Hello, I have been away for RL reasons which I won’t be talking about here. I’m going to celebrate my return eventually with a big four-part post on chicklit, you lucky people, but in the meantime I wanted to link to this story, ‘Never’, a Peter Pan fanfic, which carefully makes visible the implicit violence and horror of Neverland. (I have no idea whether the author considers it fan fiction or an avant-garde postmodern retelling of fable or what, but as you probably already know, I don’t really see an essential difference between those two things, so I’m calling it fan fiction because that’s the name for the largest extant group of ‘stories set in the Peter Pan universe and commenting on J M Barrie’s universe’.)
The story comes from an oddly different-but-similar reading of Peter Pan to mine (its author, Ursula Vernon, writes this about her own experience of Peter Pan), in that I think that disavowed violence, a profound ambivalence about adulthood, a construction of childhood and adulthood as forever at war and of adulthood as a terrible loss (but of childhood as forever imperfect, incomplete, violent and vulnerable), underpin Peter Pan itself and make it the weird, rich, unresolvable work of art/cultural symptom that it is; but I think Vernon thinks that Peter Pan is supposed to be read as an unexamined paean to ‘childhood innocence’, a deliberate aversion of the eyes from Piggy’s corpse, as she puts it in the blog post I link to above, and that she is putting the book’s lies up against the truth about childhood as she experienced it extratextually. Whereas I think the book is very much about the uneasy relationship between adult investments in childhood innocence and childhood itself as an amoral, violent, yet dependent state. But, partly for those reasons, ‘Never’ is a fascinating story, and a rigorous critical response to Peter Pan, and I’ll probably set it as secondary reading next time I teach Peter Pan.