In Cracked Spines' first H.P. Lovecraft review, we discussed the short story The Statement of Randolph Carter. Today, we are going to look at Lovecraft's haunting short story The Outsider. This story is often touted as one of Lovecraft's best, though, like the narrator is this story, I find it difficult to describe. Therefore, there will be very little summary with this review. You will just have to read and interpret The Outsider for yourself.
The Outsider is narrated by a male person (whether he is still a boy, a teen, an adult or an old man is unclear). This person has no idea how he came to be where he is and knows little of his own circumstances. All we (and he) know is that he has been in a dank old castle for as long as he can remember. He knows very little about human contact or even he has ever had such a thing. My reaction to this character was to feel sorry for the sensory deprivation to which he appears to have been subjected to for the whole of his life.
H.P. Lovecraft has created a desperate creature in his narrator of The Outsider. Naturally, the narrator wants to escape to a place where there is light and freedom. However, the reader soon realizes that there is nothing natural about his prison. Lovecraft's description of The Outsiders attempt at freedom brought to mind Dali paintings for some reason. I suppose the unreality of his surroundings combined with the seemingly inescapable nature of his surroundings is equated with surrealist paintings in my mind.
Things only get worse for Lovecraft's hopeful and hopeless narrator. All I can say is that there is no way to imagine that his plight is a happy one, no matter how vague it is to the reader. This story is much like The Masque of Red Death in that one does not know the horror the characters, or in this case the character, endures, but you can guess. In my mind, and each of you will have your own interpretation, our narrator is trapped in something of a house of mirrors. He may be able to peep out and scare those who truly live, but he is but an outsider who will inevitably be brought back into his prison due to his own strangeness.