Horror Short Story Review: "The Outsider" by H. P. Lovecraft
The unnamed narrator of this this brief tale has been raised in a decaying castle filled with mold and skeletons. He doesn’t know where he was born. Someone must have taken care of him, but he’s not sure who. The sun doesn’t shine on the castle because great trees have overgrown it. All he knows of the outside world is what he’s read in books. He’s not sure what he looks like, but figures he’s young because he remembers so little and must look like the “youthful figures” he saw “drawn and painted in the books.”
The day comes when he longs for more. The only part of the castle that might rise above the trees is an old tower. The steps are in bad shape and the narrator is taking his life in his hands to try to climb them, but climb them he does. Instead of getting lighter the higher he goes, it gets darker until there’s no light at all. He’s struggling to find the steps, the half-steps, and the missing steps. Finally, he pushes himself through a trap door into what he thinks is a tower, only to find himself in the moonlight at ground level. He yearns for the light.
While the ending is not a surprise, there is unexpected sadness here for a being who has no place, yet has all the human feeling and need to belong. It brings to mind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster in that respect. It is classified as part of the Dream Cycle of Lovecraft’s writings.
Title: “The Outsider” written in 1921, first published in Weird Tales , April 1926.
Author: H. P. Lovecraft (1892-1937)
Last review: "The Jameson Satellite" by Neil R. Jones
Last Lovecraft review: “ Ex Oblivione ”
© 2015 Denise Longrie
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