Eric R. Eddison

Biografie şi Bibliografie

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Eric Rücker Eddison (24 November, 1882 – 18 August, 1945) was an English civil servant and author, writing under the name "E.R. Eddison."

Biography

Born in Adel, Leeds, Eddison's early education came from a series of private tutors, whom he shared with the young Arthur Ransome. Ransome recalls Eddison's daring and machiavellian methods of getting rid of unpopular teachers in his autobiography. Afterwards Eddison was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge and joined the Board of Trade in 1906, retiring in 1938 to work full time on his fiction. During a distinguished career he was appointed CMG in 1924 and CB in 1929 for public service with the Board of Trade. He and his wife had one child, a daughter. Their son-in-law, a Royal Air Force pilot, died in the Second World War.

Writing

Eddison is best known for the early romance The Worm Ouroboros (1922) and for three volumes set in the imaginary world Zimiamvia, known as the Zimiamvian Trilogy: Mistress of Mistresses (1935), A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), and The Mezentian Gate (1958).

These early works of high fantasy drew strong praise from J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Tolkien generally approved Eddison's literary style, but found the underlying philosophy rebarbative; while Eddison in turn thought Tolkien's views "soft". Other admirers of Eddison's work included James Stephens (who wrote the introduction to the 1922 edition), Robert Silverberg,who described The Worm Ouroboros as "the greatest high fantasy of them all" and Clive Barker.

Eddison's books are written in a meticulously recreated Jacobean prose style, seeded throughout with fragments, often acknowledged but often frankly stolen, from his favorite authors and genres: Homer and Sappho, Shakespeare and Webster, Norse Saga and French medieval lyric. Critic Andy Sawyer has noted that such fragments seem to arise naturally from the "barbarically sophisticated" worlds Eddison has created. The books exhibit a thoroughly aristocratic sensibility; heroes and villains alike maintain an Olympian indifference to convention. Fellow fantasy author Michael Moorcock wrote that Eddison's characters, particularly his villains, are more vivid than Tolkien's. Others have observed that while it is historically accurate to depict the great of the world trampling on the lower classes, Eddison's characters often treat their subjects with arrogance and insolence, and this is depicted as part of their greatness. Indeed, at the end of The Worm Ouroboros, the heroes, finding peace dull, pray for – and get – the revival of their enemies, so that they may go and fight them again. Fantasy historian Brian Attebery notes that "Eddison's fantasies uphold a code that is unbashedly Nietzschean; had he written after World War II, his enthusiasm for supermen and heroic conflict might perhaps have been tempered".

The Zimiamvia books were conceived not as a trilogy but as part of a larger work left incomplete by Eddison's death. The Mezentian Gate itself is unfinished, though Eddison provided summaries of the missing chapters shortly before his death. Some additional material from this book was published for the first time in the volume Zimiamvia: a Trilogy (1992).

Eddison wrote three other books: Poems, Letters, and Memories of Philip Sidney Nairn (1916), Styrbiorn the Strong (1926) and Egil's Saga (1930). The first was his tribute to a Trinity College friend,a poet, who died in his youth during World War I. The other two relate to the saga literature; the first is a retelling of Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa (alluded to in Eyrbyggja Saga and Heimskringla), while the second is a direct translation from Egil's saga, supplemented with extensive notes, some which explain Eddison's aesthetic and philosophical outlook.

Bibliography

Fantasies

    * The Worm Ouroboros (1922). London: Jonathan Cape

Zimiamvia Trilogy

    * Mistress of Mistresses (1935). London: Faber and Faber.
    * A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941). New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.
    * The Mezentian Gate (1958). London: Curwen Press.

    * Zimiamvia: a Trilogy (1992). New York: Dell Publishing. ISBN 0-440-50300-0.

Other

    * Poems, Letters, and Memories of Philip Sidney Nairn (1916). London: Printed for Private Circulation.
    * Egil's Saga (1930). London: Cambridge University Press.
    * Styrbiorn the Strong (1926). London: Jonathan Cape.

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