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, March 14, 2012

"The Kith of the Elf Folk" by Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany

"The Kith of the Elf Folk" by Edward Plunkett, ( Lord Dunsany), 1910, 22 pages

Paranormal Day
Tales of The Wild Folk

Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week Year Two, March 12 to March 31.   All you need do is post on one short story by an Irish author and send me a comment or an e mail and I will include it in the master post at the end of the challenge.  

George V became King in 1910.  Japan annexes Korea.  Howard's End is published.  Jean Genet is born.

Edward Plunkett (1878 to 1957, Dublin) was the 18th Baron of Dunsany.   Under the pen name of "Lord Dunsany" he wrote over 60 books including novels, plays,  and collections of essays.   It is for his 100s of stories set in the heritage occult world of Old Ireland that he is remembered and loved.   He  greatly influenced many of the best know writers of "fantasy tales" such as H. P. Lovecraft,  J. R. Tolkien and Jorge Borges.    

Born into considerable wealth into a very famous family of high accomplishers, he was far from one of the idol rich.    He was at one time the chess and the pistol champion of Ireland.   (Not a man to challenge to a mental or a pistol match!)   He worked with W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory in the Irish Theater.   He served in the second  Boer war and in WWI he was a captain, serving for a time in the trenches at his own request.
He was a major figure in the Irish Literary revival and was given an honorary doctors degree by Trinity College in Dublin for his contributions to Irish Culture.

My first encounter with the writings of Lord Dunsany was in December of last year when I read and posted on his very well done short story, "Ghosts".

"The Kith of Elf Folk" is just a totally wonderful story, beautifully written with the power to draw you completely into the world it creates.   In fact when I finished it I felt almost like an American Idol judge and wanted to yell out "Lord Dunsany, you have made it to Irish Short Week!"    I did like this story so much that it did give me a really feeling of happiness to have experienced it.

The story is about a "Wild Thing", a two foot tall or so marsh person that can seen only by people born right at dusk, that is kin to the Elfs.   I laughed when I heard that cats could see the wild things but dogs could not!

"The wild things are somewhat human in appearance, only all brown of skin and barely two feet tall.   Their ears are pointed like the squirrel's, only far larger, and they leap to prodigious heights.   They live all day under deep pools in the loneliest marshes but at night they come up to dance.   Each Wild Thing has over its head a Marsh light, which moves when the Wild Thing does, they have no souls and cannot die, and are of the kith of the Elf folk".

One of the female Wild things wants to have a soul so she could worship God and know the meaning of music and see the inner beauty of the marshes and to imagine paradise.    She brings her desire to the oldest of the Wild Things.   The kith of the Wild Thing (kin) heard of her sorrow and fashioned a soul for her which she accepted knowing the price she will pay.   She is at once transformed into a beautiful young woman.

Now it gets really interesting and I will just tell a bit of the plot.   The girl is taken in by a local family who think she may have mental problems of some kind as she is far from normal.   They put her to work in a factory right out of the satanic mills of William Blake.   She is given the name Mary Jane Rush.   Mary Jane begins to experience deeply the beauty of the world and the love of God.   Mary has the worse kind of job working in a spinning factory.   The noise of the machines is overwhelming.   The city was ugly in the day time and only after dark could Mary Jane see any beauty.   Everyday is the same.   Mary Jane decides she wants to get rid of her soul and go back to being a wild thing.   She knows the only way to do this is to give her soul to a human who does not have one.

One days Mary Jane is so overwhelmed with sadness while in factory that she breaks into song in an amazingly beautiful voice.  An opera director happens to be walking by and he sends her to school to learn to sing for the stage and she is soon the toast of  Dublin.

The story does not end here but I will tell no more of the plot.  I did love the ending and thing you will also.

I have thought about this story a bit more.   I wonder if the Wild Things are the people of Ireland and the humans the English?

"The Kith of the Elf Folk" is a tremendously fun story and a first rate work of art.

You can download this story from Manybooks.   It is in his The Sword of Welleran and other Stories.  

Mel u

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