By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Short Story Review: "Ex Oblivione" by H. P. Lovecraft

This short piece, part of Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle, is about a man who appears to be dying or at least chronically ill. His life is dull and only in his dreams does he experience any beauty. In his dreams, he wanders “through old gardens and enchanted woods.”

As he dream-walks, he discovers a valley that leads to “shadowy groves ad ruins,” and ends in a wall pierced by a little gate of bronze. He knows that if he passes through that gate, he’ll never return to the real, dull world. He just can’t figure out how to open the gate, where he expects to find an unending paradise, a garden of wonder.

According to Wikipedia, this story was inspired in part by Lovecraft’s reading of the works or Arthur Schopenhauer. I don’t know much about Schopenhauer other than his number is not one people call for a good time.

There is sadness in this, especially given that Lovecraft was still relatively young—about 30—when he wrote this. It’s a nice, dreamy little story, though.


Title: “Ex Oblivione” written 1921 first published under the pseudonym Ward Phillips in United Amateur March 1921

Author: H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)

Source: ISFDB




Last review: “The Mass of Shadows” by Anatole France

Last Lovecraft review: The Mound


© 2015 Denise Longrie

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Feisty56 wrote on October 10, 2015, 11:52 AM

I wonder if Lovecraft suffered from chronic depression. It's not something that would have likely been diagnosed at that time, but it seems possible given the content of his writings.

msiduri wrote on October 10, 2015, 4:55 PM

Feisty56 I think it's pretty safe to say he was depressed at times, particularly toward the end of his life. I don't believe he was ever treated for it, though. And IIRC, his mother and aunts, who raised him, were also depressed.

MegL wrote on October 10, 2015, 6:49 PM

Sounds an interesting story. While obviously not exactly like - it sounds like those stories of people who have had near death experiences, where they came to understand that dying was not to be feared and some of them were disappointed to come back to real life!

msiduri wrote on October 10, 2015, 7:48 PM

MegL While there is some similarity, this isn't really about making peace with death, but about longing for release from life, hence the sadness.