The shadowy kingdoms of marvel that lie, in Lord Dunsany's fine phrase, "beyond the Fields We Know," are many. Those of you who have read the books thus far published in The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series have already explored the magical lands between Netznegon and Mancherei, Uplands and Utterbol, Erl and Elfland, Poictesme and the realms beyond. And here, in the pages of this little known novel, lies yet another journey which begins at the world's remotest edge and ventures beyond the Lands of Men, deep into the starry realm of Faerie....
(Netznegon and Mancherei - это из Флетчера Прэтта, Uplands and Utterbol - из Уильяма Морриса, Erl and Elfland - из Дансени, Poictesme - из Кэбелла.) Картер продолжает:
Hope Mirrlees is (or was, since our efforts to trace this lady have so far been unsuccessful), a gifted English novelist, author of such books as The Counterplot and Madeleine, who enjoyed a brief popularity during the nineteen twenties before her work faded into the literary limbo which awaits the majority of minor novelists. She never wrote anything remotely resembling a best-seller, in the common meaning of the term. No important or influential critic ever brought her work to the attention of the general reader, as Andrew Lang did for H. Rider Haggard or W. H. Auden and C. S. Lewis did for The Lord of the Rings. Today her novels are forgotten, and you will search in vain to find a reference to her in the biographical dictionaries of twentieth century authors.
But in 1926, Miss Mirrlees published a novel entitied Lud-in-the-Mist. There is something about this book, some rare magic, some small flash of genius, that has evoked a continuous response through the years from the one reader out of a thousand who is able to savor the unique charm of the novel. In the forty-four years since it was first published, Lud-in-the-Mist has not been permitted to die. Someone, somewhere, has been reading it, and keeping it alive.
For there is a quality about certain books that makes them live on. David Lindsay's amazing novel, A Voyage to Arcturus, has it. So does William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land. And William Beckford's Vathek. Such a book does not need the fame of being a best-seller, or the praise of a great critic, or the power of a famous author's name. It lives on, speaking to a small handful of readers, year after year, until at last it comes to the attention of someone who brings it back into print again.
(Напомню, что Миррлиз умерла только в 1978 году, но... "найти не удалось".)
И, после общего разбора текста, Картер завершает свое предисловие:
What Hope Mirrlees has done in this book is to create at once an exciting and beautifully conceived novel of fantasy and magic, and a parable or fable which deals with the dichotomy of life and the terrible error of trying to artificially divide the prose of life from the poetry of living. In other words, she has ventured into the realm of George MacDonald, of C. S. Lewis and Jorge Luis Borges. She has written a story with a moral and a meaning, and in so doing she has created a brilliant imaginative achievement well worthy to stand with Morris, Dunsany, Cabell and the other masters of modern fantasy in this series.
Героическая попытка выстроить жанр (с его историческими корнями) на основе принципиальной не-каноничности и не-формульности: попытка, конечно же, обреченная, потому что "автоматизацию приема" никто не отменял. Но спасибо и за Миррлиз, и за Мерлина Пика, и за - многих и многих. (Понятно, что ошибка Картера не только "маркетинговая", но и методологическая: Борхес и Моррис к одному жанру не относятся, как бы широко его ни толковали.)