THE DEEP ONES: "The Hoard of the Gibbelins" by Lord Dunsany
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"The Hoard of the Gibbelins" by Lord Dunsany
Discussion begins on February 6, 2019.
First published in the January 25, 1911 issue of The Sketch.
Illustration by Sidney Sime.
SELECTED PRINT VERSIONS
The Book of Wonder
Time and the Gods
Realms of Wizardry
The Mammoth Book of Fantasy
Love those Sime illustrations, especially now that we know Dunsany wrote stories to match the drawings (and not the other way round).
Finally got around to putting in an Abebooks dynamic search for The Book of Wonder, but for now it'll have to be online for me.
…and drift back, they and their tower, to the moon, from which they had come and to which they rightly belonged.
That’s interesting. I wonder if this could be an influence on Lovecraft's moon, which is similarly not exactly the moon as we know it. The Cats of Ulthar know it well, as they often travel to the dark side of the moon (as we'll see in our upcoming reading of Kadath), and HPL was a great admirer of Dunsany. Did the latter use the moon as a go-to location in any other tales?
Many a farmer near the edge of the worlds saw him up there where yet the twilight lingered, a faint, black, wavering line; and mistaking him for a row of geese going inland from the ocean…
I love the image that this conjures. I’ll never look at a flock of geese in the distance again in quite the same way.
So the Gibbelins are so angry with Alderic at the end that they aren’t even going to eat him? Maybe he needs to hang like a side of beef for a little while first.
In no way was I expecting Alderic to be successful, but the celerity with which Dunsany wraps up that tale is a slap! Very effective, and yet time for ribbing his audience with that "yeah, no happy ending for you chumps".
A lot of that humour here, actually. Dragons unable to feed on maidens because of a bit in their mouth, accounting for Alderic passing the Unpassable Forest, and so on.
>4 KentonSem: not exactly the moon as we know it
I'd forgotten about the Ulthar reference to the dark side of the moon, nice observation. I see the parallel and it's interesting that for me, that same tactic has a much different feel in the pen of Dunsany than in HPL --even the early HPL like "Cats of Ulthar".
I was intrigued by Dunsany's reference to ho rhoos okeanoio, and found Romm's book The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought enlightening on this point: "The phrase potamos Okeanoio, 'river of Ocean', in Homer and Hesiod implies no clear conception of another 'bank' on the farther side."
Another way of delineating the World We Know from the World We Do Not Know, it would seem. (Incidentally, I'm uncertain if Dunsany got his
It's worth repeating the importance of the Sime illustration for the story. Like all stories in Dunsany's Book of Wonder, the illustrations were imagined & completed first by Sime. Dunsany later fit stories to them, without (it would seem) any discussion or coordination between the two.
I found this image slightly cleaner than the one reproduced at the top of this thread.
I see the horn that figured in the story more than once, the bridge connecting the tower to Terra Cognita, and also apparently Alderic's lance, resting on the bank of the moat. Initially I thought Alderic was pictured at the base of the tower, but I think now he's not, and Dunsany accounts for this absence with the explanation he's dived into the emerald room.
Is that light on the water coming from below, or shining on it from above? Presumably the light was greenish in Dunsany's imagination.
ETA Actually, there appear to be different versions of the Sime illustration.
The version posted above appears to have a row of skeletons hanging from the wall, which fits the ending of the tale. Some versions show the dragon, saddled, in the lower edge.
The version linked in this post features no skeletons, has a window much lower to the water (and missing a possible figure though the first version is blurry), and doesn't have the streaks dripping from the door by the horn.
I don't recall there being different versions of illustrations, but that's what I'm seeing here.
I think those are two different illustrations. The one at the top clearly shows Alderic going at it with his pick axe, with skeletons hanging above (which I hadn't noticed before). The one you link to is missing those, although it's definitely the same structure.
Sidney H. Sime: Master of Fantasy can be found used on Amazon for a reasonable price.
Ho rhoos okeanoio means "the flow/stream/current of ocean", and Liddell & Scott informs me that Homer used this variant also. The Romm book is an old favorite.
I can't offhand think of anywhere else in Dunsany where the Moon figures as a location. That said, I've only sampled his later works sparsely.
The Gibbelins' name perforce made me think of the Ghibellines, the (at least theoretically) pro-Imperial party in medieval Italy, who struggled endlessly with the pro-Papal Guelphs. There's not really anything to suggest an intended connection in the story, though. I wonder if Dunsany intended a soft of hard 'g'?
I love that the detail that really signifies their horribleness that they don't smile. Lesser villains might cackle maniacally, but the Gibbelins are quite businesslike about it.
I copped out and listened to the online audiobook during my dishes-by-hand attempt to warm up and give my furnace a break. Thus I flew through half a dozen shorts to catch up and might have to loop back around after a second reading. My surface thought was that I was glad to have read Don Quixote last year to better understand knight culture. And that Gibbelins did not need to be nomadic to source out their food supply but instead fed off vice. Nourishment found them whenever they set out the trail of crumbs which brought to mind some of Aesop's Fables alongside the Brothers Grimm.
Mark used a soft G within his audiobook oration.
I liked this one a lot as my first Dunsany. I know many writers who use visual prompts to kick start their creativity.
I did like how this read like a fairy tale, or an old hero legend. I had to back the story up (also audio book) and hear it again to be sure of the ending. It reminds me of a joke my friend told where the expected ending becomes "nah, it was this" and "this" is equally obvious, or equally possible. Cheeky author.
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