Sunday, April 23, 2006

Nyarlathotep: Part 3 Egypt?

Many know that "Nyarlathotep" was a poem as part of the huge epic known as Fungi From Yuggoth. That poem was written around November 1920. By December 14, 1920, Lovecraft had constructed the short prose-poem story now knows as Nyarlathotep.

This is an impressionistic piece based on a dream Lovecraft had about Sam Loveman - one of many. He had already immersed himself into Lord Dunsany - a writer of myths writ large and horror with a capital H.

The poem was written in a loose pentameter (sometimes 9, 10, or 11 syllables) . Interestingly, though the poem is entitled XXI. Nyarlathotep, the name is not rhymed or used in the stanza.

"And at the last from inner Egypt came
The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;"

Of course, tongue in cheek, HPL probably intended the "fellahs/fellows" pun.

The prose-poem story has these fragments of Egypt:

"And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt ... he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharoah. The fellahin knelt when they saw him ... he said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries.

In a perjorative [1] of Sonia as he first met her, she indicated that Nyarlathotep was incomprehensible, which he amazingly replied to Kleiner, "Teutonic mysticism is tooo subtle for Slaves...". A refernece to her being Jewish and he ancestry. However, Teutonic is not Egyptian.

In relating the dream to Kleiner [2], HPL makes absolutley no reference to Egypt - only to Sam Loveman, the dream, his headache, David Van Bush's bad poetry, and his aunt. As often happens, Kleiner has intimate details, while Galpin does not. Though, to be fair, there is a long gap in Gallomo correspondence in late 1920.

HPL was writing like a fiend at this time of his life. The Temple (Fall 1920), Arthur Jermyn (late 1920), From Beyond (16 Nov 1920), Picture in the House 12 Dec 1920, Nameless City Jan 1921. None mention Egypt that Chrispy can recall. The story can easily read without any mention of Egypt, and the river with three towers need not be Egypt's Nile.

So whence Egypt?

1 p. 209, 30 July 1921. Letters to Rheinheart Kleiner.
2 p. 200ff, 14 Deccember 1920 op.cit.

No comments:


Blog Archive


Google Analytics