|"Through the Gates of the Silver Key"|
|by H. P. Lovecraft |
E. Hoffmann Price
|Genre(s)||Fantasy, weird fiction|
|Published in||Weird Tales|
|Publication date||July 1934|
"Through the Gates of the Silver Key" is a short story co-written by American writers H. P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price between October 1932 and April 1933. A sequel to Lovecraft's "The Silver Key", and part of a sequence of stories focusing on Randolph Carter, it was first published in the July 1934 issue of Weird Tales .
At a gathering to decide the fate of Randolph Carter's estate (which has been held in trust since his disappearance) the mysterious Swami Chandraputra, who wears curious mittens and enveloping robes, tells Carter's acquaintances of his ultimate fate. He explains that the key took Carter to a type of higher dimension. There, Carter, on an ill-defined mission (or out of sheer curiosity), travelled strange sections of the cosmos by first meeting with 'Umr at-Tawil, a dangerous being warned of in the Necronomicon, saying those who deal with it never return. 'Umr at-Tawil offers Carter a chance to plunge deeper into the cosmos; Carter thus perceives the true nature of the universe before passing through the "Ultimate Gate."
After passing through the Ultimate Gate, Carter (now reduced to a disembodied facet of himself) encounters an Entity, implied to be Yog-Sothoth itself. This being explains that all conscious beings are facets of much greater beings, which exist outside the traditional model of three dimensions. Carter himself, and indeed all of the infinite Space-Time continuums, is a facet of this particular being, the Supreme Archetype, made up of the greatest thinkers of the universe. The Entity, appearing to be proud of Carter's accomplishments, offers to grant him a wish relating to the many facets of which it is a part. Carter explains that he would love to know more about the facets of a particular long-extinct race on a distant planet, Yaddith, which is constantly threatened by the monstrous Dholes. He has been having persistent dreams about Yaddith in the last few months. The Supreme Archetype accomplishes this by transferring Carter's consciousness into the body of one of his facets among that race, that of Zkauba the wizard, though not before warning Carter to have memorized all his symbols and rites. Carter arrogantly believes that the Silver Key alone will accomplish this claim, but it soon transpires Carter's wish was a mistake; he cannot escape, and is trapped in Zkauba's body. The two beings find each other repugnant, but are now trapped in the same body, periodically changing dominance.
After a vast amount of time trapped on Yaddith, Carter finds a means of suppressing the alien mind with drugs, and then uses their technology, along with the Silver Key to return both to the present and to Earth, where Carter can retrieve his manuscript with the symbols he needs to work on regaining his original body. Once there, the Swami reports, Carter did find the manuscript and promptly contacted Swami Chandraputra, instructing him to go to the meeting to say he would soon be along to reclaim his estate and to continue to hold it in trust. After the Swami finishes the tale, one in the party, the lawyer Aspinwall (who is Carter's cousin), accuses Swami Chandraputra of telling a false tale in an attempt to steal the estate, claiming that he is some kind of conman in a disguise. As Aspinwall tears at the Swami's masklike face and beard, it is revealed that the Swami is not human at all, but Carter, still trapped in Zkauba's hideous body. The other witnesses don't see Carter/Zkauba's true face, but Aspinwall suffers a fatal heart attack. The crisis causes Zkauba's mind to reassert itself, and the alien wizard enters a curious, coffin-shaped clock (implied to be Carter/Zkauba's means of transport to Earth) and disappears.
The tale ends with a vague postscript, speculating that the Swami was merely a common criminal who hypnotized the others to escape. However, the postscript notes, some of the story's details seem eerily accurate.
The story has its origins in Price's enthusiasm for an earlier Lovecraft tale. "One of my favorite HPL stories was, and still is, 'The Silver Key'," Price wrote in a 1944 memoir. "In telling him of the pleasure I had had in rereading it, I suggested a sequel to account for [protagonist] Randolph Carter's doings after his disappearance."After convincing an apparently reluctant Lovecraft to agree to collaborate on such a sequel, Price wrote a 6,000-word draft in August 1932; in April 1933, Lovecraft produced a 14,000-word version that left unchanged, by Price's estimate, "fewer than fifty of my original words," though An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia reports that Lovecraft "kept as many of Price's conceptions as possible, as well as some of his language." Thus many of the central ideas of the story like 'Umr at-Tawil, the talk of mathematical planes and multiple facets of Randolph Carter throughout Time and Space come from Price, who was well read in neoplatonic thought, theosophy and the occult. Even the quote from the Necronomicon is mainly by Price in outline though put in more Lovecraftian language. The sub-plot about Yaddith was entirely Lovecraft's idea however. Hoffman Price's tales were oriental, and 'Umr at-Tawil was merely an Arab who had preternaturally long life in his draft.
In any case, Price was pleased with the result, writing that Lovecraft "was right of course in discarding all but the basic outline. I could only marvel that he had made so much of my inadequate and bungling start."The story appeared under both authors' bylines in the July 1934 issue of Weird Tales; Price's draft was published as "The Lord of Illusion" in Crypt of Cthulhu No. 10 in 1982.
Edward Guimont has proposed that an influence was Jack London's 1915 novel The Star Rover , which Lovecraft owned.
Lovecraft scholar Will Murray says of "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", "As a Dunsanian fantasy, the Price/Lovecraft collaboration is a failure; as a Mythos story, it is rich with ideas, but curiously diluted."In A Thousand Plateaus (1980), Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari called the story one of Lovecraft's masterpieces.
The Cthulhu Mythos is a mythopoeia and a shared fictional universe, originating in the works of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. The term was coined by August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent and protégé of Lovecraft, to identify the settings, tropes, and lore that were employed by Lovecraft and his literary successors. The name "Cthulhu" derives from the central creature in Lovecraft's seminal short story "The Call of Cthulhu", first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.
The Necronomicon, also referred to as the Book of the Dead, or under a purported original Arabic title of Kitab al-Azif, is a fictional grimoire appearing in stories by the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft and his followers. It was first mentioned in Lovecraft's 1924 short story "The Hound", written in 1922, though its purported author, the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, had been quoted a year earlier in Lovecraft's "The Nameless City". Among other things, the work contains an account of the Old Ones, their history, and the means for summoning them.
Cthulhu is a fictional cosmic entity created by writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was first introduced in his short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published by the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928. Considered a Great Old One within the pantheon of Lovecraftian cosmic entities, this creature has since been featured in numerous popular culture references. Lovecraft depicts it as a gigantic entity worshipped by cultists, in the shape of a green octopus, dragon, and a caricature of human form. The Lovecraft-inspired universe, the Cthulhu Mythos, where it exists with its fellow entities, is named after it.
"The Call of Cthulhu" is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in the summer of 1926, it was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in February 1928.
"The Cats of Ulthar" is a short story written by American fantasy author H. P. Lovecraft in June 1920. In the tale, an unnamed narrator relates the story of how a law forbidding the killing of cats came to be in a town called Ulthar. As the narrative goes, the city is home to an old couple who enjoy capturing and killing the townspeople's cats. When a caravan of wanderers passes through the city, the kitten of an orphan (Menes) traveling with the band disappears. Upon hearing of the couple's violent acts towards cats, Menes invokes a prayer before leaving town that causes the local felines to swarm the cat-killers' house and devour them. Upon witnessing the result, the local politicians pass a law forbidding the killing of cats.
At the Mountains of Madness is a science fiction-horror novella by American author H. P. Lovecraft, written in February/March 1931 and rejected that year by Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright on the grounds of its length. It was originally serialized in the February, March, and April 1936 issues of Astounding Stories. It has been reproduced in numerous collections.
Randolph Carter is a recurring fictional character in H. P. Lovecraft's fiction and is, presumably, an alter ego of Lovecraft himself. The character first appears in "The Statement of Randolph Carter", a short story Lovecraft wrote in 1919 based on one of his dreams. An American magazine called The Vagrant published the story in May 1920.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is a novella by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Begun probably in the autumn of 1926, the draft was completed on January 22, 1927 and it remained unrevised and unpublished in his lifetime. It is both the longest of the stories that make up his Dream Cycle and the longest Lovecraft work to feature protagonist Randolph Carter. Along with his 1927 novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, it can be considered one of the significant achievements of that period of Lovecraft's writing. The Dream-Quest combines elements of horror and fantasy into an epic tale that illustrates the scope and wonder of humankind's ability to dream.
"Pickman's Model" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, written in September 1926 and first published in the October 1927 issue of Weird Tales.
"The Statement of Randolph Carter" is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in December 1919, it was first published in The Vagrant, May 1920. It tells of a traumatic event in the life of Randolph Carter, a student of the occult loosely representing Lovecraft himself. It is the first story in which Carter appears. Its adaptations include the film The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter.
"The Unnamable" is a horror short story by American author H. P. Lovecraft. It was written in September 1923, first published in the July 1925 issue of Weird Tales, and first collected in Beyond the Wall of Sleep. The corrected text appears in Dagon and Other Macabre Tales,. The story's locale was inspired by the Charter Street Historic District Burying Ground in Salem.
"The White Ship" is a horror short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was first published in The United Amateur #2, November 1919, and later appeared in the March 1927 issue of Weird Tales.
"The Rats in the Walls" is a short story by American author H. P. Lovecraft. Written in August–September 1923, it was first published in Weird Tales, March 1924.
"The Dreams in the Witch House" is a horror short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft, part of the Cthulhu Mythos cycle. It was written in January/February 1932 and first published in the July 1933 issue of Weird Tales.
"The Silver Key" is a fantasy short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in 1926, it is considered part of his Dreamlands series. It was first published in the January 1929 issue of Weird Tales. It is a continuation of "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath", and was followed by a sequel, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", co-written with E. Hoffmann Price. The story and its sequel both feature Lovecraft's recurring character of Randolph Carter as the protagonist.
Edgar Hoffmann Price was an American writer of popular fiction for the pulp magazine marketplace. He collaborated with H. P. Lovecraft on "Through the Gates of the Silver Key".
"Out of the Aeons" is a short story by American writers H. P. Lovecraft and Hazel Heald, a writer from Somerville, Massachusetts. First published in the April 1935 issue of Weird Tales magazine, it was one of five stories Lovecraft revised for Heald. It focuses on a Boston museum that displays an ancient mummy recovered from a sunken island. The story is told from the point of view of the curator of the Cabot Museum in Boston.
Harley Warren is a fictional character created by H. P. Lovecraft, based on his friend Samuel Loveman (1887–1976). Lovecraft had a dream about Loveman, which inspired him to write the short story "The Statement of Randolph Carter" in 1919. In the story, Warren is a mysterious occultist and friend of Carter, who suffers a gruesome but undefined fate while exploring a crypt in Big Cypress Swamp.
Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft: Commemorative Edition is a select collection of horror short stories, novellas and novels written by H. P. Lovecraft. The book was published in 2008 by Gollancz and is edited by Stephen Jones.
Bibliography of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction writer Lin Carter: