Dim-Remembered Stories: A Critical Study of R. H. Barlow


  • By Massimo Berruti
  • Foreword by S. T. Joshi
  • ISBN 978-0-9846386-3-5
  • 400 pp
  • Trade paperback
  • July 2011


The life and work of Robert Hayward Barlow (1918–1951) has received remarkably little study from scholars, who see in him only one of the acolytes (and the literary executor) of the great American supernaturalist H. P. Lovecraft. But, as this pioneering study by Italian scholar Massimo Berruti establishes, Barlow was a distinguished writer in his own right—the author of dozens of provocative tales of fantasy and horror and of several volumes of thought-provoking poetry. Berruti undertakes a full-scale structuralist analysis of Barlow’s work, studying such central themes as cosmicism, time, nature, and irony, and subjecting such celebrated tales as “A Dim-Remembered Story” and “The Night Ocean” to penetrating analysis. Berruti concludes his study with perspicacious observations on Barlow as a free-verse poet.

Massimo Berruti teaches Semiotics of Narrativity and Semiotics of Interpretation at Helsinki University, Finland. He is the author of many articles on H. P. Lovecraft and other writers that have appeared in such journals as Lovecraft Studies, Studies in Fantasy Literature, Studi Lovecraftiani, and Semiotica. He has also translated Lovecraft’s Il guardiano dei sogni (2007) and other volumes of fiction and literary criticism.

1.    Some Notes on an Entity   

1.1    Life and achievements of an  undiscovered genius   
1.2    The controversial choice of a career   
1.3    The categorization of Barlow’s fiction   
1.4    The seven themes of Barlow’s fiction   
2.    Dunsanianism   
2.1    Some critical remarks   
2.2    The nature of Barlow’s Dunsanianism   
2.2.1    The formal aspects of Barlow’s Dunsanianism   
2.2.2    The content aspects of Barlow’s Dunsanianism:  the Barlow Mythos   
3.    Vagueness   
3.1    Vagueness of communication   
3.2    Vagueness of perception   
3.2.1    Reality versus appearance, or the “deluding plot”   
3.2.2    The Book of Garoth   
3.3    Vagueness of the object of perception   
3.4    Vagueness of the narrating voice   
3.4.1    The lonely and paranoid narrator:  “The Night Ocean”   
3.4.2    The diseased and frantic narrator:  “Origin Undetermined”    The framing narrative of the first-level narrator    The manuscript of the second-level narrator
3.5    Vagueness as a literary technique   
3.6    Cumulative vagueness: “The Summons”   
4.    Cosmicism   
4.1    Silence, Emptiness, Desolation   
4.2    Mankind’s existential condition and bleak fate   
4.2.1    “‘Till A’ the Seas’” and other dreadful ends   
4.2.2    Inanity of experience and deterministic compulsion    Inanity and meaninglessness of the human experience    Deterministic compulsion and its impact on free will   
4.3    Vastness of the universe and cosmic  Outsideness   
5.    Time   
5.1    The fictional mysteries of “Time”   
5.1.1    Cosmic Time: an introduction   
5.1.2    Human Time: an introduction   
5.2    Cosmic Time   
5.2.1    “A Dim-Remembered Story” and the  transcendent present   
5.2.2    Cosmic Time, still   
5.3    Human Time   
5.3.1    “A Memory”: caring for the future of civilization    Memory, still   
5.3.2    The everlasting presence of the Past   
5.4    “The Night Ocean”: the hybridism of  “existential” time   
6.    Nature   
6.1    The “conflict” between nature and culture   
6.2    The personification of nature   
6.3    The spiritualization of nature   
6.4    Nature and the sacred: “The Night Ocean”   
7.    Irony   
7.1    Tales of socially committed and bitter irony   
7.2    Tales of true humor and parody   
8.    Forbidden / Furtive Search   
9.    Poetry   

9.1    Barlow’s poetry: an introduction   
9.2    The five nuclei of Barlow’s poetry   
9.2.1    “Sense”: Light and Darkness   
9.2.2    “Memory”: Time and Memory    Personal    Historical    Cosmic and Existential   
9.2.3    “Dream”: Sleep and Wake   
9.2.4    “Essence”: Internal and External   
9.2.5    “Nature”: Nature and Culture   

This product was added to our catalog on Monday 02 May, 2011.