Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Polaris by H.P. Lovecraft

by H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft was one of those authors who wrote stories for therapeutic reasons, to work through his fears and insecurities in the public eye while the fantastical fiction aspects also granted him a safe level of anonymity.

Hello. My name is Howard, and I suffer from night terrors.

His nightmares were poured onto paper, his way of moving past them, and then they became other peoples nightmares, which is why dreams figured so importantly in many of his tales. This one is no exception.

A man suffering from insomnia lays awake night after night, staring at the stars in the sky outside his window. He becomes fixated on the star Polaris, and in time finally drifts off to sleep.

He dreams of a distant city nestled between two peaks the first night. Later, he dreams of the people who inhabit that city. Even later still, he dreams that he is one of them, a citizen of this city rather than just an observer. When a civil emergency rears its head, and the citizens must prepare for battle, our narrator is thrust into a position where he must help, in some small way, to defend this home away from home.

Here Lovecraft is working through the shame he felt for being labeled Not Suitable For Combat during the first World War. Because of this, "Polaris" has sometimes been called the author's most autobiographical work--which is pretty strange considering the subject matter.

Unfortunately, this is one of Lovecraft's fairy tale fantasy type of stories, and I have a little difficulty getting fully behind those. Not because they're not well written--they certainly are--but because they're just not my cup of tea. I'm more about the sheer horror, and less about the flights of fancy.

It should be noted that the Pnakotic Manuscripts are referenced here, one of Lovecraft's famous tomes of forbidden knowledge. Although such texts had previously been mentioned (see "The Statement of Randolph Carter"), this was the first time that one was called by name.


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  1. I'm not big on HPL's fantasy tales either. Love the Princess Leia header!

  2. Yeah, Lovecraft was a great writer no matter what genre he crossed into, but I agree that his horror is much more entertaining. Awesome review!!


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