The Horse of the Invisible
December 13, 2009 6:35 AM   Subscribe

William Hope Hodgson led an almost fictional life. After trying to run away to the sea as a boy, he eventually had careers as a seaman, professional body builder, personal trainer, public lecturer, and an author of weird fiction (much of it available here). He is also remembered for giving Harry Houdini a hard time. He died toward the end of World War I, having volunteered, received a discharge due to injuries, and volunteered again.

Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost-Finder stories mix supernatural and fraud to keep the reader guessing and contain some very stirring descriptions of the experience of fear. His novel The Night Land has been lovingly treated previously. In Supernatural Horror in Literature Lovecraft, while occasionally being harshly critical (especially about Hodgson's attempts at 18th Century language) said "Few can equal him in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and insignificant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and the abnormal in connection with regions and buildings." Hodgson also got props from Clark Aston Smith.

For the enthusiasts: a video made up of pictures of Hodgson and covers and illustrations from his fiction and an essay on time as depicted in The Night Land and how it relates to the Decadents.
posted by GenjiandProust (7 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
thanks for this post I love The Night Land

I've always wanted someone to make me a drawing of this: And at the sixth fire-hole, I did see that which I did think to be a great man, that did sit to the fire with monstrous knees drawn upward unto his chin. And the nose was great and bent downward; and the eyes very large, and did shine with the light from the fire-hole, and moved, watching, always this way and that, so that the white parts did show, now this side and now that. But it was not properly a man.
posted by past at 6:46 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Excellent post.

For a couple years a friend of mine made a hobby of recording The Hodgcast. He got through the entirety of The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" and a couple short stories before other obligations interfered, but everything is still online and Creative Commons-licensed.
posted by ardgedee at 7:17 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's a neat short story based on Hodgson and Houdini, available as audio here: Into the Blank where life is hurled (you have to skip a bit)
posted by Artw at 9:25 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just got hipped to the Carnacki stories after reading the last League of Extraordinary Gentlemen trade paperback. Thanks for the links!
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Night Land is possibly the strangest novel I have ever read. On one level it is written in a style that even the most sentimental Edwardian would find overwrought, yet that just seems to add to the sheer cosmic wonder of the work. It is a book that haunts the mind.
posted by fallingbadgers at 12:07 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Great post, and great writer. China Mieville writes a great intro to the Hodgson collection from Gollancz' Fantasy Masterworks, but it doesn't seem to be online, unfortunately.

The thing I love about Hodgson is here's this man's man - ex-navy, phys ed teacher, big guy - and he writes these astonishingly weird stories, that are something you would expect more from a mad and syphilitic Maupassant, or a consumptive Blake or something.

IMHO, the best Hodgson is :the Carnacki stories are great, The Voice in The Night, and The House on Borderland, though there much in his writing for many different tastes.
posted by smoke at 3:33 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Essential reading for fans of time travel, his House On The Borderland. (And can somebody with wikipedia privledges update that page with this much better picture?
posted by Rash at 8:34 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

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