A. A. Milne: The Man Behind Winnie-the-pooh

by Ann Thwaite
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What can the reader learn about Milne through his personal essay? Read the text below from "A Word for Autumn": ...

What can the reader learn about Milne through his personal essay? Read the text below from "A Word for Autumn":

"Yet, I can face the winter with calm. I suppose I had forgotten what it was really like. I had been thinking of the winter as a horrid wet, dreary time fit only for professional football. Now I can see other things-crisp and sparkling days, long pleasant evenings, cheery fires. Good work shall be done this winter. Life shall be lived well. The end of the summer is not the end of the world. Here's to October—and, waiter, some more celery."

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Milne apparently had some sort of personal revelation prior to writing this essay. His attitude toward winter has dramatically changed. Instead of a "horrid," "dreary" season, he now can see "sparkling days, long pleasant evenings, cheery fires."

He also has a new resolve: Good work shall be done this...

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Milne apparently had some sort of personal revelation prior to writing this essay. His attitude toward winter has dramatically changed. Instead of a "horrid," "dreary" season, he now can see "sparkling days, long pleasant evenings, cheery fires."

He also has a new resolve: Good work shall be done this winter. Life shall be lived well. This implies that good work has not been done in winters pasts and that the author's winter months had been subpar. Milne writes that he had "forgotten" what it was like to face winter with "calm." So he once knew this feeling but had somehow gotten so far away from it that the opposite had become true. In this sense, he is returning to an earlier time in his inner life.

What can the reader learn about Milne from this essay? Think of adjectives that describe his new attitude about winter and adjectives that describe his old attitude. Also, consider that Milne is deeply examining his life, writing about it, and adjusting his attitude. What adjective(s) describe people like this?

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The writer is "Zen", relativizing 'good' and bad:

I had been thinking of the winter as a horrid wet, dreary time fit only for professional football. Now I can see other things-

*                     *                     *

The end of the summer is not the end of the world.

The writer is optimistic, anticipating the best:

Now I can see other things-crisp and sparkling days, long pleasent evenings, cheery fires. Good work shall be done this winter. Life shall be lived well.

The writer is epicurian, taking the best of life while he can:

Here's to October (evidently a toast)-and, waiter, some more celery.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team