Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not Gutsy. Just Ticked.

Look out. There's a fantasy writer/geek on the loose, and she's ANGRY.

I've been reading a fantastic collection of short stories, that I borrowed from the library, by the Irish writer Edward Plunkett. Also known as Lord Dunsany. Dunsany wrote in the late 1800s to early 1900s and is considered one of the main fathers of the modern fantasy genre. He inspired Tolkien, Le Guin, Lovecraft, and many other famous fantasists/horrorists.

And...he's bloody brilliant.

The man can tell a story, and he can tell it well.

Now, the collection I've been reading is called "The Collected Jorkens". For awhile Dunsany wrote a series of short stories from the point of view of a man named Jorkens who is reputed to be a bit of a liar, but for a whiskey and soda he'll tell you of all the remarkable places he's been and people he's seen. And these stories are genuinely fascinating, moving, dazzlingly written, and marvelously executed. Dunsany is a genius, and any fantasy writer worth their salt ought to read him at least once. Especially the stories of Jorkens.

Here comes the fun part...

I've enjoyed this book so much that I decided...heck! Why not search for a copy that I can purchase for my own library? Can't be that hard, can it?

Long story short, this collection (in three volumes) is nearly impossible to find. Especially Volume 1, for some ridiculous reason. This is, from what I've read, because Dunsany is no longer well-regarded by a fantasy community that's obsessed with the new, the now, the shallow, and the awful. <---my words.

The copy on Amazon is $300.00 to purchase. And that's USED.

As if in mockery, I'm searching on Barnes & Noble, and all the while there's a banner above the search page screaming JUST ANNOUNCED: NEW STEPHANIE MEYER NOVELLA! PRE-ORDER NOW! and I want to say a lot of very unflattering (and profane) things about the nature of where literature is headed, but I won't.

I will say this: the good parts of the past WILL disappear along with the bad parts. Unless we preserve the good things now, while we can, we may never have them again. And Lord Dunsany may turn into a footnote. And that would be a truly, truly tragic day.

Will I pay $300 for a copy of Volume 1? Not likely at the moment. But someday, maybe. When I have the resources. It's worth that much to me to not buy in to the lack of love for the tried and true.

So there.

-The GLS

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