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Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats: with illustrations by Rebecca Ashdown: 1 (Faber Children's Classics)

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This is a gorgeous book and the full colour illustrations by Axel Scheiffer are what distinguishes this volume from every other Possum's. Inside, are 64 thick creamy coloured pages, split over sections, as per the CONTENTS page at the front (1st image below refers). In 1954, English composer Alan Rawsthorne set six of the poems in a work for speaker and orchestra entitled Practical Cats, which was recorded soon afterwards, with the actor Robert Donat as the speaker.

The best-known musical adaptation of the poems is Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats, which was premiered in the West End of London in 1981 and on Broadway in 1982. Yet Scheffler's drawings are nuanced so that he finds room to make Growltiger sinister, except when he is courting Griddlebone. It became the longest-running Broadway show in history until it was overtaken by another musical by Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera.Every cat has "THREE DIFFERENT NAMES" we are told in the first poem: its given name, its particular name, and the name the cat keeps to itself.

Later the Old Man refers to one cat in particular, "Gus", short for "Asparagus", and goes on to recite parts of "Macavity: the Mystery Cat". Dicen que tal vez se referia a ciertos personajes de su tiempo, tal vez a nosotros mismos, y hasta que hacia referencias a las creaciones de Kipling y Conan Doyle. I've never seen Cats but from my understanding Eliot's poetry is heavily utilized in the musical, both as character and lyrics.In 1981 Eliot’s poems were set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber as Cats which went on to become the longest-running Broadway musical in history. Throughout the 1930s he composed the now famous poems about Macavity, Old Deuteronomy, Mr Mistoffelees and many other cats, under the name of ‘Old Possum’. He settled in England in 1915, where for a few years he worked in the foreign section of Lloyds Bank. I read it to my grandchildren of 9 and 5 and they enjoyed it very much, especially as they have cats at home. I am reminded of Fernando Pessoa's comment that within each of us, there are many voices, a community of spirits as it were.

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