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22 August 2018

Leader: The enduring cultural influence of Winnie the Pooh

Still enraging the Eeyores of public life, 92 years on. 

By New Statesman

At the grand old age of 92, Winnie the Pooh has returned to our screens as the star of a new Disney blockbuster, Christopher Robin. The Hollywood reinvention of AA Milne’s most beloved characters, with the boy of the title now unfulfilled in middle age, has not been met with universal acclaim. Yet as the author’s biographer Ann Thwaite notes in this issue, the criticism of Pooh’s latest outing cannot harm his appeal to millions. Nearly a century on, the Bear of Very Little Brain retains his charm. Without the sweetness and quiet wonder of his stories, our uncertain world would be an even poorer place.

Alas, not everyone agrees. Christopher Robin has been denied a release in China, where images of Pooh are used to satirise Xi Jinping, its all-powerful leader. Harold Wilson got the same treatment in his pomp. That Pooh still enrages the Eeyores of public life is a mark of his enduring cultural influence. In an age where nostalgia is all too often a crutch for political strongmen, we should welcome the return of the Hundred Acre Wood’s unlikely subversive.

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This article appears in the 22 Aug 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Will Labour split?