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Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

Lud-in-the-Mist (original 1926; edition 2008)

by Hope Mirrlees

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,380358,090 (3.99)1 / 88
Authors:Hope Mirrlees
Info:Gollancz (2008), Edition: Paperback Edition, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:fantasy, ROOTs challenge, read 2013

Work details

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

  1. 100
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman (moonstormer, isabelx)
    isabelx: Villages on the borders of Faerie.
  2. 70
    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. 70
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke (PhoenixFalls)
  4. 20
    The Strange High House in the Mist by H. P. Lovecraft (bertilak)
  5. 20
    Phantastes by George MacDonald (BastianBalthazarBux)
  6. 10
    Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake (LamontCranston)
  7. 00
    Smith of Wootton Major by J. R. R. Tolkien (Crypto-Willobie)
  8. 00
    Monk's Magic by Alexander de Comeau (Crypto-Willobie)
  9. 11
    The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (twilightnocturne)
  10. 00
    Living with the Dead by Darrell Schweitzer (bertilak)
    bertilak: These are very different books but they both depict communities living in denial.
  11. 00
    Mr. Godly Beside Himself by Gerald Bullett (Crypto-Willobie)

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
This thing was WAY more stressful than I expected it to be. I think it was a combination of the foreshadowing and omniscient narrator--like, the narrator knew as much as the reader did, so why wasn't the narrator trying to warn anyone?!

It's a fun read, though. It's clever and well written, and takes pains to poke fun at the characters' absurdities. ( )
  whatsmacksaid | Sep 21, 2018 |
I originally picked up Lud-in-the-Mist (1926) by Hope Mirrlees because Neil Gaiman raves about it. About this book, Gaiman says it is "a quintessentially English novel of transcendent oddness, set in a town on the borders of Fairyland, where illegal traffic in fairy fruit ..., and the magic and poetry and wildness that come with the fruit from over the border, change the lives of the townsfolk forever". It was one of his influences for Stardust and I could certainly see that as I read it. However, I have to admit that the oddness of this novel was such that I felt strong discomfort as I read it. I don't know if it was because Mirrlees was so good at describing fairy influence and power or if it was the mob mentality that rose up a couple of times or even if it was the enchantment and disappearance of quite a few children. Whatever it was, I found myself binging at the end to finish as soon as possible. I am glad to have read it as it was an influence on books I love (Jo Walton points out that it was also obviously an influence on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell) but now I would just like to stick to rereading those beloved tales.

https://webereading.com/2018/06/classics-challenge-6-lud-in-mist.html ( )
  klpm | Jun 12, 2018 |
One of the best fantasy novels of the 20th century. ( )
  John_Thorne | Sep 6, 2017 |
This book is full of parables that you can feel the essence of, but never quite get with your conscious mind. But same as how in the book it's told that the characters understood certain things not with their mind but somehow differently, you understand it as well, without really understanding it. It's like remembering a dream after waking up - somehow it all makes sense, although nothing really does, and things can't be arranged in order at all, happening simultaneously but at the same time one after another, and having logical links without really having any at all. It's weird, but I think that's the way this book works as well. At the same time it's really sad, and also nostalgic in a sad way (as opposed to the sweet kind of nostalgia you have about, say, things from your childhood), of things that never really had anything to do with you and your life. It's like you're hearing the Note too, same as Nathaniel Chanticleer, but you have no idea what it is. It's one of those books that leaves you wondering about what happened in it at all, but then you're also not sure if it's only just a book you read.. ( )
2 vote avalinah | Sep 11, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
The psychologist C. J. Jung maintained that the true purpose of middle age was the integration of all the varying, and sometimes unacknowledged, aspects of our personalities. Perhaps this accounts for the unusual protagonist of Hope Mirrlees’s Lud-in-the-Mist (1925), one of the most admired fantasy novels of the 20th century — and one that is clearly intended for adults. Mirrlees’s book explores the need to embrace what we fear, to come to terms with what Jung called the shadow, those sweet and dark impulses that our public selves ignore or repress. There are no elven blades or cursed rings here; no epic battles either, and the novel’s hero resembles the aged Bilbo Baggins more than the charismatic, sword-wielding Aragorn.
Neil Gaiman once said in conversation that Lud-in-the-Mist "deals with the central matter of fantasy -- the reconciliation of the fantastic and the mundane." Which, perhaps, comes as close to the heart of the question as anybody's going to get.

To learn more, you'll simply have to read the book.
The book is a curio, meandering between broad comedy, suspense, murder mystery and adventure, veering from moments of slapstick to moving scenes of pathos. Like all good magic tricks, the charm of the book lies in the craft of its glamour and sleight of hand. While it has its fair share of lo! and behold!, the simplicity of the writing conceals exquisite turns of phrase and an underlying intensity that can burst unexpectedly upon the reader. Nevertheless, it is hard to deny the book's weaknesses. Mirrlees' plotting is episodic, and the overwhelming feeling at the end is deflation that the long-promised fireworks of the final confrontation in Faerie should take place offstage. But by this point, it's clear that Lud-in-the-Mist is not all it seems: what at first appears to be a hotchpotch novel reveals itself as a carefully-considered - if not executed - allegory about the nature of 'fantasy'.

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hope Mirrleesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gallardo, GervasioCover artistsecondary authorsome 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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