1992-03-11: Gods, Men and Ghosts

Gods, Men and Ghosts
The Best Supernatural Fiction of Lord Dunsany (1971)

Edited by E. F. Bleiler (1920-2010)

Dunsany (though not this particular book) was recommended by Ursula K. Leguin, which was sufficient.  The only work I could find in the Maryland libraries was this book, which is a selection of (mostly very short) stories, and illustrations by Sidney Sime.

I found all the stories to be charming, the style distinctive and the tone and mood of each story perfectly appropriate to it.  The stories of ghosts, reincarnation, dangerous quests, pacts with the devil and outrageous lies are a familiar genre, but these were the stories that started the modern era of respectable fantasy for adults.  If not for Dunsany, would we have had Tolkien and lesser fantasists?  It seems that most of his works were very short, though the anthology gives parts of his longer works.  Thus he did not have the great sweep and epic nature of Tolkien.  On the other hand, he had much greater variety, and these stories show it.

The stories are great fun to read, particularly The Three Sailors’ Gambit, The Hoard of the Gibbelins, The Ghosts, A Narrow Escape, The Sign, and The Secret of the Gods.  Perhaps my favorite is the tale of a hero of land and sea, Captain Shard.

The book is published by Dover, and includes the usual extracts of their catalogs, which itself makes for interesting fantasy.

The address for catalogs is

Dept. Fict.
Dover Publications, Inc.
180 Varick Street
New York,  NY  10014

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