I’ve chosen Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Miln because I loved it from the first time I read it (which was in high school, but that’s fine). To me, it satisfies both requirements because I simply love the writing style and it’s very well-written and artistically engaging. As everyone has probably heard of it, I’ll keep my introduction brief: Winnie-the-Pooh is a famous children’s book that brought an otherwise run-of-the-mill writer success.
I want to emulate it in the sense that I want to make my voice more poetic, and this style of writing achieves that. I want my writing to come alive, not just be description like some of my blog posts on South Africa, and writing academic essays is decidedly not helping that. The style also makes it artistically engaging, because, for example, I wouldn’t think to write like this: ‘First of all he said to himself: “That buzzing-noise means something. You don’t get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there’s a buzzing-noise, somebody’s making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you’re a bee.”‘ Something as simple as hearing bees buzzing turned into a whimsical journey into Pooh’s mind, into the mind of a child.
The entire work’s engineering a la Pinker relies on this concept. For example, ‘”I wish you would bring it [an umbrella] out here, and walk up and down with it, and look up at me every now and then, and say ‘Tut-tut, it looks like rain.’ I think, if you did that, it would help the deception which we are practising on these bees.”‘ This is another example that shows the inner workings of a child, though perhaps even more fanciful and magical than reality. Christopher Robin is imagining all of Pooh’s adventures, so bringing them to life is a magical experience for the boy, and thus the writing reflects this increased magic.
Another way this is done is just through extra details. The writing is long and meandering, but in a way that’s nostalgic and cute. For example,
‘EDWARD BEAR, known to his friends as Winnie-the-Pooh, or Pooh for short, was walking through the forest one day, humming proudly to himself. He had made up a little hum that very morning, as he was doing his Stoutness Exercises in front of the glass: Tra-la-la, tra-la-la, as he stretched up as high as he could go, and then Tra-la-la, tra-la — oh, help! — la, as he tried to reach his toes. After breakfast he had said it over and over to himself until he had learnt it off by heart, and now he was humming it right through, properly. It went like this:
First, we find out that Pooh’s real name is Edward Bear. This works by giving the audience a delightfully unexpected piece of crucial character development already part of the way in, not only pleasantly surprising us but showing us that it’s not that important, that nothing is that important, that this story is meant to be just that, a fun story. It also slows everything down for the reader. This is partly achieved by what I just described: everything seems to be going slower, the linear plot of the story is blurred, and thus it becomes a story that is meant for enjoyment, not for reading. It is also done through the passage’s lengthy sentences. In my mind, there’s a metaphorical breeze streaming through the summer sky, and that breeze is the writing itself. It’s long, but you want it to be long, it improves it. Just as before, this passage also illustrates the thought process of a young child, and paints a vivid picture of Pooh’s day-to-day life. Finally, the fully written out hum also fully achieves what I’ve just written out: it slows down the reader, it shows the mind of a child, and it improves the reading experience (only in my humble opinion, of course).