This was a sad and tragic tale of the Jermyn lineage. We start the story with the knowledge that the titular Arthur commits suicide. This fact weighs on the reader and becomes the driving force behind the mystery of the story.
Throughout these blind reads, I have come to understand that there is a deep mystery in every one of Lovecraft’s stories. Something terrible, otherworldly, or macabre lies at the heart of every story and through it’s telling the reader strives to understand this mystery.
This story is fairly straight forward, in that, we are reading to see what would make someone immolate themselves.
In the end, Arthur finds evidence that his great-great-great-grandfather traveled to the Congo and took a humanoid white ape as a concubine and Arthur is the descendant of this ape.
At the beginning of the story, our narrator tells us that everyone should do what Arthur did to himself if they found the same. Where bestiality is repugnant, there seems to be something more going on here.
The civilization where Wade Jermyn (the ancestor) goes speaks of the White God and the ape-princess, which is obviously Wade and his concubine, but the great civilization was told (to Arthur by Mwanu) to house “hybrid-creatures”.
Could this be a sect of Outer God worshipers? Or is this a culture built on interbreeding with apes, and Wade got caught up in the fervor of their culture?
My predilection is to think of the prior, because as horrible as it is that Arthur finds that he is descended from an ape, he is not a young man, and must know about his own soul. I would think that even if it would lead to suicide (if for no other reason than to end the lineage), it might take a little longer.
The housekeepers heard a horrible scream once Arthur opened the box. We assume as the reader that it must just be the mummified corpse of his great-great-great-grandapema, but at the beginning of the story the narrator tells us that there is an object. It is possible that Lovecraft is being coy and skirting around that it was a mummy, but there is also the peculiar golden locket which I believe holds the key.
When Arthur opens the box, it takes him a while to scream. It is readily apparent by the appearance of the mummy that it is his ancestor, but it takes him a while to scream. I think there must have been something leading to a cosmic horror discovery in the locket. Maybe that there is something far more sinister that just the white ape in his lineage?
What do you think?
Join me on Halloween for a Blind Read of “The Temple”
Welcome back to another Blind Read. This story is an interesting departure from the normal cannon. I have read a little about Lovecraft’s religious leanings and understand him to basically be an Atheist, so that’s what makes this story so fascinating to me.
The story follows our nameless narrator who watches a lighthouse. He sees a mysterious White Ship that sails in over the seas and seems to sail calmly, no matter the state of the ocean. The narrator eventually walks out over the waters and joins the White Ship. They sail past the horrible land of Xura “The Land of Pleasures un-attained”, and they continue to follow the “bird of heaven” which takes them to the wonderful Sona-Nyl. This is a land where everything is beautiful and wonderful and everyone is happy.
The narrator driven by curiosity and tells the crew that he want’s to visit a land he heard of in Sona-Nyl. The Land of Cathuria. He convinces them to take him there, and as they sail out of Sona-Nyl, they run into a horrible storm and the ship crashes. The narrator finds himself back at the lighthouse and finds a mysterious dead bird on the shore and for the rest of his time, he never sees the White Ship again.
This story is obviously about humanity and the afterlife. We have our narrator who has died, and walks upon the waters to join the crew of the White Ship. They sail past Hell, because that is not where he belongs, but follow the “bird of heaven” to the actual Heaven. A place where everyone is content and happy and there is no strife.
But there is a curiosity in Human Nature that drives us for understanding. I think this hits home more in Lovecraft than many people and I think that’s why he wrote the type of stories that he wrote.
The narrator wants to see this other land, so he coerces the crew to take him, and though they know what will happen, they agree. They sail away from Sona-Nyl and reject it and he is returned to the real world never to see Sona-Nyl again.
Could this be Lovecraft’s veiled attempt at telling his story of the rejection of religion? you can gather a glimpse of heaven, but it is sallow and thin. There is more mystery in the world and to ignore it is to live in ignorance. So Lovecraft is rejecting heaven to gain a darker understanding of our terrestrial world.
What do you think?
Join me Tomorrow for a Blind Read of “Arthur Jermyn”
Back for another Blind Read. I am trying to keep honest to the Blind Reads and not do research on the side to gather connections, but if my memory serves me correct, Dagon is one of the lesser gods in the Lovecraft pantheon. That makes this story very interesting to me because this story could have wide ranging implications for the building of the Mythos (or apparently as Lovecraft called it, Yog-Sothothery. It was actually August Derleth that coined the phrase Cthulhu Mythos).
The story follows our narrator during WWI, as his ship was taken by a German sea-raider ship. He escaped them and found his way to a strange, unknown of island in his dinghy. As he explores the island, he finds a strange monolith with images carved that are humanoid, but fish-like. They have webbed hands and feet, they have large eyes and large lips, and they are huge, nearly the size of a whale.
As he stands there one of these creatures comes out of the sea and hugs the monolith, then prays to it.
The narrator immediately thinks of Dagon, who is an ancient fish god.
What is provocative about this story is that there have been small connections in the past with figures like Nyarlathotep, which make a connection with our actual world. The difference, however is that in every previous story I’ve read the characters in the stories are fictional, in a real setting. This is an actual god that people have worshiped in the past, and here Lovecraft uses the same name and adopts it as his own. Thus bringing his pantheon into our cultural reality.
There are two different ways to look at the story. One is that the creature that comes out of the sea is a disciple of Dagon, and the monolith is what it prays to in supplication to Dagon. This event keeps Dagon as a god, and now we have a race of cthonic creatures, whom live under the sea and live under Dagon’s rule.
The other way to read it (and this is what i believe Lovecraft intended) is that the creature that comes out of the sea IS Dagon. This is a much more horrific idea. This means that this creature, which made the narrators mind break (“I think I went mad then”) at the mere sight of it, is actually supplicating to something more than itself. So this creature which in our real life mythology is considered a god, has a being so much more powerful than it (Cthulhu himself?) that it prays through the form of the monolith.
What do YOU think?
Join me next Tuesday for another blind read of “The White Ship”.
Here, we jump into a story that at first glace seems to be traditional horror fare from Lovecraft. We have our monster hunter/ ghost hunter narrator (who is made to be unreliable because of his ambiguous motives. He is surrounded by death, and every person he recruits to help him dies, or mysteriously dispersal, but yet he soldiers on, for reasons unknown) who is seeking out his “Lurking Fear” whom he thinks is using an the old Martense Mansion as it’s diabolical abode.
He hires some muscle, whom he has been with before on different cases. And they go to the Mansion. While sleeping there, they disappear. Then he hires another man, and while they look out into the forest, the helper stands at the window and is unresponsive. When our narrator shakes him, thinking him asleep, he discovers that something ate his face off whilst he looked out the window.
Then our narrator is convinced that the perpetrator is the ghost of one of the previous residents of the Mansion, Jan Martense, whom supposedly died by lightning strike. Our narrator finds nothing during his exhumation except for ashes. But he does find a passageway, some deep tunnel that he sees a horrible paw of some unknown creature.
During this time there is another storm and a shack is burned to the ground. The squatters who lived there tell our narrator that a creature burned up in the shack and it had one victim. Searching the ashes, our narrator finds the squatter victim, and what looks like a human skull. Curious.
He goes back to the Mansion, and during another Thunder storm, he finds a tunnel, at the base of the chimney, and while he is standing there, hundreds and thousands of these creatures come out, some with tentacles, or just what look like tentacles. He shoots one as they exit and finds that they have the same genetic mis-colored eyes of the Martense’s.
Seems like a normal monster story, but then when we dig deeper we find that it is indeed a cosmic horror story.
The first an most obvious connection is the tentacles. This is a Lovecraftican trope, and though I haven’t seen it too much in his stories, the image of Cthulhu is enough.
The second is the fact that the monsters are Cthonic (meaning dwelling underground. Funny how that and Cthulhu are so similar, no?). The Elder Gods are buried in the earth and they await being awakened, so it bears to reason that their followers would dwell under the ground.
The final connection is in the lightning and thunder. Something that connects the heavens to the earth. The Outer Gods and the Elder Gods communicating…Or even coming to earth?
What makes all this so interesting is that, in the story, the creatures don’t begin to appear until Jan Martense is supposedly struck down by lightning. Could this be a ritual that the Martense clan had found? Did their ritual call down the lightning and thunder and transform their brood?
Provocative and fun stuff.
Join me on Thursday for a Blind Read Through of “Dagon” and let me know what you think!
This was the last story in the Del Rey edition of The Doom That Came to Sarnath, and it was a surprising one. There is a disclaimer on the first page that this story was written in conjunction with Harry Houdini, and what makes that so intriguing is that now we finally have a face for a narrator.
The story begins innocuously enough, with Houdini and his wife exploring Cairo, but progressively getting more and more bored with the watering down of the Egyptian culture in the tourism culture (this story takes place in 1910…it’s good to know that things don’t change). They find a new guide, a man named Abdul Reis el Drogman, and immediately his moniker, and thus his plausibility is called into question. “Reis” is apparently a name for someone in power. “Drogman” is apparently a “clumsy modification” of the name for the leader of the tourist parties “Dragoman”. He also looks suspiciously like a Pharaoh (This in and of itself is suspicious. How does one look like a Pharaoh? This is just Lovecraft’s clumsy, whimsical, and adorable foreshadowing).
They go around town and go on a few adventures, then they make mention that they don’t trust magic. That that has been cast down as evil. So a group of Arabs tie Houdini up (presumably to see if he can escape) and throw him down into a tomb.
Thus far this has been the longest of the stories that I’ve gone through the blind read. Throughout this story, nothing untoward had happened, and even when they throw him down the tomb, there are some strange happenings, but Houdini is in and out of consciousness, so there is a little call to unreliable narrator. Then Lovecraft comes in full force, and we see more of the creatures that Lovecraft is so known for in the last few pages. We also see one huge deity, of which we only see one single paw.
This goes along with the whole cannon of Lovecraft, I’m not sure exactly where this deity fits in yet, but it is a Cthonic creature, which follows with the established world.
This story also gives a certain credence to Lovecrafts mythos, because now it is the famous Harry Houdini who is experiencing the cosmic horror, even though the very last line, denies such experiences, by telling the audience that it was only a dream. Oddly enough this is the one story that I truly believe the narrator experienced it, specifically because he presupposes that it was a dream.
Join me again next Tuesday as I start doing a Blind Read of The Lurking Fear, also by Del Rey. We’ll jump right into the story “The Lurking Fear”