Sunday, February 28, 2010

H P Lovecraft's "Dagon" (short story, free): A man discovers a still thriving ancient undersea civilization!

I found this story when trying to figure of what "Dagon" means after reading a story on Dagon by Henry Kuttner.

There is a very interesting thing about this story: the enormous amount of content it packs in few words. It's just the size of two flash fiction pieces, but covers a wide-ranging plot.

Story summary.

Narrator, now near madness from nightmares, is telling us how he got those nightmares.

A member of the crew of a ship that was overpowered by a "German sea-raider", he escaped in a small boat while a "naval prisoner" at sea. One fine morning he wakes up expecting to be drifting at sea to find that he's no longer adrift: "to discover myself half sucked into a slimy expanse of hellish black mire which extended about me in monotonous undulations as far as I could see, and in which my boat lay grounded some distance away."

He will eventually theorize that "Through some unprecedented volcanic upheaval, a portion of the ocean floor must have been thrown to the surface, exposing regions which for innumerable millions of years had lain hidden under unfathomable watery depths."

Main story is of his adventure there - during a hike to find ocean where rescue lay, he'll see one of the sea men praying at their ancient temple, & get scared. So scared that he doesn't remember how he ended up in his boat adrift again at sea & picked up by an "American ship".

Notes.

  1. According to Wikipedia, this story is inspired by Irvin S Cobb's "Fishhead" (download), & Edgar Rice Burroughs' "At the Earth's Core"; & quotes other sources that Lovecraft's own "The Call of Cthulhu" is "an exhaustive reworking of 'Dagon'".

    Same article also notes that '"Dagon" is often not counted as one of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos stories, but it is the first of Lovecraft's stories to introduce a Cthulhu Mythos element — the sea deity Dagon itself.

    Note: I've now read "Fishhead", & at least I cannot see any connection with this story. I've now also read "The Call of Cthulhu" now, & at least its later parts are corresponding parts of "Dagon" reworked.

Fact sheet.

First published: The Vagrant, #11 (November 1919).
Download full text from DagonByte.
Rating: B.
Related: Stories of H P Lovecraft; fiction from 1910s.

2 comments:

Larry said...

Ah yes, I have this in a collection of Lovecraft's (Dagon and Other Macabre Tales), the only Lovecraft I've read. Its not the best in that collection-that would have to be Herbert West, Reanimator,a fine gruesome tale!

Tinkoo said...

Larry: I'm not exactly into gruesome fiction, & none of the half dozen odd Lovecraft stories I've read so far would be called gruesome. More on the side of being creepy by appealing to prejudices of his target audience & by uses a lot of adjectives.

Still, thanks for pointer. "Herbert West, Reanimator" also seems to be online; so I just might pick it up.