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The Wind in the Willows (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Wind in the Willows (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.8 300
by Kenneth Grahame, Gardner McFall (Introduction)

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The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics&


The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

When Mole decides he has had enough tiresome spring-cleaning for one day, the scrappy nonesuch throws down his broom and bolts out of his house looking for fun and adventure. He quickly finds it in the form of the Water Rat, who takes the wide-eyed Mole boating and introduces him to the mysteries of life on the river and in the Wild Wood. Mole also meets Ratty’s good friends: the kindly, solid Badger and the irrepressible Toad. Soon, the quartet’s escapades—including car crashes, a sojourn in jail, and a battle with the weasels who try to take over Toad Hall—become the talk of the animal kingdom.

Filled with familiar human types disguised as animals, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, like all exemplary children’s literature, has always appealed greatly to grown-ups as well. Though first published in 1908, when “motor-cars” were new and rare, The Wind in the Willows presents surprisingly contemporary—and uproariously funny—portraits of speed-crazed Mr. Toad, generous Badger, poetic Ratty, and newly-emancipated Mole. And lurking all the while within the humor and good spirits, Grahame’s deeply felt commentary on courage, generosity, and above all, friendship.

Gardner McFall is the author of two children’s books and a collection of poetry. She teaches children’s literature at Hunter College in New York City.

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Barnes & Noble
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Barnes & Noble Classics Series
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5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.52(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Gardner McFall’s Introduction to The Wind in the Willows

What began as a bedtime story for Grahame’s son soon became a story for the child in himself and a compensatory site of reclaimed joy. Grahame turned from his life’s disappointments—his mother’s death, his abandonment by his father, his uncle’s refusal to send him to Oxford, his passionless marriage—and created an alternate reality, an animal fantasy set in a pastoral landscape, reminiscent of the one he’d loved as a child and marked by the strong bonds of male companionship. In this world, the animal characters who behave like people are sensitive to nature and each other; though danger lurks both in the Wild Wood and the Wide World, it is mastered or avoided altogether; and, significantly, death never intrudes.

For all the personal reasons Grahame had for creating The Wind in the Willows, the historical moment also exerted its force on him. A “mid-Victorian” (Green, p. 2), Grahame increasingly felt, as did many writers and artists of the day, the impact of the industrial revolution, with its loss of an agrarian economy and the ascendancy of a middle class dedicated to accumulating wealth. He felt that materialism and the accelerated pace of life had robbed man of a soul, had domesticated life’s miracles, and forced man to neglect the animal side of his nature, all themes he had previously explored in his essays. Ambivalent about social change, a reflection of which is perhaps found in Grahame’s pitting the Wild-wooders against the River-bankers, Grahame took refuge in his writing. Like other authors of the “golden age of children’s literature,” roughly the years from 1860 to 1914, he outwardly conformed to society’s standards. Though these were standards he criticized openly in Pagan Papers and indirectly in The Golden Age and Dream Days, in The Wind in the Willows he subsumed his critique in a fantasy whose rejection of everyday reality in favor of an alternate one can be read as a fundamental rebellion against the norms.

Like Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, and J. M. Barrie, Grahame found solace in the world of fantasy he created out of recollected childhood memories, many of which were bound up with nature. Indeed he preferred the world of nature to that of people. Like Walt Whitman, who praised the virtues of animals in Leaves of Grass, a work Grahame knew and admired, he favored animals for what they could teach people about how to live in the world.

In The Wind in the Willows, the animal characters appear inherently superior to the human ones. They have more discriminating senses, as Mole shows in his keen ability to recognize his home through his sense of smell. Badger’s home, built upon the remnants of a human dwelling, implies the triumph of the animal kingdom over human civilization; it attests to the futility of man’s endeavors. As he tells Mole, “They were a powerful people, and rich, and great builders. They built to last, for they thought their city would last for ever. . . . People come—they stay for a while, they flourish, they build—and they go. It is their way. But we remain.” Grahame’s view of human folly, expressed through Badger’s conversation with Mole, is reminiscent of the Romantic poet Shelley’s in his famous sonnet “Ozymandias,” which Grahame would have known,

Explaining his preference for animals, Grahame once said, “As for animals, I wrote about the most familiar and domestic in The Wind in the Willows because I felt a duty to them as a friend. Every animal, by instinct, lives according to its nature. Thereby he lives wisely, and betters the tradition of mankind. No animal is ever temped to belie its nature. No animal . . . knows how to tell a lie” (First Whispers of “The Wind in the Willows,” p. 28).

We sense Grahame’s deep appreciation for his animal characters on every page of The Wind in the Willows. While Grahame borrowed certain characteristics from people he knew in creating them (Grahame himself has been identified with Mole and Alastair with Toad), much of Grahame’s sympathy for these animals comes from having observed them in the wild, as both a child and an adult. On one occasion, he rescued a mole and brought it inside in a box to show Alastair, only to have it escape during the night and die under the maid’s broom the following morning. In 1898, in his introduction to A Hundred Fables of Aesop (from the English version of Sir Roger L’Estrange with pictures by Percy J. Billinghurst), he objected to the use of animal characters for man’s moral, didactic purposes. Perhaps for this reason, though Grahame’s characters behave in anthropomorphic ways—boating on the river, enjoying picnics, driving motor cars—they also retain their animal features. Mole, Toad, and Rat, for instance, have paws, not hands; and the barge-woman reacts to Toad as a woman might to an unwelcome “horrid, nasty, crawly” amphibian, tossing him by a fore-leg and a hind-leg into the water.

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Wind in the Willows (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 300 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It¿s the start of spring, and the Mole wakes up to a new life. Mole meets the Water Rat and together, they have all sorts of adventures! They meet the Badger and they meet Toad, but the story turns on characters¿ points of view. It changes to Toad¿s view. He has to have all the new things, first it was a rowboat, then it was a carriage, well of course he can do it because he¿s rich! He lives in enormous Toad Hall, where he is the nicest person, but things change once Toad sets his eyes upon the motorcar. The Wind in the Willows is a great book that everyone would love to read. This book is filled with details. When Mole wakes up from hibernation in the beginning of the story, you can see what his little cottage looks like. When the Water Rat was having the picnic on the riverbank with the Mole, you could see every tree, how the water was moving, even the delicious feast set before them. When Toad was in prison, you could see his tiny bed, the girl that came to visit him, and the washerwoman clothes. The Wind in the Willows is filled with many interesting characters. There¿s the Mole, the Water Rat, Toad, the Badger, the Otter, and many more. The Mole is someone who wakes up from hibernation and almost starts a new life, by meeting all of these new people. The Water Rat is adventurous and sometimes a bit dumb, but he¿s an all around nice rat. The Badger is very warm and inviting too, but he usually doesn¿t like Society, he stays to himself. The book has a great moral. `You can¿t always get what you want¿. It¿s true, Toad wanted and motorcar so much, he stole one! He ended up going to jail for it and he had to figure out a way to escape. The Water Rat, the Mole, and the Badger wanted Toad to snap out of wanting a motorcar so badly. He fooled Rat and escaped out of the window and ran away. He didn¿t exactly change but he learned something. The Mole and the Water Rat go on so many adventures in this book, and you will too because The Wind in the Willows is so full of characters that invite you in or tell you to go away. The Wind in the Willows is the perfect book that everyone would enjoy! E. Gray
TheQuillPen More than 1 year ago
Although Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows as a children's story, the book has something to offer adult readers as well. I personally enjoyed the excellent portrayal of such familiar characters as the mole, the badger, and Mr. Toad, as well as Grahame's charming plot and pervasive humor. Additionally, in spite of its deceptive simplicity, the book actually takes an effective look at different aspects of human nature as embodied in the different characters. As far as fantasy is concerned, this book certainly stands out. Though not quite as masterful as A.A. Milne's classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories, The Wind in the Willows is a delightful book that will keep you, as well as your children, thoroughly entertained.
Ludwig1770 More than 1 year ago
This was a great little book/story.. Characters were well developed and their adventures were entertaining. Toad gets into so much trouble, but i liked the fact that it teaches us always to be there for friends and not give up on them ! Recommend this book for all wishing to read a cute 'friendship' book !
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whenever I read this book to our son, I think of his mother and I as the mole. All work and no play. To read this book to a child is good all around because it's great entertainment for the child and it gives the reading adult an imaginary escape from the normal 'grind' of an average work-day. On top of that, it's a wonderful adventure that gets a child's mind, and adult's, working in a positive way by telling them to 'take it easy,' take a vacation' and 'don't sweat the small stuff.' Reading this book is very relaxing and all should read it.
GConradDietz More than 1 year ago
Kenneth Grahame has captured our finer human qualities and less desired frailties in the interaction of an unforgettable collection of cute animals. Great read for younger and older readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a tale of four animals, Badger, Mole, Rat and Mr. Toad, that love to go through towns and fields of England. When Mr. Toad starts wrecklessly driving cars, his friends, Badger, Mole, and Rat, try to help Mr. Toad before he gets into trouble. Mr. Toad doesn¿t listen to his friends and gets thrown into jail. Some how one day he escapes. Mr. Toad gets back home to his house and sees it has been taken over by the Wild Wood Weasels and that he has to get it back. This is a funny and adventurous book for all ages. I liked this book because of how the animals are human like. In the story Mr. Toad is the same size as humans. When in jail, after stealing a car, Mr. Toad would talk to the guards daughter. The animals live underground and they all have a fireplace, a kitchen, and bedrooms in their homes. In the story Badger, Mole, Rat, and Mr. Toad fight some weasels with swords and pistols to win back Toad Hall. I liked this book because of how smart Mr. Toad was. When in jail Mr. Toad thought of a plan how to escape. He put on wash woman¿s clothes and walked right out of the jail. When dressed like a wash woman Mr. Toad got a ride almost all the way to his house and no one suspected him as a toad. Mr. Toad was smart in the end to realize that he was foolish to buy all those cars and then wreck them. I didn¿t like the book because it didn¿t tell you what happened too some of the people. What happened to the girl after the guards saw that Mr. Toad was gone? Also, did Mr.Toad ever become friends with the weasels? What happened in the end with Badger, Mole, Rat, and Mr. Toad? This is an exciting and adventurous classic book.
KLFreeman More than 1 year ago
Terrific story! I thought I had read this book as a child and some of the story did seem familiar to me. But, I may have just been remembering snippets of it from other sources. There was a lot more to the story than one first thinks. The 4 animals get along so well even though they are very different from each other. Reading this e-book version, though, does have its drawbacks. There are many footnotes and definitions, but they, of course are listed at the end of the book. And with e-books, it can be cumbersome to go back and forth. But, all the extra information is contained in this version, so overall, that is a plus.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I was a child I was not exposed to many children books. Therefore,as a black american adult, I enjoyed reading this book. It is a shame that technology has diversified our chidlrens interest to video games, vampires and zombie movies and xbox, before sitting down to read. This book provides morals,such as friendship bonding,responsibility and knowing the importance of staying on course, animal migration. As an educator, I would recommend this book to read during the summer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To most of us humans, life is full of work and responsibility. Vacation comes once or twice a year, or sometimes not at all. Worry and burdens are a regular part of our day-to-day life. But to the animals of the Wild Wood and the River Bank, most every day is full of nothing but carefree happiness of the sort that comes only when you have absolutely nothing you need to do. It was on a day like this at the beginning of spring that Mole, having just finished his spring cleaning, came across the Water Rat's riverside home. After becoming friends over a plentiful picnic, Mole moved in with Ratty in his cozy hole by the river. And so their adventures began, scattered among perfect, worry-free days. As the summer arrived, Mole learned how to row a boat and how to swim. Mole's interest was soon caught by the troublesome Toad, who's passionate interests changed nearly once a month. Toad's current fad was riding in elegant, furnished carts, and a short while ago he spent every hour of his days boating. Although he got distracted rather easily, Toad was an extremely nice animal overall, and so when he asked his good friend Ratty and his new friend Mole to accompany him on a cart ride, they grudgingly obliged. They hadn't been on the gone for a week when a gleaming motor car had rushed down the road, knocking the beautifully painted canary yellow cart into a ditch. But Toad couldn't care less about that ordinary cart. All he wanted was to drive a motor car, zooming down the road, crushing all in his path. He would be king of the road, he would. He was the fabulous Toad, the ingenious Toad, the wealthy Toad, the handsome Toad¿¿he was the Toad, and he wanted a motor car. With Toad's new obsession came a new series of events, most of them involving motor car thieving and crashing. Before long, Toad had been in jail a number of times and was spending all his money on tickets and new motor cars. The situation started getting truly out of hand when Toad was sent to jail and untrustworthy animals of the Wild Wood took over his grand home, Toad Hall. Ratty and Mole had no choice but to seek the assistance of their honorable friend, Badger, to assist the attempts to reclaim Toad Hall. The Wind in the Willows is a story of friendship, and a story that I greatly recommend. There is no story without characters, and, as sure as Mole is sensible, the fact that the characters in this story are extremely similar to humans and very likable is one of the reasons that this book is so wonderful. Each character in the story has a separate personality. Toad is unbelievably irrepressible and convincing, escaping prison 'with help' countless times. He is also quite vain, though, and would spend hours talking about how spectacularly wonderful he is, if given the chance. Ratty is gentle, thoughtful, and kind, acting on the benefit and pleasure of others instead of himself. Water Rat is dreamy, as well, spending his lazy summer days on the riverbank thinking up countless poems. Mole is sensible and obedient, always behaving as his friends want him to and helping everyone out of tricky situations with his acting skills. Last, but definitely not least, is Badger, who lives deep in the Wild Wood and is respected by all the animals that come across him. Badger is wise and generous, coming up with a perfect plan to reclaim Toad Hall and save his friend Toad. The author of this book, Kenneth Grahame, has filled the chapters of the story with such description that the reader can practically see the story as one giant, moving picture. The reader can hear the wind whistling through the reeds and the river splash against rocks. Badger's house can easily be viewed simply by reading words, as can Mole and Ratty's picnic and Toad's motor car. With a touch of the reader's imagination, this story will be a real experience, the true life of four lucky animals: Mole, Ratty, Badger
Anonymous 9 months ago
At any age!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a classic, and i think that everyone should read it at one time or another.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love desi
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Computer scanned not edited lots of garbled text.
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Im a v-a-m-p-i-r-e but dont tell anyone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
H .jhnik. ?.
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
Amazing.....!Excellent......!Just enjoy it.....!
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The book wind in the willlow is a good book because you can express yourself with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago