Lovecraft, Lovecraft-H.P.

The White Ship

The White ShipThe White Ship

Basil Elton comes from a family of lighthouse keepers. In the night, he has seen a white ship sailing on the waters underneath the full moon. The man on board, bearded and robed, has beckoned to Basil, in a manner of one that is asking another to go on an adventure. Basil did not respond, at first, but one night, Basil decides to go on the white ship. He walks across the water, on moon beams, and finds himself on the white ship.

The journey is long, many, many weeks, or months, or longer. They pass many lands, some of which they are not allowed to go to such as a city of wonders, full of terrible creatures, a land where dreams are thought of and then forgotten, and more. Basil lands in a place called Sona-Nyl, which is considered the perfect society. There, Basil hears of a land named Cathuria, the land of hope, and is determined to visit. He talks the man on the ship into going there, but no one has ever gone there and come back. It is most likely a one-way journey.

They travel for some time, and ultimately do go by the land of Cathuria, but the waters there are dangerous and so swift that they cannot stop in the land of hope. They travel onward and onward, until they reach the end of the world, which they go over. Basil awakens back in his own bed at the lighthouse, but he doesn’t see a white ship anymore.

Observations

The entire time I was reading this, I was thinking of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. This story and the book seem so similar, both contain voyages to the end of the Earth and both are full of strange lands with strange qualities, some impossible.

I have to wonder if there was a small chance of C.S. being inspired by H.P. Maybe C.S. read this story and thought he could put a Christian spin on it.

Themes

These dream lands, mentioned in the story, are places you can never get to. For example, the land of hope, if it were real, could you ever get there? Hope is an intangible concept. You can have hope, but can you define it in any concrete manner? Can you fill a box up with hope? Can you say you have obtained your hopes? Are there definite markers that define what hope is and the extent of it?

These things don’t exist. We cannot define hope in a concrete sense. It’s this vague concept that we talk about, much like the land of forgotten dreams or the land of wonders, both are equally as unobtainable, that’s why Basil was never able to go to any of them.

Some things exist that we talk about all the time, but those things aren’t actually things we can have or obtain. For example, take the American Dream–can you actually say that you have obtained it? Is there an official definition? Do you get a plaque in the mail if you have obtained it? It’s just another one of those pervasive intangible concepts that are a part of our society, but yet, we can never actually define these concepts, nor can we achieve them.

Overall

I found this story interesting, but I feel like I should go watch the BBC version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader now.

Weigh In

If you saw a random ship and the guy on board was beckoning to you to come along, would you go?

Is hope something that can ever be obtained, in your opinion?

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