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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The White Ship (84.0 Kb)

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"The White Ship" is a short story written by science fiction and horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was first published in The United Amateur (Volume 19) #2, November 1919.Unlike many of Lovecraft's other tales, "The White Ship" does not directly tie into the popularized Cthulhu Mythos. However, the story cannot be entirely excluded from mythos continuity either, since it makes reference to preternatural, godlike beings. The tone and temperament of "The White Ship" speaks largely of the Dream Cycle literary structure that H. ... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"The White Ship" is a short story written by science fiction and horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was first published in The United Amateur (Volume 19) #2, November 1919.

Unlike many of Lovecraft's other tales, "The White Ship" does not directly tie into the popularized Cthulhu Mythos. However, the story cannot be entirely excluded from mythos continuity either, since it makes reference to preternatural, godlike beings. The tone and temperament of "The White Ship" speaks largely of the Dream Cycle literary structure that H. P. Lovecraft utilized in other stories such as The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926) and "The Cats of Ulthar" (1920).

A lighthouse keeper named Basil Elton engages upon a peculiar fantasy in which a bearded man piloting a mystical white ship is found sailing upon a bridge of moonlight. Elton joins the bearded man on this ship, and together they explore a mystical chain of islands unlike anything that can be found on Earth.

They travel to the majestic city of Thalarian, City of a Thousand Wonders. They pass Akariel, the huge carven gate, and navigate through the river Narg. They visit Xura, the Land of Pleasures Unattained. They finally settle in Sona-Nyl, Land of Fancy, where Elton spends a period of time living in what seems to be a perfect society. In his time in Sona-Nyl, Basil learns of Cathuria, the Land of Hope. Though no man truly knows where Cathuria is or what lies there, Elton is thrilled with the idea, and urges the bearded man to take him there a request which the latter reluctantly obliges to. After a perilous journey to where the crew believes Cathuria to be, the ship instead finds itself at the edge of the world, and plummets to its doom.

Basil Elton awakens to finds himself back in his lighthouse, little wiser as to whether his experiences were reality or simply the product of an excessive imagination, but left with a sense of regret for ever leaving Sona-Nyl.

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.