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Paperback The Nightland Book

ISBN: 1513266586

ISBN13: 9781513266589

The Nightland

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Book Overview

The Night Land (1912) is a terrifying tale of romance and fantasy in which William Hope Hodgson imagines humanity at the end of the world. Noted for its creative exploration of concepts such as telepathy, futuristic technologies, and reincarnation, Hodgson's novel is an indisputable classic of literary science fiction. When a widower dreams of Earth in a far-off future, what he sees is nearly unrecognizable. The sun has been extinguished, and all...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings


William Hope Hodgson's epic novel "The Night Land" was chosen for inclusion in Cawthorn & Moorcock's "Fantasy: The 100 Best Books," and yet in this overview volume's sister collection, "Horror: 100 Best Books," Jones & Newman surprisingly declare the novel to be "unreadable." No less a critic than H.P. Lovecraft pronounced "The Night Land" to be "one of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written," and yet still insists that "the last quarter of the book drags woefully." With critics seemingly split down the middle regarding this novel, I manfully plunged into this book's 400+-page story, having greatly enjoyed four previous Hodgson titles: "The Boats of the Glen Carrig" (1907), "The House on the Borderland" (1908), "The Ghost Pirates" (1909) and the short-story collection "Carnacki The Ghost-Finder" (1913). Although "The Night Land" was initially published in 1912, it may very well have been Hodgson's first novel, if we can believe Sam Gafford's scholarly Internet essay entitled "Writing Backwards: The Novels of William Hope Hodgson." Be it the author's first novel or last, however, the book is extraordinary in many ways, and depicts a milieu not easily forgotten. Our nameless narrator, who apparently lives in the 18th century, tells us of his visions of the very far distant future. His reincarnated self, he reveals, lives in a time when the Earth's sun has burnt itself out, and the remnants of humanity reside in a seven-mile-high, 1,320-story pyramid, The Last Redoubt, around 150 miles below the planet's frozen surface. Our narrator, using a pseudo-archaic form of English that doubles as the language of the far future, goes on to tell of the epic journey he takes through the uncharted bowels of the Earth in search of a woman named Naani, who he is in telepathic communication with and who also seems to be the reincarnation of our narrator's 18th century wife. The travails that our young hero undergoes to find his lost love and bring her safely back to the Redoubt are certainly no less insurmountable than those that Homer's hero experienced in his classical odyssey. This young man is forced to encounter monstrous beastmen, enormous slugs and spiders, giants, feral hounds, volcanoes and other menaces during his months-long journey, and his plight is only made more worrisome when he ultimately does find Naani and has to turn around and bring her home. But a mere plot summary can in no way convey the atmosphere of eeriness that Hodgson manages to sustain for the entire duration of his book. The Night Land is indeed a world of dark wonders, most of which go unexplained. The angelic powers of good that repeatedly come to our hero's salvation, the dreadful Watchers, the inhabitants of the House of Silence, the Laugher of the East, the invisible Evil Powers...all these mysterious inhabitants of the underground realm are fleetingly referred to, leaving the reader hoping to learn more. Despite the novel's length, "The Night Land" c


Everyone raves about "The Lord of The Rings", but this is the real "grand-daddy" of the "modern" epic adventure. I read this for the first time when I was a young teen-ager (admittedly skipping the more "flowery" bits), and the book's dark and frightening imagery has haunted me ever since. I recently picked up an old copy and re-familiarized myself with it more thoroughly. Yes, the prose is repetitive, and Victorian in style, but it's all part of the experience. It takes a bit of discipline to plow through this tome, but it's worth it - knowing that you've completed reading so difficult and rewarding a book makes you feel good. Think about all the folks who have given up trying to wrestle with it..?! There are very few books written which are able to convey such senses of atmosphere and desolation. This is a book that you either like immensely, or hate completely. Hodgson was brilliant - what a shame that he died so young. Imagine if they made it into a film...WOW!

Magnificent product of its era

I strongly feel that this book must be read in the context of other books of its era, as well as the artistic and poetical zeitgeist, and not only those if the era in whch it was written, but that in which the beginning and the personality of the narrator is set. This is a book such as Wagner would have written, Wilde would have rejoiced in, Swinburne been inspired by. The enormity of the canvas, the breadth of field, all are characteristic of the fin de siecle romantic disaster in its best and most eloquent portrayal. Even the faults of the work are those of the style. It is very easy to imagine the whole work as an outgrowth of the late nineteenth-century operatic tradition, with the same assumptions about the nobility of the hero, the clinging vine purity of the heroine, the handkerchief-wringing finale. I would allow this comparison to colour the reading of the work. Read in this way, the true greatness can be seen through a corrective prism, adding in an understanding of the distortions of their world-view and removing the distortions of the prevailing zeitgeist of our time. I

the night land is an archetpal love story

hodgson is able to throw a mood over you as you read this book in much the same way that raymond chandler can-although this is a somewhat different mood. if you do not get caught up in the emotional intensity of the story, finding yourself yelling out encouragement to the protagonist and having a complete catharsis at the story's resolution you probably lack the basic ingredients to qualify for humanity
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