Fifty-nine years after its publication, Charlotte's Web is the bestselling children's book in U.S. history... E. B. White managed, without pomposity, preachiness, or condescension, to encompass issues of mortality and the power of both friendship and the written word...I haven't read Michael Sims' book, so this post doesn't go in the recommended books category, but the book does sound interesting.
How did he do it? That's the question Michael Sims set out to answer in The Story of Charlotte's Web, which offers an engaging, distilled, highly focused biography of White...
[The focus of the book is on] life on the farm in North Brooklin, Maine, where White and his wife, New Yorker editor Katharine Angell White, eventually relocated... Upset over the death of a pig he had nursed, he wrote in an essay for Harper's magazine, "The loss we felt was not the loss of ham but the loss of pig." In Charlotte's Web, he could make the pig live... He explains the import of several names, including Charlotte A. Cavatica, from the genus Aranea cavatica; verdantly symbolic Fern Arable; and the allusion to ancient Greeks in Arcadia in Doctor Dorian...
With clarity and lack of stuffiness worthy of his subject, Sims succinctly sums up Charlotte's Web's major themes: "Mortality stalked the scene from the first line: 'Where is Papa going with that ax?' The farm animals spoke with casual familiarity of trouble and death…. But overall Andy's theme was the joy of being alive, of reveling in the moment with visceral attention."
26 August 2011
The back-story of "Charlotte's Web"
From a review of a new book in the Barnes and Noble Review: