Saturday, October 16, 2010

Remembering... Jean de Brunhoff

On this day in 1937 Jean de Brunhoff, creator of Babar, died - aged only 38; that's, like, younger I am now, man. Makes you think...

PhotobucketIt's a funny thing, but while I really liked Babar as a child, I hadn't thought about him for more than twenty years* when, this past summer, I was walking past a display of stuffed animals and saw a 10-inch tall Babar in amongst the others. Naturally, as I am a creature who is absolutely dominated by whim, I bought it and gave it pride of place on the shelf where I keep my books suitable for youngsters.

Then, mere weeks ago, The New Yorker ran an article by noted Canadian Francophile Adam Gopnik not merely about Babar and what he means but also about the man who created him - Jean de Brunhoff.

Well! Turns out I was quite the dupe even as a child; it would never have occurred to me then that what I was reading was a blatant propaganda in favour of colonialism. I mean, I certainly never got that out of it then, and to be quite honest I'm a bit afraid to revisit the books now out of the fear that yet another of those favoured things from my childhood should be rendered obsolete by politics.

*And had probably never given a thought to the man who created him, then or now.

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