The Shadow Out of Time

H.P. Lovecraft
The Shadow Out of Time
by H.P. Lovecraft
First published in Astonishing Stories, 1936

Chapter 1
After twenty-two years of nightmare and terror, saved only by a
desperate conviction of the mythical source of certain impressions, I am
unwilling to vouch for the truth of that which I think I found in Western
Australia on the night of 17-18 July 1935. There is reason to hope that
my experience was wholly or partly an hallucination--for which, indeed,
abundant causes existed. And yet, its realism was so hideous that I
sometimes find hope impossible.
If the thing did happen, then man must be prepared to accept notions of
the cosmos, and of his own place in the seething vortex of time, whose
merest mention is paralysing. He must, too, be placed on guard against
a specific, lurking peril which, though it will never engulf the whole
race, may impose monstrous and unguessable horrors upon certain
venturesome members of it.
It is for this latter reason that I urge, with all the force of my being,
final abandonment of all the attempts at unearthing those fragments of
unknown, primordial masonry which my expedition set out to
Assuming that I was sane and awake, my experience on that night was
such as has befallen no man before. It was, moreover, a frightful
confirmation of all I had sought to dismiss as myth and dream.
Mercifully there is no proof, for in my fright I lost the awesome object
which would--if real and brought out of that noxious abyss--have

formed irrefutable evidence.
When I came upon the horror I was alone--and I have up to now told no
one about it. I could not stop the others from digging in its direction,
but chance and the shifting sand have so far saved them from finding it.
Now I must formulate some definite statement--not only for the sake of
my own mental balance, but to warn such others as may read it
These pages--much in whose earlier parts will be familiar to close
readers of the general and scientific press--are written in the cabin of
the ship that is bringing me home. I shall give them to my son,
Professor Wingate Peaslee of Miskatonic University--the only member
of my family who stuck to me after my queer amnesia of long ago, and
the man best informed on the inner facts of my case. Of all living
persons, he is least likely to ridicule what I shall tell of that fateful
I did not enlighten him orally before sailing, because I think he had
better have the revelation in written form. Reading and re-reading at
leisure will leave with him a more convincing picture than my confused
tongue could hope to convey.
He can do anything that he thinks best with this account--showing it,
with suitable comment, in any quarters where it will be likely to
accomplish good. It is for the sake of such readers as are unfamiliar
with the earlier phases of my case that I am prefacing the revelation
itself with a fairly ample summary of its background.
My name is Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee, and those who recall the
newspaper tales of a generation back--or the letters and articles in
psychological journals six or seven years ago--will know who and what
I am. The press was filled with the details of my strange amnesia in
1908-13, and much was made of the traditions of horror, madness, and
witchcraft which lurked behind the ancient Massachusetts town then
and now forming my place of residence. Yet I would have it known
that there is nothing whatever of the mad or sinister in my heredity and
early life. This is a highly important fact in view of the shadow which

fell so suddenly upon me from outside sources.
It may be that centuries of dark brooding had given to crumbling,
whisper-haunted Arkham a peculiar vulnerability as regards such
shadows--though even this seems doubtful in the light of those other
cases which I later came to study. But the chief point is that my own
ancestry and background are altogether normal. What came, came from
somewhere else--where I even now hesitate to assert in plain words.
I am the son of Jonathan and Hannah (Wingate) Peaslee, both of
wholesome old Haverhill stock. I was born and reared in Haverhill--at
the old homestead in Boardman Street near Golden Hill--and did not go
to Arkham till I entered Miskatonic University as instructor of political
economy in 1895.
For thirteen years more my life ran smoothly and happily. I married
Alice Keezar of Haverhill in 1896, and my three children, Robert,
Wingate and Hannah were born in 1898, 1900, and 1903, respectively.
In 1898 I became an associate professor, and in 1902 a full professor.
At no time
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