Monday, February 11, 2013

The Outsider ...

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.

Today, in class, we wrapped up H.P. Lovecraft's "The Outsider," a story that never fails to shock and surprise my students. The claustrophobic story traces the travails of a muddled narrator as he endeavors to escape his macabre surroundings and see the sky, the starry expanse which has hitherto escaped him.  If I say much more about his journey, I will ruin the story for you if you haven't read it, and I really don't want to be that girl. I will say this. At the heart of Lovecraft's tale lies the mirror, that ever-present symbol in fairy tales and horror fiction (a la The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I would argue is both). The surface of the glass in this story is hard and unforgiving, showing the narrator the true nature of his current existence, a truth he had been heretofore able to avoid.

Man, what a great story. If you're interested in a good yarn, find it here. It may make you take a harder look at yourself in the mirror this evening. Until tomorrow. ~Alice

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