- DUNSANY, Lord
- Working name of Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett (1878-1957), 18th Baron Dunsany, prolific Irish author of stories, novels, essays and plays. Though primarily a writer of FANTASY, he is of sf interest through the widespread influence of his language and imagery. Late in life he wrote one sf novel, The Last Revolution (1951), about MACHINES in revolt. His influence, especially on writers of HEROIC FANTASY, was strong from almost the beginning of his long career, when he published a series of FANTASY collections whose contents are linked by imagery and reference: The Gods of Pegana (coll of linked stories 1905), Time and the Gods (coll 1906), The Sword of Welleran (coll 1908), which contains the famous The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth (1910 chap), A Dreamer's Tales (coll 1910), The Book of Wonder: A Chronicle of Little Adventures at the Edge of the World (coll 1912), Fifty-One Tales (coll 1915; vt The Food of Death: Fifty-One Tales 1974 US), and Tales of Wonder (coll 1916: vt The Last Book of Wonder 1916 US). The stories in these intermittently brilliant volumes made creative use of influences from Wilde and Yeats through William MORRIS - along with the very specific effect of the play The Darling of the Gods (1902) by David Belasco (1859-1931) and John L. Long (1861-1927), with its misty fake-oriental setting. Through their sustained otherworldliness and their muscular delicacy, these stories in turn exerted a potent influence on later writers.In his second phase as a fantasist - after a rather ostentatious spurning of the genre during WWI - LD turned to novels like The Chronicles of Don Rodriguez (1922; vt Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley 1922 US), The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924) and The Charwoman's Shadow (1926); the second of these did much to give geographical reality to the secondary universe (J.R.R. TOLKIEN) of high fantasy. His third phase consists of the Jorkens CLUB STORIES: The Travel Tales of Mr Joseph Jorkens (coll 1931), Jorkens Remembers Africa (coll 1934 US; vt Mr Jorkens Remembers Africa 1934 UK), Jorkens Has a Large Whiskey (coll 1940), The Fourth Book of Jorkens (coll 1947) and Jorkens Borrows Another Whiskey (coll 1954). Along with works by Robert Louis STEVENSON and G.K. CHESTERTON, these tales focused the attention of sf and fantasy writers upon the late Victorian and Edwardian club story as a suggestive mode for storytelling; Arthur C. CLARKE, Sterling LANIER and Spider ROBINSON are among the many who have written in it. LD's work as a fantasist is of high intrinsic merit, and his influence is pervasive.JCOther works: Tales of War (coll 1918); Unhappy Far-Off Things (coll 1919); Tales of Three Hemispheres (coll 1919 US); two macabre novels, The Blessing of Pan (1927) and The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933); My Talks with Dean Spanley (1936), in which the Dean recalls a past life; The Strange Journeys of Colonel Polders (1950), in which a man's mind is transferred into an animal's body;Rory and Bran (1936), a protagonist of which is a dog; The Man who Ate the Phoenix (coll 1949); The Little Tales of Smethers (coll 1952); The Sword of Welleran and Other Tales of Enchantment (coll 1954; contents differ from the 1908 vol); 3 compilations ed Lin CARTER, At the Edge of the World (coll 1970), Beyond the Fields We Know (coll 1972) and Over the Hills and Far Away (coll 1974); Gods, Men and Ghosts (coll 1972) ed E.F. BLEILER; The Ghosts of the Heaviside Layer and Other Fantasms (coll 1980 US); also numerous pamphlets and plays.About the author: Lord Dunsany: A Biography (1972) by Mark Amory; Lord Dunsany: King of Dreams (1959) by Hazel Littlefield; Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers (1976) by L. Sprague DE CAMP; Pathways to Elfland: The Writings of Lord Dunsany (1989) by Darrell SCHWEITZER; "Lord Dunsany: The Career of a Fantaisiste"by S.T. Joshi in his The Weird Tale (1990);Pathways to Elfland (1989) by Darrell SCHWEITZER; Lord Dunsany: A Bibliograpy (1993) by J.T. Joshi and Schweitzer.See also: SWORD AND SORCERY.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.