February 24th, 2012, 11:40 AM
James Branch Cabell
Is anyone else a fan? He was huge in the twenties and influenced loads of later fantasy writers such as Fritz Leiber, but seems largely (and, in my opinion, unfairly) ignored nowadays.
February 28th, 2012, 01:43 PM
He is very neglected indeed, despite a superb literary ironic technique. Perhaps his very fluency in using a kind of ironic iconoclasm which subverted his characters and the sense of magic one expects in fantasy helped his decline in popularity.
One thing, though, a great many of his works are now in the public domain and thus easily available as ebooks for those who wish to pursue an interest in this remarkable writer.
March 1st, 2012, 11:22 PM
Webmaster, Great SF&F
At his zenith, Cabell was one of the leading literary lights of the nation, highly praised by such notables as H. L. Mencken. Today, he is barely an answer in a game of Trivial Pursuits.
His chiefest problems with todays audience are two, one generic and one particular. The generic problem is the Short Attention-Span Theater attitude, that any author not in this month's release lists is some obscure figure of antiquarian note only. The particular problem is that Cabell's deliciously ironic prose is not well suited to attracting readers who think that having a subject and a predicate makes a well-formed sentence. Cabell today is, as the old saying goes, Caviar to the masses.
There is a very good Cabell page at David Langford's Ansible site. I have one myself, but have been wrist-slapped for linking to pages I have made; the curious will no doubt be able to locate it.
March 2nd, 2012, 10:39 AM
I agree completely with you both. It's just a shame that he has dropped so completely from public view. I think there are still many people who would love his books if they only knew they existed.
I will be certain to check out those websites, by the way - many thanks for the information.
March 2nd, 2012, 04:55 PM
If you look in the fantasy bookshelf of Project Gutenberg You'll find about a dozen of his books available as free downloads.
March 16th, 2012, 04:02 PM
I've been meaning to try Cabell because Jack Vance is my favorite author and it is said they have a similar style. I have a few of his books; thinking of starting with Jurgen.
Last edited by Viti; March 16th, 2012 at 04:04 PM.
March 5th, 2013, 09:57 PM
There's a new website devoted to Cabell at http://www.silverstallion.karkeeweb.com/cabellmain.html . It's still in development, but a number of features are live.