“Hypnos“


“Hypnos“
   Short story (2,840 words); written c. March 1922. First published in National Amateur (May 1923); rpt. WT (May–June–July 1924) and WT(November 1937); first collected in O;corrected text in D The narrator, a sculptor, encounters a man at a railway station. This person had fallen unconscious, and the narrator, struck with the man’s appearance (“the face [was]…oval and actually beautiful…. I said to myself, with all the ardour of a sculptor, that this man was a faun’s statue out of antique Hellas”), takes it upon himself to rescue the man, who becomes the sculptor’s only friend. The two engage in “studies” of some nameless sort—studies “of that vaster and more appalling universe of dim entity and consciousness which lies deeper than matter, time, and space, and whose existence we suspect only in certain forms of sleep—those rare dreams beyond dreams which never come to common men, and but once or twice in the lifetime of imaginative men.” The sensations they experience in dream are almost inexpressible, but the narrator’s teacher is always “vastly in advance” in the exploration of these realms of quasi-entity. But at some point the teacher encounters some awesome horror that causes him to shriek into wakefulness. Previously they had augmented their dream-visions with drugs; now they take drugs in a desperate effort to keep awake. They reverse their previous reclusiveness (they had dwelt in an “old manor-house in hoary Kent”) and seek as many “assemblies of the young and the gay” as they can, but it is all for naught. One night the teacher cannot stay awake for all the efforts of his sculptor friend, something happens, and all that is left of the teacher is an exquisitely sculpted bust of “a godlike head of such marble as only old Hellas could yield,” with the word HYPNOS at the base. People maintain that the narrator never had a friend, but that “art, philosophy, and insanity had filled all my tragic life.”
   There is an ambiguity maintained to the end of the tale as to whether the narrator’s friend actually existed or was merely a product of his imagination; but this point may not affect the analysis appreciably. The tale is, as with “The Other Gods,” one of hubris, although more subtly suggested. At one point the narrator states: “I will hint—only hint—that he had designs which involved the rulership of the visible universe and more; designs whereby the earth and the stars would move at his command, and the destinies of all living things be his.” If the friend really existed, then he is merely endowed with overweening pride and his doom—at the hands of the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos—is merited. On a psychological interpretation, the friend becomes merely an aspect of the narrator’s own personality; note how, after the above statement, he adds harriedly, “I affirm—I swear—that I had no share in these extreme aspirations”—a clear instance of the conscious mind shirking responsibility for its subconscious fantasies. Like “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” the story features the notion that certain “dreams” provide access to other realms of entity beyond that of the five senses or the waking world.
   An early entry in HPL’s commonplace book (\#23) provides the plot-germ for the story: “The man who would not sleep—dares not sleep—takes drugs to keep himself awake. Finally falls asleep—& somethinghappens—” A recently discovered typescript of the tale bears the dedication “To S[amuel] L[oveman],” probably in recognition of his interest in Greek antiquity, evinced in much of his verse.
   See Steven J.Mariconda, “H.P.Lovecraft: Art, Artifact, and Reality,” LS No. 29 (Fall 1993): 2–12.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hypnos — und Thanatos tragen den Leichnam Sarpedons. attisch rotfiguriger Kelchkrater. Euxitheos (Töpfer), Euphronios (Maler), um 515 v. Chr …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Hypnos — [hip′näs΄] n. [Gr Hypnos < hypnos: see HYPNO ] Gr. Myth. the god of sleep, identified with the Roman Somnus …   English World dictionary

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  • Hypnos — (lat. Somnus), in der griech. Mythologie der Gott des Schlafes, Sohn der Nacht (Nyx) und Zwillingsbruder des Todes (Thanatos). Dargestellt wird er gewöhnlich als weicher, schöner Jüngling mit Flügeln an Schultern oder Schläfen, Mohnzweig und… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hypnos — (gr.), 1) Schlaf; 2) (lat. Somnus), Gott des Schlafs, Sohn der Nacht, Zwillingsbruder des Todes, wohnt am Westrande der Erde, am Eingang des Tartarus od. in der Unterwelt selbst. Seiner Macht unterliegen Menschen u. Götter; er bringt ihnen Ruhe u …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Hypnos — (lat. Somnus), griech. Gott des Schlafs, Sohn der Nacht, Zwillingsbruder des Thanatos …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hypnos — Hypnos, griech., der Schlaf, der Gott des Schlafes. Hypnobat, der Schlafwandler, Hypnobatie, das Schlafwandeln …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Hypnos — HYPNOS, sieh Somnus …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • Hypnos — dans la myth. gr., le dieu du sommeil …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • HYPNOS — pueri nomen, apud Mart. l. 11. Epigr. 37. cuius Epigraphe de Caio. Proculo. Hypne, quid exspectas piger? …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale


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