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This is a brief discussion of J. M. Barrie and, of course, of some speculative-fiction books by Barrie.
This discussion and list does not necessarily include every book by Barrie: it includes only those books that I both know and like. Just as with the author list itself, omission of a particular item may mean I didn’t think highly enough of the omitted item, or it may simply mean that I have not yet sufficient familiarity with it. (In a very few cases, I have listed some books merely on the strength of my opinion of the author: all such books are clearly marked below, as throughout these lists, with a hash mark (#) before the title so you know what’s what.)
I don’t pretend that this discussion is a deep analysis. My intent is no more than to give you a rough idea of what kinds of tales Barrie tells, how those tales are usually told, and what makes them and Barrie worthy; in sum, to help you rank J. M. Barrie (and the works by Barrie listed here) on your personal literary “to do” list.
A Few Words About J. M. Barrie
Regrettably, I have not yet had an opportunity to write an essay on this author, but the “Other Resources” section below will lead you to some information about the “Notable Books” listed farther down this page.
An especially interesting—if in a morbid way—aspect of Barrie’s life was explored in Piers Dudgeon’s book Captivated: The Dark Side of Never Never Land (see Resources in Print, farther below); it received various extensive reviews, with corollary comments on its subject, from (at least) Justine Picardie in the Telegraph [archived copy], Frances Wilson in The Sunday Times, Tony Rennell in the Mail, and an anonymous reviewer in The Scotsman [archived copy]. In connection with that topic, worth examining for a credible-sounding summary is Cecil Adams’ column “Was the author of Peter Pan a pedophile?”
That is not even close to an exhaustive list of even the longer online articles concerning Barrie, but I reckon it's quite enough to be going along with. For more, as always Google Is Your Friend.
There is also a curiosity, a quasi-biographical novel Kensington Gardens by Rodrigo Fresán (translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer), which sounds quite interesting—see the review Peter Pan and Paisley by “Elizabeth H” (Elizabeth Hand?) in The Washington Post.
(The link above is to the preferred-edition one-volume omnibus; the links below are to the individual books.) The character “Peter Pan” first appeared in an 1902 adult novel by Barrie titled The Little White Bird, in which Peter Pan is described in a story told to a child. In 1904, Barrie wrote the famous play, “Peter Pan”; in 1906, a prose text—like the original description but quite unlike the play—was published under the title Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens; in 1911, he turned the play into a book called Peter and Wendy, which is now usually just called Peter Pan and is the widely known form of the tale. As with most “children’s books”, publishers repeatedly show their veneration for a classic by chopping it up or dumbing it down, or both; don’t ask me how, or why, you “dumb down” a book meant for, and very successful with, small children—ask a publisher.)
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This page was last modified on Wednesday, 29 November 2023, at 11:05 pm Pacific Time.