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Unhappy Far-Off Things

Lord Dunsany

Book Overview: 

Better known today for his influential fantasy writings, Lord Dunsany also wrote a number of sketches during Wold War One. This compilation of essays written from time spent in France in 1916. Much more thoughtful and melancholy than the pieces written for the War Office earlier in the war

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .s after dark, but he had not contemplated the difficulty of walking over that road, or dreamed that lanes he knew could be so foundered and merged, in that mournful desolate moor.

Evening was filling fast, still he kept on. It was the time when the cornstacks would once have begun to grow indistinct, and slowly turn grey in the greyness, and homesteads one by one would have lit their innumerable lights. But evening now came down on a dreary desolation: and a cold wind arose; and the traveller heard the mournful sound of iron flapping on broken things, and knew that this was the sound that would haunt the waste for ever.

And evening settled down, a huge grey canvas waiting for sombre pictures; a setting for all the dark tales of the world, haunted forever a grizzly place was haunted ever, in any century, in any land; but not by mere ghosts from all those thousands of graves and half-buried bodies and sepulchral shell-holes; haun. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Unhappy Far-off Things, first published in 1919, is Lord Dunsany's second volume of impressions from the First World War. These are not stories as such, but rather prose-poems. The density of poetic description in Unhappy Far-off Things equals the best of Dunsany's early fantasy short stories.


Lord Dunsany is best known for his fantasy, which was an inspiration to many authors such as H.P. Lovecraft. In this slim volume, however, Dunsany dwells on the horror of the First World War. Unlike most war memoirs he speaks very little of himself or even of the fighting. Instead we are treated to

An excellent collection of stories about things affected by war. Ruin, desolation and romance in the small parts that once were, but not anymore.

Dunsany moves through the ruins of Europe like a man moving through his own looted house. It's amazingly effective, and touching - in memoriam of a world that's been murdered.

I'm relatively new to the work of Lord Dunsany, and have not much loved his tales of fantasy so far. But Unhappy Far-Off Things is something altogether different, a quiet meditation on the physical ruin of the region of France around the city of Arras in the immediate aftermath of World War I.


Oh, perhaps I should have tried one with a lighter tone. I liked it, I just didn't get invested in it.

I remember my younger days when, as good Christians, we were taught to pray for the end of the Soviet Union and all its evil doings. Then one day the leaders did just that. They decided to dissolve the union and everyone rejoiced. For maybe five minutes. Until the wars broke out. It turned out all t

Unhappy Far-Off Things is essentially 'Tales of War: Volume Two' and with the benefit of hindsight it would have made quite a lot of sense to combine them. On balance I'd say it's the weaker of the two, though still a worthwhile read for Dunsany fans or those with an interest in Great War literature

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