I have been reading some of the works of Lord Dunsany lately. He was a major influence on H.P. Lovecraft, and I can definitely see some traits in him that Lovecraft would adopt in his writing. I think Dunsany was on the whole a better writer than Lovecraft, but I enjoy the subject matter of Lovecraft’s stories more.
That’s not to say Dunsany’s tales aren’t interesting–it’s just that too many of them are pure fantasy, with the attendant tropes of what we would now call “sword and sorcery”, and I don’t care for that stuff. I guess it’s because it’s hard for me to relate to characters in these medieval-esque fantasy lands. In general, I prefer horror set in a recognizable time and place that actually exists or existed. But that’s just my preference, and there are certainly some exceptions.
Not all the Dunsany stories I’ve read are typical fantasy, though. One that I enjoyed quite a bit was “The Ghosts“. I can’t quite decide what to make of the story–it is alternately kind of scary and kind of funny. I don’t know if both of these effects were intentional. The overall effect is quite weird, but then that is the point of such stories, isn’t it?