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Lud-in-the-Mist (1926)

by Hope Mirrlees

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,952558,296 (3.85)1 / 146
In the land of Dorimare, on the shores of the Dapple and the Dawl, the law-abiding residents of Lud-in-the-Mist are plagued by an illegal influx of fairy fruit enticing people to acts of poetry, dancing, and other dangerous flights of fancy. When respectable Mayor Nathaniel Chanticleer finds his family entangled in the scandal, he must call upon both his sharp legal mind and his unacknowledged creative spirit to craft a reconciliation with the Faerie. Dare to embrace your wild side in this classic fantasy. Suitable for ages eight and up.… (more)
  1. 120
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman (moonstormer, isabelx)
    isabelx: Villages on the borders of Faerie.
  2. 80
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (PhoenixFalls)
  3. 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.
  4. 20
    The Strange High House in the Mist by H. P. Lovecraft (bertilak)
  5. 20
    Phantastes by George MacDonald (BastianBalthazarBux)
  6. 21
    The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (twilightnocturne)
  7. 10
    Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake (LamontCranston)
  8. 00
    Living with the Dead by Darrell Schweitzer (bertilak)
    bertilak: These are very different books but they both depict communities living in denial.
  9. 00
    Monk's Magic by Alexander de Comeau (Crypto-Willobie)
  10. 00
    Mr. Godly Beside Himself by Gerald Bullett (Crypto-Willobie)
  11. 00
    Smith of Wootton Major by J. R. R. Tolkien (Crypto-Willobie)

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» See also 146 mentions

English (54)  Spanish (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
3.5. Beautiful, quirky domestic fantasy whose literary descendants include Stardust and Susanna Clarke. The beginning and end contain some of the most powerful passages in speculative literature I've yet encountered.

That said, the central mystery plot didn't really work for me - I found it difficult to get invested in the story and wanted a bit more fantasy on the page. Mirrlees was writing before the fantasy genre was a thing and probably thought of herself as writing surrealistic literary fiction, so fellow fantasy readers might be surprised by the shape of the narrative.

The idea of the law as a fantastical fiction is one of the best ideas I've encountered in any novel, fantasy or otherwise. ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
This was not one of my favorite books, despite it coming recommended by Neil Gaiman, but I can absolutely see why it was influential to fantasy. I saw primitive versions of a lot of themes that we've come to know and expect in fantasy, and while the writing wasn't modern, it wasn't as archaic and stilted as I expected either. ( )
  lyrrael | Aug 3, 2023 |
Ik heb het boek uit en ik vind het een erg interessant boek. Het begon als een aardrijkskunde-, geschiedenis- en biologieles, maar het werd een waanzinnig faerieverhaal met detectiveplotlijnen, filosofische plotlijnen, terugkerende aardrijkskunde-, geschiedenis- en biologielessen en een heleboel prachtig poëtisch taalgebruik.

Mirrlees heeft de neiging om van de hak op de tak te springen, iets waar ik mij volledig in thuisvoel, maar waarvan ik ook weet dat het niet voor iedereen een feest der herkenning is. Meermaals is het mij verweten dat ik niet echt op een rechttoe rechtaan manier vertel wat ik bedoel, met teveel er niet toe doende informatie ertussen door. Mirrlees lijkt hetzelfde te doen, met één belangrijk verschil: de informatie die ze geeft is wel degelijk belangrijk voor het verhaal, alleen niet meteen op dat moment. Aangezien ik hou van weetjes, zou ik het persoonlijk niet eens erg hebben gevonden als die uitstapjes er inderdaad niet toe zouden doen, maar dat doen ze dus voor het overgrote gedeelte wel degelijk.

Een van de thema's in dit verhaal is de strijd tussen het rationale en het fantastische. Aangezien voor beide wat te zeggen valt, is dit een strijd die voor beide partijen niet te winnen lijkt. Wat ik mee heb gekregen uit het boek is echter dat beide erbij winnen als ze openstaan voor de ander. Liefde voor beide zijden van deze discussie loopt als een rode draad door het boek en ik voel me daartoe enorm aangetrokken. Wellicht is dat, tezamen met het dromerige taalgebruik, wat me nog het meeste aantrekt.

De karakters in dit boek zijn niet echt heel diepgaand. Zelfs de karakters die een beetje een ontwikkeling doormaken veranderen niet echt in waters met diepe gronden. De enige die wat onder de zeespiegel lijkt te hebben is Nathaniel Chanticleer en ook bij hem wordt er eigenlijk alleen maar naar gehint. Maar voor mij zijn de karakters meer symbolisch in dit boek. Het feeërieke taalgebruik, het dromerige tempo van het verhaal, de verwarrende manier van vertellen, dat draagt er bij mij toe bij dat het allemaal zo enorm als thuiskomen voelt. Het is een uniek verhaal op een unieke manier verteld, met een thema dat mij na aan het hart ligt. ( )
  weaver-of-dreams | Aug 1, 2023 |
Read for the same reason everyone else did. Fun and fascinating for its context. ( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
  seitherin | Jan 15, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (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 (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mirrlees, Hopeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gallardo, GervasioCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herring, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michniewicz, SueDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toulouse, SophieIllustratorsecondary 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 safe 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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Wikipedia in English (1)

In the land of Dorimare, on the shores of the Dapple and the Dawl, the law-abiding residents of Lud-in-the-Mist are plagued by an illegal influx of fairy fruit enticing people to acts of poetry, dancing, and other dangerous flights of fancy. When respectable Mayor Nathaniel Chanticleer finds his family entangled in the scandal, he must call upon both his sharp legal mind and his unacknowledged creative spirit to craft a reconciliation with the Faerie. Dare to embrace your wild side in this classic fantasy. Suitable for ages eight and up.

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