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yock's Lovecraftathon: Nyarlathotep



Now this should be interesting for me. I've played in a Call of Cthulhu RPG game where we met Nyarlathotep. We all survived, but he escaped through time, off to ancient Egypt. Wonder if we will meet him again later in the campaign? Anyway that's for another day, but it is nice for me to read about a Mythos creature I've encountered in game before.


I do like the feeling of the opening. It's very atmospheric, with a well developed sense of brooding horror.


Time wise it's a somewhat strange read this one. The opening in particular feels as though it's set in a different time, even possibly an ancient world. But then it's clearly more modern later with electricity and cinema etc. On the one hand I find this contrast confusing. But it's also a nice nod to the origins of Nyarlathotep in ancient Egypt. So overall I rather like it.


The idea of Nyarlathotep telling his story through projected film shows is really nice. For a modern reader now a century on it combines a feeling of the past with something very modern. I can easily picture the flickering images that the audience is watching. Black and white of course. Or maybe even sepia toned.


After the narrator leaves the film showing there's a very strong sense of change, with the characters encountering the world altered. I particularly like the description of the "hellish moon-glitter of evil snows" - again a great series of images, well developed, that I can easily picture in my mind.


However I'm not so keen on the next bit, the ending, where the horror imagery is ramped up to its climax. It's effective, but in a way too much for me. But it does what it needs to, and it wraps up the story. I just don't like reading it. Then again that's it accomplishing what it needs to do, so I shouldn't complain really.


So a short piece, but a strong one for me, and a vast improvement on the previous story I reviewed.

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"Nyarlathotep" is one of my favorite Lovecraft pieces - the first time I read that one, was when Lovecraft's fiction really "clicked" for me, stood out as something a little special and unique compared to the other horror writers I was reading at the time, and spoke to me a language that made sense to me! 


I used to have very long, very strange, very elaborate dreams and nightmares that were a lot like this story:  the first thing I'd remember from the dreams would be traveling to some strange city or country that never existed, feeling very curious about what was going on in it, realizing something was wrong there, and I'd eventually realize that I'm dreaming at about the time that I start finding hints that the country I'm in bordered on some far stranger place filled with stranger people, while that vague sense of something wrong evolved into a sense of menace, followed quickly by some final, nameless, apocalyptic ending as the dream slipped away in spite of my best efforts to keep it going long enough to consciously change something, until I wake up completely.  I'd wake up from them feeling like I'd almost touched something more real than reality, only to fall back away from it, and then scribble the whole thing down in a notebook in painstaking detail so I wouldn't forget any of it, and spend the rest of the day feeling out of phase with the waking world, and I'd go back sometimes and re-read everything to try to recapture just a little of that unearthly feeling of being in a dream while awake.... That unreal feeling was, I'm certain, what Lovecraft was referring to as "weird" for his weird stories, and "Nyarlathotep" captured it perfectly for me.


In any event, this story is a favorite, and I'm glad that you found it to be a strong one!


If you're interested, some amateur film-maker made a really nice "silent film" style short adaptation of "Nyarlathotep"; it's not perfect, but I thought the folks who made it did an amazing job of capturing the spirit of the story in spite of all the limitations that amateur film makers trying to capture the unfilmable on a budget have arrayed against them - I don't think a movie could ever quite duplicate the story's effect for me, but still, I'd place this short somewhere toward the better half of the top 5 Lovecraft film adaptations I've seen: (link to youtube)

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