The E. R. Eddison "Worm Ouroboros" Thread

Extollager

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Discussion will be right here, I assume....

I was thinking about the adventures being set on Mercury. I like this because the idea of Mercury as the hot planet closest to the sun, speeding around it, suits the characters as being preternaturally robust, unaffected by illness, determined, etc. Mercury is also traditionally associated with verbal fluency and these characters readily speak in a high style.
 

D_Davis

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After I finish The Wizards and the Warlords (which is simply brilliant) I'm going to take a break from fantasy and read some SF (The Quest of the DNA Cowboys), and then I'll be tackling the Worm.
 

Fried Egg

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There seems to be a parallel discussion going on about this book on GoodReads but I'll ask the same question here that I did there:

In the brief introduction, the authors states "It is neither allegory nor fable but a story to be read for its own sake." But is there a deeper meaning underlying the surface story or should we take the author's word that there isn't and just enjoy it at face value?
 

River Boy

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Think Worm is a masterpiece, largely overlooked. Have read it twice and shall do again. ER Eddison is a strange author to figure out, people do have some doubts about his sentiments but I suspect he was trying to be controversial much of the time for the sake of indulgence.

Enjoyed Mistress of Mistresses and currently reading a Fish Dinner in Memison. They do get harder to figure out the more he writes but they are still rewarding.

Not sure about the Thread Starter's claims that they've never been out of print, found Fish Dinner hard to get hold of and there's very little info to be found about Eddison's works online. Not many readers seem to be discussing his work and some of the websites that lean towards newer fantasy but have checked him out tend to be dismissive of him, as I've also found them with to be with the likes of William Morris and Lord Dunsany.
 

Extollager

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Not sure about the Thread Starter's claims that they've never been out of print

Actually, I didn't say that I was sure they'd stayed in print. I think, however, that they've generally been in print in the U. S. -- which I should have specified in this international forum.

This edition of the Worm was available for years...

Eddison_Ouroboros.jpg


and there was this and this

Ouroboros.jpg
1234892.jpg

and this
61J7RWEH2QL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg
and this
51CfesWGfBL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg


and more... so I don't think it has been hard to get hold of. I think the Zimiamvian books have generally been pretty readily available too.... in the US...
 

Extollager

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9780345272201.jpg
A few more Eddisonian covers...


The one that for many of us was the "original" follows immediately below:
images
images
51p1cJcLBiL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
 

D_Davis

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The Worm Ouroboros is interesting so far. I like parts of, and I don't like parts of it. However, I'm sticking with it because I've never really read anything quite like it. I guess you could say I'm sticking with it out of respect for how damn influential it has been, and continues to be. I can tell that it was a huge inspiration to Tolkien, Vance, and Gygax, the three pillars of what we today consider fantastic fiction. The Worm Ouroboros is the bedrock of the genre, and should probably be seen as the point at which things transitioned from myth and fairy-tales into a genre that more resembles fantasy as we think of it today. It's even quite different than Lord Dunsany's work, although I do prefer Dunsany's prose.
 

leonsdaughter

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The edition of The Worm that belonged to my father (and now to me) is copyright 1926 and I assume it was the first edition published in the US by Albert & Charles Boni, NY. It is signed by the author dated 1932. I have no idea how my father came by this copy, but it isn't inscribed to him personally, so it is possible he found a signed edition somewhere and bought it, but I do know that he was enamored of Eddison from an early age, and would have gone out of his way to have a copy signed. He loved this book so much that he read it to me out loud from beginning to end when I was in my early teens, and I am pretty sure I was awake the whole time. After that I read it myself as well, probably when I was in high school.

My father had a very close friend who was also a fan of the book. One summer day they were walking on the beach and noticed a man and his young son building a spectacular sand castle. One of them commented that it looked like the castle at Demonland. Hearing this, the builder leapt up in excitement, and the three became fast friends for the next several decades.

Likely I don't have the stamina or even the desire to read it again after all these years, but opening it to about any page reveals prose that is dazzling. And as a romantic idyll, could anyone forget the time out of time spent by the Lord Gro and the Lady Mevrian? Really there's nothing like this book. Nothing. Truth is I believe I would rather remember it just the way I do. How nice to find this thread.
 

Fried Egg

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Thanks for sharing that leonsdaughter, that touches the heart. :)
 

Matteo

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This is a book I've had for what I now realise must be over 20 years and it's a book I've never got around to reading.

Some of the posters above have now shamed me into doing just that - starting tonight I think.

Incidently, I have the paperback version with the red worm wrapping around the entire cover - lovely design - but some of those newer editions look awful.

Oh, and leonsdaughter - wonderful post.
 

Sapha

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I'm currently on my second read of The Worm Ouroboros; a read that was prompted by a heated debate about the birth of heroic fantasy, and I must own that I appreciated the book more fully the first time around. Perhaps rereading The Worm for the wrong reason has sucked the joy out of the journey through the story for me?
 

Extollager

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The edition of The Worm that belonged to my father (and now to me) is copyright 1926 and I assume it was the first edition published in the US by Albert & Charles Boni, NY. It is signed by the author dated 1932. I have no idea how my father came by this copy, but it isn't inscribed to him personally, so it is possible he found a signed edition somewhere and bought it, but I do know that he was enamored of Eddison from an early age, and would have gone out of his way to have a copy signed. He loved this book so much that he read it to me out loud from beginning to end when I was in my early teens, and I am pretty sure I was awake the whole time. After that I read it myself as well, probably when I was in high school.

My father had a very close friend who was also a fan of the book. One summer day they were walking on the beach and noticed a man and his young son building a spectacular sand castle. One of them commented that it looked like the castle at Demonland. Hearing this, the builder leapt up in excitement, and the three became fast friends for the next several decades.

Likely I don't have the stamina or even the desire to read it again after all these years, but opening it to about any page reveals prose that is dazzling. And as a romantic idyll, could anyone forget the time out of time spent by the Lord Gro and the Lady Mevrian? Really there's nothing like this book. Nothing. Truth is I believe I would rather remember it just the way I do. How nice to find this thread.

Herewith, the thread on The Worm Ouroboros is revived, with a reprise of Leonsdaughter's reminiscence.
 

Extollager

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I haven’t read through The Worm Ouroboros in 45 years. How Eddison likes to describe clothes, architectural details, banquet items, etc.! The gorgeousness and magnificence remind one that medieval fairies were human-sized or taller and lavishly clad. Indeed, Eddison’s Mercury might be Faërie. (The nomenclature of Imps, Pixies, Goblins, etc., however, is a bit of a shock for a first-time reader.)

I wonder when the idea became explicit that fairies are soulless. It might be implied in medieval imaginings, but I’m not sure that it was ever stated then. Eddison’s fairies seem soulless. The Witch-king decorates his castle with the skulls and bones of those whom he has killed in single combat, the palace is of black stone, his crown is a menacing crab fashioned of iron and jewels, etc., and Gorice XII is a necromancer; but one doesn’t have the sense of the Witches as people who are fallen. They are true to their nature, while, in a serious conception of good and evil, creatures have somehow become evil; this might be considered in terms of a corporate fall (In Adam’s fall we sinned all) or bad choices made by an individual that lead him deeper into corruption (Macbeth, originally a good soldier). Either way, the orthodox understanding is that even “the Evil One” is not true to his original nature, though now, when he lies and kills, he is true to the nature that he has become. Nothing like this is going on in The Worm Ouroboros. The people are true to what they are.

It’s an aristocratic world like that of romances and, for the most part, the sagas, all about honor (or treachery), strength, beauty -- being seen as excellent by those whose esteem matters. One could conceivably be shamed but one cannot be guilty.

Those would be some observations so far (into Chapter 8). When Brandoch Daha refers to God and the devil (p. 131), these are named merely to express his lordly warning to anyone who would try to get him out of bed before he chose to rise. Juss laughs and leaves him in peace.
 

picklematrix

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I always found this book strange in some ways, but an enjoyable read. The writing style isn't one I've seen utilised by anyone else, as it isn't totally modern, or truly archaic. The framing device used at the start vanishes after the first chapter. The characters don't have the same kind of arc I am accustomed to, or any arc at all really, if I recall correctly.
It goes to show that the rules of writing 101 can be bent or broken, as the book still works, for me at least.
 

Extollager

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I'm in the last third or so of The Worm, having begun a reading a few days ago. Is anyone interested in discussing this fantastic romance?
 

AndrewT

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After reading the Hobbit and LOTR in 1973 at the age of eight I became a serious addict of whatever fantasy I could get my hands on which at that time was not all that much. I read pretty much everything on the shelves and I remember Ouroboros as being tied with Howard as my second favorite epic heroic fantasy of all time. Not sure I would like it now. I do remember there was a long boring section with Lord Gro but I stuck it out and the rest was super. Fantastic and beautiful world.
 

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