H.P. Lovecraft: “The Doom that Came to Sarnath”


This post was written in conjunction with the R.I.P. VIII Challenge. See here for more details and here for other participants’ posts.


H.P. Lovecraft’s mythical city of Sarnath became inhabited by the descendants of shepherd folk when suitable living space grew scarce in the land of Mnar. But they were not the original inhabitants of the region where Sarnath stood. That honor goes to a race of creatures who called their own city on the site “Ib.” Not human, the people of Ib were “beings not pleasing to behold” and from an older race of “a world still inchoate.” Lovecraft describes them: “they had bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curious ears, and were without voice.” Add to this that the city was situated on a vast lake “that is fed by no stream and out of which no stream flows,” and you have a perfect Lovecraftian dreamscape.

But what is the story here? Well, as is often the case when a more advanced civilization meets a less advanced one, it doesnt turn out well for the less advanced one – the people of Ib were essentially exterminated to make room for the new inhabitants. They were slaughtered without mercy, and a great statue of their water lizard god, Bokrug, was even taken to be displayed as a trophy in the new city of Sarnath. The other great monoliths of the Ib were toppled into the lake, to share its bottom with the shapeless, “jelly-like” bodies of the murdered inhabitants of Ib.

The residents of Sarnath prosper in spite of the unpleasant beginnings of their city, which are in the distant past at the time this story was written. What kind of vengeance will be visited upon Sarnath? We know from the title of the story that “Doom” is coming, but what form will it take? Read the story for yourself at one of the links below. It only takes 15-20 minutes.

Read it at: http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/ds.aspx

Or listen to it at: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Av76oPyQCWw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DAv76oPyQCWw

Other Lovecraft posts of mine:
The Dunwich Horror
The Statement of Randolph Carter

The story was first published in June, 1920 in an amateur fiction magazine called The Scot. It was also the “title story” of a later collection of Lovecraft’s shorter works. I own it in the volume pictured below, 1995’s “Dreams of Terror and Death” which features an introduction by … Neil Gaiman! I had “never heard of him” when I bought this years ago…