- Projected novel (480 words extant); written June 1922. First published in Leaves(1938); first collected in Marginalia;corrected text in D. The surviving text notes that “When age fell upon the world, and wonder went out of the minds of men,” a man “travelled out of life on a quest into the spaces whither the world’s dreams had fled.” The man dwelt in a city “of high walls where sterile twilight reigned,” and as a reaction from this environment he began dreaming “the dreams that men have lost.”HPL describes the work as a “weird Vathek-like novel” ( SL1.185), referring to the Arabian novel Vathek(1786) by William Beckford, which HPL first read in July 1921. HPL perhaps means that Azathothis an attempt both to capture Vathek’sair of dreamlike fantasy and to imitate its continuous flow of narrative and absence of chapter divisions (as with The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath). As early as October 1921 he had been thinking of writing “a weird Eastern tale in the 18th century manner” (HPL to Winifred Jackson, October 7, 1921; ms., JHL). After beginning the work, HPL commented: “The rest—for which this introduction prepares the reader, will be material of the Arabian Nightstype. I shall defer to no modern critical canon, but shall frankly slip back through the centuries and become a myth-maker with that childish sincerity which no one but the earlier Dunsany has tried to achieve nowadays. I shall go out of the world when I write, with a mind centred not in literary usage, but in the dreams I dreamed when I was six years old or less—the dreams which followed my first knowledge of Sinbad,of Agib,of Baba-Abdallah,and of SidiNonman” (HPL to Frank Belknap Long, June 9, 1922; AHT).See Will Murray, “On ‘Azathoth,’” CryptNo. 53 (Candlemas 1988): 8–9; Donald R.Burleson, “On Lovecraft’s Fragment ‘Azathoth,’” LSNos. 22/23 (Fall 1990): 10–12, 23.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.