Dagon is a short and interesting work from HPL’s early years of writing, written the same summer as The Tomb. While it shares in some similarities with the later Mythos stories, it cannot really be identified as part of that larger story. But it can certainly be seen that Lovecraft was thinking about and developing an idea of a greater mythology. Dagon brings in many of the elements that we would associate with the Mythos stories, namely ancient unknown races and unseen gods and their worshipers, both human and not.
In fact the main purpose of this very short tale is not so much to tell a full narrative but to simply introduce us to the unseen horrors of these hidden beasts. The title is a bit misleading, as it can often be misinterpreted to mean the creatures spied by the narrator is in fact the ancient god of the Philistines. But in actuality, the name is only used because the narrator is reminded of the old deity by not only the presence of the fishman-like creature, but also the depictions in an old carving showing the adoration of some long lost worshiping tribe. Usually when Lovecraft reveals the name of a entity in his works they have some nearly unpronounceable name. This isn’t the last time we will hear of the name Dagon, however. His most prominent appearance is in the Shadow Over Innsmouth.
HPL really gives us very little in this story. And it works to great effect. It is a great first taste of the bigger things to come. But Lovecraft was a master of the hidden. He would purposefully overindulge on details for somethings, and then hold back on others, knowing full well what your imagination could fill in was far more hideous than what he could put into words. And this would become a trademark of his work, but claiming that creatures and terrible sights far too beyond sane comprehension to even describe.
Dagon is a meant to be the hurried scrawled writings of a man at his limits. It is shorter than most of HPL’s works but that is because is it taken in in short breaths, as a man desperately tells his final story in order to placate any demons before meeting his ultimate end.
The complete text can be found here: HPL’s Dagon
|Illustration by Jeff Powers © 2012|