1st Edition

Epic Echoes in The Wind in the Willows

By Georgia L. Irby Copyright 2022
    150 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores Grahame’s engagements with classical antiquity in The Wind in the Willows, including ancient epic, parody (Batrachomyomachia), and pastoral imagery.

    Irby demonstrates how subtle echoes – such as the structure into 12 books, arming scenes, epic catalogues, anabases and katabases, lying tales, Toad’s "cleverness"—cumulatively suggest a link between The Wind in the Willows and classical literature. This study offers the first sustained treatment of classical allusions in The Wind in the Willows, considering the entire novel, not isolated scenes, building on existing scholarship to yield an interpretation through the lens of classical literature and its reception in Victorian and Edwardian England.

    This volume will provide a unique resource for students and scholars of classical reception and literature, as well as comparative literature, English literature, children’s literature, gender studies, and Grahame’s writing.

    1. Kenneth Grahame and the Secret World of the Imagination  2. The Wind in the Willows and Ancient Epic  3. The Heroic Landscape  4. Polymetis and Polytropos: Sage Water Rat and "Clever" Toad of Toad Hall  5. Adventure: the Wine-Dark Sea, Motor Cars, and the Sea Rat  6. Temptation and Oblivion: Lotus-Eaters and Sirens  7. Kleos and Aristeia: Glory and the Battles for the Halls  8. Nostos and Dulce Domum  9. Conclusion: the Spirit of Divine Discontent and Longing


    Georgia L. Irby is a Professor of Classics at William and Mary, USA. Her research interests include the history of Greco-Roman science, mythology, literature, and religion; her recent books include two volumes on water in Antiquity: Conceptions of the Watery World in Greco-Roman Antiquity and Using and Conquering the Watery World in Greco-Roman Antiquity (2021), Companion to Science, Technology and Medicine in the Ancient World (2016), A Little Latin Reader (2017), and A New Latin Primer (2015: both with Mary English).

    "...the book offers a convincing exploration of the novel’s classical atmosphere and, further, is a valuable addition to the scholarship on Grahame. It also provides an exciting development for classical reception studies in children’s literature: namely, a book-length, detailed investigation of classical intertexts in an influential children’s novel – a model that we hope will inspire further such endeavours."The Classical Review