May 30 2012

Reading Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros (part 1)

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I’ve been reading The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison. Eddison wrote this book, as well as a trilogy of other books collectively known as the Zimiamvian Trilogy (because they take place in Zimiamvia, natch), a number of years before Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, and The Lord Of The Rings. There have been a number of comparisons between the two series, so my curiosity was aroused. Just in time to find out that Eddison’s books are all pretty much out of print, here in the U.S. I’ve found a few very cheap used paperback copies to hold me for the time being, however.

This is one of those series that I’m reading because I’m curious about it, and because I feel like I should read it. But so far, the whole thing has struck me as rather “poncey.” (Help me, oh beloved Brits. I am using that term correctly, I hope?)

Here is a typical piece of Eddison’s writing:

Then said Lord Spitfire, “No marvel though the spawn of Witchland fear venom in the cup. They who work commonly such villany against their enemies, as witness Recedor of Goblinland whom Corsus murthered with a poisonous draught, shake still in the knees lest themselves be so entertained to their destruction;” and snatching the cup he quaffed it to the dregs, and dashed it on the marble floor before the Ambassador, so that it was shivered into pieces.

And yeah. Its all written like that.

Actually, I take that back. This was one of the tamer passages. And its all making me a bit cross-eyed, truthfully, and I am stifling a few giggles at some of it. But overall, its enjoyable, and I will finish the series off.
I leave you with another of Eddison’s passages:

Gro spake and said. “O Corund, I will not hide it from thee that my heart is heavy as thy heart under shadow of ill to be. For as I lay sleeping betwixt the strokes of night, a dream of the night stood by my bed and beheld me with a glance so fell that I was all adrad and quaking with fear. And it seemed to me that the dream smote the roof above my bed, and the roof opened and disclosed the outer dark, and in the dark travelled a bearded star, and the night was quick with fiery signs. And blood was on the roof, and great gouts of blood on the walls and on the cornice of they bed. And the dream screeched like the screech-owl, and cried, Witchland from thy hand, O King! And methought the whole world was lighted in a lowe, and with a great cry I awoke out of the dream.”

Yeah. I think I’m going to start talking like this

Just to see what happens.

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