“Silver Key, The“
- Short story (5,000 words); probably written in early November 1926. First published in WT (January 1929); first collected in O;corrected text in MMRandolph Carter—revived from “The Unnamable” (1923) — is now thirty; he has “lost the key of the gate of dreams” and therefore seeks to reconcile himself to the real world, which he now finds prosy and aesthetically unrewarding. He tries all manner of literary and physical novelties until one day he finds the key—or, at any rate, a key of silver in his attic. Driving his car along “the old remembered way,” he goes back to the rural New England region of his childhood and, in some magical and wisely unexplained manner, finds himself transformed into a nine-year-old boy. Sitting down to dinner with his aunt Martha, Uncle Chris, and the hired man Benijah Corey, Carter finds perfect content as a boy who has sloughed off the tedious complications of adult life for the eternal wonder of childhood.The story is a lightly fictionalized exposition of HPL’s own social, ethical, and aesthetic philosophy. It is not even so much a story as a parable or philosophical diatribe. He attacks literary realism (“He did not dissent when they told him that the animal pain of a stuck pig or dyspeptic ploughman in real life is a greater thing than the peerless beauty of Narath with its hundred carven gates and domes of chalcedony”), conventional religion (“It wearied Carter to see how solemnly people tried to make earthly reality out of old myths which every step of their boasted science confuted”), and bohemians (“their lives were dragged malodorously out in pain, ugliness, and disproportion, yet filled with a ludicrous pride at having escaped from something no more unsound than that which still held them”). The structural framework of the story at this point—Carter samples in succession a variety of aesthetic, religious, and personal experiences in an attempt to lend meaning or interest to his life— may have been derived from J.K.Huysmans’ A Rebours(1884), in the prologue to which Des Esseintes undertakes exactly such an intellectual journey.The story is also, as Kenneth W.Faig, Jr. has determined, a fictionalized account of HPL’s visit, in October 1926, to the western Rhode Island town of Foster, the home of his maternal ancestors. Details of topography, character names (Benijah Corey is probably an adaptation of two names: Benejah Place, the owner of the farm across the road from the house where HPL stayed, and Emma [Corey] Phillips, the widow of Walter Herbert Phillips, whose grave HPL probably saw), and other similarities make this conclusion unshakable. In some ways, “The Silver Key” is a retelling of “The Tomb,” in which Jervas Dudley discovers in his attic a physical key that allows him to unlock the secrets of the past.In regard to the other Randolph Carter stories, “The Silver Key” portrays Carter’s life from his childhood to the age of fifty-four, at which point he doubles back on his own timeline and reverts to boyhood. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadathis the “first” Randolph Carter tale, for Carter is presumably in his twenties at the time of its events. After he has lost the key of the gate of dreams at thirty, Carter undertakes his experiments in sampling literary realism, religion, bohemianism, and so on; finding all these things unsatisfying, he turns to darker mysteries, involving himself in occultism and more. It is at this time (his age is unspecified) that he encounters Harley Warren and has the experience described in “The Statement of Randolph Carter”; shortly thereafter, returning to Arkham, he appears to experience the events of “The Unnamable,” although they are alluded to very obliquely. Even these dallyings into the weird Carter fails to find rewarding, until at age fifty-four he finds the silver key. It was only at E.Hoffmann Price’s suggestion that HPL undertook a further account of Carter’s adventures in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (1932–33). WTrejected the story upon its initial submittal, which apparently did not occur until the summer of 1927. In the summer of 1928, however, Wright asked to see the tale again and this time accepted it for $70. Following its appearance in January 1929, Wright reported to HPL that readers “violently disliked” the story (HPL to August Derleth, ; ms., SHSW). Wright, however, did not print any of these hostile letters in the magazine’s letter column.See Kenneth W.Faig, Jr., “‘The Silver Key’ and Lovecraft’s Childhood,” Crypt No. 81 (St. John’s Eve 1992): 11–47.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.
Look at other dictionaries:
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
“Through the Gates of the Silver Key“ — Novelette (14,550 words); written in collaboration with E.Hoffmann Price, October 1932–April 1933. First published in WT(July 1934); first collected in O;corrected text in MM Several individuals gather in New Orleans Etienne Laurent de… … An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia
Through the Gates of the Silver Key — is a short story co written by H. P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price between October 1932 and April 1933. A sequel to Lovecraft s The Silver Key , and part of a sequence of stories focusing on Randolph Carter it was first published in the July… … Wikipedia
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath — The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadeth Author(s) H. P. Lovecraft Country … Wikipedia
The Outsider and Others — Infobox Book name = The Outsider and Others title orig = translator = image caption = Dust jacket illustration by Virgil Finlay for The Outsider and Others author = H. P. Lovecraft illustrator = cover artist = Virgil Finlay country = United… … Wikipedia
The Shining — 1) (1977) Stephen King’s third published novel (it was preceded by Carrie and ’Salem’s Lot) was inspired by a vacation he took with his family in Colorado, late in the summer of 1974. Upon visiting the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, King… … The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick
Silver Millennium — The Silver Millennium, a fictional kingdom in the Sailor Moon metaseries, lies on the moon. It provides a setting for the past lives and future selves of most of the series major characters, and functions as a major driving force behind both plot … Wikipedia
Silver State Helicopters — Type Private Industry Aviation Founded 1999, Las Vegas, NV Headquarters 500 East Cheyenne Avenu … Wikipedia
Silver nitrate — Silver nitrate … 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