Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Inauthentic as well as disgusting"

At the TLS, Peter Parker reviews two new editions of Kenneth Graham's The Wind in the Willows:
Food and drink are vital elements of the novel, and while Gauger supplies a delightful history of Burton’s Ale as well as a recipe for Captains’ Biscuits from Robert Wells’s Bread and Biscuit Baker’s and Sugar-Boiler’s Assistant (1890), and reproduces instructions for making “Mr Grahame’s Coffee” to his exacting standards, she supposes Palermo to be the home of a famous sherry, and her description of trifle, with its “layers” of, among other things, ice-cream and gelatin, is inauthentic as well as disgusting. She also occasionally gets into chronological muddles: in depicting Otter as a “gentleman adventurer”, Grahame can hardly have had in mind T. E. Lawrence, who was an obscure undergraduate at the time, and the horse in Milne’s Toad of Toad Hall cannot be “an early version of Eeyore in the Pooh books”, since these books predate the play.

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