|The House on the Borderland|
cover of The House on the Borderland
|Author||William Hope Hodgson|
|Publisher||Chapman and Hall|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Pages||300 pp (1st edition)|
In 1877, two gentlemen, Messrs Tonnison and Berreggnog, head into Ireland to spend a week fishing in the village of Kraighten. While there, they discover in the ruins of a very curious house a diary of the man who had once owned it. Its torn pages seem to hint at an evil beyond anything that existed on this side of the curtains of impossibility. This is a classic novel that worked to slowly bridge the gap between the British fantastic and supernatural authors of the later 19th century and modern horror fiction. Classic American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft lists this and other works by Hodgson among his greatest influences.
Two good friends go off to a remote village in rural Ireland. The two men - Mr. Tonnison and Mr. Berreggnog - soon discover that the people in the village are untalkative and secretive, but willing to help them on their way. They soon discover why this is. On the third day of their trip they travel in the opposite direction to the one that they had been travelling insofar, and stumble upon a large chasm with what appears to be the ruins of a very strangely shaped house in the middle of it. As they explore the house, they discover within a mouldering journal that describes the last days of the man who owned this house before it was destroyed. They go back to the camp and begin to read the strange tale of the man.
The manuscript begins with a discussion of how the man came to own the house and how he lives his daily life with his sister and his faithful dog Pepper. He confides that he is starting the diary as it will contain a record of all the horrors that he had experienced in the house. He begins describing a vision he sees of the vast plain of the demons, and of the demons he sees there and the discovery that a house exactly like his exists in the exact center of this dreaded plain. Along the way, he sees the horrible swine things that would come to haunt him in the future.
After this vision of the "arena" as he calls it, he becomes fascinated with the pit adjacent to his house, and begins to explore it. While exploring, he is attacked by the half-man, half-pig creatures that he names "the swine-things". The struggle with these creatures lasts for several nights of greater and greater ferocity, yet in the end, the man had killed several of the swine things, and apparently had driven them off.
A short time after his encounters with the swine-things, the man is sitting in his study, contemplating what was wrong, when he notices that day and night had begun to speed up, each day lasting shorter and shorter periods of time until the point where there was no definition between day and night any longer, just a never-ending dusk. As he watches, his room, the house, and the gardens surrounding them all decay and collapse to dust. The dead world slowly grinds to a halt as the sun goes out after several million millennia. Once the world ends, the man floats through space, watching the colossal onslaught of the Dark Sun slowly swallow up the solar system. In the midst of this the luminous souls of angelic or human creatures begin to drift past him, including the one woman the man ever loved. He eventually finds himself back in his study, with everything apparently returned to how it had been before - the one exception is Pepper, who alone remains a pile of dust.
As he reels from the death of his beloved dog, the man is beset by another evil, the large and malicious beast from his early vision of the plains that is only ever heard as a padding in the yard. This creature wounds the new dog and infects it with some sort of luminous disease. The man shoots the suffering animal but not before becoming infected himself. The manuscript finishes with the man locked in his study as the creature is breaking down the door of his study.
The conclusion sees Tonnison and Berreggnog looking for information on the man and his circumstances, but finding out very little. They leave Kraighten and never return.
The book is a milestone that signals the leaving of the realistic nature of supernatural fiction of the late 19th century. Hodgson follows out of the ghost story and the gothic to create a newer cosmic horror that leaves a great impression on the people who would become the great writers of the weird tales of the middle of the 20th century, most notably H. P. Lovecraft.
This novel was first released in Britain by Chapman and Hall, Ltd. London in 1908. Its most popular version was by Arkham House Press, Sauk City, Wisconsin, in 1946 as part of The House on the Borderland and Other Novels, the same publishers that brought out many books by other authors of weird fiction, such as H. P. Lovecraft.
In 2003 DC Comics’ mature reader imprint Vertigo published a 96-page color graphic-novel adaptation of The House on the Borderland. The story was adapted by Simon Revelstroke and the art was done by comic book artist Richard Corben. The book is available in both soft and hardcover and contains an introduction by British comic writer Alan Moore. Revelstroke updated Hodgson's initial "manuscript discovery" frame to 1952 Ireland; although he made every effort to retain most of the author's plot and much of his original dialogue, the climax was pure Revelstroke - with the exception of the very last page. Sadly, it was impossible to present Hodgson's cosmic view of the End of Time and the Universe. In the credits, Revelstroke listed himself as a "Carnacki Fellow" currently "teaching at the Glen Carrig School of Nautical Horticulture": both direct (and fictional) references to Hodgson's other literary works. The adaptation was nominated for Best Graphic Novel of the Year by the International Horror Guild.
House on the Borderland by
Table of Contents
|To My Father→|
From the Manuscript discovered in 1877 by Messrs. Tonnison and Berreggnog in the Ruins that lie to the South of the Village of Kraighten, in the West of Ireland. Set out here, with Notes.
|This work is in the public domain in
the United States because it was published before
January 1, 1923.
The author died in 1918, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.