Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The White Ship
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”