Journey across The Night Land – Chapter 17

Here then, at the end, there’s little left to tell of. The deep thunder of Underground Organs boom at the opening of the chapter, the resonance, we’re told “did sound as that they mad a strange and utter distant music beyond death”. It is a Song of Honour the millions sing & on this musical cue our narrator awakes, his reopened wounds now rehealed some. Naani is there completely revived. When he can walk, the two of them stroll lazily through the Quiet Gardens of the Pyramid. It’s very much the similar scene that they, in their past lives reaching all the way back into chapter one, enjoyed. Naturally enough, they are married.

We do also learn what had happened to Naani. The “Horrid Force of the House” had stunned & frozen her Spirit, her life suspended. It was as she passed through that misty sheet of the Earth-Current that she was revived.

A last scene shows us Naani escorting the Narrator to the Hall of Honour & she show him a statue that has been erected there: “A Statue of a man in broken armour, that did carry a maid forever.” Our narrator, humbled at being honored notes, as he leaves us, that honor “be but as the ash of Life, if that you not to have Love.”



Reading The Night Land like this, writing about it as I go, has created far different memories of it for me than if I had just read the novel on my own. If you’ve been reading along here with me then you know I struggled with some of it: the narrators blatant & brutal chauvinism I found really difficult. I was also a little amazed that the language of the book, one of the biggest hurtles to anyone tackling this text, became second nature as fast as it did. Once into it, I found that as awkward as it read, the images the language evoked were very vivid, cinematic even. The atmosphere though, is supreme. If I’ve failed in conveying the desolate mood & the sheer weirdness at work here it is a fault of mine & not one of the novel. The Night Land, for all it’s flaws, is incredibly conjured.

It’s taken me some nigh three months to read The Night Land. The day-to-day of life, & the writing of it as I went, all took far more time than I had imagined. The memory of the book, stretched out across that span of time, lingers stronger for it though.  There are images that have been vividly branded on my mind now.  Looking back over the book, all that happened in it & how all it happened, I can easily see why The Night Land carries with it the reputation that it does – bizarrely constructed, grotesquely articulated, & feverishly imagined.

It doesn’t seem out of place to offer a bit of biographical information on William Hope Hodgson himself.  Born in 1877 & dieing in World War I, six years after finishing The Night Land, he was an initially slight man who develped a whole School of Physical Culture to compansate for his small build.  It’s easy to read into the narrator of The Night Land much of Hodgson’s own philosophies of strength & physical prowess.  The Night Land, alongside the excellent House on the Borderland, remain his best known novels.  His full Wikipedia entry is here.   

As and addendum for those curious, a reservoir of essays, critiques, & art on The Night Land exists here (Stephan Fabian’s illustrations are particularly good) & an impressively bannered, but as of yet inactive, site lives here.







2 thoughts on “Journey across The Night Land – Chapter 17

  1. Bravo!!!

    One thing. X’s attitude to Nanni becomes harmonious **after she fights along side him** against the humpt men – and fights pretty effectively, in fact. That is the point at which she ceases to be a bitch to him and he ceases to bully her. Whenever I reread TNL I breath easier at that point. I think she had to earn his respect.

    ((Note, the women of the GR were amazons who were expected to be competent with the dyskos. Nanni was initially at least a little shrinking thing he had to carry half the time: though that, too, stopped after their time on the Island ))

    As for their life in the Redoubt – I’ll quote John C Wright,

    Visions, pulmenoscopy, and extra-temporal manifestations are not unknown to the people of the Last Redoubt. The greatest among us are known to have the Gift; and at least one of the Lesser Redoubt also was endowed with the Night-Hearing, and memory-dreams. Mirdath the Beautiful is the only woman known to have crossed the Night Lands, and her nine scrolls of the histories and customs of the Lesser Redoubt are the only record of any kind we have for the history, literature, folkways and sciences of that long-lost race of mankind. All the mathematical theories of Galois we know only from her memory; the plays of Euryphaean, and the music of an instrument called a pianoforte, infinite resistance coil and the sanity glass, and all the inventions that sprang from them, are due to her recollection. Her people were a frugal folk, and the energy-saving circuits they used, the methods of storing battery power, were known to them a million years ago, and greatly conserved our wealth. Much of what she knew of farming and crops we could not use, for the livestock and seed of our buried fields were strange to her. She knew more of the lost aeons than even Andros, and was able to tell tales from the time of the Cities Ever Moving West, of the Painted Bird, and of the Gardens of the Moon; she knew something of the Failures of the Star-Farers, and of the Sundering of the Earth. More, she also had the gift of the Foretelling, for some of the dreams she had were not of the past, but of the future, and she wrote of the things to come, the Darkening, the False Reprieve, the disaster of the Diaspora into the Land of Water and Fire, the collapse of the Gate beneath the paw of the South Watching Thing, the years of misery and the death of man, beyond which is a time from which no dreams return, although there is said to be a screaming in the aether, dimly heard through the doors of time, the time-echo of some event after the destruction of all human life. All these things are set out in the Great Book, and for this reason Mirdath is also called The Predictress. Mirdath and Andros had fifty sons and daughters, and all the folk of High Aerie claim descent from them, some truly, and some not. Hellenore of High Aerie was one of those who made that claim truly.

    “Awake in the Night” by John C Wright

    • Thanks. I think you’re right about Naani coming into her own after that fight with the Humpt Men, I just wish it would have come earlier in the novel. I liked the symmetry of Mirdath & Naani both being willful, playful souls, but our dullard of a narrator really would have benefited to wising up earlier. The novel, flawed as it is, remains astonishing regardless. Cheers!

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