I’m currently reading The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson. Nizzibet found me a paperback copy for Christmas. I downloaded the novel sometime last year but had never started reading. Somehow a stack of loose pages is less attractive than the same story bound up beneath a snazzy cover. The novel is infamous for being brilliant and awful in equal degrees. It’s considered brilliant for the imagination behind the setting, awful for the prose style and florid romanticism. So far it’s living up to its reputation.
Even if I’d been unaware of the critical opinion of The Night Land I would have been expecting a bit of a slog. I’ve already read his other three novels – The Boats of the Glen Carrig has little plot and wooden characters; The Ghost Pirates is slow and repetitive and The House on the Borderland is clunky. None of Hodgson’s novels are easy for the general reader. They all display a brilliant imagination hobbled by great gobs of clunky prose, meandering plots and wooden characters. Hodgson’s best work is in his short stories – the most famous being The Voice in the Night if only because it was filmed as Attack of the Mushroom People.
Anyway – I’m only able to take The Night Land a few pages at a time but I am enjoying the thing. Hard for me to recommend to anyone else though. For a taste of the setting see The Night Land site. I understand that Hodgson published an edited, streamlined version of the novel as The Dream of X. I’ll have to see if I can find a copy someday.