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Doughty, Charles M

(1843-1926) UK explorer and author whose Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888) profoundly influenced T E Lawrence (1888-1935), among others. The increasingly difficult, archaic language of Doughty's later work, a series of book-length poems, as well as the austerity of their arguments, has kept them from as wide acclaim as his great work on Arabia, which was not only hypnotically written, but also deeply reliable as an anthropological and geographical dissection of a virtually unknown land. His later book-length poems (see Poetry) are all fantastic in nature, and after the vast Matter-of-Britain epic The Dawn in Britain (1906-1907 6vols), two of them are of some sf interest as perhaps the most arcane Future War tales ever told: The Cliffs (1909) features an airborne "Persanian" invasion of England, which is successfully repelled; in The Clouds (1912) a similar invasion is successful, and England occupied. Both poems are designed as warnings to complacent Britons, though it is hard to think that more than a few hundred readers ever came to terms with Doughty's deeply eccentric though formidable style, which was for some time a focus of some critical interest. E R Eddison – whose novels also manifest themselves in an archaicized English that reads as though the Elizabethan transformation of the tongue had never occurred – may be the only author arguably to have been influenced by Doughty's example. [JC]

Charles Montagu Doughty

born Leiston, Suffolk: 19 August 1843

died Sissinghurst, Kent: 20 January 1926

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Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 04:40 am on 27 June 2022.
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