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.