Myths and the Mythmaker

A Literary Account of J.M. Barrie’s Formative Years


J.M. Barrie’s critical reputation is unusually problematic. Originally viewed as a genius to rank with Shaw and Wilde, Barrie soon fell victim to damaging psychological theories about his life and his patriotism. The few critics who have commented on Barrie have colluded with dominant myths about a figure who, like his most famous creation, never grew up, who abandoned Scotland and made light of his own people when serious social analyses of the nation’s condition were called for, and who scorned the opportunities of University learning when at Edinburgh. Myths and the Mythmaker attempts to challenge these myths and offer a just revaluation of Barrie’s genius. Through closely focused textual analyses, it dispels the popular images of Barrie as “escapist” writer and immature, mother-fixated artist. It seeks to replace the narrow prose canon on which the “Oedipal” and “Kailyard” myths are based with a thorough account of his Victorian apprenticeship. New research into Barrie’s early work and criticism show the enduring influence of his Edinburgh education on his creative writing, his academic articles, and his own complex views on artistic genius.
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Biographical Note

R.D.S. Jack is Emeritus Professor of Medieval and Scottish Literature at Edinburgh University. He has written widely on Scottish and Comparative literature. His earlier book on Barrie, The Road to the Never Land, has recently been reprinted by Zeticula.

Review Quotes

”As the title suggests, the mode of this monograph is fairly confrontational. […] This analysis of Barrie’s Victorian years and literary apprenticeship […] presents a more strategic, ambitious and self-aware writer. It is, however, also a book laying the ground for further debate.” - Glenda Norquay, Liverpool John Moores University, in: Scottish Literary Review, Vol. 40.2, pp. 199-201

Table of contents

The Critical Myth
Filling the Research Gaps: Beyond Freud and the Kailyard
Filling the Textual Gaps I: “Kailyard” Prose 1877–90
Filling the Textual Gaps II: “Kailyard” Drama 1877–93
The Little Minister
To The Never Land and Beyond: A Dramatic Route
To The Never Land and Beyond: A Novel Route
Approaching the Later Plays


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