Talbot Mundy, Philosopher of Adventure

A Critical Biography

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About the Book

This critical biography chronicles both the actual travels and the philosophical meanderings of Talbot Mundy, one of the pioneers of the fantasy and adventure genre. Less celebrated than his contemporaries Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad, Mundy was no less gifted when it came to the literary portrayal of faraway lands. He was one of the first Western writers to show an appreciation of Eastern culture, and his writing became an outlet for his radical ideas on religion and philosophy.
At the age of sixteen, Mundy left his native England to begin his life of adventure—a journey that took him from India to the Middle East to Tibet and finally to America, which became his adopted home. The American spirit of adventure matched Mundy’s own, and it was here that he found a true audience for his work.
This book explores Mundy’s oeuvre—much of it set in exotic locales through which he himself had traveled—and considers both his novels and his lesser known writing, as well as his film and radio work. Books such as Rung Ho!, King-of the Khyber Rifles, Caves of Terror, Purple Pirate and Tros of Samothrace are discussed and placed within the framework of Mundy’s life and philosophy. The final chapter evaluates the enduring value of his writings. Appendices include a comprehensive list of Mundy’s works and a chronological listing by their original publication dates.

About the Author(s)

Brian Taves is the author of six books and more than 60 articles on popular culture and media. A film archivist for the Library of Congress, he lives in Washington, D.C.

Bibliographic Details

Brian Taves
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 310
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2234-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8442-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

I. From Wanderer to Writer, 1879–1913      5

II. The Yasmini Conundrum, 1913–1921      24

III. War and Its Colonial Impact, 1916–1919      46

IV. From Jerusalem to Jimgrim, 1919–1921      60

V. Journey West, 1921–1923      89

VI. The Masters, 1923–1926      112

VII. The Ancient World, 1924–1928      132

VIII. Four Failures, 1926–1929      151

IX. New Faith, 1928–1931      168

X. Lost Trails, 1931–1937      189

XI. An Audience of Millions, 1936–1940      212

XII. Legacy      240

Appendix A: Books by Talbot Mundy      261

Appendix B: Chronological List of Original Publications of Talbot Mundy’s Work      262

Chapter Notes      273

Index      297

Book Reviews & Awards

“this is the first full-length critical study of this enigmatic writer…a valuable section is the chapter discussing Mundy’s legacy with a survey and evaluation of the themes and motifs in his work…recommended for anyone interested in Mundy of fiction of high adventure”—Dime Novel Round-Up; “Taves makes a convincing case for Mundy’s relevance today…lavishly produced and illustrated with photographs…scrupulous research”—Journal of Popular Culture; “may prove to be the definitive biography”—The New York Review of Science Fiction; “key for the study of Mundy and for his popular culture moment”—Extrapolation.