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McCutcheon, George Barr

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1866-1928) US author whose Graustark sequence of tales set in a Balkan Ruritania – beginning with Graustark: The Story of a Love Behind a Throne (1901) and ending with The Inn of the Hawk and Raven: A Tale of Old Graustark (1927) – erects an edifice of nostalgia and modestly defiant enclosedness almost as powerful as that created in the actual Ruritanian novels of Anthony Hope. But the inturned refusal of history of Hope's primal version is not sustained here. Though Graustark is replete with plots where foreigners incessantly seem to threaten the Polder [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], the drift of the series is actually towards Exogamy, with various Americans clearly welcomed on almost explicitly Eugenical lines for their "clean, fresh, virile blood ..." as they marry into the defensive hierarchy of the governing class, under constant threat with World War One nearly engulfing the land, and left-wing agitators stirring the populace. But the enclave is maintained, almost embarrassingly evoking the softer kinds of Alternate History; allowing the series to contribute to the development of Science Fantasy. By the end of the century, all the same, Graustark had faded from general view, though it was occasionally emblematized, as in the poem "Beverly of Graustark" (May/June 1999 The American Poetry Review) by John Ashbery (1927-2017): "The roof at night, the rent, the violet pallor...."

In general, McCutcheon rarely risked the fantastic. "The Wrath of the Dead", the second tale assembled in Her Weight in Gold (coll 1911), describes the destruction of Manhattan (see New York) in 1947 by the enraged spirits of the dead. Two late novels – West Wind Drift (1920), which is maritime, and Blades (1928), which almost ventures into Canada – have Lost Race elements. [JC]

George Barr Greaves Richard McCutcheon

born Lafayette, Indiana: 26 July 1866

died New York: 23 October 1928




individual titles

  • West Wind Drift (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co, 1920) [hb/C Allen Gilbert]
  • Blades (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co, 1928) [hb/]


  • Her Weight in Gold (Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1911) [coll: chap: hb/]

about the author


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