Welcome to Dweller of the Dark!
We are a channel honoring the yellowed and blackened bones of many prominent authors. We will be digging up several obscure, strange, and forgotten authors who influenced many of the great horror, science fiction, and fantasy writer’s today.
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“The Outsider” is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft written between March and August of 1921. It was first published in the 1926 Weird Tales. “The Outsider” is one of Lovecraft’s most commonly reprinted works and is also one of the most popular stories ever to be published in Weird Tales.
The story combines the best elements of horror, fantasy, and gothic fiction to create a nightmarish story. Central to the story are its themes of loneliness, the abnormal human, and the afterlife.
The inspiration for the story according to Lovecraft came from Poe and others. He said that, of all his tales, this story most closely resembles the style of his idol Edgar Allan Poe. In a letter H.P. Lovecraft wrote the story “represents my literal though unconscious imitation of Poe at its very height.” It’s clear that the opening paragraphs echo Poe’s “Berenice”. The horror at the party recalls the unmasking scene in “The Masque of the Red Death”.
A second author that influenced the story was Nathaniel Hawthorne in his story “Fragments from the Journal of a Solitary Man”. This is a tale in which a man dreams that he is walking down Broadway in a burial shroud. The man only understands the shocked reaction of passersby’s when he sees his reflection in a shop window.
A curious literary influence also was Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. The shock of the monster when he’s shunned in society then the realization of himself in a pool of water and sees his reflection for the first time.
Author Colin Wilson’s “The Strength to Dream (1961)”, notes another influence particularly to Oscar Wilde’s short story “The Birthday of the Infanta”, in which a misshapen dwarf is horrified to see his reflection for the first time.
We’d have to agree with some critics that have suggested that H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Outsider” is autobiographical. Studying the life of Lovecraft, it’s obviously evident he was talking about his own life. One example was in the chilling line, “I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men.”
It’s Important to note John Keats’s influence too. Note the epigram of “The Outsider” has an epigram is John Keats’ 1819 poem “The Eve of St. Agnes”.
“The Outsider” is the story of a mysterious individual who has been living alone in a castle for as long as he can remember. The individual decides one night to break free in search of human contact and light.
Who is the outsider? What’s his terrifying secret?