Eric Rücker Eddison

Eric Rücker Eddison, CB, CMG (24 November 1882 – 18 August 1945) was an English civil servant and author, writing epic fantasy novels under the name E. R. Eddison. His notable works include The Worm Ouroboros (1922) and the Zimiamvian Trilogy (1935–1958).

Eric Rücker Eddison
Eric Rucker Eddison c.1922
Eric Rucker Eddison c.1922
Born24 November 1882
Adel, Leeds, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Died18 August 1945 (aged 62)
Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
OccupationCivil servant, writer

Biography

Born in Adel, Leeds, Eddison's early education came from a series of private tutors, whom he shared with the young Arthur Ransome. Ransome recalls Eddison's daring and Machiavellian methods of getting rid of unpopular teachers in his autobiography.[1] Afterwards Eddison was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford and joined the Board of Trade in 1906, retiring in 1938 to work full-time on his fiction. He was also a member of the Viking Society for Northern Research.[2] During a distinguished career he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1924 and a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1929 for public service with the Board of Trade. He and his wife had one child, a daughter. Their son-in-law, Kenneth Hesketh Higson, a Royal Air Force pilot, died in an air fight over Italy in the Second World War.[3][4]

Writing

Eddison is best known for the early romance The Worm Ouroboros (1922) and for three volumes set in the imaginary world Zimiamvia, known as the Zimiamvian Trilogy: Mistress of Mistresses (1935), A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), and The Mezentian Gate (1958).

These early works of high fantasy drew strong praise from J. R. R. Tolkien,[5] C. S. Lewis,[6] (alongside whom he was considered an occasional member of the Inklings)[7] and later, Ursula K. Le Guin.[8] Tolkien generally approved Eddison's literary style, but found the underlying philosophy rebarbative; while Eddison in turn thought Tolkien's views "soft".[5] Other admirers of Eddison's work included James Stephens, who wrote the introduction to the 1922 edition; James Branch Cabell, who provided a foreword for the 1926 American edition; Robert Silverberg, who described The Worm Ouroboros as "the greatest high fantasy of them all";[9] and Clive Barker.[10]

Eddison's books are written in a meticulously recreated Jacobean prose style, seeded throughout with fragments, often acknowledged but often directly copied from his favorite authors and genres: Homer and Sappho, Shakespeare and Webster, Norse sagas and French medieval lyric poems. Critic Andy Sawyer has noted that such fragments seem to arise naturally from the "barbarically sophisticated" worlds Eddison has created.[11] The books exhibit a thoroughly aristocratic sensibility; heroes and villains alike maintain an Olympian indifference to convention. Fellow fantasy author Michael Moorcock wrote that Eddison's characters, particularly his villains, are more vivid than Tolkien's.[12] Others have observed that while it is historically accurate to depict the great of the world trampling on the lower classes, Eddison's characters often treat their subjects with arrogance and insolence, and this is depicted as part of their greatness.[13] Indeed, at the end of The Worm Ouroboros, the heroes, finding peace dull, pray for – and get – the revival of their enemies, so that they may go and fight them again.[14] Fantasy historian Brian Attebery notes that "Eddison's fantasies uphold a code that is unabashedly Nietzschean; had he written after World War II, his enthusiasm for supermen and heroic conflict might perhaps have been tempered".[15]

The Zimiamvia books were conceived not as a trilogy but as part of a larger work left incomplete at Eddison's death. The Mezentian Gate itself is unfinished, though Eddison provided summaries of the missing chapters shortly before his death. C. S. Lewis wrote a blurb for the cover of The Mezentian Gate when it was published calling Eddison's works "first and foremost, of art."[16] Some additional material from this book was published for the first time in the volume Zimiamvia: A Trilogy (1992).

Eddison wrote three other books: Poems, Letters, and Memories of Philip Sidney Nairn (1916), Styrbiorn the Strong (1926) and Egil's Saga (1930). The first was his tribute to a Trinity College friend, a poet, who, according to this source, died May 18, 1914, age 30, in Malaya, where he was a colonial administrator. According to another, possibly less reliable source, he is said to have died in his youth during World War I.[11] The other two relate to the saga literature; the first is a historical novel which retells Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa (alluded to in Eyrbyggja Saga and Heimskringla).[15] The second is a direct translation from Egil's saga, supplemented with extensive notes, some which explain Eddison's aesthetic and philosophical outlook.[15]

Bibliography

Fantasies

Zimiamvia Trilogy

  • Mistress of Mistresses (1935). London: Faber and Faber.
  • A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941). New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.
  • The Mezentian Gate (1958). London: Curwen Press.
  • Zimiamvia: A Trilogy (1992). New York: Dell Publishing. ISBN 0-440-50300-0.

Other

  • Poems, Letters, and Memories of Philip Sidney Nairn (1916). London: Printed for Private Circulation.
  • Egil's Saga (1930). London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Styrbiorn the Strong (1926). London: Jonathan Cape.
  • Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Profiteering" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York. (in part)

References

  1. ^ Arthur Ransome, The Autobiography of Arthur Ransome, ed. R. Hart-Davis (London: Jonathan Cape, 1976), 37–40.
  2. ^ "Books and Authors", The New York Times Book Review, 13 June 1926, p. 23
  3. ^ "The Works of E.R. Eddison". verizon.net.
  4. ^ A Fish Dinner in Memison, dedication
  5. ^ a b J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters, ed. Humphrey Carpenter (Houghton Mifflin, 1981), Letter No. 199.
  6. ^ C. S. Lewis, On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, "Tribute to E. R. Eddison.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Ursula Le Guin, The Language of the Night, "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie".
  9. ^ Quoted in The Worm Ouroboros, Millenium Fantasy Masterworks Series, 2000 (pg. 1).
  10. ^ Douglas E. Winter, Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic, HarperCollins, 2002, pp. 67, 305.
  11. ^ a b Andy Sawyer, "Eddison, E(ric) R(ücker)", St. James Guide To Fantasy Writers, ed. David Pringle, St. James Press, 1996, ISBN 1-55862-205-5, pp. 176–8.
  12. ^ Michael Moorcock, Wizardry & Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy, ISBN 1-932265-07-4, p. 47.
  13. ^ L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy, ISBN 0-87054-076-9, pp. 132–3.
  14. ^ L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy, ISBN 0-87054-076-9, p. 116.
  15. ^ a b c Brian Attebury, "E.R. Eddison", Supernatural Fiction Writers: Fantasy and Horror, ed. E. F. Bleiler, Scribner, 1985. ISBN 0-684-17808-7, pp. 529–534
  16. ^ Glyer, Diana (2007). The Company They Keep. Kent, OH: Kent State UP. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-87338-890-0.

Further reading

External links

2016 in public domain

When a work's copyright expires, it enters the public domain. The following is a list of works that enter the public domain in 2016. Since laws vary globally, the copyright status of some works are not uniform.

A Fish Dinner in Memison

A Fish Dinner in Memison is a fantasy novel by English writer Eric Rücker Eddison, the second in his Zimiamvian Trilogy.

The story consists of alternating sections set on Earth and in Zimiamvia. The Earth sections focus on the romance of Edward Lessingham and his wife Mary. The Zimiamvian sections describe King Mezentius, described as "tyrant of Fingiswold, Meszria and Rerek", foiling a plot against his Vicar in Rerek, and then the romance of his illegitimate son Barganax with the Lady Fiorinda. The fish dinner of the title turns into a symposium on Eddison's metaphysics.

Much is revealed about the links between principal characters and the separate worlds of the novel, as well as to The Worm Ouroboros, not fully resolved in the other novels in the trilogy. The character of Lessingham is also resolved to its greatest extent in all the novels of the trilogy.

A Fish Dinner in Memison overlaps chronologically with The Mezentian Gate, but since the action starts later than in that work, it can be considered chronologically as the second novel in the series.

Barbara Remington

Barbara Remington is an American artist and illustrator. Born in Minnesota, she is probably best known for her cover-art for Ballantine Books' first paperback editions of J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and for her Tolkien-related poster A Map of Middle-earth.

In an interview about her association with Tolkien's works, Remington mentions that she had not been able to get hold of the books before making the illustration, and had only a sketchy idea from friends what they were about. Tolkien, the author, could not understand why her illustration included what he thought were pumpkins in a tree, or why a lion appeared at all (the lions were removed from the cover of later editions).

Remington became a huge Tolkien fan, and would have "definitely drawn different pictures" had she read the books first.The popularity of the artwork led to a large edition of the poster as well as work for similar genre fiction such as The Worm Ouroboros by Eric Rücker Eddison. She has also illustrated a number of children's books.

Barbara Remington illustrated “Scuttle The Stowaway Mouse”. Written by Jean and Nancy Soule. Copyright for story and illustrations 1969. This is a great example of Remingtons ability to understand and transform the characters into her own. Her imagination and eye for every small detail is impeccable.

Remington illustrated the book “Boat”. It’s a story told in art (no words). Beautifully drawn with incredible attention to details. All done in pencil and ink. Copyright 1975.

Demonland

Demonland is a large island in Eric Rücker Eddison's fantasy world, described in The Worm Ouroboros. The people who live in Demonland are referred to as demons, though they appear as humans with small horns adorned on their heads.

Dunn's spinytail lizard

Morunasaurus groi, known commonly as Gro's manticore, Dunn's spinytail iguana, or Dunn's spinytail lizard, is a species of lizard in the family Hoplocercidae. The species is endemic to northwestern South America and Panama.

High fantasy

High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy, defined either by the epic nature of its setting or by the epic stature of its characters, themes, or plot. The term "high fantasy" was coined by Lloyd Alexander in a 1971 essay, "High Fantasy and Heroic Romance" (originally given at the New England Round Table of Children's Librarians in October 1969).

Inklings

The Inklings were an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England, for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949. The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of narrative in fiction and encouraged the writing of fantasy.

List of fictional worms

This is a list of fictional worms, categorized by the media they appear in. For the purpose of this list, "worm" does not simply refer to earthworms, but also to mythological and fantastic creatures whose description as a "worm" descends from the Old English word wyrm, a poetic term for a legless serpent or dragon.

List of works published posthumously

The following is a list of works that were published or distributed posthumously.

Mistress of Mistresses

Mistress of Mistresses is a fantasy novel by English writer Eric Rücker Eddison, the first in his Zimiamvian Trilogy. First published in 1935, it centers on political intrigues between the nobles and rulers of the Three Kingdoms of Rerek, Meszria and Fingiswold, following the death of King Mezentius, an extraordinary ruler who has held sway over three kingdoms mainly through force of character. Dissolution of the realm seems certain as alliances are formed and begin to intrigue against each other. The character of Lessingham is an unknown quantity, with a strong character of his own, but the reader is kept uncertain over what impact Lessingham can have over the future of the realm until the novel's close.

First of the Zimiamvian Trilogy to be published, Mistress of Mistresses is chronologically the last novel in the series.

Styrbjörn the Strong

Styrbjörn the Strong (Old Norse Styrbjörn Sterki; died about 985) according to late Norse sagas was a son of the Swedish king Olof, and a nephew of Olof's co-ruler and successor Eric the Victorious, who defeated and killed Styrbjörn at the Battle of Fyrisvellir. As with many figures in the sagas, doubts have been cast on his existence, but he is mentioned in a roughly contemporary skaldic poem about the battle. According to legend, his original name was Björn, and Styr-, which was added when he had grown up, was an epithet meaning that he was restless, controversially forceful and violent.

The Blade of Conan

The Blade of Conan is a 1979 collection of essays edited by L. Sprague de Camp, published in paperback by Ace Books. The material was originally published as articles in George H. Scithers' fanzine Amra. The book is a companion to Ace’s later volume of material from Amra, The Spell of Conan (1980). Most of the material in the two volumes, together with some additional material, was reprinted from three previous books issued in hardcover by Mirage Press; de Camp’s collection The Conan Reader (1968), and the de Camp and Scithers-edited anthologies The Conan Swordbook (1969). and The Conan Grimoire (1972).

The Conan Grimoire

The Conan Grimoire is a 1972 collection of essays, poetry and fiction edited by L. Sprague de Camp and George H. Scithers, published in hardcover by Mirage Press. The essays were originally published as articles in Scithers' fanzine Amra. The book is a companion to Mirage’s previous two volumes of material from Amra, The Conan Reader (1968) and The Conan Swordbook (1969). Most of the material in the three volumes, together with some additional material, was later reprinted in two de Camp-edited paperback anthologies from Ace Books; The Blade of Conan (1979) and The Spell of Conan (1980).

The Conan Swordbook

The Conan Swordbook is a 1969 collection of essays edited by L. Sprague de Camp and George H. Scithers, published in hardcover by Mirage Press. The essays were originally published as articles in Scithers' fanzine Amra. The book is a companion to Mirage’s other two volumes of material from Amra, The Conan Reader (1968) and The Conan Grimoire (1972). Most of the material in the three volumes, together with some additional material, was later reprinted in two de Camp-edited paperback anthologies from Ace Books; The Blade of Conan (1979) and The Spell of Conan (1980).

The Mezentian Gate

The Mezentian Gate is a fantasy novel by English writer Eric Rücker Eddison, the third in his Zimiamvian Trilogy. It is primarily a history of the rule of the fictional King Mezentius (the Tyrant of Fingiswold), and his methods of gaining and holding the Three Kingdoms of Fingiswold, Meszria and Rerek in sway.

Published posthumously, The Mezentian Gate is only partially completed as prose. In many of the central chapters, only the plot outline is presented. The first edition, published in 1958, comprised those chapters completed by Eddison, supplemented by an "Argument" summarizing the unfinished portions of the novel. An omnibus edition of the trilogy, published in 1992 as Zimiamvia, supplemented the 1958 text with unfinished draft texts for several never-completed chapters found among Eddison's manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. The expanded version was published in an independent edition by Harper Collins in 2014.

The Mezentian Gate is chronologically the first book in the Zimiamvian Trilogy.

The Spell of Conan

The Spell of Conan is a 1980 collection of essays, poems and fiction edited by L. Sprague de Camp, published in paperback by Ace Books. The material was originally published as articles in George H. Scithers' fanzine Amra. The book is a companion to Ace's earlier volume of material from Amra, The Blade of Conan (1979). Most of the material in the two volumes, together with some additional material, was reprinted from three previous books issued in hardcover by Mirage Press; de Camp's collection The Conan Reader (1968), and the de Camp and Scithers-edited anthologies The Conan Swordbook (1969). and The Conan Grimoire (1972).

The Worm Ouroboros

The Worm Ouroboros is a heroic high fantasy novel by English writer Eric Rücker Eddison, first published in 1922. The book describes the protracted war between the domineering King Gorice of Witchland and the Lords of Demonland in an imaginary world that appears mainly medieval and partly reminiscent of Norse sagas. The work is slightly related to Eddison's later Zimiamvian Trilogy, and collectively they are sometimes referred to as the Zimiamvian series.

The book was illustrated by Keith Henderson, who also illustrated books by Geoffrey Chaucer and W. H. Hudson.

Witchland

Witchland is a large and powerful country in Eric Rücker Eddison's fantasy world, described in The Worm Ouroboros. Contrary to what one might think based on the name, Witchland is home to people who - with one exception - seem to have no interest in magic.

Witchland is the setting for some of the events in the story. Witchland's geography seems to be flat and well suited for farming. The Demonlords somewhat dismissively call it 'waterish' Witchland

"The Worm Ouroboros"

'. Witchland has a large city on the coast, the great walled city of Carcë. Witchland is one of several important realms in the book. The others are Demonland, Impland, Goblinland, the Foliot Isles, and Pixyland.

Witchland bears a slight resemblance to the kingdom of Gondor in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It has also been compared to Troy, Babylon, and Rome.

Witchland is less well described than Demonland. The port next to Carcë is called Tenemos. Other lands nearby are: Pixyland and the Foliot Isles. Other lands and cites which owe loyalty to Witchland are: Buteny, Estremerine, Shulan, Thramnë, Mingos, Permio, Ar, the Esamocian Marches, Trace, Beshtria, Nevria, Ojedia, Maltraëny, Baltary, and Toribia. However Eddison, unlike his better known contemporary Tolkien, never mapped his world so the location of these places is uncertain.

E. R. Eddison novels
The Worm Ouroboros
Zimiamvian Trilogy
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