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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - Hypnos (86.0 Kb)

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"Hypnos" is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, penned in March 1922 and first published in the May 1923 issue of National Amateur.Hypnos is a first-person narrative written from the perspective of an unnamed character living in Kent, England. The narrator writes that he fears sleep, and is resolved to write his story down lest it drive him further mad, regardless of what people think after reading it.The narrator, a sculptor, recounts meeting a mysterious man in a railway station. The moment the... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"Hypnos" is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, penned in March 1922 and first published in the May 1923 issue of National Amateur.

Hypnos is a first-person narrative written from the perspective of an unnamed character living in Kent, England. The narrator writes that he fears sleep, and is resolved to write his story down lest it drive him further mad, regardless of what people think after reading it.

The narrator, a sculptor, recounts meeting a mysterious man in a railway station. The moment the man opened his "immense, sunken and widely luminous eyes", the narrator knew that the stranger would become his friend--"the only friend of one who had never possessed a friend before". In the eyes of the stranger he saw the knowledge of the mysteries he always sought to learn.

From this point on, the man and the narrator begin living together, the one sculpting the other during the day, and at night, exploring worlds beyond human comprehension. Over time, the narrator's teacher begins speaking of using their ability to transcend into the unknown to rule the universe, via a set of drugs, a thought that scares the narrator (who disavows to the reader any such hubris).

Soon the narrator is off on a foray with his friend, travelling through a void that he explains is beyond human sensation. Passing through several barriers, eventually the narrator comes to one he cannot cross, though his friend does. Opening his "physical eyes", the narrator wakes up and awaits the return of his friend, who awakes severely shaken and reticent, warning only that they must avoid sleep at all cost.

From then on, with the aid of drugs, the two avoid sleep, as each time they succumb, they both seem to rapidly age and are plagued by nightmares that the narrator refuses to explain. The story ends with the narrator explaining that one night, his friend fell into a "deep-breathing sleep" and was impossible to arouse. The narrator shrieks and faints, and awakes surrounded by police and neighbours, who inform him he has never had a friend -- all there is in the room is a statue of his friend, engraved with the Greek word Hypnos.

About Author:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 - March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, known then simply as weird fiction.

HP Lovecraft was one of the early exponents of horror fantasy, best known for the series of works known collectively as the Cthulhu Mythos. He peppered his books with references to an occult work called The Necronomicon, and, as his fame grew, he was besieged by readers asking where they could find a copy of it. But the truth was that Lovecraft had invented the book and its title. He wrote in a letter of 1937: 'The name Necronomicon (necros, corpse; nomos, law; eikon, image = An Image of the Law of the Dead) occurred to me in the course of a dream, although the etymology is perfectly sound.' So the title came before everything else, and substituted, perfectly reasonably, for the work itself.

This is a game that many writers have played, and the history of literature is full of references to books that don't, in fact, exist. Margaret Atwood, AS Byatt, Dorothy L Sayers, Frank Herbert, Martin Amis, Arthur Conan Doyle and many, many others have all joined in. Some of my favourite fictional titles are from Kurt Vonnegut, who, as Kilgore Trout, writes non-existent works such as The Barring-Gaffner of Bagnialto, or This Year's Masterpiece, which are usually accompanied by helpful plot summaries. Perhaps the most notorious fictional-book-inventors have been writers such as Umberto Eco and Jorge Luis Borges; naturally enough, since their writing often draws attention to literature as itself an artefact.

With the Necronomicon there was a difference, however. Other writers began to treat it as if it really did exist, quoting from the nonexistent work and even composing large sections of it; several Necronomicons were in fact later published, by hoaxers including L. Sprague De Camp and Colin Wilson.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Christian humanism. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century, who together with Edgar Allan Poe has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King has called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.