When I started this book, I was amazed to find that much of A.A. Milne's correspondence in letters is actually kept in one of the libraries at the University of Texas in Austin, which isn't too far from me. I was initially planning on taking a trip over there to ask a librarian to see the letters, but this book is SO exhaustive, I don't really feel the need to see them anymore.
Despite its exhaustiveness, much about Milne remains unanswered. It's like the biography "His Excellency" of George Washington. While being a wonderul, lenghty, in-depth book, the biographical figure is just plain hard to pin down. Nobody can do it. But Mrs. Thwaite puts an unbelievable amount of effort into it, probably reading more to complete this work than I've read in my entire life. There's probably no greater expert you'll find on Pooh and his creator than this lady.
We see Milne's start as a child prodigy who cares only for his brother, follow him through his struggle to start a career after graduation, cheer as he gets lucky and lands his dream job, understand as he grows bored with his dream job and ventures into new fields, wonder how he manages to live through participation in a brutal war, marvel as he grows into a household name before even starting the Pooh books, smile in expectancy as we see his Pooh books outsell seemingly everything there is, grow weary with his thoroughly expressed political beliefs that seem so much less humorous than his writing, and sigh as he dies at the end of a writing career that has only declined since its long-ago peak.
I was inspired to read Ecclesiastes after reading this book. Milne's story really shows the vanity and ultimate unpredictability of the world. Even if you can read when you're two, and become a household name that will be remembered for generations, it doesn't really seem to matter in the end. All that praise Milne wanted for his later works just didn't happen, and everything he did earlier in his life couldn't change that fact. Whether this has anything to do with Milne's somewhat atheistic beliefs, I don't know. I do know that a lot of this biography is quite depressing. Imagine how Milne felt when he had to alter his whole pacifistic theory simply because a man as evil as Hitler could exist. He must have been so disappointed in humanity in order to lower his (very high) ideals like that.
Well, hopefully Blue and his son Billy Moon are somewhere out there in the universe now having a blast, despite the beliefs they had while previously living among us. I feel the need to always thank this man for Pooh, and I'd like to read Mr. Pim Passes By some day when I'm not so burnt out on Milne's name.