“White Ship, The“


“White Ship, The“
   Short story (2,550 words); probably written in October 1919. First published in the United Amateur (November 1919); rpt. WT(March 1927); first collected in BWS;corrected text in D; annotated version in TD.
   Basil Elton, “keeper of the North Point light,” one day “walk[s] out over the waters…on a bridge of moonbeams” to a White Ship that has come from the South, captained by an aged bearded man. They sail to various fantastic realms: the Land of Zar, “where dwell all the dreams and thoughts of beauty that come to men once and then are forgotten”; the Land of Thalarion, “the City of a Thousand Wonders, wherein reside all those mysteries that man has striven in vain to fathom”; Xura, “the Land of Pleasures Unattained”; and finally Sona-Nyl, in which “there is neither time nor space, neither suffering nor death.” Although Elton spends “many aeons” there in evident contentment, he gradually finds himself yearning for the realm of Cathuria, the Land of Hope, beyond the basalt pillars of the West, which he believes to be an even more wondrous realm than Sona-Nyl. The captain warns him against pursuing Cathuria, but Elton is adamant and compels the captain to launch his ship once more. But they discover that beyond the basalt pillars of the West is only a “monstrous cataract, wherein the oceans of the world drop down to abysmal nothingness.” As their ship is destroyed, Elton finds himself on the platform of his lighthouse. The White Ship comes to him no more.
   The plot of the story clearly derives from Dunsany’s “Idle Days on the Yann” (in A Dreamer’s Tales, 1910), but there the resemblance ends, for Dunsany’s tale tells only of a dream-voyage by a man who boards a ship, the Bird of the River,and encounters one magical land after another; there is no significant philosophical content in these realms, and their principal function is merely an evocation of fantastic beauty. HPL’s tale is meant to be interpreted allegorically or symbolically and as such enunciates several central tenets of his philosophical thought, principally the folly of abandoning the Epicurean goal of ataraxia,tranquillity (interpreted as the absence of pain), embodied in the land of Sona-Nyl. By forsaking it Basil Elton brings upon his head a justified doom—not death, but sadness and discontent.
   After the story’s first publication, Alfred Galpin, chairman of the Department of Public Criticism of the UAPA, gave it a warm reception (see “Department of Public Criticism,” United Amateur,March 1920).
   See also Dirk W.Mosig, “‘The White Ship’: A Psychic Odyssey,” Whispers (November 1974) (rpt. FDOC); Paul Montelone, “‘The White Ship’: A Schopenhauerian Odyssey,” LS No. 36 (Spring 1997): 2–14.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The White Ship (Aitmatov novel) — For the twelfth century vessel, please see White Ship The White Ship ( Белый пароход ) is a novel written by Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov. It was first published in 1970 …   Wikipedia

  • White Ship — The White Ship (or its real name la Blanche Nef ), a twelfth century vessel, sank in the English Channel near the Normandy coast off Barfleur, on November 25, 1120. Those drowned included William Adelin, the only legitimate son of King Henry I of …   Wikipedia

  • The White Ship (story) — The White Ship is a short story written by science fiction and horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was first published in The United Amateur (Volume 19) #2, November 1919.Unlike many of Lovecraft’s other tales, The White Ship does not directly tie… …   Wikipedia

  • The White Ship — can refer to:* The White Ship (story), a short story by H. P. Lovecraft * The White Ship (Aitmatov novel), a novel by Chingiz Aitmatov * The White Ship (Jackie French novel), a novel by Jackie French * The White Ship, a twelfth century vessel,… …   Wikipedia

  • The White Ship (Jackie French novel) — The White Ship is a 2002 novel by Australian children s author Jackie French. The White Ship follows the journey of a group of Protestant children who are force to flee their home, an island of the coast of France, upon a defecting warship known… …   Wikipedia

  • White Ship — Cotton Claudius dii, f45v. (12. Jahrhundert, British Library) White Ship (deutsch: Weißes Schiff; auf Anglonormannisch Blanche Nef) war der Name eines normannischen Schiffes, das am 25. November 1120 im Ärmelkanal an der Küste der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • White Ship —    The ship that carried the Ring bearers into the West.    The ship that sailed from the Grey Havens into the Uttermost West, carrying the Ring bearers to Aman. Its departure marked the end of the Third Age …   J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth glossary

  • White Ship — This ship sank with great consequences for the English throne on 25 November 1120 while leaving port to cross the Channel to England. The crew were mostly drunk, as was the captain. Many members of the royal household were on board and perished,… …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • Mary White (ship) — The connection of Broadstairs with the saving of life at sea goes back to at least 1851, such was the bravery displayed by the Lifeboat crew on this occasion that it excited a great deal of enthusiasm throughout Kent and a ballad was composed to… …   Wikipedia

  • The Cellar (teen dance club) — Located in Arlington Heights, Illinois, The Cellar teen dance club provided consistently good live musical entertainment in the 1960s. Founded in 1964 by Paul Sampson (a local record store owner who later became a music promoter and manager),… …   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.