Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

June Books 17) Lud-In-The-Mist, by Hope Mirrlees

I was inspired to buy this by Farah Mendlesohn's Rhetorics of Fantasy, which ranks it as a key exemplar of one of the four modes of fantasy story-telling, the 'liminal' in which the boundary with the fantastic is hazy and uncertain; other examples being Little, Big (which I bounced off) and the first two Gormenghast books (which I remember loving as a teenager). I think it also fits a lot of Neil Gaiman's work.

I am firmly on the side of the fans of Lud-In-The-Mist. It is a superb tale of the inhabitants of the eponymous town, trying to sort out their relationship with neighbouring Fairyland, which is in large part a relationship of denial and corruption. It feels amazingly modern for a book written in 1926, a time period that I would otherwise associate with Lord Dunsany and H.P. Lovecraft, whose works are classics of their kind but somewhat dated; no such apology is needed for Lud-In-The-Mist (though I suppose one could read a commentary on Prohibition into some of the incidents involving trafficking in forbidden fruit). It is a story of hidden messages from the past, disruption to the social order, uppity women (to a certain extent) and the dangers of questioning what appeared certain. I look forward now to reading Michael Swanwick's biography of the author.
Tags: bookblog 2010, writer: hope mirrlees

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