Austria, Britain, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland and the United States
Lord Dunsany’s War Tales: Realism and Fantasy
Among the testimonial documents on World War I and their literary interpretation in English letters, the Anglo-Irish fantasist Lord Dunsany has left a number of peculiar stories that literary scholars have often overlooked for various reasons. Lord Dunsany, a peer of the crown, a great huntsman and a lover of tall tales, had started a career in writing at the time of the Irish Revival without clearly adhering to the cultural movement. Most readers of his prose came under the spell of his tales of wonder, which he published mainly before the war in a gamut of famous magazines before gradually collecting them in book form, mainly in The Tales of Wonder or A Dreamer’s Tales among many others. But most readers did not know – or did not care – that he fought in the First World War after being shortly involved (and wounded) by accident rather than by choice in the Irish uprising of 1916.
Those stories or transient testimonies, sometimes short notes scattered in various papers, hardly meet the expected anecdotic memories of dramatic war times, but they build up a near dirge of sad glimpses. In 1916 Dunsany joined the War Office and the department of propaganda, the M.I.7 B. The Foreign Office resorting to writers as a way of boosting morale and asserting a moral cause was not exceptional, and Alfred Noyse, John Buchan or Arthur Machen did participate. Hence, the repetitive demonization of the arrogant Kaiser as a raging “homicidal maniac” by...
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