I've recently decided to revisit some fiction from H.P. Lovecraft. These days I'm hardly a man of fiction, but Lovecraft has left its mark from my early days of youth with its mysterious and unfathomable worlds. After all this time, some rereading is merited, not for the sake of thrills and story alone, but for a sort of interpretative approach to the metaphysics underlying his strange worlds.
I've chosen to start with the dream cycle, as it is designated a series of short stories and novellas written between 1918 and 1932. These stories have as a common thread a vast dream world in an alternate dimension which is pregnant with otherworldly gods and beings, and which was inspired by Lovecraft's own dreams.
We are told the story of Charles Wain, a man who spends his nights tormented by the light of the pole star upon his chamber. It can be observed the influence from Lovecraft’s interest in astronomy and the vastness of cosmos from his descriptions of the Polaris, Arcturus, Aldebaran and references to Cassiopeia and Coma Berenices constellations.
As time goes by, on nights of the waning moon, Wain drifts into a dream world where he manages to first observe a marble city of towers and walls and domes. Within time, on clouded nights where he manages to sleep, he shifts from an observer to a living participant of this city named Olathoë which is under siege from a race of yellow fiends named Inutos.
Charles Wain being a feeble man given to fainting, is denied a position upon the warriors of the city. As such he's sent to keep vigil from the watch-tower. Fatigued and under a slumber spell from the pole star, he drifts into sleep, only to wake to a world he no longer recognizes as real. He begs to be woken to warn of the impending invasion in the otherworld he now recognizes as the real but is trapped in the world he no longer recognizes as his own.
We are introduced to this alternate dream world, which the main character ends up identifying as more real than the alleged real world. Charles Wain has quite some resemblances to Lovecraft, being a frail man with a feeling of uselessness in battle much as Lovecraft himself did for being unable to participate in World War I.
We are also hinted that this alternate dimension existed in times of old and is not synchronous with current earthly events. This is important to distance the dream world both in space and time, though the two seem to clash and fuse during small periods of time. This is also a world at war with a harsh environment with advancing ice-sheet that forces its inhabitants to move and battle for safe territory and survival.
(to be continued...)