H.P. Lovecraft’s “Nyarlathotep”

Nyarlathotep (also known as the crawling chaos, but is not featured in the story of the same name) the has always been one of if not my favorite Lovecraftian deity as well as the favorite of many others. So today I thought that I would cover the prose poem and the history of the character.

The story is narrated by our main character. At the start, he talks about some unexplainable danger that is being felt and expected by humanity. He talks about Nyarlathotep and his arrival from Egypt. Nyarlathotep is described as a being that comes from the race of the pharaohs who has been dormant for a very long time. Wherever he arrived the cities were plagued by nightmares. Nyarlathotep was known to be a very mysterious figure that showcases wonders yet unseen by the mortal eyes. The main character decides to visit him and see for himself. At first, he tries to show that he is not afraid and dismisses the things he sees as tricks. This angers Nyarlathotep and the three parties take their leave. Two of them end up disappearing and the third one containing the narrator went outside to the country. There they saw horrific things like ghosts of dead worlds and a graveyard universe and much more as they slowly started seeing the demise of their world.

Lovecraft was inspired to write Nyarlathotep by his “most disturbing and horrible nightmare” that he has experienced since the age of 10.

In the dream, he received a letter from his friend Samuel Loveman that read: Don’t fail to see Nyarlathotep if he comes to Providence. He is horrible—horrible beyond anything you can imagine—but wonderful. He haunts one for hours afterward. I am still shuddering at what he showed.

To this he later commented:

I had never heard the name NYARLATHOTEP before, but seemed to understand the allusion. Nyarlathotep was a kind of itinerant showman or lecturer who held forth in public halls and aroused widespread fear and discussion with his exhibitions. These exhibitions consisted of two parts—first, a horrible—possibly prophetic—cinema reel; and later some extraordinary experiments with scientific and electrical apparatus. As I received the letter, I seemed to recall that Nyarlathotep was already in Providence…. I seemed to remember that persons had whispered to me in awe of his horrors, and warned me not to go near him. But Loveman’s dream letter decided me…. As I left the house I saw throngs of men plodding through the night, all whispering affrightedly and bound in one direction. I fell in with them, afraid yet eager to see and hear the great, the obscure, the unutterable Nyarlathotep. – Source: Wikipedia

Nyarlathotep is the most unique being in the Lovecraft mythos. He is the spawn of Azathoth but he still walks and talks like a normal human being. He is even able to speak every single human language. While other Lovecraftian beings are known to be exiled to distant stars or being in slumber Nyarlathotep roams the earth freely in the previously mentioned form, but it is said that he has over a thousand forms, most of which will drive people insane just by looking at them. He also differs from the other deities by the fact that he seems to have a clear plan, or at least an agenda. While his main job is to be a messenger of the old gods and to take care of their cults in their absence it is still unclear as to his true motivation behind all of this. He roams the earth spreading propaganda and manipulating the masses. Even though he is a very powerful deity who can destroy our world without any trouble his biggest strength lies in his power of manipulation. He can shape our world in the way that he wishes and we would not be any wiser. The reason for this is because he seems to like us as a toy.

This makes me compare Nyarlathotep to a mix of the Joker and Lex Luthor, but of course more powerful than they could ever imagine. I know it is not the most accurate but it is one of the first comparisons that come to mind. Perhaps this is the most frightening aspect of him. He takes the form of a human to seem familiar to us but behind all that is hidden an unexplainable monstrosity that can wipe us out at any instant without hesitation, yet for some twisted reason, he has not done so… Yet. And this is what makes him so fascinating to me and many others.

What is known is that he is a malevolent creature with sinister intentions that can take the form of anyone and anything. He could have been Judas in earlier history or Brutus and maybe even Nikola Tesla. Maybe he has taken the form of Julian Assange – giving away information that only he wishes in order to shape the minds of the general public. He could be responsible for any if not all major religions or cultures today.

Other than the main story Nyarlathotep can also be found in “The dream quest of unknown Kadath” where he confronts Randolph Carter, “The Haunter of the dark”  and in “The dreams of the witch house”. There are also speculations that he has taken the forms of other characters in his stories but I will not go into mere speculations.

He has also been made into a young animated Japanese girl in some Japanise anime for… Some reason and was the influence of the Dream Theater song: The dark and eternal night (what a coincidence considering I started to listen to this band not too long ago)

Final verdict: 9/10

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