Read Sentimental Tommy by J.M. Barrie Free Online
Book Title: Sentimental Tommy|
The author of the book: J.M. Barrie
Edition: Dodo Press
Date of issue: August 1st 2006
Loaded: 2496 times
Reader ratings: 6.7
ISBN 13: 9781406509519
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 843 KB
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Ok, no-one’s brought up the Kailyard thing yet so I feel I must. If you’re allergic to English Lit lectures you can stop reading now. Although I don’t know how you came across this book unless you’re fascinated with Barrie or had seen the word ‘kailyard’ mentioned somewhere and wanted to check it out.
It’s the late 19th century and apparently Scotland has been portrayed in an unpleasantly gritty, miserable way in literature for quite some time. A certain literary critic, William Robertson Nicoll, with a religious and political agenda but also with a keen interest in literature, promotes the heck out of a couple of authors, Ian McLaren and S.R. Crockett, who write happy little stories set in rural Scotland, with quirky characters speaking in broad brogue, and much description of the idyll of the highlands. (Bear in mind that Queen Victoria also discovered Scotland around this time, and made it one of the busiest tourist attractions of the Victorian era.) The books sell like bannock cakes, if you’ll pardon me, fuelled by the nostalgia of Scottish immigrants to the U.S. I’ve only read a bit of McLaren’s most famous book, and it is rather sentimental, and the brogue is hard to decipher. This style of writing comes to be called the Kailyard School, and is soon derided by critics as whitewashing the realities of the lives of the poor in rural Scotland (the backlash gets backlashed). The term ‘kailyard’ comes to mean any sentimentalizing of Scotland, the kitsch attachment of tartan to anything and everything, for example (look up ‘tartanry’), or Mel Gibson’s re-arranging of history for Braveheart. All Scottish art since 1910 feels that it has to react against this ‘kailyarding’ of Scotland. So it’s a bad thing, ya ken?
Enter Sir Barrie; he’s also writing at the end of the nineteenth century, and he is also lauded by Mr. Nicoll, and he does set some of his books in rural Scotland, and he does portray the brogue, and he does have quirky characters. He also has that childlike quality of writing about children that is what we love so much about Peter Pan, so some of his works could be said to be a bit melodramatic and, yes, sentimental. But having read Sentimental Tommy and starting on Tommy & Grizel, I can’t believe that people lumped him with the other kailyard authors. If you think Dickens is overly sentimental and idealistic, then sure. But a small child growing up in poverty in London, the fear of death of his mother, another child whose mother is a prostitute and insane and who is bullied by all other children? How is this an idealized view of anything? Tommy is not a caricature; I find him rather creepy, actually, with his abject surrender to emotions he never really feels; and I think Barrie found him a bit of a monster too, from some of his asides. I’ve never met a protagonist like him. But the book is well-written, funny, sad, emotional (for the characters who really do have feelings), and gives you most everything that Dickens did. Oh, and you can understand the brogue.
If you’re looking to find out more about where Peter and Wendy came from, this book will definitely give it to you. Other critics have sought to remove Barrie from the stain of the Kailyard School, and from what I can see, this book shows why.
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Read information about the authorSir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan.
The son of a weaver, Barrie studied at the University of Edinburgh. He took up journalism, worked for a Nottingham newspaper, and contributed to various London journals before moving to London in 1885. His early works, Auld Licht Idylls (1889) and A Window in Thrums (1889), contain fictional sketches of Scottish life and are commonly seen as representative of the Kailyard school. The publication of The Little Minister (1891) established his reputation as a novelist. During the next 10 years Barrie continued writing novels, but gradually his interest turned toward the theatre.
In London he met the Llewelyn Davies boys who inspired him in writing about a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The Little White Bird), then to write Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, a "fairy play" about this ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. This play quickly overshadowed his previous work and although he continued to write successfully, it became his best-known work, credited with popularising the name Wendy, which was very uncommon previously.
Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents. Before his death, he gave the rights to the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which continues to benefit from them.
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