If you've ever read any of Parker's literary criticism, you know I'm not exaggerating. She loathed Milne and his pantheon of characters, leading with Winnie-the-Pooh.
In a shifting, sliding world, it is something to know that Mr. A.A. "Whimsy-the-Pooh" Milne stands steady. He may, tease that he is, delude us into thinking for a while that he has changed; that we are all grown up now, and so he may be delicately bitter and even a little pleasurably weary, in front of us; and then, suddenly as the roguish sun darting from the cloud, or the little crocus popping into bloom, or the ton of coal clattering down the chute, he is our own Christopher Robin again, and everything is hippity-hoppity as of old.Ouch. If you didn't feel the sting in that, take this excerpt from her review of The House on Pooh Corner:
It "seemed to [Pooh] a Good Hum, such as is Hummed Hopefully to Others." In fact, so Good a Hum did it seem that he and Piglet started right out through the snow to Hum It Hopefully to Eeyore. Oh, darn -- there I've gone and given away the plot. Oh, I could bite my tongue out.The thing is, I can sort of see what Parker is talking about. It's like when you find out that someone whose opinion you respect feels complete abhorrance for a book or movie you love. You're sort of shocked at first, but then when they explain themselves you can see why it is they hate it, without suffering any change of sentiment yourself. I mean, I've read "Eeyore Has a Birthday" enough times to wonder how the hell it is that Pooh manages to forget that the pot of honey he's carrying is a birthday present, and then he conveniently remembers the minute after he's eaten all the honey. As a person of about average common sense, these actions trouble me. I can only imagine how someone of Parker's heightened sensitivity must feel.
In some ways, Parker is a sort of Eeyore herself, the wounded cynic who frequently has the clearest insights and gets the funniest one-liners, and who also bumps up the wrong way against happy doofuses like Pooh Bear. And much as the other denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood often find themselves intimidated by Eeyore, to the extent that they occasionally give him a wide berth, Parker writes humorously of her own occasional pariah status at parties:
It has lately been drawn to your correspondant's attention that, at social gatherings, she is not the human magnet she would be. Indeed, it turns out that as a source of entertainment, conviviality, and good fun, she ranks somewhere between a sprig of parsley and a single ice-skate.If that isn't an Eeyore-ish sentiment, I don't know what is. Don't believe me? Compare it to the following:
"Why, what's the matter?"Awww. I love Eeyore so. And that's probably why I'm able to like Parker and Milne simultaneously.
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."
"Oh!" said Pooh. He thought for a long time and then asked, "What mulberry bush is that?"
"Bon-hommy," went on Eeyore gloomily. "French word meaning bonhommy," he explained. "I'm not complaining, but There It Is."