“Bethmoora”

This week’s weird fiction being discussed over at LibraryThing’s group, The Weird Tradition.

Review: “Bethmoora”, Lord Dunsany, 1910. 

While I’m not a big fan of Lord Dunsany, I actually liked this story, and it definitely reminded me of H. P. Lovecraft in his Dunsanian mode. 

The story opens with the narrator walking during the early morning hours in London and commenting on the various sights he sees: dancers going home, a man with a cane tapping through the deserted night streets, untidy guards with antique muskets, and street washers. 

His thoughts turn to the desert city of Bethmoora which he wishes he could return to. Travelers have told him it is desolate now. 

The story, being by Dunsany, has lots of details on the sights, sounds, and smells on what the city was like before three riders on camels descended a hill and into the city. There, in the marketplace, they said something, and everyone immediately abandoned the city. 

Why? Perhaps the local ruler, Thuba Mleen, decreed the city should be abandoned. Perhaps some warning from the gods was issued. Perhaps they warned of an encroaching epidemic. The narrator’s own theory is   

“. . . that the desert had a need for Bethmoora, that he wished to come into her lovely streets, and to send into her temples and her houses his storm-winds draped with sand. For he hates the sound and the sight of men in his old evil heart, and he would have Bethmoora silent and undisturbed, save for the weird love he whispers to her gates.” 

The narrator doesn’t dare go back to Bethmoora no matter how much he longs for it. Maybe the reason Bethmoora was abandoned was not any of the previous reasons but something “perhaps more fearful still”.  That concluding note of mysterious horror was a nice one.

One thought on ““Bethmoora”

  1. Carl Rosenberg August 10, 2022 / 9:03 pm

    Many thanks for this discussion! I don’t think I’ve read this story, but I like the few other Lord Dunsany stories I’ve read.

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