Celephais: The Complete Lovecraft #19

Regular readers may have noticed there has been a bit of a lull in Lovecraftian posts for the last couple of months. Indeed the last of these was ‘The Tree way back in early April. There are several reasons for this, I have been busy working on the final edit of my next novel, real work has been busier than normal, I finally upgraded my old Xbox 360 to a PS4 and bought a copy of Fall Out 4… and ‘Celephais‘.


Celephais‘, a tale much beloved by Lovecraft’s fans, leaves me cold. It has always left me cold, and I have never been quite sure why. Indeed I had been dreading Celephais ever since I started this self-set challenge. It has been looming on the horizon since I first put together the list of stories to read and knew where it fell in the chronological order they were written, which if you have not guessed yet, is the order I am reading the Lovecraft tales. ‘Celephais‘ has sat leering at me since I read ‘The Tree’, but if you’re going to read them all, then you have to read them all, and that is all there is to it. So read it I did and tried to put my thoughts together for this post. The page was blank save for one word, however….

Then I read it again because I have made a point of reading each tale twice before I write the blog, which is normally not too great a chore (A Reminiscence of Dr. Samual Johnson aside, which was slightly torrid to read a second time). Yet, after the second reading I still only had the one word.

I left it a while, deciding I was probably in the wrong mood for the story, and besides, I had Molerats and Super mutants to kill after waking up in Vault 111, and I had to get Hannibal Smyth to India at the behest of ‘OoldIiron Knickers‘ Ministry. I had much to do, and I was sure when I went back to it in a better mindset ‘Celephais’ would inspire a few more words on my part…

Time past, as it is want to do…

So I read ‘Celephais’ again, or at least attempted to, though every time I did I gave up a page or two into what is admirably not even a long tale. Eventually, I even summoned up the willpower to finish reading through it again and wrote down my thoughts. One word again, same word again…

Let’s recap a moment, ‘Celephais‘ is much loved by the Lovecraftian literati, they clearly see something within it I do not. So let’s talk about the tale itself a moment. Celephais is part of the Dreamlands stories. Indeed in many ways, it is an archetype for them, everything you would expect to be in a Dreamlands tale is there. It Dunsian nature, its separation from the real, its strangeness and oddity, a man seeking a world beyond the mundane and taking solace in his dreams of a far off land and a strange city… it is little different in context from ‘The White Ship‘ or ‘Polaris‘, the latter of which it shares many hallmarks with. Both of which I have a great deal of time for, but perhaps therein lays the problem. I am reading these tales in order, and ‘Celephais‘ feels like it’s been phoned in. It has all the hallmarks of the other Dreamlands tales I have encountered in this challenge but lacks the originality of them. Perhaps read in a different order it would be ‘Polaris‘ which felt stilted, rehashing ideas, and to be offering nothing new. Though, as I have said, I have read it in the past and it left me cold then as well.

In short, Celephais is best summed up by that one word I kept writing in my notes, an achingly Yorkshire word filled with derision. I know there are many who will disagree, and I hope I have at leats offered a context for my review. I will expand on it a little at least and make the review three words, but no more, as if I must expand further I would have to read Celephais again, and it’s just possible that in doing so, I will never get to ‘The Picture in the House‘… So here is the review…

Celephais, it’s twaddle…

With that in mind, I will give it IMO an overly generous…

1out 6

Because it’s not ‘A Reminiscence of Dr Samual Johnson’ which is the best thing I can say about it…

Further Lovecraftian witterings 

This entry was posted in dreamlands, Lovecraft, mythos and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Celephais: The Complete Lovecraft #19

  1. Pingback: The Picture in the House: The complete Lovecraft #20 | The Passing Place

  2. Pingback: The Outsider: The Complete Lovecraft#30 | The Passing Place

  3. Pingback: Herbert West-Reanimator: The Complete Lovecraft #34 | The Passing Place

  4. Pingback: The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath: TCL #52 | The Passing Place

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