Blind Read Through; H.P. Lovecraft, The Doom That Came to Sarnath
This was the first story from the “Dunsany” period and probably the first iteration of his eventual shift into the Cosmic Horror genre. Published in 1919 (full of mis-spellings and embellishments), this story tells of the city of Sarnath in the land of Mnar. Sarnath was built next to a river, near the Ancient City of Ib. The city of Ib, as we find out from the extremely old and archaic writings on brick walls of another ancient city and parchments, is housed by strange beings, who are green and have a green halo, and bulging eyes and flabby lips. These beings are mute and supposedly descended through this green mist (which occasionally also surrounds the moon) from the moon to create the city of Ib next to the still green lake.
The primitive warriors of Sarnath decide that they hate the minions of Ib because they are disturbing looking and worship Bokrug, a water lizard. They kill all the creatures of Ib and push them into the lake. They destroy the city of Ib, and keep only the green statue of Bokrug. Soon the high priest of Sarnath (Taran-Ish) dies, with an expression of great horror and writes on the sea-green stone idol of Bokrug the word…DOOM.
The city moves on and goes through decades of prosperity, mining out precious stones and living richly, until one day, during a ceremony commemorating the destruction of Ib, a mist floats down from the moon to the still lake, and green creatures come forth and destroy Sarnath.
Lovecraft is obviously describing Inuit’s when he talks about Sarnath and it’s peoples. The land of Mnar, has some Norse inclinations as well. The reason I say this is because the green haze must indicate the Northern Lights, which seem to emanate from the heavens and descend upon earth. Then at the end of the story Aryan men go to view the ruins of Sarnath (showing Lovecraft’s prejudices, since they were the only people on earth with enough courage to view the ruins), indicating that it is a different location than Europe.
The story attempts to pull its horror from the fear of religion and the bible once again, and I’ll be curious to see if that is indicative of all the Dunsany stories, or if it’s a theme throughout. The Ultimate story is a combination of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Babel themes, mixed in with a little Old Testament, good old, God fearing idol worship. The people of Sarnath are being punished for their worship of a false god and their love and lust of the material, and then the Ancient Ones come back for retribution with their strange descendants, the creatures of Ib.
Because this is a blind read through and I haven’t read any Lovecraft before I dont know if Bokrug is part of the mythos cycle of Gods, but I would probably argue that it should be at least a lesser god.
For purposes of categorization, Bokrug will be a lesser god, based in Greenland area. We’ll see if that has any bearing on the future stories.
This entry was posted on June 29, 2017 by seanmmcbride. It was filed under Blind Read, Blog, Essay, Uncategorized and was tagged with #author, #blog, #essay, #fiction, #horror, #horrorfiction, #hplovecraft, #literature, #lovecraft, #writer, #writing.