Friday, October 9, 2020

Dunsany in a Strange Place

 A friend recently pointed out the following poem in Christopher Morley's volume The Middle Kingdom: Poems 1929-1944 (1944).  Dunsany is rarely the subject of a poem, and here is one that plays on his names (his surname is pronounced dun-SAY'-nee, and does indeed rhyme with "zany"):

“A Night at an Inn”
(Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany - Who’s Who)

I’m on, cries JOHN.
It helps to shorten the night, quoth MORETON.
Just a glass of port, to relax, says DRAX.
And now we’ve drunk it, mumbles PLUNKETT,
Come on, old zany.
And so all five, with yawns and snorts,
Having partaken their Cinque Ports,
Are merged in bed as LORD DUNSANY.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Richard Stanley's movie "Color Out of Space"

I had been looking forward to this. Boy was I wrong. It is a melange of trite horror tropes and twenty-first-century family issues grafted onto a few plot-elements lifted from H.P. Lovecraft's story, to which is added over-the-top bad acting (Nicolas Cage, especially), to produce a decidedly B-grade horror film. A few directorial hand-waves pass over a large number of unexplained and irrational aspects of the plot. The script is appallingly bad, and the whole is dull and pointless. Save nearly two hours of your life and avoid this movie. 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The TLS on Arthur Machen

There is a very interesting review-essay on Arthur Machen in the TLS here.  It's by Aaron Worth, who edited the recent Oxford University Press Machen volume, The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories. An excerpt:
It was, supposedly, after the first of his dinners with Wilde at the Florence, in the summer of 1890, that Machen resolved to try his hand at “modern” fiction (not long before, under the combined influence of Rabelais, Balzac and Marguerite de Navarre, he had produced his “Welsh Heptameron”, the faux-medieval Chronicle of Clemendy). This was the beginning of his decade mirabilis; before the century came to a close he had written, if not published, nearly all of the pioneering supernatural fiction for which he is remembered today. These stories are imbued with a potent sense of the places documented in Occult Territories, above all Machen’s native Caerleon and the “grey labyrinth” of London. Many of them are shaped by a second influence as well, namely Machen’s immersion in a wide range of esoteric literature in the 1880s, when he was hired by the bookseller George Redway to compile a substantial annotated catalogue (The Literature of Occultism and Archaeology).