The King of Elfland's Daughter

Lord Dunsany, The King of Elfland's Daughter (G.P. Putnam Sons: 1924).

There are many reasons to read this book, and while it is primarily thought of as an early influence on the fantasy genre, it also packs some classic weird fiction themes. If there is such a thing as an essential feature of weird fiction, one candidate for such a feature is the impingement of the unfathomable into our world. Elfland is not only strange and beautiful but also completely alien; it is, in principle, not understandable. The conceptual scheme of the beings that inhabit that world doesn't translate into our conceptual paradigm, thus rendering them unintelligible in many, if not all, respects. An idea developed in The King of Elfland's Daughter is that weirdness can be a symmetrical relation. When Elfland impinges on our reality, we encounter something impossible to understand; likewise, when "the fields that we know" impinge on Elfland, it is our world that defies the bounds of understanding.


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