8 Lord Dunsany Books

Here are eight books by the incredible Lord Dunsany. If you haven’t read any of his work before, you should definitely give him a try. If you have read some before, perhaps you’ll discover some unknown pieces in this list.

  1. The Charwoman’s Shadow
    The Charwoman's Shadow by Lord Dunsany
    The Charwoman’s Shadow
    by Lord Dunsany 

    An old woman who spends her days scrubbing the floors might be an unlikely damsel in distress, but Lord Dunsany proves once again his mastery of the fantastical. The Charwoman’s Shadow is a beautiful tale of a sorcerer’s apprentice who discovers his master’s nefarious usage of stolen shadows, and vows to save the charwoman from her slavery. Goodreads. 1926.

  2. The Book of Wonder
    The Book of Wonder by Lord Dunsany
    The Book of Wonder by Lord Dunsany

    “Not only does any tale which crosshatches between this world and Faerie owe a Founder’s Debt to Lord Dunsany, but the secondary world created by J.R.R. Tolkien–from which almost all fantasylands have devolved–also took shape and flower from Dunsany’s example.” –The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. 1912. It’s quite difficult to convey in words how happy reading Lord Dunsany’s short fiction makes me. Eleanor Toland, Goodreads reviewer

  3. Fifty-One TalesWithout doubt Lord Dunsany was one of the most influential writers of fantasy fiction in twentieth century.Goodreads. 1915. A hen decides to go south for the winter, an angel tosses an advertiser into Hell, an orange makes nefarious plans and a sphinx visits Thebes, Massachusetts. Often witty, frequently melancholy and occasionally blood-chillingly creepy, these fifty-one very short stories are a foundational document for the modern fantasy genre. Decades before Neil Gaiman was born, Dunsany wrote about a cyclist encountering decrepit versions of Odin and Thor begging for worship by the side of the road. – Eleanor Toland, Goodreads reviewer
    Fifty-One Tales by Lord Dunsany
    Fifty-One Tales
    by Lord Dunsany

    The first editions, in hardcover, were published simultaneously in London and New York City by Elkin Mathews and Mitchell Kennerly, respectively, in April, 1915. The British and American editions differ in that they arrange the material slightly differently and that each includes a story the other omits; “The Poet Speaks with Earth” in the British version, and “The Mist” in the American version. Wikipedia

  4. Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow ValleyAfter long and patient research I am still unable to give to the reader of these Chronicles the exact date of the times that they tell of. Goodreads. 1922. “Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley conveys its young disinherited protagonist through a fantasized Spain, gifting him with a Sancho Panza companion, good luck with magicians, and a castle” — The Encyclopedia of Fantasy.
  5. The Hashish Man and Other Stories
    The Hashish Man and Other Stories by Lord Dunsany
    The Hashish Man and Other Stories by Lord Dunsany

    In this collection of 23 short stories, one of the original masters of early-twentieth-century science fiction and fantasy is introduced to a new generation of readers. Goodreads

  6. Gods, Men and Ghosts: The Best Supernatural Fiction of Lord DunsanyIrish writer Edward J. M. D. Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany, ranks among the twentieth century’s great masters of supernatural and science fiction. Goodreads. 260 pages. I had this book in my home as a child, but I had to read some other stuff first to truly appreciate it. HP Lovecraft’s Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, Jack Vance’s Eyes of the Overworld, I reread The Hobbit as an adult and fell in love again, and then I understood a predecessor to them all, Lord Dunsany. Arpad Okay, Goodreads reviewer
  7. Tales of Three Hemispheres
    Tales of Three Hemispheres by Lord Dunsany
    Tales of Three Hemispheres by Lord Dunsany

    This peculiar collection is a very real treat: we envy you the reading of it. Goodreads. 108 pages. The section at the latter part of the book he calls Beyond the Fields We Know is beyond remarkable. Andrew James Jiao, Goodreads reviewer

  8. The Blessing of Pan. “The Blessing of Pan portrays English rural life under a sign of paganism, after the fashion of writers like T.F. Powys.” — The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. 288 pages. Published in 1927, this is a highly unusual tale of fantasy. Daniel Martin Eckhart, Goodreads reviewer

    Lord Dunsany
    Lord Dunsany

Weird Fiction Quotes

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H.P. Lovecraft: Master of Weird Fiction

Jonathan Glazer’s Birth

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I’ve only just got round to watching director Jonathan Glazer’s Birth, even though it came out twelve years ago in 2004. To be honest, I didn’t know it existed until I saw Under the Skin (twice in three days) and desperately sought out more Glazer-goodness. However, I still thought it was worth writing a post about since I haven’t met a single other person who’s seen it. Please do comment with your thoughts about the film, as I’m intrigued to know why others liked or indeed didn’t like it. Most online reviews that I’ve seen have called it “staggering” and “incredible” and I feel like I’m missing something.

Being a huge fan of Sexy Beast and an ever bigger fan of Under the Skin, I was disappointed and confused, particularly by the music and sound choices throughout the film. I found it laughable in places, frustrating in others. There are many prolonged shots of people staring, walking, running… shots which would be beautiful if it weren’t for the strange music which made me feel as though I was watching Home Alone (particularly with the snowy scenes) or some other 90’s family film. This isn’t a film I would want to watch on a Sunday afternoon with my grandparents (although, I did awkwardly watch Under the Skin with my Grandfather), so why use magical, family music?

Nicole Kidman was great throughout, as she always is in non-mainstream films. She comes across as honest and real, surely in part due to the writing and direction, but I don’t think many actresses could pull this role off. In fact, this was Kidman’s greatest working period, with Dogville having just come out the year before. That really is a wonderful film and I highly recommend giving it a go if you’ve not come across it before.

I just cannot fathom how Glazer watched the film back and thought the music worked, particularly when the music in Under the Skin pretty much makes the film, and considering he has made fantastic music videos (Radiohead’s stunning and memorable Karma Police for one).

The image above, taken from the scene where Kidman stares ahead for considerable time whilst in a theatre, would probably have me crying buckets if the music were different. Even silence would work. The story itself seemed like a great idea when I read the synopsis, and I did enjoy much of it. Most of us have some anxiety regarding losing our partners at a young age and the difficulties of “starting again”. Trying to put yourself in the shoes of the main character, or even of the little boy, is fascinating, scary and exciting. Do you go back to your old life, with the person that your memories tell you was your true love?

I assume many people would find the idea of the story a little repulsive or “wrong” and I wonder if that’s why it didn’t do so well. Perhaps I would have enjoyed Birth more if I had seen it before Under the Skin, as I was desperately hoping for severe strangeness and a dream-like feeling which lingers long after the end credits.

The one brilliant thing which I think exists in Sexy BeastBirth and Under the Skin is to present such incredibly believable characters (although Glazer cheated in the latter in his genius move of using many non-actors throughout the film). I just wish Glazer would hurry up and give us another film to get excited about.

 

Sidney H. Sime

I’ve stumbled upon a wonder!

Sidney H. Sime (sometimes referred to as the Master of the Mysterious) was a gifted English painter, cartoonist and illustrator, often compared to Aubrey Beardsley and Arthur Rackham.

I’ve put together some images for this post, as well as a YouTube video at the end which showcases a Tarot deck featuring Sime’s work.

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Many of Sidney H. Sime’s illustrations were for the beautifully odd stories of Lord Dunsany (Edward J.M.D. Plunkett, 1878-1957). You can read a collection of his shorts, The Last Book of Wonder (1916) for free over on archive.org. Titles include Why the Milkman Shudders when he Perceives the DawnThe Bird of the Difficult EyeThe Long Porter’s TaleThe Loot of LomaThe Secret of the SeaA Story of Land and Sea and The Exiles Club. archive.org also has Dunsany’s The Gods of Pegana, featuring Sime’s illustrations, Time and the Gods and The Sword of Welleran, and other stories, originally published by G. Allen & Sons, it’s 290 pages of wonder.

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“The partnership of illustrator Sidney H. Sime and fantasy writer Lord Dunsany (also poet, dramatist, and grand chess master and pistol champion of Ireland) is without peer in the annals of fantasy illustration. It is almost inconceivable to imagine a Dunsany story – with its exquisite fusion of elements from Greek and Celtic myths (Dunsany was friendly with Yeats and the writers of the Celtic Twilight), Arabian Nights adventure, and the solemn harmonies of the Old Testament – without the drawings of Sidney H. Sime. Sime has been called the “greatest imaginative artist since William Blake,” and aside from their fin-de-siecle elegance, and delicacy of line recalling Persian miniatures, Sime’s drawings manifest that rare faculty of being able to give definitive, and often uncanny, form to the poet’s merest suggestions.” – from ArtRenewal.com

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Sime’s work was largely unrecognised during his lifetime. There have however been recent exhibitions of his drawings and paintings and there is a Sidney Sime Gallery in Worplesdon, Surrey.

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10 Short Stories challenge – day 9

Today I read Palomino by Olivier De Beventine. I love everything about this story but I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to ruin the many surprises!

The story opens with two men discussing their unusual horse. I won’t say any more than that. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if this story is sad, a social commentary, funny, a horror tale… it’s certainly unique anyway and it makes me want to read more stories by this writer.

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I read Palomino over on The Strange and the Curious. Go and have a read and come back to tell me what you think in the comments!

Agapanthus and the Crystal Ornamen is Olivier de Beventine‘s latest book.

“Like the idea of reading but can’t be bothered…? This is the book for you. Will lie around anywhere unobtrusively, leaving you to get on with your life. If you do ever pick it up, don’t worry, you’ll not be hooked for precious hours on end. Indeed, the stories are so short, you’ll read five before breakfast, and the whole lot by the time the sun is over the yardarm. Thenceforth, you can congratulate yourself heartily on the swift conclusion of one of your ‘five-a-year’ with the first and subsequent gins of the day. NOT SUITABLE FOR SERIOUS PEOPLE, NOR ACTUAL CHILDREN – A small, illustrated booklet of strange and sensational short story sketches, ideal reading for the W.C. Weird, laughable, absurd; characters include an opportunist octopus, a palomino horse, a diarised father figure, an uninnocently perching puffin, a studioful of dating show participants, and an electric eel.”

Sounds damn good to me.