Fifty-One Tales

by Lord Dunsany

6/10 (Not much substance)

A bunch of short, wistful parables, with the best kind of foreboding and lyrical grandeur. In the themes of Man v. Time, or Civilization v. Nature, Dunsany’s sympathies, like my own, lie unmistakably with the more enduring of the two.

In fact, the tome could be subtitled “An Exercise in Nihilism,” and I gratefully welcome the occasional reminder of that perspective. We are not, after all, going to be around forever, and like Dunsany I refer not to you and me personally, but to us as a species. It is important to keep this in mind, even infrequently.

I love his personification of abstract concepts like Time, Love, Death and others. Dunsany does it better than most — both with more imagination and more resolve. It reflects not only a boldness of vision but a courage to see it through. Neil Gaiman certainly owes a lot to Lord Dunsany in that respect.

Ultimately there’s not much substance, but it’s such a short read and it’s one of those that you can open up to whichever page and find a rewarding parable; it would be great to skim through when you’re needing that reminder of humanity’s ephemerality. My favorites were “The Sphinx at Gizeh,” “The Raft-Builders,” “The Workman,” “The Prayer of the Flowers,” “Time and the Tradesman,” and “The Messengers.”

Original Review


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