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Beyond the Wall of Sleep

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,570 ratings  ·  222 reviews
Beyond the Wall of Sleep" is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft written in 1919 and first published in the amateur publication Pine Cones in October 1919. Inspiration Lovecraft said the story was inspired by an April 27, 1919 article in the New York Tribune. Reporting on the New York state police, the article cited a family named Slater or Slahter as represen ...more
ebook, Feedbooks, 17 pages
Published 1919
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Glenn Russell
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Author of the horrific, the Gothic and the fantastic, a man who lived his short life as a recluse in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island until his premature death at age 47, Beyond the Wall of Sleep is H. P. Lovecraft’s (1890-1939) classic tale of a reality less visible than our everyday earthbound material existence.

A quote from the opening paragraph: “We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and sp
"On Earth, you have been my only friend".
Bill Kerwin

This story was written in 1919, when Lovecraft was only 29, but it is one of the most concentrated and effective tales of his early maturity. It is based on a passage from an article in The New York Tribune (“How Our State Police Have Spurred Our Way to Fame,” 4/27/19), which uses a particularly degenerate family—the Slaters or Slahters—as a typical example of the decadent dwellers of the remote regions of the Catskills.

In Lovecraft’s story, an unnamed intern in a “state psychopathic institution
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
The line between reality and dreams is blurring in this great short story. Did Joe Slater, a degenerate hick, really kill a man or was he filled by another entity, something cosmic, something from beyond? In this great story Lovecraft comes up with a first person narrator who uses modern radio technology to reveal Slater's secret page by page. His superior doesn't believe him though he's fully convinced that he got a glimpse into another reality flying together with Joe Slater through a strange ...more
Emm C²
"We shall meet again - perhaps in the shining mists of Orion's Sword, perhaps on a bleak plateau in prehistoric Asia. Perhaps in unremembered dreams tonight; perhaps in some other form an aeon hence, when the solar system shall have been swept away."

In dreams we hear songs which cannot be captured, yet which we will always long to hear while awake. We can hear in them our history, hidden away in other planets that are no longer our own.
In "Beyond the Wall of Sleep", a strange man from the boondo
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
'How little does the earth-self know of life and its extent!'
Dreams play an important role in Lovecraft's stories. This one doesn't belong to Cthulhu mythos. It is about the importance of dreaming and an opinion on what exactly the dreams mean. The narrator labels Freud's dream analysis as silly (puerile is the word used). He allows that some dreams are not that important, but there are others that have deeper meaning, the ones that show us something that most ordinary people wouldn't under

Read Here (hattip to Glenn)

Opening: I have frequently wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong. Whilst the greater number of our nocturnal visions are perhaps no more than faint and fantastic reflections of our waking experiences—Freud to the contrary with his puerile symbolism—there are still a certain remainder whose immundane and ethereal character permits of no ordinary interp
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2017
Stumbling my way back from my personal 40 Days & Nights, a book lover's arid reading slump, I seem to have made the unconscious decision to plunge into the vortex of sci-fi/fantasy in the form of both classic 'I've been meaning tos' & those more recently added to my ever-towering TBR. What can I say, quests & monsters from the mysterious depths seem to be the perfect cure for even the most stubborn of slumps.

That being said, I thought this was the perfect time for one of my biggest 'I've been m
Joey Dhaumya
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love H.P. Lovecraft but HOLY SHIT he is extremely racist.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
A short but intriguing tale of a psychologist studying a hill billy who has psychotic episodes (view spoiler) but doesn't recall them afterward. ...more
Angela Blount
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, short-story
Now this one was, admittedly, a little more up my alley.

With an air of light speculative fiction, we follow and unnamed narrator--an intern at a mental hospital--on a groping exploration of the nature of dreaming and the unconscious mind. The MC has become fixated on one particular patient named Slater--a crazed murderer, and degenerate denizen of the Catskill Mountain region. Slater experiences nightly "attacks" in which he awakens and rants about otherworldly entities and imagery. Such fantas
Andrew “The Weirdling” Glos
One of Lovecraft’s simpler tales. It’s the story of a man - native to Appalachia - who seemingly went mad and killed someone. He is acquitted by reason of insanity and sent to an asylum. The man has incredibly intense and vivid waking dreams. A young doctor there does experiments on the man, trying to link their minds, so that he too may experience these dreams. He suspects - rightly it turns out - that they may be much more than just dreams.

This is Lovecraft at his simplest and most effective.
José Cruz Parker
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Amidst this elysian realm I dwelt not as a stranger, for each sight and sound was familiar to me; just as it had been for uncounted aeons of eternity before, and would be for like eternities to come."

This is a perfect short story, and I do not say this lightly. Lovecraft's (in)famous purple prose is at its best in 'Beyond the Wall of Sleep'. One of the reasons for this is the author's immense, cyclopean vocabulary and talent for musicality and harmony when writing prose.

The story itself is bey
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Impressive! I've read a few Lovecraft stories. This unique story stands out to me with a positive insinuation rather than a manipulation of horror. Lovecraft explains, in fantastic terms (as an atheist), another world exists, and our souls have always been and will always be. You see the physical manifestation in the stars. An evil star oppresses life, and many war against It. When people speak and write of Lovecraftian mythos, I realize, they refer to this kind of fictional world-building, set ...more
Kirsty Noah-whitlock
May 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
Written in 1919 and contains racism. Could not get into at all. Rated 1/5 (Did not finish)
Mar 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2012, kindle
It struck me how original this idea must have been back in 1919, an age where there was burgeoning use of electricity and mechanical devices.

It cleverly juxtaposes old ideas and this new technology, opening with a line of Shakespeare, yet ending with an idea literally from another world.

Lovecraft's novel approach and parkling writing are certainly proving captivating to this new convert to his works.
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
H.P. Lovecraft is not the best writer, but his ideas and imaginings are brilliant. Especially if you consider the time in which they were written.

I loved this story. I loved the imagery and the idea that we are more than just mortal bodies of flesh and bone.

However, I must note that I greatly dislike Lovecraft's seeming obsession with "degenerate hill dwellers,"" Esquimau diabolists,"" white trash,""mongrel Louisianans," etc.
Esteban Figueroa
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great read, but now i understand why everyone says Lovecraft was racist... Wow... The story deals with what happens when we sleep, is the body nothing but a cage for a much more powerful entity? Interesting take on the subject. Probably the best of Lovecraft's work I've read until now, of course I'm only just starting.
Skylar Phelps
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

Great cosmic concept. The delivery and execution leaves some to be desired.
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Lovecraft. I give this four stars because I do think some of his other work is better, but the ideas and language were nevertheless quite fun here. I had to read it twice to really have a sense of the story, and should probably read it a few more times to really appreciate all the details.

The story is too short for me to say much without giving it away. It mostly takes place in an insane asylum, and involves a doctor and a very curious patient from a rural, uneducated community
Love of Hopeless Causes
Aug 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Memo to self on the story, "Beyond the wall of Sleep." 1 star.
James Hold
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just love this stuff. '...the insect-philosophers that crawl proudly over the fourth moon of Jupiter.'
dreamer on the run
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a brilliant galactic journey was this short story. So very good
Wilum Pugmire
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A young man in Italy who admires my books of Lovecraftian prose sent me a copy of this 1943 Arkham House book as a gift -- I nearly fainted when he told me this, & nearly fainted again an hour ago when the book arriv'd in ye post. There are not many of the original Arkham House Lovecraft titles that I yearn for (I am not a collector of rare items just for the sake of collecting them), because the text of Lovecraft's prose is so corrupted by Derleth's sloppy and strange editing. But this book col ...more
Justin Houin
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The short story “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” by H.P. Lovecraft was written as the journal of an intern at a state psychopathic hospital in 1901. The journal was about a backwoods degenerate patient named Joe Slater who talked about things so bizarre that he scared the people around him. The intern takes an interest in Joe and his problems and experiences strange things because of it.

This is the first story I experienced by H.P. Lovecraft. He has his own genre known as lovecraftian, or cosmic, horr
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this as a concept. I thought the cosmic entity itself could have been more interesting but looking at the story more abstractly, it was pretty good.
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a lucid dreamer, I enjoyed this immensely.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading Lovecraft is teaching me how to write fantasy and horror. I enjoy my lessons.
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Trippy tale, love that my favourite star Algol was mentioned!
Austin Wright
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am going through the 900 page " The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft" which is annotated by Leslie S. Klinger. I am a big fan of Klinger, as I have explored his Annotated Frankenstein and Dracula books before this.

Actually a Sci-Fi story!!!!! Highly Recommended! The science of experiencing another's dreams!
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Publication date of this text. 1 2 Dec 05, 2018 10:24AM  

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a

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“I have often wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong. Whilst the greater number of our nocturnal visions are perhaps no more than faint and fantastic reflections of our waking experiences—Freud to the contrary with his puerile symbolism—there are still a certain remainder whose immundane and ethereal character permit of no ordinary interpretation, and whose vaguely exciting and disquieting effect suggests possible minute glimpses into a sphere of mental existence no less important than physical life, yet separated from that life by an all but impassable barrier. From my experience I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojourning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know, and of which only the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after waking. From those blurred and fragmentary memories we may infer much, yet prove little. We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.” 3 likes
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