Post Comment 16 comments on “Episode 48 – The Silver Key

  • Mike Davey on

    Congrats on getting your target so quickly – look forward to hearing the reading.
    However, you’ll never make “The Silver Key” sound interesting.
    And the sequel is even worse….

  • Mike on

    Heathen! The Silver Key is awesome.

  • Reber Clark on

    This was easily one of your best podcasts to date. Ken Hite’s scholarship and insight, Lance Holt’s reading (only second to Andrew Leman IMNSHO), and Chad and Chris’ insights, not to mention the production values and editing, made this a captivating and fascinating study.

    There are so many good things in this episode that to delineate them all would take up way more than the character limit allowed here.

    Did you know there is a Snake Den State Park in Johnston, Rhode Island? I have worked in Rhode Island quite a bit but never visited the park. I had read this story many times before my trips to Rhode Island and wondered if Carter’s “Snake Den” might be nearby.

    Lovecraft gives us with this story the silver key to unlock his thinking on dreams and reality. “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (with E. Hoffman Price) and the Dream-Quest are so tied up with this story that they blend in my memory – even though, as you all pointed out, they seem to contradict each other.

    This was one of your best. I cannot wait for more. Thank you.

  • Reber Clark on

    No one less tahan T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935) had this to say about day time dreamers:

    “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.”

  • Aram on

    This story didn’t do anything for me when I first read it. I generally dislike the dream cycle works – I couldn’t even finish The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath – but after listening to your podcast I am tempted to revisit it.

    Oh, and I second Reber Clark on this being one of your best episodes yet.

  • Andy U on

    A good discussion, gents, but I think it badly missed the mark. While you seem to have read a story of entrapment, I read a story of release. RC made a mistake and found a very unusual way to correct it. The notion of being trapped in a time loop seems utterly un-Lovecraftian.

    The apparent laws of time and space don’t have much hold on HPL characters in any of his stories. They seem to operate in the realms of relativity, quantum physics, and hyperspacial dimensions and eschew the Newtonian and Euclidean world. Losing something in your 30s, finding it in your 50s, returning it to yourself as a child, using it as a child, and then enjoying the freedom you’ve granted yourself . . . that’s pretty much run-of-the mill HPL fare, isn’t it? And good nourishing stuff, too. Not like those bloated, unwholesome veggies or fungi we’ve seen.

  • Old Man Parker on

    This was one of the best, most thoughtful podcasts thus far!

    Then… one of my FAVoirte stories next week! Yipee!

  • ruthless diastema on

    This little podcast is one of the great, free–at least to listeners–things in the world. Thanks for your professionalism and quality info.

    We are listening.

  • David Clark on

    I totally agree with the others here, this is one of your finest to date.! The level of examination you guys gave to this one really took this to a new and higher level. Way to go!

    Is this story Lovecraft’s contribution to the vein of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience? I love the fact that it seems to contradict “Dream Quest”. It is, I think, the mark of a first rate mind that he was able to examine this theme multiple time with different conclusions. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”, as Emerson said.

    Listening to Lovecraft’s philosophical explorations on the essential emptiness of existence makes me think that he was very close to the views of Mahayana Buddhism. “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form”. Lovecraft the Zen Master?

  • Matt Sheridan on

    What, no mention of the Lord Dunsany influence that’s always felt in Lovecraft’s “Dreamlands” stories? You’ve got to check out Dunsany’s “The Coronation of Mr. Thomas Shap”. It had to be a huge influence on “The Silver Key”, because the two stories share a whole lot of major themes.

  • Tim Scurr on

    Had never been able to get through this whole story before, it bored me to distraction (shiney things amuse me…but not silver keys). And now I don’t have to! Excellent show fellas, gave me an appreciation for this story, and great insights. Wow, poor Mister Carter stuck in a 50 year time loop. I just keep thinking of ‘Groundhog Day’.
    Watch that step, it’s a doosey!

  • Chrizzie Frizzie on

    Firstly, I want to chime in and thank you guys for a podcast that is not only consistently entertaining, but which brings new life to old stories and inspires to attempt the ones my adolescent self never had the patience for.

    Secondly, I think I kind of agree with Andy U that you may have missed the mark in interpreting it. One of Lovecrafts key ideas is that there is a reality beyond space and time, and that through various means- dreams being one of them- even humans can move in that alien plane. You write off the ending as insignificant, but isn’t it key to the story. Carter uses a mystical device to put himself in a time-loop. But while he is re-living the same life over and over again in OUR human world, it actually gives his dream-self eternal life, since his dream-self exists outside of human time boundaries. Think how in Groundhog Day bill murray becomes a demi-god due to his infinite scope to learn new things.

    Thirdly, i looked up the “blood-curdling” paperback and found a contents index somewhere on the web. When you mentioned it, i thought of many strange anthologies that mix lovecraft stories without any obvious theme. but what made this volume so funny was that *every other story* selected for it are indeed blood-curdling. The silver key stands out in the extreme: what were they thinking!?


  • Keith McCaffety on

    I couldn’t tell if this “key” was real or conceptual. And I couldn’t help but think of the Blair Witch Project when his car was found abandoned on a forgotten road in the woods. After listening to your analysis, I also drew parallels with several of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone scripts in which disillusioned adults are drawn back to their childhoods, like “Walking Distance” and “A Stop at Willoughby.”

  • […] Thanks to reader Lance Holt for delivering the goods! Next week: The Strange High House in the Mist – The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast Comments […]

  • yumegari on

    To my perception it seems more as though time split when Carter went back to his ancestral home, creating a separate reality.

  • Longo on

    I never saw Silver Key and Dream Quest as contradicting one another. The Sunset City of Dream Quest is Carter’s memory of Boston from his childhood, and so when he returns to his actual childhood he is actually going to the Sunset City even though Nyrlathotep claims it can only be seen in dreams.

    Then we have the sequel story, Through The Gates of the Silver Key, and that’s where things get confusing.

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