Favourite Excerpts

This picture was made by S.H.Sime as a frontispiece for The Gods of Pegana by Lord Dunsany. Sime and Dunsany cooperated over the creation of this book. Sometimes Sime illustrated already written chapters. Sometimes Dunsany wrote to pictures already drawn. This book was the first second-hand book I ever bought. It cost one shilling from Bredon's in Brighton; I forget the year in the 1950s. Many years after I bought it I realized that my copy was signed by S.H.Sime.


The brilliance of Jack Vance is often most apparent in footnotes, like this one: his ability to sketch whole societies, leaving plenty of gaps for the imagination to work on; his neologizing; his wry humour. His invention is so fertile that he can give away, as page decoration, what others would labour to expand in a whole novel.

Egregious Impostures
This denouncement of superstition is bullying rodomontade. Its message could have been expressed in two sentences. I can forgive all that for its unpolished exuberance and listomania.

Bless this farm
How could father Mars resist such sonorous simplicity? At first reading Mars/Mavors/Mors (Death) seems an odd choice for an agricultural invocation. I think the suovitaurilia, the beating of the bounds with a trio of suckling pig, lamb and calf, has to be seen as a territorial display, warning off encroachers, human and nonhuman, by showing what a fine sacrifice is being paid to the nastiest Capo in the protection business.

Conjuring in the Iron Tower
This section from a chapter of The Worm Ouroboros is about as much Eddison as I can read without indigestion. It shows great virtuosity and heroic imagination, but it reminds me too much of pantomime.