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The House on the Borderland (1908)

de William Hope Hodgson

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Many are the hours in which I have pondered upon the story that is set forth in the following pages. I trust that my instincts are not awry when they prompt me to leave the account in simplicity as it was handed to me.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 44 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Interesting read. I enjoyed it.
  RoSands | Jul 18, 2022 |
My favorite William Hope Hodgson novel. Really creepy even after so many years. The fact that you never really know what is going on makes it even creepier. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
review of
William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 18, 2017

One, of course, doesn't expect honesty in advertising, so it's no surprise that the front of this bk quotes H.P. Lovecraft as saying "A classic of the first water" when the supposed actual fuller quote is "but for a few touches of commonplace sentimentality [it] would be a classic of the first water". ( ) Not quite the same, eh?!

I'd never heard of the author when I picked this up from my local favorite used bkstore. Perhaps I liked the promise of the back-cover blurb: "a blend of horror, fantasy and science fiction." I agree that it is that. I can't really agree that "As a beautifully written work of pure imagination it has few equals" or "Will produce genuine gooseflesh" since it certainly didn't do the latter for me. In fact, I found it mostly quite plodding. Heck!, it didn't even turn my penis into a turkeyneck.

The action takes place in an unnamed place:

"Yet, in spite of its desolation, my friend Tonnison and I had elected to spend out vacation there. He had stumbled on the place, by mere chance, the year previously, during the course of a long walking tour, and discovered the possibilities for the angler, in a small and unnamed river that runs past the outskirts of the little village.

"I have said that the river is without name; I may add that no map that I have hitherto consulted has shown either village or stream." - p 1

Given that I've been working on an 'opera' about endangered languages for the last 20 months (see a documentary about the work-in-progress here: ), the following section was of particular interest to me. The narrator comes upon some locals & attempted to engage them in conversation:

"I asked them casually about the fishing; but, instead of answering, they just shook their heads silently, and stared at me. I repeated the question, addressing more particularly a great, gaunt fellow at my elbow; yet again I received no answer. Then the man turned to a comrade and said something rapidly in a language that I did not understand; and, at once, the whole crowd of them fell to jabbering in what, after a few moments, I guessed to be pure Irish." - p 3

""Yabbering" and "jabbering" are interesting words. They show up all over the English-speaking world whenever a speaker feels like sneering at animals or a minority people. Look up "jabber" in the Oxford English Dictionary, and you'll find quotations in which the term applies to monkeys, Flemish servants, seabirds, and Jews. It often betrays contempt, the dictionary observes, for "the speaking of a language which is unintelligible to the hearer."" - p 21, Mark Abley's Spoken Here - Travels Among Threatened Languages

In honor of the 'jabber' that the narrator couldn't understand, I've decided to create a dialog in Irish esp for this bk review. Isn't that clever of me?:

An gceapann tú go bhfuil an duine seo díreach jabbering? Nó an dóigh leat go bhfuil sé ag labhairt teanga i ndáiríre nach bhfuil cuid mhaith príobháideach ann? Tá sé deacair a rá, nach bhfuil sé? Is cosúil go gcailltear é ionas go bhféadfadh sé a bheith míchothromaithe go meabhrach freisin. An gceapann tú go bhfuil sé ag iarraidh iarracht a dhéanamh linn a ithe? Nó mátálann lenár mhná? B'fhéidir gurb é an norm is dóigh a thagann sé as an tslí sin. - Irish

Now, if you don't speak Irish & you're not a lazy good-for-nothing piece of shit that emits more methane than the oxygen you breath in can replace then you'll copy the above paragraph into an Irish-to-English (if that's your preferred language) translator & find out what I've written. C'm'on, it'll only take a few minutes, why not take advantage of these translation programs? WE ARE SO DAMNED LUCKY TO LIVE IN A TIME WHEN THEY EXIST!! Really.

The protagonists find a manuscript at a ruin & decide to read it. Hence we enter the fantastic part of The House on the Borderland. As a literary device, the found text is about as bad as 'it-was-all-a-dream'. Oh, well.

"Then Tonnison asked me to get the manuscript out of my satchel. This I did, and then, as we could not both read from it at the same time, he suggested that I should read the thing out loud. "And mind," he cautioned, knowing my propensities, "don't go skipping half the book."

"Yet, had he known what it contained, he would have realised how needless such advice was, for once at least. And there seating in the opening of our little tent, I began the strange tale of "The House on the Borderland" (for such was the title of the MS.)". - p 13

What the heck, since I already interpolated a little Irish Gaelic I'm going to translate the MS parts into each of the other Gaelics (identifying each one at the end of the translation - I failed with Manx, Cornish, & Breton). You, dear reader, might find this exasperating, but, I swear upon my word as a Homonymphonemiac & a Practicing Promotextual that this little exercise in languages is well worth it!

""Gu h-obann, dh'fhàs mi mothachail nach robh mi a-nis anns a 'chathair. An àite sin, bha coltas gu robh mi a 'cromadh os a chionn, agus a' coimhead sìos air rudeigin rudeigin, sàmhach agus sàmhach. Ann an greis bheag, bhuail sguab fuar orm, agus bha mi a-muigh san oidhche, a 'seòladh, mar bholb, suas tron dorchadas. Mar a ghluais mi, bha e coltach gu robh fuachd reòite orm, agus mar sin ghluais mi. ["]" - p 17, Scots Gaelic

Well, yes, the experiences that the narrator w/in the narration recounts are definitely, ahem, out of the norm. Eventually, they get so cosmic that, despite the author's intentions, it becomes more or less a technical description of what scientists of the time probably imagined the end-of-the-universe to be like n'at. In the meantime, our narrator w/in the narration is still somewhat grounded:

"["] Cefais fy syfrdanu'n syfrdanol, i weled, yn bellter o sawl milltir, ac yn meddiannu cnetre'r arena, strwythur rhyfeddol, a adeiladwyd yn ôl pob tebyg os jâd werdd. Eto, ei hun, nid darganfyddiad yr adeilad oedd mor syfrdanol i mi; ond daeth y ffaith, a ddaeth bob eiliad yn fwy amlwg, nad oedd y strwythur unig yn amrywio o'r tŷ hwn lle rwy'n byw ynddo, heb fod mewn lliw a'i faint enfawr. ["]" - pp 21-22, Welsh

You know the scale's starting to change when the GODS come in:

"["] Bhí a fhios agam go raibh mé ag féachaint ar léiriú iontasach Kali, bandia an bháis Hindu.

"["] D 'imigh cuimhnemheasanna eile de mo laethanta mac léinn i mo chuid smaointe. Tháinig mo shúile ar ais ar an rud ollmhór a bhí i gceannas orthu. Ag an am céanna, d'aithin mé é le haghaidh an t-eagrán Dia hÉigipte ársa, nó Seth, an Destroyer Souls. ["]" - p 23, Irish

Speaking of scale, this seems relevant: "According to the ancient Sanskrit traditions, human history is divided into four periods, or yugas. The first yuga is a golden age, but the second and third yugas become progressively less virtuous, more violent, and short-lived. The present yuga, the fourth by this reckoning, is the Kali yuga, a dark age of suffering, strife, war, and social disintegration. The present Kali yuga—there are many in the great cycle—began Friday, february 18, 3102 B.C., and will last 432,000 years. Together with the three previous, longer lasting yugas, the great cycle, called the Maha yuga ("great yuga"), lasts for 4,320,000,000 years. One thousand Maha yugas constitute a single kalpa, which is a day in the life of the Demiurge god Brahma." - p 257, Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for it

'All I can say is:' that "golden age" must not've had any humans in it b/c humans just can't wait to kill anything different from them:

""Airson, 's dòcha mionaid, bha mi a' coimhead air a 'chreutair; An uairsin, nuair a dh 'fhalbh m' inntinn beag, chuir mi grèim air an eagal mì-shoilleir a ghlac mi, agus thug mi ceum a dh'ionnsaigh na h-uinneig. Fiù 's mar a rinn mi sin, chaidh an rud a dhubhadh agus a chall. Thionndaidh mi chun an dorais, agus dh 'fhosgail mi timcheall, gu cruaidh; ach cha do thachair ach na luachagan agus na preasan a bha a 'strì ri chèile a' coinneachadh ri mo shùil.

""Thill mi air ais dhan taigh, agus, a 'faighinn mo ghunna, thug mi a-mach a rannsachadh tro na gàrraidhean. ["]" - p 36, Scots Gaelic

"Fel y gwelodd y Nod fi, rhoddodd squeal sydyn, anhygoel, a atebwyd o bob rhan o'r Pwll. Yn hynny o beth, cymerodd tost o arswyd ac ofn fi, ac, yn plygu i lawr, rwy'n rhyddhau fy ngwn yn ei wyneb . ["]" - pp 41-42, Welsh

Will "human" one day just be synonymous with "gun nut"? As for "uncouth squeal"?: What type of squeal wd you make if you saw someone coming towards you to kill you w/ gun who you hadn't done anything to?

Now this guy lives w/ his sister &, boy-o-boy, they must've both been a piece of work b/c they BOTH think each other is crazy:

""Ansin, ag dul go dtí an leaba, chuaigh mé thar mo dheirfiúr, agus d'iarr sí di conas a bhraith sí; ach chuaigh sí ach níos mó, agus, i bhfad mar a bhí sé in ann dom, ní mór dom a ligean isteach go raibh an chuma air a bheith níos measa.

""Agus mar sin, d'fhág mé glasáil an dorais, agus an eochair a phóca. Is cosúil gurb é an t-aon chúrsa a bhí ann. ["]"- p 61, Irish

Weeellllllll, I almost stopped reading this bk when I realized that there probably wdn't be any secret passageways but at least there's a trap door:

"["] A 'gluasad gu luath, chùm mi an coinnle, agus chunnaic mi gu robh am ball a bha mi air a bhreabadh, na fhàinne mòr meatailt. a 'lùbadh nas ìsle, ghlan mi an duslach bho timcheall air, agus, an-dràsta, fhuair mi a-mach gun robh e ceangailte ri doras-gaisgich, dubh le aois.

""A 'faireachdainn mìorbhaileach, agus a' smaoineachadh càite an toireadh e, chuir mi mo ghunna air an làr, agus chuir mi an coinnle anns a 'ghàradh thionndaidh, ghlac e an fhàinne anns an dà làmh, agus thug mi air falbh e. Bha an gaol ag àrdachadh gu h-àrd - am fuaim a 'seinn, gu cruaidh, tron àite gu lèir-fhosgladh, gu mòr.

""A 'giùlan an oir air mo ghlùin, ràinig mi airson a' choinnlein, agus chùm mi e san fhosgladh, ga ghluasad gu deas agus clì; ach cha b 'urrainn dha dad fhaicinn. Bha mi duilich agus chuir mi iongnadh orm. Cha robh soidhnichean ceum ann, no eadhon an coltas a bh 'ann a-riamh. Chan eil dad a 'sàbhaladh dubh dubh. Is dòcha gum bi mi air a bhith a 'coimhead a-steach gu math gun chrìoch gun taobh. ["]" - p 67, Scots Gaelic

Doesn't everybody have a trap door leading to an apparently bottomless pit in their basement? My question is, if it's bottomless why doesn't it go all the way thru the planet?!

Now, I'd be the 2nd-to-the-last person to accuse anybody else of being foolish but, I mean, c'm'on!:

""Yn araf, wrth i'r dyddiau lithro, fy ofn i'r Moch - daeth pethau'n emosiwn o'r cof gorffennol - mwy annymunol, anhygoel, nag unrhyw beth arall.

""Felly daeth diwrnod, pan daflu meddyliau a ffansiynau, cawsis rhaff o'r tŷ, ac ar ôl ei wneud yn gyflym i goeden gref, ar frig y darn, ac ychydig o bellter yn ôl o'r Pwll ymyl, gadewch i'r pen arall lawr i mewn i'r clust, nes iddo gael ei blygu ar draws ceg y twll tywyll.

""Yna, yn ofalus, a chyda llawer o gamddeimladau ynghylch p'un ai nad oedd yn act anghyffredin yr oeddwn yn ceisio, rwy'n dringo'n araf, gan ddefnyddio'r rhaff fel cefnogaeth, nes cyrraedd y twll. ["]" - p 82, Welsh

But, hey!, our hero is only getting started, it's about time for time to start speeding up!:

"["] Chonaic mé an t-ardú na gréine, ó chúl na spéire. D'ardaigh sé le huaire seasta, inghlactha. D'fhéadfainn é a fheiceáil ag taisteal suas. I nóiméad, bhí an chuma air, go raibh sé ag barr barr na gcrann, trína ndearna mé faire air. Up, up-It was lightlight an lae anois. Taobh thiar dom, bhí a fhios agam go raibh buzzing géar, cosúil le mosquito. Chonaic mé thart, agus bhí a fhios agam gur tháinig sé ón gclog. Fiú amháin mar a d'fhéach mé, marcáil sé uair an chloig. Bhí an lámh nóiméad ag bogadh thart ar an dhiailiú, níos tapúla ná gnáth-dara láimhe. D'aistrigh an uair an chloig go tapa ó spás go spás. ["]" - p 105, Irish

Eventually, our hero thinks of leaving this house where the swine-things threaten him & where, you know, time changes & he sees the kalpa pass in a hop, skip, & a jump.. but nnnoooooOOoOoOoooooO, not this guy, he's seen his dead love thanks to the Sea of Sleep & he's not letting go.

""Anns an ùine a leanas, tha an smuaintean a 'leum tron eanchainn, carson nach fhàg thu an taigh seo - an taigh dìomhair seo agus eagal? An uairsin, mar gum biodh e anns a 'fhreagairt, tha mi a' sreap suas, thairis air mo shùil, sealladh air Muir iongantach a 'chadail, -the Sea of Sleep far a bheil i fhèin agus mise air a bhith comasach coinneachadh, às deidh na bliadhnaichean de sgaradh agus de bhròn; agus fios agad gum fuirich mi an seo, ge bith dè a thachras. ["]" - p 170, Scots Gaelic

But back to our 1st narrators:

""Was he mad?" I asked, and indicated the MS., with a half nod.

"Tommison stared at me, unseeingly, a moment; then his wits came back to him, and suddenly, he comprehended my question.

""No!" he said." - p 179

If you say so. But he might've been angry. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Weird, weird, weird. Tale of man who lives in strange house is attacked by bizarre creatures and goes on some VERY long trips through time and space.
The author does spend too much time describing the trips but you are left with unforgettable imagery. It really plays like a movie in your head and there are just the right amount of unanswered questions, not enough to annoy but enough for endless speculation.
If you make it to the end you will definitely be thinking... 'what the hell was that all about...' ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
En el más ignorado rincón de Irlanda, al extremo de unos pedregales y bosques desamparados, hay una vieja y extraña mansión; tras ella, solamente un abismo y la noche insondable. En este marco, un hombre se enfrenta a lo desconocido. La atmósfera va haciéndose azufrada, y , en una mezcla obsesionante de aventura y delirio, se entra en los terrenos ue están mas allá de los más abominables horrores y enigmas del mundo de la pesadilla.
  Daniel464 | Aug 20, 2021 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
William Hope Hodgsonautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Aldridge, AlanAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Coulthart, JohnAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Emshwiller, EdAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Many are the hours in which I have pondered upon the story that is set forth in the following pages.
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Many are the hours in which I have pondered upon the story that is set forth in the following pages. I trust that my instincts are not awry when they prompt me to leave the account in simplicity as it was handed to me.

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