“Unnamable, The“


“Unnamable, The“
   Short story (2,970 words); written September 1923. First published in WT (July 1925); first collected in BWS;corrected text in D
   In an old burying ground in Arkham, the first-person narrator, “Carter,” and his friend Joel Manton discuss Carter’s horror tales. Manton enunciates his objections to the weird—as contrary to probability, as not based on “realism,” and as extravagant and unrelated to life. In particular, he scoffs at the idea of something being termed “unnamable”; but later that evening the two men encounter just such an entity in the burying ground.
   Although Carter’s first name is never mentioned, one assumes that he is Randolph Carter of “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (1919). But because of the uncertainty of his identity, “The Unnamable” has frequently not been considered part of the sequence of stories involving Carter. Only the most glancing reference to the incident related in this story appears in “The Silver Key” (1926): “Then he went back to Arkham,…and had experiences in the dark, amidst the hoary willows, and tottering gambrel roofs, which made him seal forever certain pages in the diary of a wild-minded ancestor.”
   In part, the tale is a satire on the stolid bourgeois unresponsiveness to the weird tale. Carter’s observation that “it is the province of the artist…to arouse strong emotion by action, ecstasy, and astonishment” signals HPL’s absorption of the literary theory of Arthur Machen (whom he was first reading at this time), specifically the treatise Hieroglyphics: A Note upon Ecstasy in Literature (1902). The tale might have been directly inspired by the opening of Machen’s episodic novel The Three Impostors(1895), in which two characters debate as to the proper function of literature, one of them (analogous to Manton) remarking that “one has no business to make use of the wonderful, the improbable, the odd coincidence in literature…that it was wrong to do so, because as a matter of fact the wonderful and the improbable don’t happen….” In HPL’s story, the satire becomes more pointed because the character of Manton is clearly based upon HPL’s friend Maurice W.Moe (Manton is “principal of the East High School,” just as Moe was an instructor at the West Division High School in Milwaukee). Carter points out that Manton actually “believ[ed] in the supernatural much more fully than I”—an allusion to Manton’s (and Moe’s) religious beliefs.
   The story also explores the sense of the lurking horror of New England history and topography. It is set in Arkham, but the actual inspiration for the setting—a “dilapidated seventeenth-century tomb” and, nearby, a “giant willow in the centre of the cemetery, whose trunk has nearly engulfed an ancient, illegible slab”—is the Charter Street Burying Ground in Salem, where just such a treeengulfed slab can be found. Later in the story HPL records various “old-wives’ superstitions,” some of which are taken from Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana(1702), of which he owned an ancestral copy.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Unnamable (short story) — The Unnamable is a short story by science fiction and horror author H. P. Lovecraft. It was written in September of 1923 and was first published in the July 1925 issue of Weird Tales .ynopsisCarter, a weird fiction writer, meets with his close… …   Wikipedia

  • The Silver Key — is a short story written by H. P. Lovecraft in 1926, considered part of his Dreamlands series. It was first published in the January 1929 issue of Weird Tales . It was followed by a sequel, Through the Gates of the Silver Key , co written with E …   Wikipedia

  • The Unnamable — may mean:* The Unnamable (novel), a 1953 novel by Samuel Beckett * The Unnamable (short story), by H. P. Lovecraft * The Unnamable (film), a 1988 movie based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story …   Wikipedia

  • The Unnamable — Données clés Titre original The Unnamable Réalisation Jean Paul Ouellette Scénario Howard Phillips Lovecraft Acteurs principaux Charles Klausmeyer Mark Kinsey Stephenson Alexandra Durrell Laura Albert Eben Ham Blane Wheatley Mark …   Wikipédia en Français

  • The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath — The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadeth   Author(s) H. P. Lovecraft Country …   Wikipedia

  • The Nameless City — Author H. P. Lovecraft Country United States Language English Genre(s) Horror short story …   Wikipedia

  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen timeline — The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is an ongoing graphic novel series written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O Neill. The primary commentator on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series (hereto after in this article referred to as… …   Wikipedia

  • The Marshes of Glynn — is one of poet Sidney Lanier s many poems. This was one of his works featured in Hymns of the Marshes, an unfinished set of lyrical nature poems that describe the open salt marshes of Glynn County in coastal Georgia.The text:Glooms of the live… …   Wikipedia

  • The Unnamable (novel) — Infobox Book | name = The Unnamable title orig = L Innomable translator = Samuel Beckett image caption = 1st edition (French) author = Samuel Beckett illustrator = cover artist = country = France language = French series = genre = Novel publisher …   Wikipedia

  • The Colour Out of Space — For the fictional being related to this article, see Colour out of space (species). The Colour Out of Space Author H. P. Lovecraft …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.