Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; Dagon
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”.