Review of “The Whisperer in Darkness” (1930)


H. P. Lovecraft (writer).

After that we cast off all allegiance to immediate, tangible, and time-touched things, and entered a fantastic world of hushed unreality in which the narrow, ribbon-like road rose and fell and curved with an almost sentient and purposeful caprice amidst the tenantless green peaks and half-deserted valleys.

There are wonderful ideas in this story, chiefly the ones recycled into Delta Green, but the pulp is too strong for greatness. Lovecraft fouls up his astronomy, talking about Einstein while still clinging to the obsolete notion of a material ether and showing little comprehension of the term “galaxy”. Lovecraft is also unusually self-conscious about his Todorovian epistemology, repeatedly discussing honesty and evidence while coquettishly withdrawing the evidence and offering a simpler Occam’s-razor explanation for the eyewitness account. That account is produced by a man—the narrator—who is too lucky and too easily tricked.

References here: Black Goat, “Schisms” (1992).

text fiction