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Eric Rücker Eddison

British writer
The harvest of this world is to the resolute, and he that is infirm of purpose is ground betwixt the upper and the nether millstone.

Eric Rücker Eddison (24 November 188218 August 1945), who wrote under the name E. R. Eddison, was an English fantasy writer most famous for his novels The Worm Ouroboros, Mistress of Mistresses and A Fish Dinner in Memison.


The Worm Ouroboros (1922)Edit

Thou art nothing. And all thy desires and memories and loves and dreams, nothing.
  • "And by my philosophy, O King, I am certified concerning these apparitions which you have raised for me, that they be illusions and phantasms only, able to terrify the soul indeed of him that knoweth not divine philosophy, but without bodily power or essence. Nor is aught to fear in such, save the fear itself wherewith they strike the simple."
    Then said the King, "By what token knowest thou this?"
    And the Lord Gro made answer unto him, "O King, as a child weaveth a daisy-chain, thus easily did you conjure up these shapes of terror. Not in such wise fareth he that calleth out of the deep the deadly terror indeed; but with toil and sweat and with straining of thought, will, heart, and sinew fareth he."
    The King smiled. "Thou sayest true. Now, therefore, since phantasmagoria maketh not thy heart to quail, I present thee a more material horror."
    • Chapter 4, "Conjuring in the Iron Tower"
  • And now when the retorts and beakers with their several necks and tubes and the appurtenances thereof were set in order, and the unhallowed processes of fixation, conjunction, deflagration, putrefaction, and rubefication were nearing maturity, and the baleful star Antares standing by the astrolabe within a little of the meridian signified the instant approach of midnight, the King described on the floor with his conjuring rod three pentacles inclosed within a seven-pointed star, with the signs of Cancer and of Scorpio joined by certain runes. And in the midst of the star he limned the image of a green crab eating of the sun. And turning to the seventy-third page of his great black grammarie the King recited in a mighty voice words of hidden meaning, calling on the name that it is a sin to utter.
    • Chapter 4, "Conjuring in the Iron Tower"
  • The Queen said, "Remember: when thou shalt see the lord thy brother in his own shape, that is no illusion. Mistrust all else. And the almighty Gods preserve and comfort thee."
    Therewith the hippogriff, as if maddened with the day-beams, plunged like a wild horse, spread wide its rainbow pinions, reared, and took wing. But the Lord Juss was sprung astride of it, and the grip of his knees on the ribs of it was like brazen clamps. The firm land seemed to rush away beneath him to the rear; the lake and the shore and islands thereof showed in a moment small and remote, and the figures of the Queen and his companions like toys, then dots, then shrunken to nothingness, and the vast silence of the upper air opened and received him into utter loneliness. In that silence earth and sky swirled like the wine in a shaken goblet as the wild steed rocketed higher and higher in great spirals. A cloud billowy-white shut in the sky before them; brighter and brighter it grew in its dazzling whiteness as they sped towards it, until they touched it and the glory was dissolved in a gray mist that grew still darker and colder as they flew till suddenly they emerged from the further side of the cloud into a radiance of blue and gold blinding in its glory.
  • Thou art nothing. And all thy desires and memories and loves and dreams, nothing. The little dead earth-louse were of greater avail than thou, were it not nothing as thou art nothing. For all is nothing: earth and sky and sea and they that dwell therein. Nor shall this illusion comfort thee, if it might, that when thou art abolished these things shall endure for a season, stars and months return, and men grow old and die, and new men and women live and love and die and be forgotten. For what is it to thee, that shalt be as a blown-out flame? and all things in earth and heaven, and things past and things for to come, and life and death, and the mere elements of space and time, of being and not being, all shall be nothing unto thee; because thou shalt be nothing, for ever.
    • Ch. 28 : Zora Rach Nam Psarrion, p. 427
  • Fling me to Tartarus, deliver me to the black infernal Furies, let them blind me, seethe me in the burning lake. For so should there yet be hope. But in this horror of Nothing is neither hope nor life nor death nor sleep nor waking, for ever. For ever.
    • Ch. 28 : Zora Rach Nam Psarrion, p. 427
  • Now he conducted her through his armouries where he kept his weapons and weapons for his fighting men and all panoply of war. There he showed her swords and spears, maces and axes and daggers, orfreyed and damascened and inlaid with jewels; byrnies and baldricks and shields; blades so keen, a hair blown against them in a wind should be parted in twain; charmed helms on which no ordinary sword would bite. And Juss said unto the Queen, "Madam, what thinkest thou of these swords and spears? For know well that these be the ladder's rungs that we of Demonland climbed up by to that signiory and principality which now we hold over the four corners of the world." She answered, "O my lord, I think nobly of them. For an ill part it were while we joy in the harvest, to contemn the tools that prepared the land for it and reaped it."

Mistress of Mistresses (1935)Edit

  • Your great Italian clock measures the silence with its ticking: 'Another, gone! another, gone! another, gone!' Commonly, I have grown to hate such tickings, hideous to an old man as the grinning memento mori at the feast. But now, (perhaps the shock has deadened my feelings), I could almost cheat reason to believe there was in very truth eternity in these things: substance and everlasting life in what is more transient and unsubstantial than a mayfly, empirical, vainer than air, weak bubbles on the flux.
    • The Overture (the narrator viewing the body of his friend Lessingham lying in state)
  • I heard her say, faint as the breath of night-flowers among the stars: 'The fabled land of ZIMIAMVIA. Is it true, will you think, which poets tell us of that fortunate land: that no mortal foot may tread it, but the blessed souls do inhabit it of the dead that be departed: of them that were great upon earth and did great deeds when they were living, that scorned not earth and the delights and the glories of earth, and yet did justly and were not dastards nor yet oppressors?'
    'Who knows?' I said. 'Who dares say he knows?'
    • The Overture
  • 'I will give your ladyship the answer I gave before,' said that old man, who had sat motionless, serene and undisturbed, darting his bright and eager glance from painter to sitter and to painter again, and smiling as if with the aftertaste of ancient wine. 'You do marvel that his grace will still consume himself with striving to fix in art, in a seeming changelessness, those self-same appearances which in nature he prizeth by reason of their very mutability and subjection to change and death. Herein your ladyship, grounding yourself first unassailably upon most predicamental and categoric arguments in celarent, next propounded to me a syllogism in barbara, the major premiss whereof, being well and exactly seen, surveyed, overlooked, reviewed and recognized, was by my demonstrations at large convicted in fallacy of simple conversion and not per accidens; whereupon, countering in brahmantip, I did in conclusion confute you in bokardo, showing, in brief, that here there is no marvel; since 'tis women's minds alone are ruled by clear reason: men's are fickle and elusive as the jack-o'-lanterns they pursue.'
    'A very complete and metaphysical answer,' said she. 'Seeing 'tis given on my side, I'll let it stand without question; though (to be honest) I cannot tell what the dickens it means.'
    'To be honest, madam,' said the Duke, 'I paint because I cannot help it.'
    • The learned Vandermast explains why the Duke is a painter. Chapter 2, "The Duke of Zayana"
  • Can a woman not keep her lover without she study to always please him with pleasure? Pew! then let her give up the game. Or shall my lover think with pleasing of me to win me indeed? Faugh! he payeth me then; doth he think I am for hire?
    • Fiorinda, in Chapter 7, "A Night-Piece on Ambremerine"

A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941)Edit

  • The black arrowed swoop of the moment swung high into the unceilinged future, ten, fifty, sixty years, may be: then, past seeing, up to that warmthless unconsidered mock-time, when nothing shall be left but the memorial that fits all (except, if there be, the most unhappiest) of human kind: I was not, I lived and loved, I am not.
    • A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941)

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