In the Land of Time – Lord Dunsany

Just received my purchased copy of…

dunsany

IN THE LAND OF TIME And Other Fantasy Tales

Lord Dunsany

Penguin Classics (2004)

Edited by S.T. Joshi

MY REAL-TIME REVIEW OF THIS BOOK WILL APPEAR IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW AS AND WHEN I READ IT…

[My other reviews of older or classic books are linked from HERE]

46 thoughts on “In the Land of Time – Lord Dunsany

  1. I shall not be reading any of the Joshi material in this book until I have finished (re)reading and reviewing the Dunsany works.

    The Gods of Pegāna
    Pages 3 to 6
    “Let there be now a Watcher to regard.”
    I feel the die has been cast as this game of gods (small sections of prose with mock-incantatory names telling of the tussle between Fate and Chance, cause-effect and synchronicity, gestalt and parts) — starting with MAN (MĀNA-YOOD-SUSHĀĪ) not GOD – and I am here as Watcher to attest that that MAN is Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron Dunsany…
    But for now “the Game is to be Mine.” And the drum is drumming…

  2. Pages 6 to 9
    Two important passages in this section, indicating that Man created the gods and the gods then created man. Note the upper case M and lower case m below, unless there is a typo?

    “Once the gods walked upon the Earth as men walk and spake with their mouths like Men.” (Sic)

    “Time is the hound of the gods; but it hath been said of old that he will one day turn upon his masters, and seek to slay the gods,…”

  3. Pages 9 to 19
    “Pray, thou, therefore, to Slid, and forget not Slid, and it may be that Slid will not forget to send thee Death when most thou needest it.”
    A sign of anti-Natalism? These incantatory repeated refrains where gods’ names and their sayings are a minimalist music, a blend of the Biblical and the magic spell. Wise saws, nursery rhyme-like chaunts breaking the silence. Slid, Kib, Sish, Hish, Mung, Roon, Yoharneth-Lahai, Kilooloogung…
    “All these are gods so small they be lesser than man, but pleasant gods to have beside the hearth;”

  4. Pages 19 to 32
    “Troogol is the Thing that is neither god nor beast, who neither howls nor breaths, only IT turns over the leaves of a great book, black and white, black and white for ever until THE END.”
    Note ‘breaths’ not ‘breathes’.
    IT no longer turns over the leaves books but today is becoming the books themselves. An end indeed. A sad prophecy by Dunsany?
    Things that are and Things that are not. Neither one thing nor the other. This text is full of things to come, things that are, things that are now not, and things that never were nor ever will be.
    “One day Yug saw Mung behind the hills making the sign of Mung. And Yug was Yug no more.”

  5. Pages 32 – 48
    “There was dole in the valley of Sidith. / For three years there had been pestilence, and in the last of the three a famine; moreover, there was imminence of war.”
    I have now finished reading ‘The Gods of Pegāna’ and I feel it represents the Prophecy of All Books save One, and this book is the One which it could hardly prophesy because it is what it is prophesying about!
    The work is resplendent as well as airy, dreamy as well as absurd with the gods’ names and endless lopping syllogisms of alternatives and onenesses. You just need to read it to feel better, knowing that THE END is within you and so it will never end for you. It is you who is MĀNA-YOOD-SUSHĀĪ.

  6. Time and the gods
    “…and the gods distrusted Time because he had known the worlds or ever the gods became.”
    A soaringly wonderful dream vision of the marble city Sardathrion, and the balance between men and gods, but above all between the gods and Time.
    A telling use of upper case words, and I wonder if even the title should reflect the usage ‘gods’, while Time is called ‘he’, and the gods have their ‘Their’…
    Regarding above quote, I know this is what all the texts have, but it makes no sense unless it should be: “…and the gods distrusted Time because he had known the worlds ere ever the gods became.”

  7. A Legend of the Dawn
    “All in the dark among the crags in a mighty cavern, guarded by two twin peaks, at last they found the golden ball for which the Dawnchild wept.”
    Does that imply four peaks in total?
    A breathtakingly fabulous tale where the golden ball, golden bowl or sun, I wonder, is recurrently gained and lost in new perigenesis, whereby natural things like wind and night are anthropomorphised leading to the fable’s moral that without this sun even the gods are not gods as there is no one to pray to them. But men are always men, even in darkness, I say, and it is the gods, as well as the wind and night, who are now anthropomorphised!
    Done zany, Inzana?

  8. In The Land Of Time
    “Death, O King, is a gift sent by the gods by the hand of their servant Time, and some receive it gladly, and some are forced reluctantly to take it, and before others it is suddenly flung in the middle of the day.”
    An accretively despairing as well as almost hopeful process of Time’s war against us, by flinging its weapons of duration in our direction, transforming us from dark hair to grey, health to dereliction — all told as as a poignant fable of a battle by a new King against this ‘enemy’ Time in the name-dropping world of the gods of Pegāna.
    Gods end by submitting to Time, and even I need to do so, too.

  9. The Relenting of Sarnidac
    “There shall be no strange cities at night time half understood,…”
    CARNISAD adj. – so utterly sad, one’s whole body looks sad, too, not just the face.
    This is a strong vision of gods, taller and more imposing than men, striding into the sky, away from the dimming faith and heresy with which they feel men have treated them.
    It seems to me as if many of the elements of Dunsany fiction (songs of twilight etc. actually described and self-referenced in this story) threaten to disappear by following these gods away, far away, into the sky. It is ironic, and quite beautiful, quite poignant, that the mere books of men — within which books such twilit songs etc. are still preserved by dint of whomsoever empowered such books as this book to exist — can effectively bring the gods back into our lives.
    A half understood review of this marvellous tale or a marvellous tale half understood?

  10. The Fall of Babbulkund
    “…for in Babbulkund the vendor of rubies sings the song of the ruby, and the vendor of sapphires sings the song of the sapphire,…”
    A relentlessly incantatory prose, together with the hyperbole of eager expectation, makes this a story to cherish. But the ending seems to be some form of prophecy of what is happening in ‘Araby’ today while the soaringly idyllic premonition of the wondrous City of Marvel as a state of self-immersing dream, the journeying thence, and then the final deracinating outcome, all this confirms Dunsany as the master of puckish bathos, evident in this and much of his other work. A pity about the plot spoiler, though, in the story’s title.

  11. The Sword of Welleran
    “At last when he saw the dark ravine making a scar across the plain, the soul of Iraine slipped out through his great wound and spread its wings, and pain departed from the poor hacked body and, still urging his horse forward, Iraine died.”
    Heroic hackings, cruel hackings, who can tell them apart? In ancient fiction like this or on you-tube, alike. Here, this story has men as statues still holding fort for their beloved city, their enemies still thinking them alive and on guard, until those enemies already condemned to death test out whether stone or flesh these city heroes now are. This story is not told but dreamt, and those who are dreamt in it also dream of such dreams dreaming them, I feel. Dead heroes can return in dream, but not in the fullness of their once full-blood capabilities, but sufficient to summon up the thews. The ending is not puckish bathos so much, this time, as one of ambivalent feelings as to how to distinguish honourable deaths from wasted ones. A double-edged fable. A mixed blessing of a sword. A stirring dream, with words as gems.

  12. imageThe Kith of the Elf-Folk
    “…but the song and prayers of the people streamed up from the cathedral’s highest tower like thin gold chains, and reached to Paradise, and up and down them went the angels from Paradise to the people, and from the people to Paradise again.”
    This is sheer delight. Limpidly crystalline in style and evoking the wisps, scintillants, shimmery webs and other nature’s ingredients in creating a single warp and weft of a discrete transferable soul, with all the pros and cons for a soulless Wild Thing to yearn for it and finally own it so as to share the religion, joy and heartache with those more normally possessive of such souls. Contrasting the thrust of an opera singer with that of a fleeting cluster of motes flitting across the marshes, Dunsany is a writer of disappointment, yet paradoxically one of aggressively lived life and twilit dream, too. A heady mix of pathos, bathos and curative, creative soaring. “He spoke of Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus:” Reliving the reading of Dunsany is ever a new Road to Damascus, whatever the reader’s age. Where the Wild Things are.

  13. The Ghosts
    “Here sits an old nobleman with his grandson on his knee, and one of the great black sins of the grandfather is licking the child’s face and has made the child its own.”
    A truly disturbing tale of ghosts and their accompanying sins – given puckish bathos by a mathematical or geometrical conundrum at the end.

  14. The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save For Sacnoth
    “…and before him lay the two abysses full of stars, for they cut their way through the whole Earth and revealed the under sky;”
    This is a long story that flows through the reading eyes like mellifluous honey but tells of sharp or jagged things like a dragon alligator with an unvanquishable sword as its spine, a sword that can defeat all in its path and so the hero — who takes up arms with an unvanquishable sword to slay a Mage who is otherwise unvanquishable (someone feeding fell dreams to those sleeping) — is perhaps not such a hero as he seems after all. You cannot imagine the nature of the many deadpan conceits in this singing prose that constitutes a literature unlike any other literature. And the ending is equally deadpan, an ending neatly tailing off a tale of acceptance after authority and annihilation.

  15. Blagdaross
    An amazing Rhys-Hughesian short-short fable, except Dunsany is probably more sympathetic toward the outcasts like the wine bottle cork and broken kettle who speak to us! The old cord, becoming noose-knot or ligottus, this is the height of poignant anti-natalist poetry. As is the rocking-horse, whose monologue concerns going off to the Islamic State to fight… A stoical gem.

  16. Idle Days on the Yann
    “And the butterflies sung of strange and painted things, of purple orchids and of lost pink cities and the monstrous colours of the jungle’s decay.”
    Imagine distilled or optimum Dunsany. Well, this is it. A poeticised river journey towards the sea, meeting its various denizens, including a snake to echo the river itself, watching the exaggerated bartering between captain and natives, feeling the journey’s dreams and duties, a tale more purposeful than ‘Three Men in the Boat’, but, paradoxically more idle, too – ending with a half-reluctant, half-enthusiastic handshake between friends, a handshake for its own sake. As we read this descant of words for its own sake, too.
    “Silence and ripples, ripples and silence again.”

  17. A Shop in Go-By Street
    “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.”
    This is the classic sequel to the previous story, with all the yearning for the Yann, for the days of travelling that river which is now sought via a shop off the Strand that hardly exists, if at all. Time as a destructive force against mankind, even against the gods when the last man dies, still imbues the work of Dunsany – but here we get the sense that although dreams (dreams being the lives of the poets sown as flowers?) are an illusion, so is life an illusion, too, and if we can be allowed to experience such stories as this one, it was worth having this fleeting consciousness between two illusions, just for that single timeless purpose beyond all other spuriously timeful purpose? But I laughed and turned away from my own crazy theories, amid puckish bathos, as ever.
    “‘I want some of Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus.’ / ‘How much?’ he said. / ‘Two and a half yards of each, to be delivered to my flat.'”

    “Three times only in those three nights the tolulu-bird was soared and stopped his song, and each time I woke with a start…” Should ‘was’ be omitted?

  18. The Avenger of Perdóndaris
    “Then, the dawn wind being all about her, she said that she was cold and turned back into the Ivory palace. And I feared that we might never meet again, for time moves differently over the Lands of Dream than over the fields we know;”
    This Proustian-like unrequited love at the centre of this further River Yann and Go-By Street sequel of some length suits not only the Proustianised solidly wide and tall chunkinesses of the obsessive and compelling almost hypnotic paragraphs, with their tentacularly and sumptuously structured syntax of dream-fey sentences, but also it suits the Proustian sense of Time, with Proust’s huge novel having the title often translated as ‘In Search of Lost Time’ … And, further, this story also suits the mixed feelings of discrete personality between dream and life, and the Dark-Tower type doorways between these two illusions, this and much else in Dunsany suiting the concept of a number of Proustian Selves within one individual as he or she passes through Time. In fact, the more I think of it, Dunsany is a Proustian writer, and Proust is a Dunsanyan writer. It’s just that their subject-matter is different. In this story, I even got the sense that the protagonist’s equivalent to the Proustian cup of tea dunked into by the petite madeleine cake is the London Cockney language!

    Marcel Proust 1871-1922 — Lord Dunsany 1878-1957

  19. The Bride of the Man-Horse
    “She was unwed, unwooed. / The lions came not to woo her because they feared her strength, and the gods dared not love her because they knew she must die.”
    From the previous story’s unrequited love, we now have a requited love – with a vengeance! As carried by a satisfyingly dense, tickly-prickly prose, the new emergent centaur with his silver horn is not very politically correct when claiming his partly divine, partly mortal bride, whatever her supposed strength.

  20. Where the Tides Ebb and Flow
    “Gradually the horrible houses crumbled, until the poor dead things that never had had life got decent burial…”
    This is a relentlessly deadpan monologue by someone murdered who aches for death’s peace by decent burial rather than retaining an awareness as his bones are stirred by tidal mud…and recurringly over centuries he is thus awoken. The monologue’s Cathrian or anti-natalist credentials however are tinctured with hope that death is not the final end, when birds arrive in an otherwise empty London, only again to stir his bones…with their ironic (?): “Let us be kind to him,”, thus allowing him to weep, as he had yearned to do. An amazing work that will tinge your own death throes one day, I guess. An emblem of the sparkle in the eye of Dunsany even as Time continues to takes its toll upon him. No such sparkle in Ligotti’s eye, I infer. And neither, increasingly, in mine.

  21. The Raft-Builders
    “They will not carry much over those tides, our names and a phrase or two and little else.”
    With this one-pager that deals with posterity’s tides, the previous tidal work just reviewed takes on a more definite anti-natalist slant as we see Dunsany, using the Royal ‘we’ and losing even the latent sparkle in his eye as he dwells on the way he envisages his name and work being treated after his death, as if he has been building a raft for the Titanic all his life, or something. This is like a blog complaining about a review. Or these rafts as prediction of Twitter or Facebook? This prose poem’s text can be read here.

  22. Three more one-pagers about unforgiving Time…

    The Prayer of the Flowers
    “The woods are gone, O Pan…”
    But they will be back, given Time…No panic. No rush. Just inevitability.

    The Workman
    “‘Why, yer bloomin’ life ‘ull go by like a wind,’ he said, ‘and yer ‘ole silly civilization ‘ull be tidied up in a few centuries.'”
    A man falling to his death tries to carve his name into the scaffolding whence he had fallen. Go-By like all streets…?

    Charon
    That last man who signals the death of gods takes a trip with Charon –
    “They shall die by the bedside of the last man.” — From ‘A Shop in Go-By Street’.
    Go-By, Goodbye…

  23. Carcassonne
    “But the splendour of the rumours of Carcassonne and Fate’s decree that they should never come there, and the inspiration of Arleon and his harp, all urged the Warriors on; and they marched deeper and deeper all day into the forest.”
    This is Man’s battle not only with Time but with Fate, to reach Carcassonne about which it is sung none may ever reach, never to reach this City of, I assume, the One Dead Body, thus perhaps the eventual ‘tontine’ of the last man left standing as Time goes-by, by assonant dint of its name? And this work is indeed a warrior-like rite of patient perseverance and stoicism within the Tale That Shall Never Have Its Ending Divulged Save By Reading It.

  24. Two more one-pagers…
    Roses
    The City

    Having read them, I ask whether there can possibly be a little love, or half love, or is love entire and indivisible, say, regarding any ‘old swart city’ where we might once have lived, here London, and whether only poets and artists (and mere readers of this book like me?) can have poignant regret disguised as hope about Time’s gradual erasure of such finite memories, made infinite by this book?

  25. …and ‘Roses’ and ‘The City’ are the optimum window to a real London and a short story that fits yet another window into the roofslope of your mind…
    The Wonderful Window
    “…his eyes gazing away as though the walls of the emporium were of gossamer and London itself a myth,…”
    A keeper of a London shop buys a discrete window in its frame that originates from Baghdad, and the seller of this window fits it in the room upstairs and I wonder if the mythic vista seen through it as a “fight for the little golden dragons that flew on a a white flag for an unknown king in an inaccessible city” is a wondrous heroic vision for its own sake or a more reflective or ominous reflection of the future (our own present) made mythic as if the past… It is probably a blend of the two, and like much of Dunsany, gives a redolent sense of mixed emotions. A window that, we are told, on being broken, returns to being the site of an original cupboard — one containing the shopkeeper’s Proustian ‘tea-things’, too?

  26. The Coronation of Mr. Thomas Shap
    “On far the most important day of his life he went as usual to town by the early train to sell plausible articles to customers while the spiritual Shap roamed off to fanciful lands.”
    This is the story of my life, except my fanciful lands are not fanciful and my outcome not yet come out. The most perfectly puckish pathos and bathos of an ending yet.

  27. The City on Mallington Moor
    “…the old shepherd of Lingwold. It appeared that he, following sometimes sheep that had strayed, and wandering far from Lingwold, came sometimes up to the edge of Mallington Moor, and that he would come back from these excursions and shout through the villages, raving of a city of white marble and gold-tipped minarets.”
    Unlike with the visions of Mr Shap in the previous story, the author at least believes the visions of the shepherd of Lingwold. But I believe both the shepherd and Mr Shap, sheep or no sheep. This story is the ultimate visionary effulgence emanating from imagination as well as reality, transcending imagination to become reality alone. A fragment of life become whole. Loved it. The story’s ending, for me, of course, is, in reality, while disguised as more puckish bathos, a collusive nod toward the need to stop thousands of others from swarming across Mallington Moor to find the marble city…

  28. The Bureau d’Echange de Maux
    “‘Commodities’ was the old man’s terrible word, said with a gruesome smack of his heavy lips, for he took pride in his business and evils to him were goods.”
    One of those shops in a sort of Go-By Street, this one in Paris, where the owner acts as broker for bartering of evils between customers, pairs of Faustian bargains between ordinary mortals where a big evil to A is a small evil to B… You get the drift? The bargain once struck, they never seem to return to the shop and the prevailing plot thread is to find out the whys and wherefores.
    Intriguing enough as a work of fiction but yesterday and this morning I wrote two versions of a story (here) and later today I read the following passage in this ‘Bureau’ story (something I’m sure I’ve not read before). A coincidence? “Nothing will induce me to try such a journey again. I would sooner go up to my room in a balloon. And why? Because if a balloon goes wrong you have a chance, it may spread out into a parachute after it has burst, it may catch in a tree, a hundred and one things may happen, but if the lift falls down its shaft you are done. As for sea-sickness I shall never be sick again, I cannot tell you why except that I know that it is so. And the shop in which I made this remarkable bargain, the shop to which none return when their business is done: I set out for it next day.” And so forth to the story’s end.

  29. The Exiles’ Club
    A capricious tale of being invited by an ex-King to an exclusive, ornately-housed club in London for worldwide ex-Kings certifiably proved to be in direct line to strict Kingliness. The story’s outcome reminds me of the pecking order of gods and men earlier in this book – and the ‘dog’ that is killed by lightning at the end I suspect is the narrator himself. Deservedly so.

  30. Thirteen at Table
    A fell rip-roaring chase of a fox across valley upon valley of land unknown to the hunter and his hounds. A ‘queer old house’ is eventually reached at the end of the hunt, where later it is discovered that there is the sound of rats in the walls. Forcing himself on the house’s owner to stay there overnight, as a sort of noblesse oblige, the ensuing dinner reminds me of that of the ex-Kings in the previous story. Capriciously, I can only remind you that in fiction no one actually exists, unless you believe they do. But this dinner has happier results for the main protagonist in this Story Whose Ending Can Only Be Told By Reading It. WARNING OR SPOILER: The fox is eventually caught and killed, earlier in the story.

  31. The Last Dream of Bwona Khubla
    “…they say a coster was singing, they admit that he was singing out of tune, they admit a Cockney accent, and yet they say that that song had in it something that no earthly song had ever had before, and both men say they would have wept but that there was a feeling about their heartstrings that was far too deep for tears.”
    A fragment of life as a vision of London amid the desolation of the forest and jagged hills at an equator’s waterhole, so utterly visionary in an ecstatic sense that I rate this story equally against the great London visionary story entitled “Mysterious Kôr” by Elizabeth Bowen. A Dunsany experience unspoilt, for me, by his customary cheerily puckish bathos at the end. Enhanced even.

  32. …and from a gentleman’s club in London at the end of the previous story, we come to another one…

    The Tale of Abu Laheeb
    …wherein Jorkens often holds court with the telling of some of the tales of his adventures, given the payment of a whiskey and soda. In this one he is a bit reluctant to accept the whiskey and tell a tale because someone complained the night before about not believing him! Heaven forfend! Anyway, this comfortable meeting in a comfortable club has an uncomfortable tale within it that is made to seem comfortable by where it is told but not by where it happened, where “the last white man you see as you go through the final fringes of civilisation” (cf: the concept of the last man alive in this book’s earlier stories, the one whose death also creates the death of the gods that he worships) – and here the tale is of seeking an animal who no one knew previously that it existed, a conglomerate of many animals, an equal of man by having discovered the use of fire? Heaven forfend! No wonder everyone left in shockable silence. I have photos I took of the whole story in case you don’t believe it all happened. Not photos of the strange animal, of course, but of the storytelling occasion itself.

  33. Our Distant Cousins
    “There certainly had been an outbreak of disbelief.”
    Another story about Jorkens via the narrator but the tale itself is told by a third party as brokered by Jorkens (cf: the brokering of evils to be bartered between customers in an earlier story). I have long seen fiction making as a pecking order: freehold author – leasehold narrator – sub-leasehold characters etc. The fiction maker (travelling to Mars by aeroplane partially dependent on the Earth going a thousand miles an hour as we stand on it and then many outlandish events with human-like people (one of whom the traveller from Earth fancies) kept in a chicken-run and octopoid beasts that eat them and then the traveller making a half stop on the way home on the asteroid Eros and much else) is called Terner, or as the freeholder probably intended to indicate, by anagram: re-rent
    And that’s what we do, rent the story at each remove to enhance truth at or from a distance. But there is an elephant in the room about this story. Or should I say ‘an elephant bursting out of a matchbox’. The sub-leased Narrator’s silent collusion with the reader beyond the whole pecking-order that he finds himself in. A fine mesh.

  34. The Walk to Lingham
    “‘All I ask,’ said Jorkens, ‘is that if you pass it on, you’ll tell it in such a way that people will believe you.'”
    …and that is interesting, I feel, in view of what I said about the previous story, and it is to be noted that one of the listeners here is someone called Terbut. I hope the unfishy story melted in his mouth!
    This tale is told directly by Jorkens, with help from whiskey inside and outside the tale, as told from within the narrator’s account of Jorkens’ telling it – a genuinely creepy tale about being pursued by a poplar tree, “coming up crab-like and elephantine, and stumping grimly…”

  35. A painting by Corot

    A painting by Corot

    The Development of the Rillswood Estate
    “‘Do you usually get satyrs in suburban gardens?’ said Terbut.”
    I think I can genuinely say that this is the most hilarious story I have ever read! A brother and sister, subject to all the social rules of the community where they live, have suffered the depletion of woods at that time to make the place as suburban as we now know it. The brother paints paintings of classical style woods with fauns and satyrs … and a satyr now has nowhere to live. Nude of course with a tail. They try to hide him from the snooty neighbourhood, dress him in their previous gardener’s clothes and employ him disguised as far as possible as a sort of butler. I cannot tell you any more, as that must be left to Jorkens. It is his story, not mine. He must get the credit. But I’d say, to really understand the ending, one must remember that the breeches employed to dress the satyr were a trifle tight for him….

  36. …and the previous story sort of leads appropriately to…

    The Policeman’s Prophecy
    “One who never even knew who his enemies were; never guessed the plotting of wild things, the disloyalty of cats, nor the enmity of the full moon.”
    …where Ligottian Anti-Natalism was first born, or a Lawrencian world with just rabbits, a proximate cause from an impending road accident witnessed by a policeman…
    God or the Driver was exonerated of any blame? Mankind as ever the near miss. But in which direction of creation of miscreation?
    “I had always thought that machines in the end would overthrow machines,…”

  37. …and from one slowly methodical policeman to several others…

    The Two Bottles of Relish
    “I travel for Numnumo, a relish for meat and savouries;…”
    Assuming you know what ‘savouries’ actually are? This is a whodunnit or howdunnit murder story where our conscientious relish salesman’s new flatmate has the air of a Sherlock Holmes – and proceeds to help the police. A very engaging story but with some quite unsavoury things underlying it. I assume Robert Aickman was inspired by this story. I can imagine him enjoying a bottle of Numnumo relish on the sort of meals he wrote about…

  38. The Cut
    “I thought for a moment that I heard someone laugh, though how the sound reached me I can’t say, but wireless sometimes does queer things.”
    Another delightfully believable community, here among the wilds around and then the streets in Sevenoaks, a community with social barriers and traditions invisible but often like Chinese Walls, where a cut is certainly a cut as much as a withdrawn nod of acquaintance. Here, this book’s earlier dressed up satyr syndrome becomes that of a dog, who is taught to use money to buy and sell, including the selling of itself and the buying of clothes! But no one in Sevenoaks will ever own up to being cut by a dog in a collar and tie, will they?

  39. Poseidon
    From a dog dressed as a man in the previous story to a god dressed as a man in this one. Like earlier mundane social barriers, those here of divine immanence can be fluffed away with the flick of an idyllic story’s perfect ending.

  40. Helping the Fairies
    As in the Jorkens’ tale-telling, here is another one that is helped by the application of whiskey. Another whodunnit of howdunnit murder, this time after a man ill-advisedly cut down a tree around which the fairies danced… And life is a dance, too, I guess, one of patience and righteous self-perpetuating destiny, the latter often helped on to the dance floor…

  41. The Romance of His Life
    “Terrup was nothing to her, but the situation meant a great deal. It might 8even mean that her grip was failing her, her grip on the heart of the world.”
    Another telling tale of London spreading its suburbs even further afield, where an apparently ordinary happy banker living in those new suburbs, once had a romantic dalliance on a train with the most famous and beautiful actress in the world. Amazingly, the latter, her nose put out of joint, took all the advances upon Terrup who had apparently never heard of her…
    And all this is now put in writing in the guise of this story, I assume, to stop her forgetting, from within her celebrity barriers, that ill-advised actions can cause something like the previous story’s self-perpetuating destiny and, like a figure of eight rather than a pure circle, it does need at least a slight push, such as this story, a push on to the dance floor of synchronicity to make the reader smile and follow the characters’ weaving steps into the unknown future.
    Even if Terrup was a bit of a Twerp.

  42. The Pirate of the Round Pond
    “Not that I like writing, I’d sooner be out of doors.”
    With a glint in his eye, Dunsany (with the collusion of Joshi who has edited this brilliant selection of Dunsany works) has put this story at the end of the book as one that is complete and utter puckish bathos in itself, with most of the other stories before this one merely ending in puckish bathos. The optimum coda to the whole book.
    It is a ‘Just William’ type tale, except that William Brown has become Bob Tipling and William’s outlaws have become Bob’s pirates. A story about model ships controlled by wireless on a park’s boating lake, where Sarban’s Calmahain has become Dunsany’s Rakish Craft… and featuring torpedoes plus skull and crossbones flag!
    As to it being a perfect ’round’ pond, no doubt Tipling has a Glint of Pi in his eye. Sorry.
    end

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