Benjamin Hoff wrote the book, The Tao of Pooh, sometime in the nineties, and followed it up a while after with The Te of Piglet, which I bought secondhand while I was in England, put in a box of stuff that was sent home by sea, parked on a shelf and then forgot about until the other day, when I was looking for something to take on the plane with me to Auckland.
I haven’t read the Pooh book, so I can’t compare the two, but The Te of Piglet is best when it’s telling stories from Taoism’s great wealth of wisdom, or when it’s quoting Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books directly. Hoff’s own contribution is mostly to pull the Tao and the Milne together, and fill in the gaps. He writes kind of mini-essays between - some of which are interesting – and dialogues between the Milne characters which lack the charm of the originals (especially Eeyore, whom he just doesn’t get right at all), and some of the most inexorable poetry I’ve come across in a good while. Published poetry, that is.
Nevertheless I enjoyed the book a great deal, including some of Hoff’s own musings. He knows his Tao, he knows his Milne, and he’s managed to bring the two together comfortably. I’m not entirely sure that the Piglets of this world would feel he does them justice; he promises a little more than he achieves. But it’s kind of nice to know that I’m more of a Piglet than an Eeyore – as someone dubbed me once. I may have some Eeyore characteristics, but it isn’t my modus operandi.
In the back of my copy of this book are advertisements for all the other Pooh spin-offs. The Latin version of Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie ille Pu) is advertised, but it had been around for some time. However, there’s a follow-up to that too: Domus Anguli Puensis – or The House at Pooh Corner.
And then there’s Pooh and the Philosophers, Pooh and the Ancient Mysteries (good grief!), The Pooh Book of Quotations and The Pooh Dictionary.
But wait, there’s more! Winnie-the-Pooh on Management (yeah, right!), Winnie-the-Pooh on Problem Solving (please!), Winnie-the-Pooh on Success.
And if you thought those were ridiculous, try these: Pooh’s Little Fitness Book, Winnie-the-Pooh’s Teatime Cook Book (using nothing but honey, presumably), Winnie-the-Pooh’s Trivia Quiz Book, Eeyore’s Gloomy Little Instruction Book, and finally Pooh’s Little Instruction Book.
I wonder how many of them made any money?