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Five Plays by Lord Dunsany


Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Lord Dunsany, is the eighteenth
member of his family to bear the title which gives him a place in the
Irish peerage. He was born in 1878 and received his education at
Eton and Sandhurst. In 1899 he succeeded his father to the title and
the family estate in Meath, Ireland. During the South African war he
served at the front with the Coldstream Guards. He is passionately
fond of outdoor life and often spends the whole day in the saddle
before sitting down at his desk to write late at night.
His work proves, however, that he is as fond of spiritual as of physical
exercise, and that he is an inveterate traveller in those mysterious
regions of the partly known or wholly unknown where the imagination
alone can guide us. His first literary heroes were the brothers Grimm
and Andersen. Then the Greek world of Olympians was revealed to
him, making a lasting impression on his mind. But it was the Bible
that gave him the limpid style which makes his most fantastic tales as
real as government reports—or rather much more so. "For years no
style seemed to me natural but that of the Bible," he said not long
ago, "and I feared that I would never become a writer when I saw that
other people did not use it."
For something like ten years he has been a pretty frequent and
increasingly valued contributor to English and Anglo-Irish periodicals.
He has previously published five volumes: "The Gods of Pegana,"
1905; "Time and the Gods," 1906; "The Sword of Welleran," 1908; "A
Dreamer's Tales," 1910; and "The Book of Wonder," 1912. All are
collections of prose pieces that defy accepted classifications. They
are fairy tales and short stories and essays and prose poems at the
same time.
The reader has only to take a brief glance at one of those works to
make the astounding discovery that he is being introduced to worlds
of which he has never heard before. Even the "Arabian Nights" have
a clearly identifiable background of popular legend and myth. Nothing
of the kind is to be found in the writings of Lord Dunsany. He may be
said to have created a new mythology wholly his own. He is not only
the master but the maker of the countries to which he takes us on
such fascinating jaunts. His commonest name for them is the Edge of
the World, but sometimes he speaks of them as the Lands of
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