1. The Abstract
1.4. My friend recommended “Mountains of Madness” to me, and I agreed that it is a piece to start, since it mentions most of the lovecraftian lore.
2. The Review
2.1. The Plot
2.1.1. “Mountains of Madness” is telling a story about an imaginary expedition to the heart of the Antarctic continent.
2.1.2. The places and the events described there are fictional, however, Lovecraft exhibits strenuous effort in trying to maintain the connexion with reality.
- He is, for example, mentioning the mountains Terror and Erebus, which had already been discovered by the time the novel was written.
- He is mentioning various kinds of fossils, including dinosaurs, seemingly, proving that he has done his reading about the times he is writing about, at least to the degree possible at the beginning of the 20 century.
- He is describing their exploration equipment, including aeroplanes, drilling equipment, sledges, and the rest, as if he has researched how such expeditions have been conducted before.
2.1.4. They are traveling over the continent on airplanes, which allows rapid and long-distance jumps in the plot.
- Narration is done from the point of view of the expedition head, working in the first group.
- Most of the events of the first part of the book happen with the second group, which transmits it’s reports by radio.
2.1.6. The second group discovers a lot of interesting artifacts, including traces of prehistoric life and some mysterious, very tall mountain chain.
2.1.7. At some point, however, the contact with the second group is lost, and the narrator has to investigate.
2.1.9. Even so, the first group considers it important to explore the mountains that the second group was so excited about.
2.1.10. In those mountains they discover a rift, which allows them to penetrate the mountain chain even on the light aerolanes they have.
2.1.12. They explore the city and find out a building, which, in a very vivid manner, by the means of bas-reliefs and frescoes describes the city’s history, as well as the history of the whole civilization of aliens who have built it.
2.1.13. The building is telling them that the civilization had to eventually recede into the depths of the Earth, in order to be kept warm after the global cooling, by the Earth’s mantle.
2.1.16. At the entrance they find the body of one of the members of the second group, who had been killed by the unearthed aliens.
2.2. The Style
2.2.3. As mentioned before, in 2.1.2, Lovecraft tried to do his best in researching the background for the book.
- There are quite a few Deus Ex Machina tropes, such as reading the city history from frescoes, which can’t be believed by even a tiny bit critical reader.
- The most ridiculous tool of his expressive repertoire is just saying “horrible” and “of madness” again and again, as if it should really evoke the feeling of terror in the reader. It won’t.
2.2.7. However, I generally liked it, but but as much for it’s attempts to scare, but rather for his sincere, although, perhaps, unreflected, attempt to continue the similarly naive, but captivating stories of the Great Geographical Discoveries, such as those written by Fenimore Cooper, Mayne Reed, Louis Boussenard.
2.2.9. It is symbolic that he had to resort to the last under-explored continent of the world, the Antarctic, in order to provide at least in part the fascination of discovery, previously available to the explorers of such nowadays mundane places as California.
2.2.10. He really tried his best, his language is vivid and colourful, and he really made me learn quite a lot of new English.
2.2.11. But if you really look at the plot and the style with a naked eye, you really start seeing that the feeling of the end of the civilization (of the aliens), and the frontier for exploration (for the Man), elicits an emotion really much stronger than that of horror from encountering the Chtonic. The feeling of The End.
2.3. The Postmodernism
This section title is, perhaps, a misnomer, as intertextuality had existed before postmodernism arose.
2.3.1. There is at least one more book called “Mountains of Madness”, written by a guy who would had become so fascinated with Lovecraft that he gained a degree in geology and spent a long time working in Antarctica.
2.3.3. As already mentioned, mountains Erebus and Terror do exist, and there is a book about Antarctic exploration on the ships of the same name.
2.3.5. The image of a scientist who is so curious that this curiosity makes him blithely disregard all danger is also quite pervasive
2.4. The Afterword
The book, even though being easy to read, made me reflect a bit on myself and life.
It made me remember childhood, my academic dreams, and the texts that gave me inspiration while at school.
Poor Older Ones, Poor Ctulhu, and poor people who are left with a world which has no places left to run away to.