Critical Evaluation

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

Forrest Reid was a novelist little known in the United States. Like Walter de la Mare, his friend, he found the supernatural inseparable from his conception of reality. Denis Bracknel, in this novel, reflects somewhat the author’s personal experience, for in his imagination, at least, Reid himself lived in a pagan dreamworld not unlike that of his hero; and his interest in such imaginary existence, another reality quite different from the ordinary world, is apparent in most of his fiction. As a beginning novelist, he was influenced by Henry James, but their correspondence ended when James failed to comprehend fully Reid’s first novel. As a novelist and as a person, Reid was poetical and mystical, qualities that are easily discernible in THE BRACKNELS, especially in the character of young Denis, who finds the evil of the everyday world unbearable. In this book, as in most of Reid’s fiction, there is reflected as well the author’s strong interest in the psychology of the abnormal person.

Originally a lyrical tale titled THE MOON STORY, THE BRACKNELS was expanded and reworked into a Realistic novel, keeping the moon story as a subsidiary theme but treating the overall work as a family chronicle. To counteract a tendency to the fantastic and bizarre, Reid rooted his stories in solid realistic surroundings; the setting of this novel, the valley and river, the houses and woods, were all founded on Reid’s own childhood world and are...

(The entire section is 513 words.)