The boy who wouldn’t grow up!

By Himanshu Nimbhorkar

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“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

Sir James Matthew Barrie, a celebrated Scottish novelist and playwright, the man behind the beautifully tender and playfully innocent character ‘Peter Pan’, is considered to be one of the most renowned names of Scottish literature.

Peter Pan began its journey with the play ‘The Little White Bird’. A young guy who just doesn’t grow up, stays a kid forever and undertakes adventures after adventures in Neverland Island and ends up interacting with creatures out of the island. The character was extremely well received and went on to return in the subsequent play ‘Peter Pan – the boy who wouldn’t grow up’. This was followed by a full fledged novel adaptation named ‘Peter and Wendy’.

Barrie began his career writing for newspapers, with a few of his initial story submissions forming the basis of his first set of early novels.

Barrie’s writing style and thematics include many personal connections and metaphorical parallels of the same on a fictional level. It’s believed that the tragic incidents he witnessed early on in his childhood made irreversible damage to his younger innocent self. Ultimately the idea of not growing up as evident in the ‘Peter Pan’ series seems to have been a consequence of those emotions.

Barrie had once mentioned “To be completely human with its full range of both practical and imaginative potentialities and to grow up, these are in a sense contradictories. By growing up, by cooperating in social order, one has to curtail the imagination; by doing this one is obliged to give up so much that one becomes an unacceptably diminished person.”

Barrie’s writings were praised for being highly imaginative and capturing the youthful innocence of childhood in its purest possible form. Fantasy and adventure driven elements considerably added up to and elevated the imagination further.

Short stories like ‘The Little Minister’, ‘Two of them’, ‘A Tillyloss scandal’; novels like ‘The Little white bird’, ‘Peter and Wendy’, ‘Farewell Miss Julie Logan : A wintry tale’, and plays like ‘Peter Pan or the boy who would not grow up’ to ‘When Wendy grew up : an afterthought’; Barrie wrote across forms and mediums while doing justice to all of them simultaneously.

Barrie’s writing style was highly individualistic. Despite multiple studies and efforts made towards identifying patterns and constant aesthetics in Barrie’s writings, he still retained individuality and remained an artistic voice to reckon with.

Barrie’s work has been adapted into numerous animated films, live action films and television series. One of the all time great literary giants, Sir James Matthew Barrie has inspired generations with his innocently weaved imaginative stories.

“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!”

These sweet childlike words with wisdom equivalent to that of an elderly philosopher and an artist par excellence motivates us to read more and completely immerse ourselves into the magical adventurous world. And by default they make us celebrate his writings. Rather the very art of writing and storytelling to begin with!

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