Saturday, 24 March 2012

Pippi Longstocking appeared

on my eighth birthday. My paternal grandparents gave me a copy of her adventures in the South Seas that year.
My mother was not impressed. She disapproved of Pippi as a character. Pippi was rude. Pippi answered back. There are other adults who have disapproved of Pippi for the same reason. Some also claim the books are "racist".
They are nothing of the sort. They are the sort of story you tell as a bedtime story, or to a child who is ill in bed. They remind me of my father's impossible tales to my two younger sisters. They were told to the author's daughter when she was ill in bed.
Pippi appears at the Villa Villekulla with her horse, her monkey, a suitcase of gold coins, and her treasures (housed in a chest of drawers). She is nine years old and she lives alone. She dresses in oversized shoes and a patchwork dress but plaits her red hair. She sleeps the wrong way around in her bed. She is immensely strong being able to lift her horse with one hand. All this has appealed to generations of children. It still appeals even though there is not a computer or cell/mobile 'phone in sight. It appeals because it is impossible.
Her behaviour is impossible too. Tommy and Annika Settergren who live in the house next door are two impossibly good, polite, well brought up and over-protected children who find Pippi fascinating. Their mother does not approve of Pippi.
Pippi lacks manners and education - or does she? She lacks conventional manners. She can be rude to adults. She is certainly rude to anyone she does not like. The man who ill-treats her horse has a hard time of it - and so he should. She deals with the pompous, prim and proper in her own unique way. Nevertheless she shows her own unique brand of respect to those who are deserving of it - rather negating the claims which are made of "racism".
Pippi does not go to school. Attempts to get her there fail. Tommy and Annika are both better educated in the formal sense but Pippi is intelligent and she is street smart too. She tells long stories which are quite clearly not true. Does it make her liar? Possibly not. She admits the stories are not true. The stories are the sort of story any child might dream up and wish for.
Pippi is resourceful, inventive, active and loyal. She will help those in need. She is a good friend to Tommy and Annika.
And yes, she is a ridiculous character - but we all need someone like her sometimes.


the fly in the web said...

What would she have made of propping up the car industry...twice...I wonder?

Anonymous said...

She would probably have marched into government and told them off!