June 7, 2015
Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett – now there’s a moniker to drag along behind you like an anchor. It is probably for the best we know him simply as Lord Dunsany. Lord Dunsany belongs among the stylists immortalized in the Dungeons & Dragons recommended reading list, Appendix N. I’d say he’s their standard bearer, along with Jack Vance. The others on the list fit at varying points along the spectrum from serviceable pulp journeymen to bona fide literary greats.
Lord Dunsany is noted primarily for “The King of Elfland’s Daughter.” But in my opinion it was his short stories that won him his Appendix N spurs. I submit “The Hoard of the Gibbelins” as Exhibit A. That reads to me as more directly influential on gaming than the lyrical “Elfland’s Daughter.” I liked the novel, but despite its brevity it isn’t a fast, punchy read. It takes its time, meandering and philosophizing.
Dunsany’s stock in trade was whimsy and humor. My personal favorites are the truly funny stories. Check out his “Jorkens” stories as examples. Or the ironic and witty “Pegāna” stories. Grin plastered on your face, laugh out loud knee-slappers. Funny guy for a lord.
I recall driving through Ireland a few years back, on my way to visit Tara. I passed through Dunsany. Most other tourists would admire the scenery, the fields, the vintage architecture. I noticed all that too. But mostly I was jazzed to be in Dunsany, the Dunsany of Lord-Appendix N-himself-Dunsany. I may need help.