I heard years ago that William Morris wrote proto-fantasy novel and wanted to read them but only ever found his poetry. However, after seeing the Gorgeous copy he made of Chaucer I decided I would see if our library had any.
They had a gorgeous 19th century edition of The Wood Beyond the World, it had lovely thick paper and was beautifully type set which really added something to the story. Many books these days get referred to as "Fairy tales for adults" which usually means re-telling of traditional fairy tales or sex with elves. But this actually was. It was beautifully written in a totally unnecessarily complicated writing style that I loved. (He used the word Gangrel!) It really added to the otherness of the story. The story itself was a lovely tale of mystery, love, obsession, sex and danger. I really enjoyed it. It was the closest thing to Dunsany that I've read. I shall definitely be reading the other 4 of his romances that we have at work....Continua
"The Wood beyond the World" is considered to be the first novel of modern fantasy ever written.
The plot briefly: Walter, a brave and honest young man, escapes from his mean wife and embarks on a ship to explore the world and its wonders. A storm leads him and his fellows in a strange land where he will find adventures, perils, enchanting maids, evil dwarfs and wicked mistresses.
I found "The Wood beyond the World" to be a very pleasant story. Of course from a modern reader point of view the plot can seem naive, but many of today's so-called "New Tolkien" are far worse (and let me say much more cliched).
The main weakness of the book is its language, a Shakespeare-inspired Elizabethan English quite difficult to understand. Non English-speakers will need a lot of patience to get through this, but if you are really interested in the genre it will not be a waste of time, given the importance of this piece of literature in the evolution of fantasy....Continua