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Author Topic: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960  (Read 5019 times)

Offline simonster

Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« on: July 08, 2013, 09:58:01 AM »
So, for July/August the FF Book Club has a 'bonus' read in the form of Jack Vance's The Dying Earth.

That book was published in 1950, which got me to wondering how it fits into the overall timeline of fantasy fiction.  But it turns out that the number of fantasy books I can think of that were published prior to 1960 is embarrassingly small.

Now, I could turn to Google to educate myself, but I figured that starting this thread would be more fun. :)

So, the question is:  What do you think are the key works of fantasy published in the period 1910 to 1960?  (There's no particular reason why I picked that time range, just that it covers 50 years and 1960 seems like a good cut-off.  And by fantasy, I guess what I mean is the classic 'swords-and-sorcery' stuff.)

Here's the list so far.  (I'll try to keep it up-to-date with everyone's suggestions.)

1912 A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
1922 The Worm Ouroboros by Eric Rucker Eddison
1924 The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
1926 The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H P Lovecraft
1926 Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
1929 The Shadow Kingdom (the first(*) Kull story) by Robert E Howard
1932 The Phoenix on the Sword (the first(*) Conan story) by Robert E Howard
1933 The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith
1934 The Black God's Kiss (the first(*) Jirel of Joiry story) by C L Moore
1937 The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
1938 The Sword in the Stone (The Once and Future King) by T H White
1939 The Jewels in the Forest (the first(*) Fafhrd and Gray Mouser story) by Fritz Leiber
1940 The Roaring Trumpet (the first(*) Harold Shea story) by De Camp and Pratt
1946 Titus Groan (Gormenghast series) by Mervyn Peake
1950 The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
1950 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis
1954 The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson
1954 The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien
1959 The Beast Master by Andre Norton

(*) Maybe.  Based on a quick glance at Wikipedia. ;)
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 08:54:17 PM by simonster »

Offline OneChapterMore

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2013, 12:27:01 PM »
According to Pornokitsch, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Liz Bourke & Justin Landon...

H.P. Lovecraft - The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926)
Robert Graves - I, Claudius (1934)
C.L. Moore - Jirel of Jorey (1934-9)

And.... erm... that's it. You've got Oz in 1907, and plenty in the 60s, but apart from the ones in your list, that's all... I can't think of any.


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Offline Lejays17

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2013, 02:13:14 PM »
If you're including younger-reader books, then there are various books/series by Enid Blyton

Without looking up specific dates, that would include The Faraway Tree (3 books), The wishing Chair (2 books), various fairy/pixies/goblin collections. And the Noddy books


And I cheated a bit and looked up the Andrew Lang Fairy Books, the last one of them was 1910, so meets the date range.


The Borrowers series by Mary Norton is also within the dates.



Can't think of any other older-readers books, the ones I did think of were late 60's-early 70's when I looked them up (which did surprise me)
"Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables you to be wrong with authority." The Doctor - Wheel in Space

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Offline Louise

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Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2013, 02:52:58 PM »
the Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake (1946- 1959)

Edit: The Worm Ouroboros by Eric Rücker Eddison (1922)
« Last Edit: July 09, 2013, 02:57:31 PM by Louise »

Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2013, 04:15:15 PM »
Pretty much all of the other truly major releases during that time period are covered, but I've listed three exceptions below that I consider notable.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1912)
The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith (1933)
The Beast Master by Andre Norton (1959)

That's sticking (loosely) to 'swords & sorcery', anyway. If you want to spread a little further outside of that purview, then make sure to check out:

Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees (1926)
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Offline Lejays17

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2013, 10:04:48 PM »
Woke up Elfy when I went to bed last night to discuss this (he will be along layer to add more) but one I had completely forgotten as I thought they were much later are the Moomin books by Tove Jansson,
They were published from the 1920's onwards, not sure when he English translations first came out though.
( they may not be sword and sorcery, but they do have their own theme park, which i think is very cool!)
"Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables you to be wrong with authority." The Doctor - Wheel in Space

"It's not destiny!  It's a crazy scientist with a giant snake!" Sinbad - For Whom the Egg Shatters

Offline simonster

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2013, 10:59:34 PM »
And suddenly my 'to-read' list has grown an awful lot bigger. ;D

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys!  I've filtered them according to my own mysterious and unaccountable criteria (basically, reading the plot summary on Wikipedia and deciding whether it fits in with my personal notion of 'swords and sorcery' ;) ) and extended the list.  (Gormenghast has to go in because it's so well-known.  But while I have a soft spot for Enid Blyton, I haven't included any fantasy books specifically aimed at children.  Except for The Hobbit and Narnia because... Erm... I'm inconsistent. ::) )

Maybe it's just me, but I'm struck by how short the list is.  Of course, there were presumably hundreds of Conan rip-off short stories published in pulp magazines during that period, but not everything can be viewed as a classic.

But if I asked for similar suggestions for fantasy classics from the period 1960 to 1970, I imagine the list would be hundreds of times longer.  Was there something that kicked the genre into gear in the sixties (the reading habits of post-war teenagers? or a delayed reaction to The Lord of the Rings maybe?) or do you think it was just a gradual growth over time?

Offline Elfy

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Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 12:24:12 AM »
There's a lot of children's books that are classified as fantasy from that period, although this really exploded in the '60s. The first of Dodie Smith's Dalmatians books (101 Dalmatians was a book before Disney got their hands on it) came out on 1956, but I think the sequel (Starlight Barking) wasn't published until the '60s. The first of P.L Travers' Mary Poppins books came out in the 1930's. While Beatrix Potter self published The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1901, and it was commercially published in 1902, she was still doing new books and stories right into the 1920's and there was one book published in 1930. This could have been in part the inspiration for the many talking animals that used to proliferate in Enid Blyton's work.
Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine came out in 1957, and that's a marvelous coming of age series of stories with a hint of fantasy.
Fletcher Pratt and Spraque De Camp's Harold Shea novels first appeared in the 40's.
It's only short by Charles Finney's The Circus of Doctor Lao is well worth your time to find and read and that was published in 1935.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention James Hilton's Lost Horizon which gave the world the term Shangri-La. As an aside Hilton also wrote Goodbye Mr Chips and Mrs Miniver, so he was versatile.
It only just qualifies, but Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen came out in 1960.
Jane Gaskell's Strange Evil was published in 1957 when the author was 16. It may be hard to find now, but both China Mieville and John Clute have a lot of time for this. Mieville rating it as one of the top 10 examples of 'weird fiction'.
Hope Mirlees Lud in the Mist, which is at once whimsical and enchanting, also not dissimilar to Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter was first published in the '20's.
John Myers Myers classic Silverlock appeared in 1949.
Sir Herbert Read's The Green Child inspired by the 12th century legend from Southern England about the otherworldly green children was published in 1935.
The utopian fantasy Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright came out in 1942.
Those are just a few. You have to look to find them, but the fantasy scene was thriving and far healthier than we think between 1910 and 1960.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Lejays17

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2013, 02:53:16 AM »
Thanks for all the suggestions, guys!  I've filtered them according to my own mysterious and unaccountable criteria (basically, reading the plot summary on Wikipedia and deciding whether it fits in with my personal notion of 'swords and sorcery' ;) ) and extended the list.  (Gormenghast has to go in because it's so well-known.  But while I have a soft spot for Enid Blyton, I haven't included any fantasy books specifically aimed at children.  Except for The Hobbit and Narnia because... Erm... I'm inconsistent. ::) )
st a gradual growth over time?

I included the Blytons because that's where my fantasy-love pretty much began, so of course to me they are vital and important works  :D

Nothing wrong with having some inconsitencies, as long as you're upfront about it - and a lot of people would class The Hobbit as a non-childrens book anyway.
"Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables you to be wrong with authority." The Doctor - Wheel in Space

"It's not destiny!  It's a crazy scientist with a giant snake!" Sinbad - For Whom the Egg Shatters

Offline pornokitsch

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2013, 07:24:24 AM »
These are all awesome... great lists!

I'd suggest that The Phoenix on the Sword, although the first Conan, isn't really the best. But lots of Howard would be a good thing - more of the Conan stories, a bit of Kull and everything Solomon Kane!

Offline Elfy

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Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2013, 07:26:43 AM »
These are all awesome... great lists!

I'd suggest that The Phoenix on the Sword, although the first Conan, isn't really the best. But lots of Howard would be a good thing - more of the Conan stories, a bit of Kull and everything Solomon Kane!
I tend to agree about The Phoenix on the Sword. Some of Howard's contemporaries like Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter are also worth reading.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline simonster

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2013, 09:16:00 PM »
These are all awesome... great lists!

I'd suggest that The Phoenix on the Sword, although the first Conan, isn't really the best. But lots of Howard would be a good thing - more of the Conan stories, a bit of Kull and everything Solomon Kane!
I tend to agree about The Phoenix on the Sword. Some of Howard's contemporaries like Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter are also worth reading.

For the sake of piecing together the time-line, I've tried to list 'first' stories rather than 'key' stories... although not terribly consistently. ;)

While checking dates on Wikipedia, apparently Fritz Leiber's Fafrhd and Gray Mouser stories were published from 1939 to 1988 - so the series took just under fifty years to complete.  That's something for Game of Thrones fans to bear in mind! ;D

Offline Elfy

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Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2013, 12:01:09 AM »
Ah yes but for the most part the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories were self contained. They were also largely short stories or novellas collected into books. You can definitely see how they influenced Scott Lynch, too.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2013, 01:15:31 AM »
These are all awesome... great lists!

I'd suggest that The Phoenix on the Sword, although the first Conan, isn't really the best. But lots of Howard would be a good thing - more of the Conan stories, a bit of Kull and everything Solomon Kane!
I tend to agree about The Phoenix on the Sword. Some of Howard's contemporaries like Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter are also worth reading.

Sorry, but couldn't leave that error hanging there. Someone might actually read Lin Carter on purpose, rather than accidentally ingest some while reading a Conan anthology and that's a terrible thing to inflict on the unsuspecting. As a writer, Lin Carter was a hell of an editor.  :P
I am NOT short. I'm further away than I look.

Offline Elfy

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Re: Classic Fantasy, 1910-1960
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2013, 04:09:00 AM »
These are all awesome... great lists!

I'd suggest that The Phoenix on the Sword, although the first Conan, isn't really the best. But lots of Howard would be a good thing - more of the Conan stories, a bit of Kull and everything Solomon Kane!
I tend to agree about The Phoenix on the Sword. Some of Howard's contemporaries like Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter are also worth reading.

Sorry, but couldn't leave that error hanging there. Someone might actually read Lin Carter on purpose, rather than accidentally ingest some while reading a Conan anthology and that's a terrible thing to inflict on the unsuspecting. As a writer, Lin Carter was a hell of an editor.  :P
To each their own. I think the same thing about Gardner Dozois.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com