Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"The White Ship" by H.P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft Week Continues. . .

With a uncharacteristically un-scary story, to be quite frank. Of course, I don't think Lovecraft intended it to be scary, just strange (and strange it is), but it, unfortunately, makes it kind of a bad pick for a week where I'm trying to read and write about scary stories.

Nevertheless, Lovecraft's very unconventionally cautionary tale about the grass always being greener on the other site is still an engrossing read. The dream sequence that takes of the bulk of this short story includes some beautifully described passages of wonderfully imaginative locals. There is also a strong recurring theme that things aren't always what they seem, and may, in fact, often be too good to be true. For instance, we learn that Tharlarion, the "'. . .City of a Thousand Wonders, wherein reside all those mysteries that man has striven in vain to fathom.'" is a terrible place, where anyone who has entered have either died, been driven mad, or turned into a daemon by what they have seen. Similarly, while Xuria, "Land of Pleasures Unattained" seems beautiful and idyllic, it smells of the plague and of open graves.

What Lovecraft seems to be getting at here is the need to be happy with what you have, and that getting what you think you want may in fact be worse than what you already have. It's a bit heavy-handed, and I'm not sure that it's a sentiment that always rings true, but it's a valid point nonetheless.

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