Monday, December 08, 2014

Our Distant Cousins - by Lord Dunsany

An  excerpt from my review of IN THE LAND OF TIME (Penguin Classics) Edited by ST Joshi...


Our Distant Cousins“There certainly had been an outbreak of disbelief.”
Another story about Jorkens via the narrator but the tale itself is told by a third party as brokered by Jorkens (cf: the brokering of evils to be bartered between customers in an earlier story). I have long seen fiction making as a pecking order: freehold author – leasehold narrator – sub-leasehold characters etc. The fiction maker (travelling to Mars by aeroplane partially dependent on the Earth going a thousand miles an hour as we stand on it and then many outlandish events with human-like people (one of whom the traveller from Earth fancies) kept in a chicken-run and octopoid beasts that eat them and then the traveller making a half stop on the way home on the asteroid Eros and much else) is called Terner, or as the freeholder probably intended to indicate, by anagram: re-rent
And that’s what we do, rent the story at each remove to enhance truth at or from a distance. But there is an elephant in the room about this story. Or should I say ‘an elephant bursting out of a matchbox’. The sub-leased Narrator’s silent collusion with the reader beyond the whole pecking-order that he finds himself in. A fine mesh.

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