Lord Dunsany’s 1905 book The Gods of Pegana and its 1906 followup, Time and the Gods, are forgotten masterpieces of comparative mythology which introduced the author’s pantheon of fictional deities. Though neglected today Dunsany’s work inspired authors from H.P. Lovecraft to J.R.R. Tolkein to C.S. Lewis. (But oddly, NOT e.e. cummings, A.A. Milne or H.R. Puff’n’Stuff.)
Like many of my fellow mythology geeks I spent a lot of time during childhood inventing my own pantheons of gods and breaking down their powers, cultural relevance and relations to their fellow divinities. We can all appreciate the fun Lord Dunsany had with the concept and the ingenious way in which he fused elements of Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Chinese mythology with his own ideas.
Dunsany didn’t just dwell on surface details of the gods he created, he used their tales to reflect the philosophy, customs and taboos of the fictional land of Pegana, just like real-world belief sytems represent those aspects of the cultures that spawn them.
An additional benefit of Dunsany’s work is that it provides us with a consistent vision since it was all composed in the same time period. Real-world ancient myths often evolved or were “retconned” over the ages due to political or social reasons we have no Continue reading