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vrijdag 18 juli 2008

Te of Piglet

The Te of Piglet (or Virtue of the Small) is the companion book to the Tao of Pooh. Once again A. A. Milne's characters are being used to illustrate principles from the Taoist philosophy. The elements he described in his previous book are explained in more detail: Owl is the epitome of knowledge without wisdom, Rabbit is the clever person who worries about appearances, Tigger represents impulsiveness without taking the time to do things right, and Eeyores are people who always complain instead of seeing the silver lining. Piglet is used as an example of the Virtue of the Small. He's A Very Tiny Animal who might not do great deeds, but he does come through in a pinch. He's portrayed as the only one of the 100 Acre Woods friends who evolves as a person. Instead of lamenting about his smallness, he does what needs to be done when necessary.

Benjamin Hoff's portrayal of Pooh and his friends starts of well enough. However, a few pages into every chapter he starts complaining about how the Western world (although he seems to equate the US with the West as a whole) is doing things wrong. Because of this, parts of the book feel as a petulant rant. At times he even comes off as bitter. This is in contrast with the ending, where he claims belief in the coming of an esoteric better world (very much like The Last Battle of Narnia and The Silmarillion) based on a back-to-nature philosophy in which all of nature lives in perfect harmony.

All in all I would suggest to read the Tao of Pooh (which is absolutely brilliant) and leave this one be. If you really want to read both, do so in one go. Don't leave too much time between them. This way, IMHO, it's easier to appreciate the good parts of the Te of Piglet while skipping the once that aren't really up to par.

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