Dunsany, Lord: Fifty-One Tales:. v1, 4 Feb 2008
Lord Dunsany is cited as a major influence by many writers and artists and as an important figure in the development of fantastic literature by editors, academics and critics. His work formed part of the foundation of fantasy, along with that of Poe, Morris and Rider Haggard, and fed into later work such as that of Tolkien, Lewis and Lovecraft. The reference Dunsanian evokes a particular style and atmosphere which has, in the words of more than one commentator, been much imitated but never duplicated. Current editions of his work quote many well-known authors recognising his inspiration.
"[Dunsany's] rich language, his cosmic point of view, his remote dream-worlds, and his exquisite sense of the fantastic, all appeal to me more than anything else in modern literature."--H.P. Lovecraft
Although many of his most famous stories are longer in length, the miniature portraits of Fifty-One Tales (originally published in 1915 and sometimes reprinted under the title The Food of Death) are an ideal introduction to Dunsany. Nowhere is the jewel-like quality of his prose more evident than in the short tales, seminal works which runs the gamut from whimsy to fantasy to social satire.
Note: These tales are very short. Here is an example from the book.
THE SONGLESS COUNTRY
The poet came unto a great country in which there were no songs. And he lamented gently for the nation that had not any little foolish songs to sing to itself at evening.
And at last he said: "I will make for them myself some little foolish songs so that they may be merry in the lanes and happy by the fireside." And for some days he made for them aimless songs such as maidens sing on the hills in the older happier countries.
Then he went to some of that nation as they sat weary with the work of the day and said to them: "I have made you some aimless songs out of the small unreasonable legends, that are somewhat akin to the wind in the vales of my childhood; and you may care to sing them in your disconsolate evenings."
And they said to him:
"If you think we have time for that sort of nonsense nowadays you cannot know much of the progress of modern commerce."
And the poet wept for he said: "Alas! They are damned."