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"The Other Gods" is a short story written by American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft on August 14, 1921.[1] It was first published in the November 1933 issue of The Fantasy Fan.[2]

SynopsisEdit

Barzai the Wise, a high priest and prophet greatly learned in the lore of the "gods of earth", or Great Ones, attempts to scale the mountain of Hatheg-Kla in order to look upon their faces, accompanied by his young disciple Atal. Upon reaching the peak, Barzai at first seems overjoyed until he finds that the "gods of the earth" are not there alone, but rather are overseen by the "other gods, the gods of the outer hells that guard the feeble gods of earth!" Atal flees and Barzai is never seen again.

CharactersEdit

  • Barzai the Wise - The high-priest of the Gods of Earth (the Great Ones) in Ulthar and one-time teacher of Atal. He often delved into the unknown, reading such works as the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan. He is the son of an aristocrat, which makes him skeptical of commoners' superstitions. He is said to have advised the burgesses of Ulthar when they passed their ban on cat-slaying. He vanishes shortly after climbing to the top of Hatheg-Kla to see the gods reveling on its peak.
  • Atal - The apprentice of Barzai the Wise who accompanies him on his doomed climb to the top of Mount Hatheg-Kla to see the gods.
  • Sansu - An explorer who was described as being "written of with fright" in the Pnakotic Manuscripts, having once scaled the mountain of Hatheg-Kla "in the youth of the world" and found "naught but wordless ice and rock". He is the last person to have climbed the mountain before Barzai.

LocationsEdit

  • Hatheg-Kla - A "high and rocky" mountain in the "stony desert" thirteen days' walk from the village of Hatheg, for which it is named. It is one of the places where the "gods of earth" once dwelt and sometimes return to when they are homesick.
  • Thurai - A White-capped  mountains where the gods of earth used to dwell. It is said that at Thurai men mistake the tears of the gods for rain.
  • Lerion - Another mountain formerly inhabited by the gods where the "plaintive dawn-winds" are the in fact their eternal sighs. Lerion is later described as the source of the river Skai. (HPL: "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath")
  • Ulthar - The hometown of the story's main characters, was introduced in the story "The Cats of Ulthar". It is said to lie "beyond the river Skai" and to be a neighbour of Hatheg.
  • Hatheg and Mir - Neighbourings towns run by Burgesses.
  • Kadath - The mountain to which the gods of earth retreated.

ConnectionsEdit

The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan (misprinted as "...of Earth" in the story's original publication) appear for the first time in "The Other Gods". The Pnakotic Manuscripts make their second appearance in "The Other Gods", having been introduced in "Polaris", along with Lomar. Both later reappear in Dream-Quest.

In conversation with Randolph Carter, Nyarlathotep himself speaks in a brief and sardonic fashion of the ill-fated expeditions of other impertinent god-seekers, and therein relates that when Barzai's hubris brought him to the baleful attention of the Other Gods, they "did what was expected". (HPL: "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath")

The mysterious Mount Kadath is mentioned in several of Lovecraft's stories, including "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath", "The Strange High House in the Mist", "The Dunwich Horror", and "At the Mountains of Madness".

Beyond the mythosEdit

Though it's often assumed that "The Other Gods" is set in Lovecraft's Dreamlands, critic S. T. Joshi points out the connections to the story "Polaris", which seems to be set in Earth's distant past, in arguing that "the clear implication is that this tale too takes place in a prehistoric civilization."[3]

InspirationEdit

The story resembles the many tales of hubris written by Lord Dunsany, like "The Revolt of the Home Gods" from The Gods of Pegana (1905). (EXP: An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia)

AdaptationEdit

The Other Gods was adapted into a silent animated short by Subterranea Entertainment in 2006. The host website and opening credits present the film as a false document, claiming it is a restoration of a 1924 short created with permission by an associate of Lovecraft named Peter Rhodes which became lost after Rhodes' death. It approximates the look of early cutout animation.[4]

NotesEdit

  1. "Lovecraft's Fiction", The H. P. Lovecraft Archive.
  2. "H. P. Lovecraft’s 'The Other Gods'", The H. P. Lovecraft Archive.
  3. S. T. Joshi, "The Real World and the Dream World in Lovecraft", The Horror of It All, Robert M. Price, ed., p. 21.
  4. "The Other Gods (2006)" Subterranea Entertainment


ReferencesEdit

  • S. T. Joshi, "The Real World and the Dream World in Lovecraft", The Horror of It All, Robert M. Price, ed.
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