Books : reviews

Frederick C. Crews.
The Pooh Perplex: a student casebook.
Robin Clark. 1963

rating : 2.5 : great stuff

Hilarious parodies of various academic styles, all critiquing Winnie-the-Pooh

Frederick C. Crews.
Postmodern Pooh.
Profile Books. 2002

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 19 January 2006

The Pooh Perplex brilliantly parodied several eminently parodiable schools of criticism and analysis. Nearly 40 years later, Crews is back again with the equally brilliant Postmodern Pooh, showing that the new schools are no safer from his savage wit. The pretence this time is that all the papers are being presented at the 2000 meeting of the Modern Language Association, where they all have a chance not merely to critique that deepest of all children's literature, Winnie-the-Pooh, but also to critique each other's critiques. A postmodernist, a Marxist, a radical feminist, an anticolonialist, an evolutionist, a recovered memories advocate, a cybergoth, and more, let rip. Hilarious mayhem ensues.

The whole book is peppered with baffling, obscure, ludicrous, hilariously over-deep readings of Pooh, and of each other. Reading the chapter that uses the language of evolution, genes, and memes, I was slightly disturbed to discover that I recognised, had indeed read, many of the books referenced in the copious footnotes. They are real. Good grief -- are all the other, bizarre, references real too? It scarcely bears thinking.

It is all very funny, either directly because of the bizarre lunacy of what it says, or indirectly because of the obscure pretension of what it says. But the image that had me falling out of my chair, ribs aching with laughter, was the cybergoth urging us, if we don't like what we are reading, not to criticise it, but to write our own Pooh fanfic, whatever we wanted, even be it Pooh/Piglet slash. Incredible.

Frederick C. Crews.
Follies of the Wise: dissenting essays.
Shoemaker & Hoard. 2006