I've heard Dunsany's name for decades, probably first in some reference by H.P. Lovecraft, who adored him. He's also cited as an influence for J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Jorge Luis Borges, Michael Moorcock, Neil Gaiman and Ursula Le Guin. His "gnoles" inspired D&D's gnolls. Yet he's no longer widely read, there's no feature film based on his works. There isn't even an RPG set in his worlds, and we have RPGs about EVERYTHING. Why is he nearly unknown today? We'll find out.
The Wikipedia page on the book has spoilers, so you may not want to read it. The Amazon page has this blurb:
Lord Dunsany's best-known novel is The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924), wherein the men of Erl desire to be "ruled by a magic lord," and the lord's heir, Alveric, ventures into Elfland to win the king's daughter, Lirazel. Their story does not progress as a reader weaned on the diluted milk of formulaic fantasy would expect; and the novel's unique journeys and events are matched by Dunsany's rich and lyrical prose and by his contagious intoxication with the magic and marvels of both Elfland and our own world. --Cynthia Ward
The Lord Dunsany we're talking about was Edward Plunkett, the 18th Baron of Dunsany. He seems to have been entitled to a much frillier name, since his brother styled himself Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax. Other details of his life also seem lifted from fantasy: he lived at Dunsany Castle, which dates to c. 1180 and may be the oldest continually inhabited building in Ireland. According to Wikipedia, he wrote with quill pens and never revised what he wrote - what we'll be reading is a first draft. He was an excellent chess player and invented a significant variant of the game, so we can call him One Of Us.
Like Tolkien, Dunsany served in the trenches in the Great War. In the LoTR book club, I understood how much of it derives from Tolkien's war trauma, and it will be interesting to see if there are similar signs in Dunsany's story. He seems to have been a well-adjusted chap after the war, and he usually isn't cited as a "traumatized author," but then, neither is Tolkien.
Unfortunately, there appears to be no legal e-book version of KoED. That's annoying, especially since most of Dunsany's fantasy stories are from before 1923, so they're in the public domain. There are used paperbacks on Amazon starting at $5.
To give you time to procure the book, I propose we start reading a month from now, on May 9. As we did with the LoTR, we'll read a few chapters every week and discuss as we go along. This model seems more conducive to discussion than reading the whole book and waiting till the end to discuss, as we did with some previous works.
Post here if you're interested or have thoughts, suggestions or questions.
(Edit: corrected date to Monday, May 9)