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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Nameless City (110.0 Kb)

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"The Nameless City" is a horror story written by H. P. Lovecraft in January 1921 and first published in the November 1921 issue of the amateur press journal The Wolverine. It is often considered the first Cthulhu Mythos story.Lovecraft said that the story was based on a dream, which was in turn inspired by the last line of Lord Dunsany's story "The Probable Adventure of the Three Literary Men", quoted in the story itself: "the unreverberate blackness of the abyss".[2]Another identified source is the 9th Edition of the Encycl... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"The Nameless City" is a horror story written by H. P. Lovecraft in January 1921 and first published in the November 1921 issue of the amateur press journal The Wolverine. It is often considered the first Cthulhu Mythos story.

Lovecraft said that the story was based on a dream, which was in turn inspired by the last line of Lord Dunsany's story "The Probable Adventure of the Three Literary Men", quoted in the story itself: "the unreverberate blackness of the abyss".[2]

Another identified source is the 9th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, whose description of "Irem, the City of Pillars" he copied into his commonplace book: "which yet, after the annihilation of its tenants, remains entire, so Arabs say, invisible to ordinary eyes, but occasionally, and at rare intervals, revealed to some heaven-favoured traveller."[3]

Critic William Fulwiler argues that Edgar Rice Burroughs' At the Earth's Core was one of Lovecraft's primary inspirations for "The Nameless City", citing "the reptile race, the tunnel to the interior of the earth, and the 'hidden world of eternal day'" as elements common to both tales.[4] More generally, Fulwiler suggests, the theme of "alien races more powerful and more intelligent than man", which recurs frequently in Lovecraft's writings, may derive from Burroughs' Pellucidar stories.

The Nameless City of the story's title is an ancient ruin located somewhere in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula and is older than any human civilization.

In ancient times, the Nameless City was built and inhabited by an unnamed race of reptiles with a body shaped like a cross between a crocodile and a seal with a strange head common to neither, involving a protruding forehead, horns, lack of a nose and an alligator-like jaw. These beings moved by crawling thus, the architecture of the city has very low ceilings and some places are too low for a human being to stand upright. Their city was originally coastal, but when the seas receded it was left in the depths of a desert. This resulted in the decline and eventual ruin of the city.

The protagonist of "The Nameless City" states that "it was of this place that Abdul Alhazred the mad poet [author of the Necronomicon] dreamed of" the night before he sang his unexplained couplet:

"That is not dead which can eternal lie,

And with strange aeons even death may die."

Indeed, the reptilians still maintain some form of life in a vast, luminous paradise in a cavern beneath the Nameless City, preserved and placed along the walls in a subterranean chamber. Also within this chamber are hieroglyphs and reliefs that tell to the protagonist the story of the city's heyday of prosperity and its fall, as well as their eventual hatred of humanity.

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.