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Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

Lud-In-The-Mist (original 1926; edition 2005)

by Hope Mirrlees, Hope Mirrlees (Foreword)

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1,165286,957 (4)1 / 81
Authors:Hope Mirrlees
Other authors:Hope Mirrlees (Foreword)
Info:Cold Spring Press (2005), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Lud-in-the-mist by Hope Mirrlees (1926)

Recently added byjohnwbeha, belmbooks, AnirudhTewathia, Eumenides, Joanna.Conrad, private library, LoganBlackisle, theladydoor
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    PhoenixFalls: Mirrlees wrote Lud-in-the-Mist in response to Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter; they are two opposing takes on Fairyland and what it means to humanity, and both are brilliant.
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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I don't usually put too much credence into book blurbs by famous authors, but for some reason Gaiman's blurb got my attention and I'm glad it did. This really is amazing stuff. It feels very British and definitely old school. This isn't anything like modern fantasy, it's very subtle and very character based. The wonder is still there even though there's not magic flying around and there are no epic battles (or actually any battles of any type). The world is simple and needs little description, it's so classic you just kind of find yourself in it without having to read the first six books of the series.

It reminded me of [book:The Gormenghast Novels|39058] from Meryvn Peake but more fun; each character was so colorful, they were so absurd in their words and actions that I couldn't help but fall in love with them. The language is archaic and beautiful and that only adds to the feeling of being in a fairy tale you missed while growing up.

Would love to see a BBC adaptation of this. ( )
1 vote ragwaine | Sep 19, 2015 |
Nathaniel Chanticleer is the mayor of the titular town, a mercantile and prosaic place whose social order is threatened by the illicit importation of fairy fruit from neighbouring Fairyland. The threat turns personal when the mayor's own son is found to have tasted the forbidden fruit, and Nathaniel - a middle-aged man who by preference devotes his time to committee meetings and formal dinners - is cast on a journey that will transform both himself and his town.

A reflection on the interplay between reason and imagination, the apparent message is that we need a middle way between the excesses of each, between Lud's deadening conventionality and Fairyland's chaos. The story as such is perhaps not the most compelling, but it's beautifully written. From the point of view of the retrospective genre assignment as high fantasy, there isn't much action, but a lot of attention to characters, their relationships and foibles.

I came across this because of the LT user recommendation saying it was written as a response to Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter (which I read last year). There's a certain mirror symmetry between them - in Dunsany's book the fields we know and the lands of fairy become entangled due to initiative from our side, and the results are disastrous; in Mirrlees' the initiative comes from the other side, and the consequences overall for the better. Anyone who likes the one is likely to like the other.
1 vote AndreasJ | Mar 9, 2015 |
A book that affected me deeply. Read it twice ... the first time slowly, making notes, flipping back and forth between pages to tie bits and pieces of the story together ... the second time straight through for pure enjoyment.
I agree with Neil Gaiman who says in the Foreword:
"The writing is elegant, supple, effective and haunting: the author demands a great deal from her readers, which she repays many times over." pg. 8

From a speech by the mysterious Dr. Leer:
"' ... there are two races - trees and man; and for each there is a different dispensation. Trees are silent, motionless, serene. They live and die, but do not know the taste of either life or death; to them a secret has been entrusted but not revealed.
"'But the other tribe - the passionate, tragic, rootless tree - man? Alas! he is a creature whose highest privileges are a curse. In his mouth is ever the bitter-sweet taste of life and death, unknown to the trees. Without respite he is dragged by the two wild horses, memory and hope; and he is tormented by a secret that he can never tell. For every man worthy of the name is an initiate; but each one into different Mysteries. And some walk among their fellows with the pitying, slightly scornful smile, of an adept among catechumens. And some are confiding and garrulous, and would so willingly communicate their own unique secret - in vain! For though they shout it in the market-place, or whisper it in music and poetry, what they say is never the same as what they know, and they are like ghosts charged with a message of tremendous import who can only trail their chains and gibber....'" pp. 207-8
1 vote maryoverton | Feb 14, 2015 |
This 1926 fantasy novel combines much of the language of 19th-century English fantasy with some 20th century preoccupations. It stops at the point when many a fantasy novel would be just getting started, but its tale of the relationship between the humdrum world and the faery world, told almost entirely from the mundane side of the line, still packs a thought-provoking punch - and is told in some beautiful language. ( )
1 vote timjones | May 19, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hope Mirrleesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herring, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Sirens stand, as it would seem, to the ancient and the modern, for the impulses in life as yet immoralised, impervious longings, ecstasies, whether of love or art, or philosophy, magical voices calling to a man from his "Land of Heart's Desire," and to which if he hearken it may be that he will return no more--voices, too, which, whether a man sail by or stay to hearken, still sing on.

-- Jane Harrison
To the Memory of My Father
First words
The free state of Dorimare was a very small country, but, seeing that it was bounded on the south by the sea and on the north and east by mountains, while its centre consisted of a rich plain, watered by two rivers, a considerable variety of scenery and vegetation was to be found within its borders.
Lud-in-the-Mist had all the things that make an old town pleasant. It had an ancient Guild Hall, built of mellow golden bricks and covered with ivy and, when the sun shone on it, it looked like a rotten apricot; it had a harbour in which rode vessels with white and red and tawny sails; it had flat brick houses - not the mere carapace of human beings, but ancient living creatures, renewing and modifying themselves with each generation under their changeless antique roofs.
[I]ndeed, it is never saf to classify the souls of one's neighbours; one is apt, in the long run, to be proved a fool. You should regard each meeting with a friend as a sitting he is unwittingly giving you for a portrait -- a portrait that, probably, when you or he die, will still be unfinished. [3]
There were whole chests, too, filled with pieces of silk, embroidered or painted with curious scenes. Who has not wondered in what mysterious forests our ancestors discovered the models for the beasts and birds upon their tapestries; and on what planet were enacted the scenes they have portrayed? It in in vain that the dead fingers have stitched beneath them -- and we can picture the mocking smile with which these crafty cozeners of posterity accompanied the action -- the words February, or Hawking, or Harvest, having us believe that they are but illustrations for the activities proper to the different months. We know better. These are not the normal activities of mortal men. What kind of beings peopled the earth four or five centuries ago, what strange lore they had acquired, and what were their sinister doings, we shall never know. Our ancestors keep their secret well. [4]
[A] very ingenious and learned jurist, had drawn in one of his treatises a curious parallel between fairy things and the law. The men of the revolution, he said, had substituted law for fairy fruit. But whereas only the reigning Duke and his priests had been allowed to partake of the fruit [in the pagan days], the law was given freely to rich and poor alike. Again, fairy was delusion, so was the law. At any rate, it was a sort of magic, moulding reality into any shape it chose. But, whereas fairy magic and delusion were for the cozening and robbing of man, the magic of the law was to his intention and for his welfare. [13]
Reason I know, is only a drug, and, as such, its effects are never permanent. But, like the juice of the poppy, it often gives a temporary relief. [Endymion Leer, 49]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345258487, Mass Market Paperback)

Helen Hope Mirrlees (1887-1978) was a British translator, poet and novelist. She is best known for the 1926 Lud-in-the-Mist, a fantasy novel and influential classic.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:46 -0400)

This is the story of the mayor of Lud-in-the-Mist, Master Nathaniel Chanticleer, a respectable burgher who learns that his young son has eaten forbidden fairy fruit. Some centuries earlier, fairy things had been looked upon with reverence, and fairy fruit was enjoyed by the people of Dorimare. but since the burghers had taken over, fairy things have become unspeakable and there are problems in the trafficking of illegal fairy fruit.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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