sleepyjohn00 (sleepyjohn00) wrote,

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What I'm Reading

I've decided that I want to talk about books that I'm reading that I think other people should read, and the reasons thereof. 

First off: The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddison

This is a fantasy novel, published in England in 1926, and, I think, mostly ignored.  Dunsany and Cabell and Morris are all over the place, but Worm fell off the face of the earth.

I think this is mostly due to the difficulty of the language.  The prose style of Worm is damn near impenetrable, and it was supposed to form part of a series of other novels.  This makes the initial energy cost to get in very high.

The thing is, the language is impenetrable, but this is how heroes should talk! When you have gallant lords, world-crossing heroics, dark and dangerous sorceries, mighty deeds, and ultimate battles, the characters should not go "Nice day, Bob,  How's the wife?"  Eddison created an English that is part Homer, part Shakespeare, part King James, full of metaphor and imagery and long, long, long, long descriptive passages, because that is what this world is, and the language used to describe it should be as grand is it is.  It's worth getting over the hump of language, to savor the greatness of the story, Yes, there are plot holes the size of the great banquet hall at Owlswick.  Tough.  Eddison wasn't trying to write The Hunt For Red October, true-to-life authenticity was not his goal.

Language, in a fantasy setting, should help take you out of this world.  LeGuin understands this.  Katherine Kurtz learned it along the way.  Tolkien always knew it.  Goldman knows it, and makes fun of it in "Princess Bride", because he loves it.

It has always disappointed me that Roger Zelazny gave up on this.  The first of the Dilvish stories, "The Bells of Shoredan", was a great read, because the people did not speak as if they just got off the 5th Street bus.  "The wearer of the green boots of Elfland may not be thrown, but to land on his feet."  Now, doesn't that work better than "His magic boots made him land upright"?     The later stories, and all the Amber series, fell short of greatness IMO because everyone spoke  modern colloquial English.  He almost got back to it with "Eye of Cat", which I plan to talk about later.

I'm on my second copy of Worm, and one of these days I will see if I can find a hardback version on Amazon.

If this kind of entry inerests you, describe a book you love.  I intend to keep going ,regardless.  :)

Tags: books

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