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In the Land of Time: And Other Fantasy Tales

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A new edition of the Fantasy Tales that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft  A pioneer in the realm of imaginative literature, Lord Dunsany has gained a cult following for his influence on modern fantasy literature, including such authors as J.R.R. Tolkien and H. P. Lovecraft. This unique collection of short stories ranges over five decades of work. Liberal selection A new edition of the Fantasy Tales that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft  A pioneer in the realm of imaginative literature, Lord Dunsany has gained a cult following for his influence on modern fantasy literature, including such authors as J.R.R. Tolkien and H. P. Lovecraft. This unique collection of short stories ranges over five decades of work. Liberal selections of earlier tales—including the entire Gods of Pegana as well as such notable works as "Idle Days of the Yann" and "The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth"—are followed by memorable later tales, including several about the garrulous traveler Joseph Jorkens and the outrageous murder tale "The Two Bottles of Relish." Throughout, the stories are united by Dunsany's cosmic vision, his impeccable and mellifluous prose, and his distinctively Irish sense of whimsy. Here published for the first time by Penguin Classics, this edition is the only annotated version of Dunsany's short stories.  For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


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A new edition of the Fantasy Tales that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft  A pioneer in the realm of imaginative literature, Lord Dunsany has gained a cult following for his influence on modern fantasy literature, including such authors as J.R.R. Tolkien and H. P. Lovecraft. This unique collection of short stories ranges over five decades of work. Liberal selection A new edition of the Fantasy Tales that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft  A pioneer in the realm of imaginative literature, Lord Dunsany has gained a cult following for his influence on modern fantasy literature, including such authors as J.R.R. Tolkien and H. P. Lovecraft. This unique collection of short stories ranges over five decades of work. Liberal selections of earlier tales—including the entire Gods of Pegana as well as such notable works as "Idle Days of the Yann" and "The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth"—are followed by memorable later tales, including several about the garrulous traveler Joseph Jorkens and the outrageous murder tale "The Two Bottles of Relish." Throughout, the stories are united by Dunsany's cosmic vision, his impeccable and mellifluous prose, and his distinctively Irish sense of whimsy. Here published for the first time by Penguin Classics, this edition is the only annotated version of Dunsany's short stories.  For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

30 review for In the Land of Time: And Other Fantasy Tales

  1. 4 out of 5

    Arisawe Hampton

    This is the book you search for on a cool autumn evening or a late summer day. It is a book you want to read and savor. The tales are timeless, often melancholic and filled with fantasy, delight and the fleeting nature of life, existence and the world (or worlds) around us. Dunsany evokes the sublime, the sacred, the profane and the childlike. Fans and skeptics of Tolkien alike—will surely appreciate his vignettes of life. These tales offer these vignettes of the fantasy world as gods, goddesses This is the book you search for on a cool autumn evening or a late summer day. It is a book you want to read and savor. The tales are timeless, often melancholic and filled with fantasy, delight and the fleeting nature of life, existence and the world (or worlds) around us. Dunsany evokes the sublime, the sacred, the profane and the childlike. Fans and skeptics of Tolkien alike—will surely appreciate his vignettes of life. These tales offer these vignettes of the fantasy world as gods, goddesses, warriors of old, travelers in faraway lands, story-tellers...even children playing pirates. Pure existentialism! In my preference, I loved the earlier mythological work 'The Gods of Pegana' as much as 'The Tales of Wonder'. The prose poems were equally wondrous and in a few I could see where the Argentinian author, Jorge Luis Borges was highly influenced. If you are interested in early fantasy literature, when the genre was in its infancy, pick up this collection. It is not antique, it is not dated. The best part is the writing is readable, accessible and highly poetic. Dunsany has a way with words and his story telling ability is highly admirable. Read this and you'll want to read more of him.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    October 2011 No doubt most folks just call Lord Byron "Byron" (I know I do), but does anyone just say Dunsany? That's Lord Dunsany to you, and you'd better hope Neil Gaiman doesn't come after you for that. Granted, I haven’t actually read The King of Elfland's Daughter yet, but I've heard good things about it--and when I found this collection, I figured I'd give it a try. Stories from one of the fathers of modern mythic fantasy? I'm in! Oh dear. Here's the thing: Dun--sorry, Lord Dunsany--writes so October 2011 No doubt most folks just call Lord Byron "Byron" (I know I do), but does anyone just say Dunsany? That's Lord Dunsany to you, and you'd better hope Neil Gaiman doesn't come after you for that. Granted, I haven’t actually read The King of Elfland's Daughter yet, but I've heard good things about it--and when I found this collection, I figured I'd give it a try. Stories from one of the fathers of modern mythic fantasy? I'm in! Oh dear. Here's the thing: Dun--sorry, Lord Dunsany--writes some fantastic stories. Really awesome stuff. Dreamlike, poetic prose about gods and heroes, epic quests, strange worlds and cities and beasts, it's all really, really... ...kind of... ...dull. Y'know, this "Gods of Pegāna" stuff isn't working for me. Same for the "Tales of Wonder" and the "Prose Poems." Sorry, but you know what I would really like to read? A good old-fashioned ghost story. And maybe a murder mystery. How about a kids' story? Or something about a dog? And you know what would be really great, a series of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and adventure tales all told by an unreliable, hard-drinking old liar in a London gentlemen's club! What's that? Lord Dunsany wrote those, too? Sweeeet. It's funny, really: Dunsany invented an entire pantheon of gods and entire worlds in "The Gods of Pegāna" and "Time and the Gods," created some great legendary and mythic tales, wrote about heroes and elves and such, and what do I like? The ordinary stuff. The very un-Dunsany bits. "Thirteen at Table" is a nice little ghost story; "The Two Bottles of Relish" was a fantastic murder mystery. "The Cut" is about a dog that learns the value of money--entertaining stuff. And the highlight of this collection were the Jorkens tales--only a handful out of several volumes' worth, which are sadly very difficult to find. And if nothing else, you must find and read "The Pirate of the Round Pond." Best story in this collection bar none. Screw the gods. I'll take Jorkens, and a smart dog, and two kids and their toy sailboat any day of the week. Another whiskey, if you please!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Romeo

    I love the world Dunsany creates with these tales. I will keep him in a special place in my heart and soul from then on.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany (1878–1957) - nobleman, dilettante, reactionary, unionist - is the weird fiction forerunner whose work has always done the least for me, and this didn't do much to change my mind. Dunsany started his publishing career in 1905 and kept at it into the 1950s, and this collection pulls from the entire half-century span. As with the other weird fiction editions in Penguin's Classics series, this was put together by S. T. Joshi, who does a good Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany (1878–1957) - nobleman, dilettante, reactionary, unionist - is the weird fiction forerunner whose work has always done the least for me, and this didn't do much to change my mind. Dunsany started his publishing career in 1905 and kept at it into the 1950s, and this collection pulls from the entire half-century span. As with the other weird fiction editions in Penguin's Classics series, this was put together by S. T. Joshi, who does a good job of picking representative stories, an ok job writing an introductory overview (for the volume overall, not for each story), and a laughable job annotating. We start with the entirety of Dunsany's first book, The Gods of Pegana, with The Gods of Pegana, a collection of myths about an invented pantheon told in a painfully-convincing Old Testament pastiche. These stories, with little in the way of plot and even less in the way of characters, are charming enough for a few pages, but their novelty wears off quickly. Like M. John Harrison's Viriconium cycle, but seemingly without his introspection, the stories from there reveal a slow draining away of the fantastic, from the mythical grandeur of Pegana down to the final story, "The Pirates of Round Lake," an entirely mimetic piece where even piracy is a fantasy at odds with reality as a group of hooligans pretend to be corsairs while sinking other boys' toy ships. Preceding that are a number of tales of Jorkens, a drunken fabulist who tells the (unbelieving) other members of his club tall tales (of a new animal discovered in Africa, say, or another man's trip to Mars in a biplane) after being plied with enough liquor. The best stories lie between these two poles, most particularly in the three linked stories of Yann, a dreamscape our narrator (Dunsany) finds himself in and whose denizens laugh at the idea of a mystical place called "Ireland." Like Pegana these stories have no plot other than travel, no character arcs to speak of, but they convey a sense of place and wonder that the narrator longs to return to. Dunsany also dabbled at this point in proto-sword & sorcery and more generically-delineated weird fiction (and prose poems), with various degrees of success. Dunsany is fixated throughout all of these stories on dreams, time, endings, and transience (and strange music, and hatred of London and Business). Not unlike Lovecraft (who idolized him), he loves peeling away the illusion of human importance, but unlike HP, he finds there not shattering terror but mockery and condescension. I can understand the impulse, but too many of these stories feel glib and noncommittal. "Tell me something," I said, "of this strange land?" "How much do you know?" she said. "Do you know that dreams are illusion?" "Of course I do," I said. "Every one knows that." "Oh no they don't," she said, "the mad don't know it." "That is true," I said. "And do you know," she said, "that Life is illusion?" "Of course it is not," I said, "Life is real, Life is earnest-" At that both the witch and her cat (who had not moved from her old place by the hearth) burst into laughter. I stayed some time, for there was much that I wished to ask, but when I saw that the laughter would not stop I turned and went away.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    I love Dunsany I just found this collection sort of dry and soulless. The footnotes tended to be like "Charon was a Greek ferryman if the dead across the river styx..." Etc. like come on bro, if you're reading this book you probably already know that shit. You also don't get any of Sidney Sime's illustrations which are always stunningly on point and really seem to flow from the exact same font of inspiration Dunsany himself drew; both prose and picture serving some greater whole. If you're lookin I love Dunsany I just found this collection sort of dry and soulless. The footnotes tended to be like "Charon was a Greek ferryman if the dead across the river styx..." Etc. like come on bro, if you're reading this book you probably already know that shit. You also don't get any of Sidney Sime's illustrations which are always stunningly on point and really seem to flow from the exact same font of inspiration Dunsany himself drew; both prose and picture serving some greater whole. If you're looking a singular somewhat comprehensive tome or have more academic interests in his works this would work but otherwise i would recomended trying to find books with Sime's illustrations or even just a random collection that catches you're eye on a shelf at the library. For this guy, dunsany thrives in environment less catalogued and clinical and more whimsical, easy breezy beautiful cover girl.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Malum

    There is a little bit of everything here from one of the grandfathers of modern speculative fiction: fantasy, sword & sorcery, fable & fairy tale, mystery, comedy. If you are already a Dunsany fan then you know this is a good collection, and if you are new to his work this is a great place to start.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    I first came across Lord Dunsany as a teenager (coming to him via Lovecraft and Tolkien) and read The King of Elfland's Daughter at age 17, which was pleasant and magical... but the early Lord Dunsany prose poem fantasy dreams in this volume were a stunning revelation to me. At his best, the early Lord Dunsany comes off like a cross between Yates and Borges (with bits of Hesiod thrown in); he excels at a rhythmic language full of haunting descriptions and richly symbolic moments, of fragile gods I first came across Lord Dunsany as a teenager (coming to him via Lovecraft and Tolkien) and read The King of Elfland's Daughter at age 17, which was pleasant and magical... but the early Lord Dunsany prose poem fantasy dreams in this volume were a stunning revelation to me. At his best, the early Lord Dunsany comes off like a cross between Yates and Borges (with bits of Hesiod thrown in); he excels at a rhythmic language full of haunting descriptions and richly symbolic moments, of fragile gods and lost cities, and man and gods both doomed to disappearance. Take, for example, this passage from "The Gods of Pegana": "And Jabim is the Lord of broken things, who sitteth behind the house to lament the things that are cast away. And there he sitteth lamenting the broken things until the worlds be ended, or until someone cometh to mend the broken things. Or sometimes he sitteth by the river's edge to lament the forgotten things that drift upon it. A kindly god is Jabim, whose heart is sore if anything be lost." "The Gods of Pegana" is a nice start, but for me Lord Dunsany really comes into his own in "A Dreamer's Tales" and "A Book of Wonder" (from which there are a number of tales in this anthology). "Idle Days on the Yann" is a piece of stunning beauty and constant surprises... gods unworshipped and alone, doomed, burdened... cities of dreamers, riverbanks of orchids and butterflies, voyagers to unknown lands... "The Kith of the Elf-Folk" is Wagner meets Dickens as an elf yearns to become human and is given a fabricated soul (a charming scene worthy of an opera)... only to find that the industrial existence of modern life is cruelly inhuman. "Where the Tides Edd and Flow" is one of the most beautiful and haunting evocations of post-death and an abandoned soul that I know. I also loved: "The Fall of Babbulkund", "The Bride of the Man-Horse" and the almost Nabokov-like (I'm thinking Pale Fire) "The Exiles Club". Reading this anthology, I was also surprised by just how long a career Lord Dunsany had and how much he wrote, and this volume gives a nice sampling of his later tales, including some from the Jorkens series and one from his Smethers/Linley detective stories. While these later tales -- more ironic and realistic -- show Dunsany leaving aside his early William Morris-esque fantasy for Doyle or Kipling-esque fiction, they are nevertheless well written and enjoyable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    I purchased this Dunsany collection to sample some of the Jorgens tales, which Michael Dirda included in his "Comedy Tonight" list. While the Jorgens tales were pleasant, I was more impressed by the breadth of Dunsany's work, particulary the imagination contained in his "myth" stories, especially The Gods of Pagena. It's quite amazing to know that Pagena was published in 1905, before the works of other, better known fantasists. The prose style and detail are quite remarkable; it is like reading I purchased this Dunsany collection to sample some of the Jorgens tales, which Michael Dirda included in his "Comedy Tonight" list. While the Jorgens tales were pleasant, I was more impressed by the breadth of Dunsany's work, particulary the imagination contained in his "myth" stories, especially The Gods of Pagena. It's quite amazing to know that Pagena was published in 1905, before the works of other, better known fantasists. The prose style and detail are quite remarkable; it is like reading scripture. (Apparently Dunsany had a lot of familiarity with the King James Bible.) Dunsany was quite prolific, and he moved away from fantasy and myth in his later years. This collection has a number of these "lighter" works, which are almost always pleasant and some are quite striking. I particularly liked "Our Distant Cousins" (a Jorkens tale) and "The Pirate of the Round Pound." This collection is a good overview of Dunsany. Although long, it's probably better to consider this as a book for occasional "dips" than one to read beginning to end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Pretty good collection of Dunsany-ness. There's a nice, wide selection from the mythology of the Pegana section to the humor of the Jorkens and other later tales. Some stories work better than others. The over-the-top epics really get on my nerves. On the other hand, I enjoyed the more lyrical, insightful bits such as "The Kith of the Elf-folk" tale. So Andersen-esque. It wasn't exactly a quick read, but then you can always read the stories out of order and come back to it whenever you like. I gi Pretty good collection of Dunsany-ness. There's a nice, wide selection from the mythology of the Pegana section to the humor of the Jorkens and other later tales. Some stories work better than others. The over-the-top epics really get on my nerves. On the other hand, I enjoyed the more lyrical, insightful bits such as "The Kith of the Elf-folk" tale. So Andersen-esque. It wasn't exactly a quick read, but then you can always read the stories out of order and come back to it whenever you like. I give it three stars because it wasn't the best book I've ever read, but that isn't to say there were major flaws. I guess I'm more of a sustained narrative person. Dunsany's characterization in this book can be a bit thin. "Only pray not in thy sorrow to Lipang-Tung, for he saith of sorrow: 'It may be very clever of the gods, but he doth not understand.'" So many like this. It's hard to choose just one quote.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    I always thought I liked Lord Dunsany, but I think I actually just like The Gods of Pegāna.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Murray Ewing

    If you like classic fantasy, you’re bound to come across Lord Dunsany at some point. Ursula Le Guin called him the "most imitated, and the most inimitable” writer of fantasy, though nowadays that title would probably go to George R R Martin. Dunsany is almost Martin’s opposite. He wrote mostly short stories, and the ones he’s most famous for are very light on characterisation, but heavy on fantastic sights and magical wonder, written in a deliberately archaic, poetic prose style. But these stori If you like classic fantasy, you’re bound to come across Lord Dunsany at some point. Ursula Le Guin called him the "most imitated, and the most inimitable” writer of fantasy, though nowadays that title would probably go to George R R Martin. Dunsany is almost Martin’s opposite. He wrote mostly short stories, and the ones he’s most famous for are very light on characterisation, but heavy on fantastic sights and magical wonder, written in a deliberately archaic, poetic prose style. But these stories aren’t the only sort he wrote. In the Land of Time collects a sampling from throughout his highly prolific output, and show how his writing changed over time. Starting with the entirety of his first published book, The Gods of Pegana, a satire on religion written as though it were itself a religious text, this is the mythology of a series of gods Dunsany invented, whose main occupation seems to be laughing at their creation Man, while being frightened of waking the god who created them, MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI, who will wipe them all out and start again as soon as he stops dreaming. Then come the tales for which lovers of classic fantasy will know Dunsany: “The Sword of Welleran” and “The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth”, heroic tales of proto-sword-and-sorcery, told in a highly poetic style. After this, Dunsany’s writing seems to have become a slow disownment of fantasy. His next tales — the ones that most influenced Lovecraft — are about a dreamer, who visits fantastic places, but doesn’t actually do much other than witness wonders. Then there are little comic fables, mostly about ‘small men’ — shop-workers and clerks — whose encounter with fantastic things prove too much for their sense of reality, and usually end up in the madhouse. Then, a further descent, into the Jorkens tales. Jorkens tells of fantastic things he’s witnessed, but only ever under the influence of alcohol. Dunsany’s attitude to fantasy has become lightly mocking, though the Jorkens tales are among his best examples of pure storytelling. The book rounds out with a few miscellaneous tales, including non-fantasy crime (“Two Bottles of Relish”) and a boyhood tale of toy boat piracy, “The Pirate of the Round Pond”. For me, Dunsany’s best were his earlier fantastic tales, though they are a rich diet, and perhaps not to be read in bulk. His novel, The King of Elfland’s Daughter is perhaps his best single work.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    There's no arguing the lucid beauty of Dunsany's prose, or his facility at fairy-tale-like extended metaphor. There may be some argument over just how much of that kind of thing one reader can stand when it's unsupported by the forward motion of plot, but that's a personal issue for each of us to decide. My taste for purely aesthetic pieces is somewhat limited, so my mileage In the Land of Time varied. Dunsany's influence on some of Lovecraft's work, particularly fantastical pieces like "The Whit There's no arguing the lucid beauty of Dunsany's prose, or his facility at fairy-tale-like extended metaphor. There may be some argument over just how much of that kind of thing one reader can stand when it's unsupported by the forward motion of plot, but that's a personal issue for each of us to decide. My taste for purely aesthetic pieces is somewhat limited, so my mileage In the Land of Time varied. Dunsany's influence on some of Lovecraft's work, particularly fantastical pieces like "The White Ship" is clear - it just happens that "The White Ship" isn't anywhere close to my favorite Lovecraft. Happily, there is a fair spread of pieces contained in this collection, which run the gamut from Entirely Ornamental ("The Gods of Pegana") to Tightly Plotted Treats ("The Two Bottles of Relish"). Given that S.T. Joshi is the editor, there is naturally a section dedicated to Dunsany's Prose Poems (disclaimer: Joshi adores prose poems; I loathe them), but there are also treats like "The Ghosts," in which the narrator uses geometry to rationalize himself out of a haunting, and a fun selection of tales featuring the drunken liar, Jorkens. Of the more metaphorical pieces, I enjoyed implicit heresy of "The Exiles Club" and the futility of the battle joined "In the Land of Time." Of the Lovecraft-adjacent work I've read - Blackwood, Machen, Ashton Smith - Dunsany is easily the most gorgeous writer, but that loveliness is too frequently static, as if holding a pose waiting for me to admire it. So while I offer Dunsany my admiration for his style, I'll likely turn my attention to something with a little more verve.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    I'm a big fan of Lord Dunsany's stories, and this is a magnanimous collection, comprising everything from his eccentric "Tales of Pegana" (an invented mythology from 1905) to his colorful, wistful tales of fantasy worlds adn the lucky few who can find them. At times Dunsany is a bit too perfumed for his own good, reminding me of his contemporary in music, Alexander Scriabin. Both spin sensuous waves of sound in a hothouse of magic and twilight, and sometimes, these stories don't date well. Some I'm a big fan of Lord Dunsany's stories, and this is a magnanimous collection, comprising everything from his eccentric "Tales of Pegana" (an invented mythology from 1905) to his colorful, wistful tales of fantasy worlds adn the lucky few who can find them. At times Dunsany is a bit too perfumed for his own good, reminding me of his contemporary in music, Alexander Scriabin. Both spin sensuous waves of sound in a hothouse of magic and twilight, and sometimes, these stories don't date well. Some stories seem to be written simply to luxuriate in a word or a name, and for lovers of traditional fantasy, these may seem puzzling if not infuriating. However, the best stories are truly prophetic, and you can find the seeds of Tolkein, White, and many other later writers in them. Sample "The Wonderful Window," about a man who buys a window in the street that, when affixed in his apartment, opens onto a magical medieval world that he can see but not enter. Or "The Coronation of Mr. Thomas Shap," about a man who concocts a fantasy world to protect him from the mundane drudgery of work, and eventually decides to crown himself king of the realm and live there for good! Dunsany's tales are full of wit and insight, though at times, he can become too eccentric for his own good. Many of my favorite stories are missing from this volume, so to get a full sense of his achievement, you might want to couple this book with the Dover collection of "Wonder Tales." Still, a great introduction to a forgotten master.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James

    Both a hit-and-miss collection (though luckily more of the former and less of the latter), and while Dunsany's style can take awhile to become accustomed to, when he's at the top of his game his prose can be a thing of beauty. I especially liked the stories "The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save For Sacnoth," "Blagdaross," "The Bride of the Man-Horse," "Two Bottles of Relish," "The Cut," and "The Development of the Rillswood Estate." Some of the prose poems collected here are quite exquisite as well Both a hit-and-miss collection (though luckily more of the former and less of the latter), and while Dunsany's style can take awhile to become accustomed to, when he's at the top of his game his prose can be a thing of beauty. I especially liked the stories "The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save For Sacnoth," "Blagdaross," "The Bride of the Man-Horse," "Two Bottles of Relish," "The Cut," and "The Development of the Rillswood Estate." Some of the prose poems collected here are quite exquisite as well.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    The man INVENTED inventing myths and pantheons for the poetry of it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tulpa

    a star docked because ST Joshi's choices as an editor are questionable at best. The stories gradually decline in quality as they go later in the career. The Jorkens tales, while still pleasantly written, put Dunsany's aristocratic, elitist, and (mildly, especially by the standards of early 20th century UK) racist qualities into stark relief. If you pick up this collection, skip the introduction and read up through Thirteen at Table. Then, go track down the early comedic fantasy stories that Joshi a star docked because ST Joshi's choices as an editor are questionable at best. The stories gradually decline in quality as they go later in the career. The Jorkens tales, while still pleasantly written, put Dunsany's aristocratic, elitist, and (mildly, especially by the standards of early 20th century UK) racist qualities into stark relief. If you pick up this collection, skip the introduction and read up through Thirteen at Table. Then, go track down the early comedic fantasy stories that Joshi excluded because he thought they were "too ironic" or something. Terrible editor, great collection of stories in the first two thirds. Though it excludes many greats to make room for mediocre "Jorkens" stories and the true low point: "The Cut," a xenophobic parable about 'lesser races' knowing their place. A repulsive story written by an old has-been, diametrically opposed to the splendour of those early works. (I'm complaining about the xenophobia but it is still far more mild than the outrageous bigotry of contemporaries like Agatha Christie who are still celebrated today) EDIT: You might be wondering why I gave such a high rating if my review was mostly critical. It is purely on the strength of that first half. All the immaculate prose and imagery of those early fantasy stories obliterates my memories of the mediocrity he became.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steven D'Adamo

    I largely enjoyed this collection of Dunsany's work, and I mostly listened to it in small bites, trying to take it one or two stories at a time. I found the narration a little dry, and this may have affected my overall enjoyment. Still, I think it's worth picking up a hard copy of this collection to read again in my own voice, if only to better understand Dunsany's style. I largely enjoyed this collection of Dunsany's work, and I mostly listened to it in small bites, trying to take it one or two stories at a time. I found the narration a little dry, and this may have affected my overall enjoyment. Still, I think it's worth picking up a hard copy of this collection to read again in my own voice, if only to better understand Dunsany's style.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kat Cui

    Uneven collection bc his fantasy is so so good but there’s a lot of non fantasy in here. I would say the other collection I’ve read from him, Over the hills and far away, was better

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Just occasionally, in this collection of short stories, sketches, and wisps of ideas, some themed and some random, I got it. I became part of the cult. Just occasionally, I was swept up in Dunsanay's amazing ability to describe the countryside in terms so lyrical that they seem otherworldly and evocative of a place that humans can only dream about visiting. Just occasionally, I was transported to an imaginary world that seemed infinitely preferable to this one, even with the requisite dangers of Just occasionally, in this collection of short stories, sketches, and wisps of ideas, some themed and some random, I got it. I became part of the cult. Just occasionally, I was swept up in Dunsanay's amazing ability to describe the countryside in terms so lyrical that they seem otherworldly and evocative of a place that humans can only dream about visiting. Just occasionally, I was transported to an imaginary world that seemed infinitely preferable to this one, even with the requisite dangers of fantasy worlds, like magical villains, monstrous beasties, and things that grab you in the dark. But most of the time, I was stuck on his silly place names, his weak plotting, and his Victorian ideas of adventure. I'm sorry, you just can't get to Mars in a month, conserving your fuel, only to find a wise race of humans and a temperate climate. Can't be done. Jules Verne was better with the science he had, and J. R. R. Tolkien was infinitely better imagining a world. Still, the countryside does sound amazing, and it leads me to believe that there was something in that world that we've lost forever, thanks to industrialization. So I do have Dunsanay to thank for that.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth

    A representative collection of short stories by Lord Dunsany, a sampling from across his lifetime. The earlier stories, especially, are imaginative fantasy, stories of gods and heroes, some sword and sorcery, set in dream worlds. Later in life, judging by the stories in this collection, he wrote stories a bit more down to earth though still unique in situation. One section of the book is a selection revolving around a fictional storyteller named Joseph Jorkens who regales his listeners at a loca A representative collection of short stories by Lord Dunsany, a sampling from across his lifetime. The earlier stories, especially, are imaginative fantasy, stories of gods and heroes, some sword and sorcery, set in dream worlds. Later in life, judging by the stories in this collection, he wrote stories a bit more down to earth though still unique in situation. One section of the book is a selection revolving around a fictional storyteller named Joseph Jorkens who regales his listeners at a local English pub with his stories of fantastic adventures, some set in Africa, but also a story of how a friend of his flew to Mars and barely escaped with his life after encountering a menacing race of Martians. As has been pointed out by others, Dunsany was an influence on other fantasy writers like Lovecraft and Tolkien.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    i wanted to like this a lot more than i did. reading dream quest of unknown kadath by lovecraft is evoking dunsany's style very strongly. again, i remember feeling like i was reading a travelogue. it is interesting to me that the debt to dunsany and george macdonald, another fantasy genre precursor, really does seem to be the elements of the fantasy they write about, rather than the style. i wanted to like this a lot more than i did. reading dream quest of unknown kadath by lovecraft is evoking dunsany's style very strongly. again, i remember feeling like i was reading a travelogue. it is interesting to me that the debt to dunsany and george macdonald, another fantasy genre precursor, really does seem to be the elements of the fantasy they write about, rather than the style.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rhomboid Goatcabin

    A collection of uniquely inventive and fantastic tales. Spearheading the fantasy and horror genres, not least through his influence on Tolkien and Lovecraft, respectively, and once considered quite canonical, Dunsany's works have unfortunately fallen somewhat out of favor in recent decades. Highly recommended to, frankly, the entire reading public. A collection of uniquely inventive and fantastic tales. Spearheading the fantasy and horror genres, not least through his influence on Tolkien and Lovecraft, respectively, and once considered quite canonical, Dunsany's works have unfortunately fallen somewhat out of favor in recent decades. Highly recommended to, frankly, the entire reading public.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This is a wonderful collection of some of Lord Dunsany's best short stories. Tales from Pagana, to Dunsany's fantasy to Jorkens are included in this book. It is an excellent and rather large collection of stories unlike any you've read before. This is a wonderful collection of some of Lord Dunsany's best short stories. Tales from Pagana, to Dunsany's fantasy to Jorkens are included in this book. It is an excellent and rather large collection of stories unlike any you've read before.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    Will review at www.fantasyliterature.com. Will review at www.fantasyliterature.com.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Henry Arrambide

    Dunsany's stories offer the fantasy not of escapism, but of orientation, scaling back man's place in the cosmos as a piece of a larger fabric - where Lovecraft would be inspired to mimic this concept but load it with dread, Dunsany reassures, shrugging off the importance of modernity for longer running emotional needs of the human soul. The Gods of Pegana offer up an etiology of the universe that personifies the spirit of little actions and moments to be remembered and savored, the presence of b Dunsany's stories offer the fantasy not of escapism, but of orientation, scaling back man's place in the cosmos as a piece of a larger fabric - where Lovecraft would be inspired to mimic this concept but load it with dread, Dunsany reassures, shrugging off the importance of modernity for longer running emotional needs of the human soul. The Gods of Pegana offer up an etiology of the universe that personifies the spirit of little actions and moments to be remembered and savored, the presence of bigger Gods and questions of mans purpose remain unknowable and irrational to pursue, a healthy counterpoint to the often overbearing sense of destiny and imperial dynasty much post-Dunsany post-Tolkien fantasy crutches itself upon. But beyond these heady philosophical and spiritual concepts, Dunsany just knows how to have fun. The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth, stands out as the best in this collection, a simple adventure tale of a prince saving his village from an evil wizard who comes riding around every few centuries on a comet - as a devourer of Castlevania and Soulsborne games, the influence is obvious, yet the economy of action and prose remains stronger than the multitude of cliche copycats that have been made from its DNA these past 112 years. It was no surprise to discover Dunsany invented his own variant of Chess, the gamer (and metalhead) reads strong in his work. Yet The Fortress Unvanquishable is a rare good vs. evil tale, the rest of the collection is full of encounters wonderful and sublime that avoid moralizing, something I wish students of Dunsany such as Lovecraft had taken away from his ghost stories. Thirteen at a Table, for instance, takes the trappings of a ghost tortured aristocrat story and injects it with a sense of humor, not laughing at its tortured character but freeing him, providing a sense of hope with its humor. Idle Days on the Yann presents a fantasy travelogue free of danger or imminent worry with its strangeness, the prose rambling purple for the sake of its own beauty. Most interesting to me was the arrangement of this collection, opening with Dunsany's most Biblical in scope and slowly scaling down - The Two Bottles of Relish, near the end, is a short mystery yarn holding in it no magic, yet demonstrates Dunsany's ability to entertain with a simple plot drawn efficiently. Other shorts of note here include: Carcassonne, a prose poem about a king and his company of knights fooling themselves into seeking out an unreachable mythic kingdom, criticizing a trope fantasy writing often fetishizes. The Coronation of Mr. Thomas Shap, in which Mr. Shap begins to lose a grasp on which world is real, the one in which he works a dull life or the imagined kingdom in his head. The Wonderful Window, in which our narrator purchases a window to another realm and becomes an obsessive voyeur into a world he cannot affect (one of many stories, such as The Shop on Go-By Street, to feature something extremely similar to Rowling's Diagon Alley). The Cut, a story about a canine that learns to use money which is funnier and more engaging than any movie that has been made since the invention of the moving picture that attempts to personify dogs. The Walk to Lingham, a tale of a tree out for revenge which surely influenced Tolkien and his Ents. The Development of the Rillswood Estate, in which an artist and his sister befriend a Satyr, and enter into a series of sitcom-esque complications. I've already brought up Lovecraft, Rowling, and Tolkien in relation to Dunsany, but also apparent in his sphere of influence are Neil Gaiman, Robert Howard, and possibly Ursula Le Guin and Hayao Miyazaki, although I would cite those last two with less confidence. Dunsany has an understanding of emotional resonance, the magic of his work coming from an overwhelming sense of wonder rather than a wizards staff.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nick Carraway LLC

    1) "There be islands in the Central Sea, whose waters are bounded by no shore and where no ships come—this is the faith of their people." 2) "And Mung went onward with his work to sunder Life from flesh, and Mung came upon a man who became stricken with sorrow when he saw the shadow of Mung. But Mung said: 'When at the sign of Mung thy Life shall float away there will also disappear thy sorrow at forsaking it.' But the man cried out: 'O Mung! tarry for a while, and make not the sign of Mung again 1) "There be islands in the Central Sea, whose waters are bounded by no shore and where no ships come—this is the faith of their people." 2) "And Mung went onward with his work to sunder Life from flesh, and Mung came upon a man who became stricken with sorrow when he saw the shadow of Mung. But Mung said: 'When at the sign of Mung thy Life shall float away there will also disappear thy sorrow at forsaking it.' But the man cried out: 'O Mung! tarry for a while, and make not the sign of Mung against me now, for I have a family upon the Earth with whom sorrow will remain, though mine should disappear because of the sign of Mung.' And Mung said: 'With the gods it is always Now. And before Sish hath banished many of the years the sorrows of thy family for thee shall go the way of thine.' And the man beheld Mung making the sign of Mung before his eyes, which beheld things no more." 3) "Whether the dreams and the fancies of Yoharneth-Lahai be false and the Things that are done in the Day be real, or the Things that are done in the Day be false and the dreams and the fancies of Yoharneth-Lahai be true, none knoweth saving only MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI, who hath not spoken." 4) "It was a windy winter, and outside the cedars were muttering I know not what about; but I think that they were Tories of a school long dead, and were troubled about something new." 5) "Yet had I forgotten the way to those little cottages on the edge of the fields we know whose upper windows, though dim with antique cobwebs, look out on the fields we know not and are the starting-point of all adventure in all the Lands of Dream." 6) "'Well, this is what happened. I'd thought of it ever since I realised that aeroplanes could do it. But about 1920, with Mars coming nearer and nearer, and 1924 the only year that would be possible, I began my calculations. I worked at them steadily for three years; I have the figures still: I will not ask you to read them, but the whole point of my work was this, that there was only one motive power that could possibly get me to Mars before all my provisions gave out, and that power was the pace of the world. An aeroplane can do over two hundred miles an hour, and mine got up to nearly three hundred by means of the propeller alone; and in addition to that I had a rocket attachment that gradually increased my pace to an enormous extent; but the world, which is ninety-three million miles from the Sun, goes right round it in a year; and nothing we know on its surface has any pace like that. My petrol and my rocket were merely to pull clear of the earth's attraction, but my journey was made by the force that is moving you in that chair at this very moment at something like a thousand miles a minute. One doesn't lose that pace merely by leaving the earth; it remains with one.'" 7) "'Your aim was all right,' said Jorkens. 'Good enough,' said Terner. 'Of course the pull of the Earth helped me. I suddenly saw it shining in the day, and I didn't seem much out. Oh, what a feeling it is to be coming home. Earth pale at first, then slowly turning to silver; and growing larger and larger. Then it takes a faint touch of gold, an enormous pale-gold crescent in the sky; to the mere eye a sight of the utmost beauty, but saying something more to the whole being, which the understanding fails to grip. Perhaps one does take it all in after all, but if one does one can never pass it on, never tell a soul of all that golden beauty. Words cannot do it. Music might, but I can't play.'"

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    Lord Dunsany is more famous nowadays for the writers he influenced than his actual work. J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, and Ursula Le Guin are just some of the authors who cite him as an influence. This book - collecting forty short stories spanning Dunsany’s career - makes it easy to see why he’s a foundational figure in the fantasy genre. I was both surprised and impressed by how much ground Dunsany covers in these stories. While most contain some sort of fantastical element, they tackle many Lord Dunsany is more famous nowadays for the writers he influenced than his actual work. J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, and Ursula Le Guin are just some of the authors who cite him as an influence. This book - collecting forty short stories spanning Dunsany’s career - makes it easy to see why he’s a foundational figure in the fantasy genre. I was both surprised and impressed by how much ground Dunsany covers in these stories. While most contain some sort of fantastical element, they tackle many different genres: mythology, horror, epic, pulp, science fiction, mystery, even romance. The first section of the book concerns Pegana, Dunsany’s famous mythological world that he builds from the ground up. He pulls from various myths to create an impressive body of gods with a fully-realized history. This type of worldbuilding has surely reverberated throughout fantasy literature, to this day I would think. In that regard, Dunsany’s stories are interesting to read in hindsight of the 20th century. I had fun picking out the seeds of other authors, making observations like “this is proto-Lovecraft” or “I can see where Tolkien got some of his ideas.” Dunsany’s influences are apparent, too: mythology, of course, but also fairy tales, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells, to name a few. The roadmap of genre fiction has became clearer to me after reading this book. This being a short story collection, some entries are better than others. Ambitious as they are, I found the Pegana stories to be mostly forgettable. They’re written in a dry, almost textbook style that doesn’t appeal to me and became tedious to read after a while. The shortest stories (1-5 pages) didn’t leave a big impression on me either, as I think Dunsany works better in longer lengths. If I had to choose, my favorite entry is “The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth.” It’s an epic tale of one man’s quest to kill a demonic weaver of dreams, and I was on the edge of my seat in parts. I also quite liked the “Jorkens” stories. These feature high society types regaling each other about their fantastic adventures, from big game hunting to interstellar travel. There’s an undercurrent of “fiction as reality” in these stories, as well as exploration of belief in the fantastic that I found quite compelling. If you’re a fantasy fan, I’d say Lord Dunsany is worth reading. Not all the stories in this collection are memorable, but there are enough to keep you entertained, or at least interested. You’ll understand why he’s cited as a early innovator in fantasy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

    I can see the influence on later Fantasy and Science Fiction writers, but that doesn't make Dunsany an entertaining read now. The problem is simply that most of the stories are dull and I found myself skimming. A few stories, the dream like narratives such as "Idle Days on the Yann" and its two sequels were fun reads, but mostly because I liked the witch in "A Shop in Go-By Street", knitting a robe for a King who'd been dead a thousand years. "The Kith of the Elf-Folk" was a well-told story, but I can see the influence on later Fantasy and Science Fiction writers, but that doesn't make Dunsany an entertaining read now. The problem is simply that most of the stories are dull and I found myself skimming. A few stories, the dream like narratives such as "Idle Days on the Yann" and its two sequels were fun reads, but mostly because I liked the witch in "A Shop in Go-By Street", knitting a robe for a King who'd been dead a thousand years. "The Kith of the Elf-Folk" was a well-told story, but verged on moralizing in an annoying way.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jared Pechacek

    The first two-thirds are brilliant, shifting from myth to prose poetry to horror to fairy tales, sometimes even in one paragraph. It's worth picking up the book just to get these weird, beautiful stories, which aren't really like anything else, and whose influence you can see on modern fantasy and science fiction to this day. The second slips in quality with each passing sentence until I found myself skimming just to get to the end. So I split the difference with a three star rating. The first two-thirds are brilliant, shifting from myth to prose poetry to horror to fairy tales, sometimes even in one paragraph. It's worth picking up the book just to get these weird, beautiful stories, which aren't really like anything else, and whose influence you can see on modern fantasy and science fiction to this day. The second slips in quality with each passing sentence until I found myself skimming just to get to the end. So I split the difference with a three star rating.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    A lot of great stories, and it is amazing how, even though it spreads throughout LD's career, there are constant themes of the fleetingness of time, the return to nature, and the appreciation of dogs. The writing is really good, though some of the stories felt repetitive. After reading LD, I realize that Lovecraft was not as original as I thought. Still an amazing writer in his own right, but so much was based on LD. Worth reading. So much cleverness and originality in his writing. A lot of great stories, and it is amazing how, even though it spreads throughout LD's career, there are constant themes of the fleetingness of time, the return to nature, and the appreciation of dogs. The writing is really good, though some of the stories felt repetitive. After reading LD, I realize that Lovecraft was not as original as I thought. Still an amazing writer in his own right, but so much was based on LD. Worth reading. So much cleverness and originality in his writing.

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