Monday, September 13, 2010

The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft

The Outsider 
by H.P. Lovecraft

In this particularly popular outing from HPL, the Nameless Narrator is nameless for a reason.  That is to say that he has no idea who he is.  In fact, he doesn't seem to know much of anything other than that he has been trapped in this oddly isolated castle for as long as he can remember.  He has no recollection of human contact, and knows only of the outside world from the mouldering books he has found within his castle walls.

Desire to see this greater world for himself sends him on a journey that results in his meeting of a vile and beastly creature.  The identity of this creature, and the true nature of the Nameless Narrator, is the big payoff at the finale.

This tale is simple, but deceptively so.  Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that even a simple story can deal with decidely complex issues when there is a deeper mythology running beneath the surface.  And no, I am not talking about the Cthulu Mythos here ("The Outsider" would be peripherally related at best), but rather a dark and lonely view of the Great Hereafter that is only subtly hinted at, but is around every corner of this excellent short story.

Lovecraft's prose shines here as he describes the undescribable:
"I cannot even hint what it was like, for it was a compound of all that is unclean, uncanny, unwelcome, abnormal, and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and dissolution; the putrid, dripping eidolon of unwholesome revelation, the awful baring of that which the merciful earth should always hide. God knows it was not of this world - or no longer of this world - yet to my horror I saw in its eaten-away and bone-revealing outlines a leering, abhorrent travesty on the human shape; and in its mouldy, disintegrating apparel an unspeakable quality that chilled me even more."
To put it bluntly...Badass.

--J/Metro

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