Wednesday, August 12, 2015
"The Tomb" (a book review post)
"The Tomb" opens more as preachy than descriptive. It's Lovecraft giving us a philosophy of life that I have to believe is his and that, to some extent, this particular character is his representation of himself. He's a character obsessed from childhood with a tomb on the property on which he lives. The tomb is locked with a huge chain, but the door isn't quite closed, which taunts him because he can almost see in, but he can't get in.
The rest of this will have spoilers. You've been warned.
The kid grows up with a habit of sneaking out of the house at night and sleeping outside of the tomb door and dreaming strange and weird dreams. Which lasts until he gets old enough to suddenly know where the key to the lock is hidden. Yes, one day, he just knows.
From that point forward, he goes down into the crypt each night and sleeps in a special, empty coffin and gains all kinds of secret knowledge that cause him to become even more estranged from his family and the people in the town.
Skipping some of the details, here, eventually the protagonist is put into an asylum. This raises the question: Was what the protagonist was experiencing real? Did it happen or did he just think it happened? I think we're supposed to side with the protagonist, but there are too many gaps for me to buy into the story the protagonist is telling us. Without that buy in, the story falls flat and is kind of shrug worthy.
Still, if you want to get the full Lovecraft experience, I think it's instructive to see his progression, so the first story he wrote is essential to that. Otherwise, even though I've still only read a handful of his stories, there are certainly better ones out there and this one can be skipped.