“The Silver Key” (1929)

Creators

H. P. Lovecraft (writer).

Subject

The romantic idealism of Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819) in a nearly solipsistic fantasy of “escape from life” into dream.

Commentary

Rereading this amid the fascist blip of 2017 I think of my contemporaries among Lovecraft’s fellow idealists, the ones who reject everything except the unscientific narratives that sanction their selfish impulses. When Lovecraft writes that human ideals are “pompous”, I presume he means the ideals that guide action: those are the ones he rejects.

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Sequel:

“Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (1934)

Creators

H. P. Lovecraft (writer), E. Hoffmann Price (writer).

Commentary

The closest Lovecraft got to describing the foundations of the Dreamlands setting and, by implication, the fundamental nature of reality in the Mythos, but a lot of the (neoplatonic) ideas apparently came from Price’s draft. I rather like the oblique implication that Curwen’s goal was to access a higher deity through its low-level manifestations in the human geniuses he was digging up. Worldbuilding aside, as a short story it’s pretty much nonsense.

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