Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Gunn, Neil M

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(1891-1973) Scottish writer noted for realistic accounts of Highland life. Several stories in Hidden Doors (coll 1929) involve visions of some sort; the title story and "Such Stuff as Dreams" are marginal fantasies. The historical novel Sun Circle (1933) borders on fantasy by virtue of its depiction of Druidic ritual and Religion. The Silver Darlings (1941) was the first of several novels in which the endeavours of some characters echo the exploits of legendary figures. Another is Young Art and Old Hector (1942), which includes some exemplary items of Folklore and whose sequel, The Green Isle of the Great Deep (1944), was NMG's only full-blown fantasy. Its two protagonists enter the land of the dead to find its condition mirrors the predicament of the actual Highlands, taken over by alien administrators who have rendered the fruit of the Tree of knowledge inedible and forbidden its consumption. All NMG's subsequent works involved themselves with the quest to pin down the essence of the freedom which Art and Hector have to reclaim; in his last book, a spiritual autobiography, he called it eponymously The Atom of Delight (1956). Second Sight (1940), the most fantastic of his later novels, features a symbolic hunt for a stag which fulfils a precognitive vision. The Silver Bough (1948) and The Well at the World's End (1951) take their titles from legendary motifs which are of symbolic significance in the Quests which the protagonists undertake in search of a magical illumination. The Other Landscape (1954), a similar quest story, forsakes the imagery of Celtic folklore for the ideologies of Eastern mysticism which fascinated NMG in his latter years. [BS]

Neil Miller Gunn


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.