Read The Complete Pegana: All the Tales Pertaining to the Fabulous Realm of Pegana by Lord Dunsany Free Online
Book Title: The Complete Pegana: All the Tales Pertaining to the Fabulous Realm of Pegana|
The author of the book: Lord Dunsany
ISBN 13: 9781568821900
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 480 KB
Date of issue: June 1st 2006
Read full description of the books The Complete Pegana: All the Tales Pertaining to the Fabulous Realm of Pegana:This is a compilation of Dunsany's first two books of short stories, all of which are written in a style hovering between Lang's fairy tales and the King James Bible, which make perfect sense as these stories have same mix of didactism and strangeness you find in fairy tales and Old Testament stories. The editor, S.T. Joshi, points out that these were written shortly after Dunsany read some Nietzsche, and I imagine he must have read Thus Spoke Zarathustra, as his style is remarkably similar to the style of Thomas Common's translation. (I'd swear Dunsany was actually copying the Common translation of that book but it did not appear until a few years after The Gods of Pegana.)
Having all the Pegana stories in one volume actually decreases the effectiveness of the stories in my opinion -- it encourages the reader to plow through the book rather than ruminate on them. While some of the stories are relatively straightforward, and others seem to defy analysis, for the most part the irony is thick and and the prose, while probably satirical of Yeats (who had a bit of a rivalry with Dunsany), is often worth savoring.
Some critics have found these stories to be a bit shallow and criticize their lack of reverence, indeed some question whether Dunsany has any knowledge of religion and myth*, but I think that criticism betrays a failure to understand that these stories, while sometimes lacking a clear "message" or deep meaning, taken collectively work on multiple levels. The individual stories are interesting, occasionally moving, works of surreal fancy. As a "cycle" of myths, they depict a pantheon of utterly amoral and fickle gods, dramatizing the conflict of faith and reason in Dunsany's time (and ours). You would be hard pressed to find a more pointed parable of the nature of faith than "The men of Yarnith," and the stories of a succession of prophets ("Yonath the prophet," etc.) are excellent satires of religious authority and pride.
*[For example, the Pegana panthoen does not mention agricultural or fertility gods, which at least one critic says shows Dunsany's lack of understanding of how real myths work. But Dunsany includes Wohoon ("the lord of noises in the night") and a thousand other minor godlings. So is that a mistaken omission or wicked satire?]
I'd give five stars to both The Gods of Pegana and Time and the Gods, but the compilation I'm reviewing here unfortunately has a number of defects that Joshi's generally good introduction does not quite make up for. First, the Sydney Sime illustrations of the original are lacking. Secondly, Dunsnay's own introductions are omitted. Lastly, Joshi's introduction, and the publisher's feckless efforts to present the stories as somehow belonging to the Cthulhu Mythos, distract the reader. Dunsany may not have been one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, but he deserves better than to be treated like a footnote to H.P. Lovecraft (who, indeed, admitted his own debt to Dunsany and made embarrassing attempts to copy his style). So, I'd only go with this edition if you have no better options available.
Read information about the authorEdward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany was an Anglo-Irish writer and dramatist, notable for his work in fantasy published under the name Lord Dunsany. More than eighty books of his work were published, and his oeuvre includes hundreds of short stories, as well as successful plays, novels and essays. Born to one of the oldest titles in the Irish peerage, he lived much of his life at perhaps Ireland's longest-inhabited home, Dunsany Castle near Tara, received an honourary doctorate from Trinity College, and died in Dublin.
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