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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)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,145277,136 (4)1 / 79
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)

  1. 80
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman (moonstormer, isabelx)
    isabelx: Villages on the borders of Faerie.
  2. 60
    The king of Elfland's daughter by Lord Dunsany (PhoenixFalls)
    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.
  3. 50
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (PhoenixFalls)
  4. 20
    Phantastes by George MacDonald (BastianBalthazarBux)
  5. 10
    The Strange High House in the Mist [short story] by H.P. Lovecraft (bertilak)
  6. 00
    Smith of Wootton Major by J. R. R. Tolkien (Crypto-Willobie)
  7. 00
    Mr. Godly Beside Himself by Gerald Bullett (Crypto-Willobie)
  8. 00
    Monk's Magic by Alexander de Comeau (Crypto-Willobie)
  9. 00
    Living with the Dead by Darrell Schweitzer (bertilak)
    bertilak: These are very different books but they both depict communities living in denial.
  10. 01
    The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (twilightnocturne)

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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
  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 |
I think this originally went on my to-read list when I was looking for books similar to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. And there are some major similarities, though this is friendlier, dreamier, and less ambitious.

I found this to be a surprising and interesting read. The tone is really strong and consistent. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

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.
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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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