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Lovecraft circle Seal "The Green Meadow" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft and Winifred V. Jackson written in 1918/19 and published in the spring 1927 issue of The Vagrant. As in their other collaboration, The Crawling Chaos, both authors used pseudonyms — the tale was published as by "Elizabeth Neville Berkeley" (Jackson) and "Lewis Theobald, Jun." (Lovecraft). Lovecraft wrote the entire text but Jackson is credited since it was based on a dream she had experienced.

SynopsisEdit

A meteorite crashes into the sea and is hauled ashore to a nearby village by a fishing vessel for scientists and experts to examine. Within the meteor is a small notebook, made of some indestructible material and inscribed in classical Greek. The notebook is the first-person account of a man trapped on a small, disintegrating island who seems threatened by shadowy forces and ultimately discovers Stethelos, a city from Lovecraft's Dream Cycle Mythos.

Plot SummaryEdit

The story begins by explaining how the text was discovered. On the evening of Wednesday, August 27, 1913, at about 8:30 o’clock the people of Potowonket, Maine see a strange meteorite land in the sea. Four days later large metallic rock is brought in by a fishing boat and is identified by Dr. Richmond M. Jones, as a 360 lb. aerolite or meteoric stone. While collecting samples for a Boston specialist he discovers a mysterious notebook within which he keeps. The cover of 5 × 3 inch 30 leaf book of made from a dark, unbreakable, stone-like substance that puzzles geologists.Though they are incredibly thin the lighter pages are similarly invulnerable and cannot be removed. The undated writing within is determined as perfect second century B.C. cursive Greek but during his analysis Prof. Chambers does irreparable damage to the writing on the last pages. The remaining document was transcribed into the modern Greek alphabet and presented for translation.

At this point the narrative switches to the translated contents of the notebook. The Narrator is trapped alone between the sea and an enormous dark forest which met the sea on either side. Suffering from amnesia they dread that their returning dreams and memories may drive them mad. While reflecting on the blasphemous papyri of Democritus they think they hear daemonic mockery from the forest. all the while they begin to realise the uncanny nature of their surroundings which are both familiar and alien to them.

At last they spot the Green meadow across the sea which provides a form of strange comfort but also brings the realisation that the ground beneath them is breaking away from the forest. Grateful to be floating away from the hateful forest they choose to ignore the crumbling of the island around them and the sound of a vast torrent of water, content to sit down to watch the Meadow. A great demonic storm breaks out far behind as the forest clashes with the sky before disappearing from view.

Despite seeing no sign of human life they hear a dull chant from the Meadow that reminded them of a translated Egyptian book based on a papyrus from Meroë that described the early days of the earth and its half living inhabitants. As the island continues to dissolve he believes he will shortly be very close to the Meadow. He also decides that both his body and surroundings are a mere illusion and as such he has left both earth and mortality behind. Although the voices were now close enough to be clear they aren't speaking in any of the many languages he understands.

Finally seeing the chanters the Narrator has a terrible revelation and remembers everything. They desperately proclaim that what they know will send the reader mad and that they, like many others, had gone through a change that cursed with eternal life. As they approach the land of Stethelos "where young men are infinitely old" the translation reaches the end of the legible section of the text.

CharactersEdit

  • John Richmond, Peter B. Carr, and Simon Canfield - The crew of the fishing boat that retrieved the meteorite.
  • Dr. Richmond M. Jones - The resident scientist of Potowonket who claimed the notebook.
  • Prof. Chambers - A late Harvard analyst.
  • Rutherford - The paleographer who transcribed the notebook into modern Greek.
  • Prof. Mayfield - The MIT expert who examined the stone samples sent by Dr Jones of and declared them as evidence of a "true meteorite".
  • Dr. von Winterfeldt - A Scientist from Heidelberg who rejected the idea that the  object was a true meteorite. He was interned in 1918 as a "dangerous enemy alien".
  • Prof. Bradley - An academic from Columbia College who ruled that the samples contained too many unknown ingredients to be properly classified.
  • The Narrator

LocationsEdit

  • Potowonket, Maine - A small seaside village.
  • The Dark Forest
  • The Green Meadow - A land of verdure—rocks, bright green moss and tall shrubs.
  • Stethelos

ConnectionsEdit

The city Stethelos is also mentioned in the short story "The Quest of Iranon".

ReprintsEdit

The tale was published in Beyond the Wall of Sleep. The corrected text is collected in Lovecraft's revisions volume The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions (Arkham House, 1970).

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