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Book Reviews not Arthur Symons (they are not even related). Though the Index conflates the two, Ellmann's text gives them justifiably different identities. Karl Beckson Brooklyn College, CUNY Much About Elusive Barrie Carl Markgraf. J. M. Barrie: An Annotated Secondary Bibliography. No. 4 in the 1880-1920 British Authors Series. Greensboro, NC: ELT Press, 1989. xxv + 439 pp. $35.00 Distributed in the United Kingdom, Europe and Japan by Colin Smythe Limited, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. IN HIS TIME James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) was one of Great Britain's best-known writers, famed for his prose sketches and fictions based on his Scottish background and then as the author of plays which were starring vehicles for many of the most illustrious names of the theatre. This was true not only in the United Kingdom and the United States, but also worldwide. Although many of his books are still in print and his plays embellish the repertories of community theaters, he has almost sunk to oblivion in the general consciousness and more than fifty years after his death he appears to be barely a footnote in the literary history of his time. It is probable that Barrie is best remembered as the author of Peter Pan, a fact freely admitted by Professor Markgraf in this survey of the vast amount of critical comment that has been devoted to Barrie and his writings. This may well be due to the fact that it is the only one of his works known to a wide audience, at least in the United States, by its periodic showings on television and in the Disney version on the screen, in the ice shows, and on video tape for viewing at home. In his heyday, JMB was somewhat of a solitary in English literature, a unique writer standing alone, defying classification, with no direct antecedents, founder of no school, and with no real followers. Upon his arrival in London more than a century ago many looked upon him as the quintessential Scotsman on the make, and by the 1890s he was well established as a skillful journalist and author, but never as a part of the fin de siècle movement of that decade, nor was he one of the "realists" who attempted to depict life at its rawest. From the general surveys of the era in which he flourished, he emerges as an author known for sentimentality, particularly in his early prose writings on Scottish themes and also in his plays. These 465 ELT: Volume 33:4 1990 did not follow the mainstream and were considered more akin to poetic drama than to the popular drawing room comedies of the period or to the more purposeful efforts of social reform by Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, and other contemporaries. Barrie's industry was legendary, but generally was confined to his writings since he shunned the spotlight and was basically a very private person. Perhaps this may account for his present neglect, which otherwise is difficult to explain. There seems to be general agreement by the writers whose comments are annotated in this book that Barrie produced magic in the theatre, which unfortunately did not always linger, for the charm and whimsy which permeated his plays was ethereal. There are, however, many devoted readers who turn to the printed versions of his plays, where the dialogue is enhanced by confidential asides, giving an added dimension to the characters and their motives. While at the present time JMB's popularity may be at low ebb, tastes change, and this annotated secondary bibliography, assembled by Professor Markgraf could signal a renewed interest in a once commanding and important literary figure. Here is a compendium of writings about the neglected writer and his works, which lists, with brief explanatory comments, virtually everything that has been written about him, and for many years to come it should be an essential tool for commentators and students of Barrie's works. The entries are expertly and succinctly annotated, with attention called to statements that are contrary to known facts. The presentation is not in chronological order, as frequently is the case with secondary bibliographies, but instead, the volume is divided into a hundred...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 465-468
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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