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Flecker, James Elroy

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Theatre.

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(1884-1915) UK poet, playwright and author best known for Hassan: The Story of Hassan of Bagdad and How He Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand (1922), a Fantasy play with an Arabian Nights flavour, which further popularized a once-famous catch-phrase "We take the Golden Road to Samarkand" from his poem "The Golden Journey to Samarkand" in The Golden Journey to Samarkand (coll 1913 chap), about the yearning for the unattainable, poignantly conveying a sense of Time Abyss that prefigures some of the work of J R R Tolkien:

And there the world's first huge white-bearded kings
In dim glades sleeping, murmur in their sleep.

Poetry of this nature clearly prefigures the combination of elegy and outreach in the romantic sf verse of writers like Robert A Heinlein, and contributes to the compost of images from which the Planetary Romance grew. Flecker's only novel, The King of Alsander (1914), was also a fantasy with Ruritanian elements, with hints of a Lost World.

Flecker is of sf interest for The Last Generation: A Story of the Future (1908 chap), whose narrator is spirited into times moderately close to the present where he witnesses the self-willed extinction of the human race through a refusal to breed more Children into this vale of tears; it is a clear Satire on the late-nineteenth-century fashion for milk-and-water Decadence. The narrator is then taken much further forward, where he discovers that apes (see Apes as Human) are destined to become the masters of the planet and "try again". This tale was later assembled, along with some fantasies, in Collected Prose (coll 1920). Tuberculosis, not war, killed Flecker in early 1915. [JC]

see also: End of the World.

James Herman Elroy Flecker

born London: 5 November 1884

died Davos, Switzerland: 3 January 1915



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