mean weasels that came from the Wild Wood invaded Toad Hall. The animals all set up a plan to attack them in order to get Toad Hall back¿Will they get Toad Hall back or not? Read the book called The Wind in the Willows written by Kenneth Grahame to find out. I liked this book because it had some adventure tied into it. it also had good friendships between the animals in it. It showed how friends should act towards each other. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes to read a good story with happiness and friendships.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Soo good

    This is a must read. It is so good i totally recommened it

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    the wind in the willows.

    the wind in the willows was great!! i love animal stories so i liked this book a lot. also the characters had a lot of personality and i liked reading about Toad and Mole and Ratty and their adventures! except there were still some hard words that i couldn't figure out like sixpence and tranquility. also sometimes i was completely LOST because kenneth grahame used a looooottt of description!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 16, 2012

    A Classic for both Children and Adults

    This was one of my favorite books when I was a child. My children also loved it. Now I'm reading it to my young grandchildren and they are loving it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2012

    Good edition for the money

    This edition of the classic is full of black and white illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard which are spaced at good intervals to keep kids interested as you read. I am quite pleased with it. As to the tale, well, it remains my one of my children's (ages 37 & 34) favorites and we are now introducing it to our twin grandsons (age 6) whose response has been very warm and favorable. We live on west coast and they on east coast and this is a book we've chosen to use for Skype video chats. We read a paragraph, then one of them of their father reads the next. We bought the beautiful annotated version of The Wind in the Willows for them. It, however, has most of its pictures in a center section. That section has illustrations from many, many editions, but these are not spaced throughout the story. By the way, we've used this tandem reading via video chat with other books, including O'Sullivan Stew and Shrek. We've ALL enjoyed it and it, of course, keeps us in the loop a bit better despite the distance between us.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2011

    A must have book

    This book is my favorite all time "children's" book... the language and wording is definitely a bit beyond the vocabulary and understanding of modern children, but a great one to read aloud. Some of my favorite memories of childhood involve sitting on my mother's lap when she read this book. It is full of dreaminess and imagination - definitely go with an illustrated copy. The picture just make it that much better.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Good

    Fantastic storyline- has some curse words in it, not highly recomended for small children.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2013

    I thought this book was very good! I usually don't like these ty

    I thought this book was very good! I usually don't like these types of book, but I really enjoyed it.
    I think the author, Kenneth Grahame wrote this book well.
    I also think that you would have to have a big imagination to write something like this, and he had one.
    Overall it surprised me how much I like this book. i would definitely read it again.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2012

    GREAT BOOK

    This book is off the hook.This on my wishlest.LOVE.IT.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Anonymous on anonymous

    It was an ok read not one of the bests but it was kind of good

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2000

    BOOK GETS 5 STARS

    THIS WAS A VERY GOOD BOOK.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

    Definetly read it

    A sweet, touching classic full of simplicity and innocence and the true value of friendship.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    Like

    This book is good....!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Slash

    She leaves heading home.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    Shadow

    Watches slightly amuzed.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Loathe

    Growls and rips scales from her wings. I stabbed her in the foreleg and ripped up exposing bone and tissue. "Tell him.."

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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