Lord Dunsany definitely takes a different approach to fantasy writing than any other author we've read. His shorter stories and poems are more comparable to Edgar Allan Poe and the works of the Grimm brothers, which he often read as a child. However, while his style of portraying epiphanies and brief climaxes is a technique very much unlike the stretched out plots of Tolkien, Lewis, LeGuin, and others, Dunsany still uses some elements comparable to those greats. The "Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller" contains none of the epic elements of The Lord of the Rings, but the character Hlo-hlo can almost be compared with the evil spider Shelob or even the god Illuvatar, creator of Middle Earth. The diamond that is repeatedly mentioned in the tale is "often stolen" (2) just as the One Ring is often lost and then found again.

But business was business, and the diamond that he sought still lay on the lap of Hlo-hlo, where it had been for the last two million years since Hlo-hlo created the world and gave unto it all things except that precious stone called Dead Man's Diamond. The jewel was often stolen it had a knack of coming back again to the lap of Hlo-hlo.

The different nature of his fantasy writing allows us to compare Dunsany to other writers of fiction, not necessarily just fantasy. Gothic elements like "full moon," "shadows," and "night," (2) in the "Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller" and elements like "mist" and "moon" in "The Doom that Came to Sarnath" and "The Hoard of the Gibbelins" reflect more gothic that Poe would use in his dark short stories than in other fantasies we have studied.

Questions

1. What is the significance of the ironic statement, "honest thief," in "How Nuth Would Have Practiced His Art Upon The Gnoles"? Where else do we see this common element of burglary and thievery in Dunsany's tales?

2. Dunsany uses gothic language and elements in his tales which gives the tale a dark notion. Does this have anything to do with his purpose in capitalizing the word "Night" (3)?

3. Is the spider Hlo-hlo at all comparable to Tolkien's Shelob or is he more like Illuvatar, the creator? Likewise, is Dunsany's use of the large diamond similar to the One Ring?


Victorian Web Overview Lord Dunsany Discussion Questions Fantasy

Last modified 5 April 2004