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Worm Ouroboros, The by E. D. Eddison
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Worm Ouroboros, The (original 1922; edition 2005)

by E. D. Eddison

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1,934416,071 (3.68)97
The Worm Ouroboros is a heroic high fantasy novel by Eric Rücker Eddison, first published in 1922. The book describes the protracted war between the domineering King Gorice of Witchland and the Lords of Demonland in an imaginary world that appears mainly medieval and partly reminiscent of Norse sagas. The work is slightly related to Eddison's later Zimiamvian Trilogy, and collectively they are sometimes referred to as the Zimiamvian series. A framing story in the first two chapters describes the world of the novel as Mercury, though it is clearly a fantasy version of Earth, a "secondary world"; no effort was made to conform to the scientific knowledge of Mercury as it existed at the time of writing. At a number of points the characters refer to their land as Middle earth, used here in its original sense of "the known world", and the gods worshipped have the names of deities from Greek mythology. The Worm Ouroboros is often compared with J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (which it predates by 32 years). Tolkien read The Worm Ouroboros, and praised it in print. C. S. Lewis wrote a short preface to an anthology of Eddison's works, including The Worm Ouroboros, concluding that "No writer can be said to remind us of Eddison." In contrast to The Lord of the Rings, to which mythopoeia is central, Eddison makes few references either to actual mythology or to an invented mythology after the fashion of the Silmarillion. One example of this is Eddison's ad hoc names for people and places versus Tolkien's invention of entire languages.  Also, while The Lord of the Rings is written mostly in modern English, Eddison wrote The Worm Ouroboros largely in sixteenth-century English, making use of his experience translating Norse sagas and reading medieval and Renaissance poetry; a nearly unique approach among popular fantasy novels. Eddison incorporates a number of actual early modern poems into the story, including Shakespeare's 18th sonnet, all meticulously credited in an appendix. Unabriged full text version, TRT (Total Running Time): 15 hours, 20 min. Eric Rücker Eddison, CB, CMG (1882-1945) was an English civil servant and author, writing under the name E. R. Eddison. Eddison is best known for the early romance The Worm Ouroboros (1922) and for three volumes set in the imaginary world Zimiamvia, known as the Zimiamvian Trilogy: Mistress of Mistresses (1935), A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), and The Mezentian Gate (1958). These early works of high fantasy drew strong praise from J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and later, Ursula K. Le Guin. Tolkien generally approved Eddison's literary style, but found the underlying philosophy rebarbative; while Eddison in turn thought Tolkien's views "soft". Other admirers of Eddison's work included James Stephens, James Branch Cabell, Robert Silverberg, who described The Worm Ouroboros as "the greatest high fantasy of them all"; and Clive Barker. The Zimiamvia books were conceived not as a trilogy but as part of a larger work left incomplete at Eddison's death. The Mezentian Gate itself is unfinished, though Eddison provided summaries of the missing chapters shortly before his death. C. S. Lewis wrote a blurb for the cover of The Mezentian Gate when it was published calling Eddison's works "first and foremost, of art." Some additional material from this book was published for the first time in the volume Zimiamvia: A Trilogy (1992). [Elib]… (more)
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Title:Worm Ouroboros, The
Authors:E. D. Eddison
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The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison (Author) (1922)

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» See also 97 mentions

English (40)  French (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
The book itself is a collection of 5 star aspects and 1 star aspects and the 3 should reflect this is an average of my reactions, and not that this is your standard, "it's alright" kind of a 3-star book--because it's not.

It features a weird, hard-to-get-past framing device, intentionally dense and archaic prose, and a bewildering array of odd names. And yet it's rather glorious, at the same time--imagine your favourite story (let's say Jane Eyre, to pick something people have heard of, then change the names to the worst names imaginable (Babatina McLurkinfish becomes governess to Mr. Pesky's children), then rewrite the novel so a 12 year old wouldn't understand it ("I am a free human being with an independent will" could become "I persist a sovereign soul possessing autarchical volition")) ... it can become absurdly tedious, but, if you can stay awake, there's a power and a sweep to it.

It's definitely worth investigating--you may love it. It's that kind of a book. Give it a whirl, and if it's not going to work for you you will know very very quickly, at least there's that! ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Oct 13, 2020 |
It is very poetically written, and I liked the actual bits of poetry strewn throughout the story. They were, for the most part, not penned by Eddison himself, but a glossary indicates in the back of the book where they originated.
Character names confused me several times, for example Corsus, Corund, Corinius; Gorice, Gorius, Gro. Tolkien, I think, has more memorable character names.
His metaphors are much more imaginative than Tolkien's.
Will finish review later... ( )
1 vote jawebb345 | Jun 17, 2020 |
This is just as bad as I remembered. Fantastic and endless descriptions of scenery, clothing, buildings but little feeling of actual emotions. Then after fighting the evil Witch lords for the entire book, enduring hardship and betrayal and loss of friends--do these characters, the Demons, look forward to peace and prosperity? Nope, they want to fight again, and their wish is granted. Feeeehhh. ( )
  ritaer | May 17, 2020 |
I first read " Worm Ouroboros" as a teenager, having found it on a shelf at the summer camp where I was working as a counselor more than 40 years ago, and have reread it about every two years since then. It is a fantasic story written in a lavish style now lost to Hemmenwayesque brevity of tale telling. Full of omens, virtuous heros, fair damels, dastardly villans and complex characters, this is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy getting lost in a fantasy world, this may be for you.

Where this specific book came from I have no idea, as there is nothing else like it in the library. This edition, it is the second edition with some very fine illustrations. and is in remarkably good condition.
1 vote Matthew_Erskine | Apr 8, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eddison, E. R.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Artzybasheff, BorisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burne-Jones, Sir EdwardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cabell, James BranchPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cicchetti, BernardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heinz, ReinhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henderson, KeithCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henderson, KeithIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hildebrandt, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knopper, HelenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareja, AlejandroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pesch, Helmut W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prescott, OrvilleIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Remington, BarbaraCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stephens, JamesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, Paul EdmundIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tinkelman, MurrayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winter, Douglas E.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To W. G. E. and to my friends K. H.
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G. C. L. M. I dedicate this book
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There was a man named Lessingham dwelt in an old low house in Wastdale, set in a gray old garden where yew-trees flourished that had seen Vikings in Copeland in their seedling time.
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The Worm Ouroboros is a heroic high fantasy novel by Eric Rücker Eddison, first published in 1922. The book describes the protracted war between the domineering King Gorice of Witchland and the Lords of Demonland in an imaginary world that appears mainly medieval and partly reminiscent of Norse sagas. The work is slightly related to Eddison's later Zimiamvian Trilogy, and collectively they are sometimes referred to as the Zimiamvian series. A framing story in the first two chapters describes the world of the novel as Mercury, though it is clearly a fantasy version of Earth, a "secondary world"; no effort was made to conform to the scientific knowledge of Mercury as it existed at the time of writing. At a number of points the characters refer to their land as Middle earth, used here in its original sense of "the known world", and the gods worshipped have the names of deities from Greek mythology. The Worm Ouroboros is often compared with J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (which it predates by 32 years). Tolkien read The Worm Ouroboros, and praised it in print. C. S. Lewis wrote a short preface to an anthology of Eddison's works, including The Worm Ouroboros, concluding that "No writer can be said to remind us of Eddison." In contrast to The Lord of the Rings, to which mythopoeia is central, Eddison makes few references either to actual mythology or to an invented mythology after the fashion of the Silmarillion. One example of this is Eddison's ad hoc names for people and places versus Tolkien's invention of entire languages.  Also, while The Lord of the Rings is written mostly in modern English, Eddison wrote The Worm Ouroboros largely in sixteenth-century English, making use of his experience translating Norse sagas and reading medieval and Renaissance poetry; a nearly unique approach among popular fantasy novels. Eddison incorporates a number of actual early modern poems into the story, including Shakespeare's 18th sonnet, all meticulously credited in an appendix. Unabriged full text version, TRT (Total Running Time): 15 hours, 20 min. Eric Rücker Eddison, CB, CMG (1882-1945) was an English civil servant and author, writing under the name E. R. Eddison. Eddison is best known for the early romance The Worm Ouroboros (1922) and for three volumes set in the imaginary world Zimiamvia, known as the Zimiamvian Trilogy: Mistress of Mistresses (1935), A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), and The Mezentian Gate (1958). These early works of high fantasy drew strong praise from J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and later, Ursula K. Le Guin. Tolkien generally approved Eddison's literary style, but found the underlying philosophy rebarbative; while Eddison in turn thought Tolkien's views "soft". Other admirers of Eddison's work included James Stephens, James Branch Cabell, Robert Silverberg, who described The Worm Ouroboros as "the greatest high fantasy of them all"; and Clive Barker. The Zimiamvia books were conceived not as a trilogy but as part of a larger work left incomplete at Eddison's death. The Mezentian Gate itself is unfinished, though Eddison provided summaries of the missing chapters shortly before his death. C. S. Lewis wrote a blurb for the cover of The Mezentian Gate when it was published calling Eddison's works "first and foremost, of art." Some additional material from this book was published for the first time in the volume Zimiamvia: A Trilogy (1992). [Elib]

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