Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ghosts" by Lord Dunsany

The Ghosts" by Lord Dunsany  (1910, 9 pages)
1878 to 1957

I hope over the remaining four days of 2011 to post on short stories by four new to me writers.  (I will resume posting on longer works in January, starting with The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.)   One of the great things about short stories   is they let you try out a new to your writer without a big investment of your time.

I have begun also to look for  writers to feature during Irish Short Stories Week- II (March 12 to March 22).   Edward Plunket (Ireland) was the 18th Baron of Dunsany.   He wrote under the pen name of Lord Dunsany.    Plunket was born into a very wealthy and famous family.  At 21 on the death of his father he became a baron.   His family owned great estates throughout Ireland.   Plunket served in the trenches in WWI even though he had options to allow him to avoid combat.   At one time he was the Irish Chess Champion and also the Irish Pistol Shooting Champion.   He was an avid hunter,  a high society figure as well as a patron of the Irish Theater.  He was friends with W. B. Yeats and other literary luminaries.  

Plunket was also a very prolific writer.   He is best remembered  now for his many dark fantasy stories.   He influenced writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Tolkien, and Borges.   Plunket had access to a huge private library while growing up and was literate in the classics and a very wide reader.   He was married and had one child.  

As "The Ghosts" opens the narrator of this first person story is telling us about an argument he had with his brother about ghosts.   The brother does not believe they exist and he knows they do.   He decides to stay up late, they are in an old castle, to see if he will experience any ghosts.   In the middle of the night beautifully described very horrible and scary creatures begin to surround him.  At first he thinks they are ghosts but then he realizes these are the ghosts of the sins of the departed.   He begins to think that his argument with his brother justifies him in murder.   Then he begins to realize he is being driven to this evil by the ghosts of the sins.   In a really clever move, he begins to contemplate mathematical formulas and this allows him to return to rationality.

I will probably read more Lord Dunsany during Irish Short Story Week.  He even has a series of fantastic stories in which he created his own mythology.   

This story  can be downloaded from Manybook.Net  along with most of his other fiction.     I also listened to this story as a Podcast through Miette's Bedtime Podcasts, the premier place on the internet for podcasts of literary short stories, for a deeper experience of the work.    

It appears to me that Lord Dunsany's work is considered in the public domain in about half the countries of the world as he has been dead more than 50 years.  He is still under copyright protection in the UK, the USA, and Indian but not in the Philippines or Bangladesh, for example.   

Mel u


EstherHawdon said...

"The Ghosts" seems an interesting story, which is reminiscent of Lafcadio Hearn who came to Japan and collected ghost stories. ( Hearn also has Irish blood in his veins ) There are people who can see what others cannnot and this narrator seems one of them, where binary opposion between rational and irrational is undermined...I also want to read other stories by Lord Dunsany thank to your nice review.

Buried In Print said...

I didn't realize he was Irish: I'll definitely be eyeing his works for the week!

Mel u said...

Buried in Print-he would be a great choice for the week-if one wanted to really get into the week one could do, for example, a different gothic/horror/ ghost story each day -I am very glad you plan to join in.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this input. Now I inderstand what's going on in the story!

Unknown said...

Can anyone tell me when this short story was written?

Mel u said...

Ivan FAA- 1910