Best 1908 Adventures (2)
February 2, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1908 adventure novels. Happy 110th anniversary!
Kenneth Grahame’s children’s fantasy adventure The Wind in the Willows.
When they aren’t enjoying the simple pleasures of life in England’s Thames Valley, three anthropomorphized animals — the naive Mole, the friendly Rat, and the fierce Badger — struggle to keep their hapless friend Toad, a wealthy idler with a mania for automobiles, out of trouble. Readers are treated to a jail break and hunted-man adventure, during which Toad — who was imprisoned for stealing a car, and is now disguised as an elderly washerwoman — flees from his pursuers via steam engine and horse-drawn barge, only to steal the same car again. Immediately after this sequence, which is so entertaining that Disney Land designed a ride in its honor, Toad’s friends must help him to recapture his stately home — via a secret tunnel sneak attack — from weasels and stoats who’ve invaded the Wild Wood. The preceding chapters are perhaps less thrilling than these, but still funny, sweet, and utterly charming.
Fun facts: The Wind in the Willows has been adapted as a movie several times, most notably by Disney in 1949, Rankin/Bass in 1985/1987, and Terry Jones in 1996. British bands from Pink Floyd to Iron Maiden have referenced the mystical chapter “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” in their music.
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1908 adventures that you particularly admire.