February 13th, 2012

Tommy And Grizel: J.M. Barrie

The adult Tommy Sandys is still essentially a boy. He loves women without desiring them, playing at love to win their admiration and bolster his self-esteem. Also because it's fun  Is he asexual? Is that what Barrie is hinting at when he says he cannot love as other men do?  

If Barrie could have been half as explicit as his admirer D.H. Lawrence there would have been no need for Lawrence. His understanding of the psychology of sex is entirely modern- except that he pulls back at the bedroom door. Is Tommy a serial shagger or a serial flirt? It matters to our understanding of the character, but Barrie won't say. I sometimes regret the way sex has flooded the modern novel, but the incompleteness of Tommy and Grizel demonstrates why it was essential for the dam to be breached.  

Otherwise, Tommy is a fantasist and a writer. He loves his books more than he is capable of loving any person and succeeds in creating an image of himself in the public mind that is diametrically opposed to the reality. I doubt if there has ever been a more thorough and withering account of the artistic temperament and the price it exacts from its owner and his muses.

A Marker

Five years ago I would certainly have said "yes" to manhandling a double mattress into the car, out again, through the front yard and finally up a steep flight of stairs into the back bedroom.  Maybe I would still have said "yes" a year ago. But it's 2012 and I'm 61 and I said, "no".