Gone To Ground

A Novel

By T. H. White

Published in 1935 by Collins, London and at the same time by Putnam, New York.

Subtitled A Sporting Decameron, Gone to Ground is the story of a hunting party that is surprised by the final war, and takes refuge in a subterranean cave. To pass the time, the members of the group begin to tell each other stories. Amongst them we find the professor, the countess, and Mr Marx—"a young communist"—who appeared before in Earth Stopped.

Most of the thirteen stories deal with hunting, fishing, or shooting, and have a supernatural turn. The first four stories cover witches, and haunting by cars and airplanes. The fifth story (chapter 8) is about a shy and reserved man who takes his love for architecture to such an extreme that he buys an airplane with which to bomb the houses he does not like. The next two stories (chapters ten and eleven) can be found in Kurth Sprague's collection The Maharajah and Other Stories as "The Spaniel Earl" and "The Philistine Cursed David by His Gods". The professor relates how he once fished a Greek-speaking mermaid, Mr Marx tells a story of a troll ("The Troll" in The Maharajah), and we hear about the hunt for a werewolf. Taking the hunting one step farther, the next story deals with a resolute British lady who hunts one of her admirers with her hounds. The second to last story is a bona fide murder mystery set on Capri with a locked-room murder (using a literary device that John Dickson Carr reinvented thirty years later in his Cavalier's Cup), and some strong hints as to the murderer and his motive (without giving an explicit solution). Finally in the last story, the professor narrates a boyhood meeting with Pan, and how they discussed hunting ("The Black Rabbit" in The Maharajah). The central theme of all these stories by White is "man as the hunter and the hunted", which also explains the framing story.

The length and quality of the stories vary, but at their best (such as "The Spaniel Earl", "The Troll", the architect story) they compare to Saki.

Marcus Schaefer 1997

England Have My Bones: For the Reader of the Works of T. H. White
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Unless otherwise noted, entire contents 1996, J. Moulder and M. Schaefer. All rights reserved.
Revised Tuesday, 22-Apr-2003 10:22:01 CDT.