“Against the Abyss”

Review: “Against the Abyss: Carnacki the Ghost-Finder”, Mark Valentine, 2014 1987.

Voices from the Borderland
Cover by Daniele Serra

Valentine says Hodgson took up writing Carnacki stories when the publication of his first three novels won acclaim but didn’t get him much money. He decided a series character, a detective interested in occult mysteries like Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence who first appeared in 1908 (Carnacki first appeared in 1910). You’ll note this contradicts  claims by Joseph Hinton in Sargasso #2 and Sargasso #3 about when Hodgson wrote the Carnacki stories. Such are the unknowns of Hodgson scholarship. 

Hodgson not only tapped into the rituals and plots of the detective story but the semi-rationalized wonders of Spiritualism. Valentine thinks the Carnacki stories should be treated with more respect by Hodgson fans though, from what I’ve seen, they seem to have plenty of fans among Hodgson readers. They hint at some of the same dark cosmic forces that The Night Land does.

He also argues that there is more of Hodgson in Carnacki than any of his other characters. In this regard, he does not mention the shared interest in photography, but that Carnacki may regard the forces (natural or supernatural) menacing the people who contact him as sort of bullying entities, the same sort of bullies Hodgson confronted at sea and that gave rise to his interest in bodybuilding.

He also relates, from R. Alain Everts’ Some Facts in the Case of William Hope Hodgson, that the rapping noises on the bannister in the Carnacki story “The Searcher of the End House” may come from an unexplained incident in Hodgson’s childhood. Everts also claims that Hodgson may have been psychically “sensitive” himself.

 

[Updated April 30, 2020]

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.