The World of E. R. Eddison


Eric Rücker Eddison, (1882 – 1945) an English civil servant and author, wrote epic fantasy under the name E. R. Eddison, most notably The Worm Ouroboros (1922) and the Zimiamvian Trilogy (1935-1958) (not conceived as a trilogy but as part of a larger work which was left incomplete at Eddison's death). Eddison was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford. He joined the Board of Trade in 1906 but retired in 1938 to work full-time on his fiction. The Worm Ouroboros and the Zimiamvian Trilogy (Mistress of Mistresses 1935, A Fish Dinner in Memison 1941, and The Mezentian Gate 1958 were admired by J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Michael Moorcock and Ursula K. Le Guin. However, Eddison thought Tolkien's views were ‘soft’ while Tolkien thought Eddison’s underlying philosophy objectionable. Eddison uses a Jacobean prose style, with quotes from Shakespeare, the Norse sagas and French medieval lyric poems amongst others. C. S. Lewis called Eddison's works ‘first and foremost, of art.’

Some memorable quotes from his works follow:

'I sware unto you my furtherance if I prevailed. But now is mine army passed away as wax wasteth before the fire, and I wait the dark ferryman who tarrieth for no man. Yet, since never have I wrote mine obligations in sandy but in marble memories, and since victory is mine, receive these gifts: and first thou, O Brandoch Daha, my sword, since before thou wast of years eighteen thou wast accounted the mightiest among men-at-arms. Mightily may it avail thee, as me in time gone by. And unto thee, O Spitfire, I give this cloak. Old it is, yet may it stand thee in good stead, since this virtue it hath that he who weareth it shall not fall alive into the hand of his enemies. Wear it for my sake. But unto thee, O Juss, give I no gift, for rich thou art of all good gifts: only my good will give I unto thee, ere earth gape for me.'

‘Let worthy minds ne'er stagger in distrust

To suffer death or shame for what is just'