Primary Sources: the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath 17, Carter’s Buddy King Kuranes
Kuranes, like Carter, is a dreamer from the waking world, not a native of the Dreamlands. There are a few key differences between them, though.
Last time Carter saw Kuranes, the latter was splitting his time between the rose-crystal Palace of the Seventy Delights in Celephais, which sounds like a happening place, and the turreted cloud-castle of sky-floating Serannian, which is to say, Lando’s Cloud City on Bespin. However nowadays Kuranes spends his time in Cornwall.
“No!” I hear you saying, even now. “Not Cornwall! If there’s one thing Book IX of Le Morte D’Arthur has taught us, it’s that Cornwall is a place we never, ever want to go!”
It’s cool, you guys! Seriously. Because this Cornwall we’re talking about is not the Cornwall of the waking world, but an incredible Dreamlands simulation, constructed by Kuranes to suit himself. See, he’s stuck in the Dreamlands; he can never return to the waking world. Why? Because he’s dead, is why. BOOM! Didn’t see that coming, did you?
So east of Celephais, where the Tanarian Hills run down to the seacliffs, Kuranes has arranged for the countryside to be landscaped into a replica Cornwall, complete with fishing village and disused abbey. Kuranes possesses great power over the Dreamland, inasmuch as he creates these buildings from nothing by dreaming them up, but he can’t generate actual Cornishmen to live in them. Instead he uses his powers as king to forcibly relocate the inhabitants of Celephais who possess the most English faces, and also he commands them to speak only in the dear remembered accents of old Cornwall fishers.
Kuranes may be a monarch in the land of dream, but he’d trade all the pomps and marvels, splendours and beauties, ecstasies and delights, novelties and excitements for just one day alive once more as a simple boy in that pure and quiet England, that ancient, beloved England which had moulded his being and of which he must always be immutably a part.
Carter hikes out to Kuranes’s current abode, which means wandering across a replica of early eighteenth-century Cornwall, admiring the replica of early eighteenth-century farmers and butlers and gardens and so on, and eventually he finds Kuranes’s estate and the man himself. Out on a garden terrace with a magnificent view of the faux-village, Kuranes, Lord of Ooth-Hargai and the Sky around Serannian, sits in his pajamas fretting. He’s all restless, maybe because he’s been dead for several years.
Regardless, he’s happy to see Carter, because he’s crazy racist and Carter is white. They sit and make small talk for a while, about the various sights they’ve seen in the Dreamlands. Lovecraft reminds us again that Kuranes is the only dreamer who has ever visited deep space and returned sane and hale to tell about it, a fact he brought up back when Carter met the zoogs for the first time, at the start of the quest.
So you understand Kuranes knows what he’s talking about when he tells Carter to lay off his mad dream-quest for unknown Kadath. He has a laundry list of reasons.
1) Kuranes knows everywhere worth knowing in the Dreamlands, and he’s never heard of the sunset-city Carter dreams of.
2) The Other Gods are dreadful and liable to smite Carter eight ways from Sunday, if he busts in on the Elder Ones like he’s planning on.
3) Even if Carter somehow finds his sunset-city, he’ll end up bored and depressed, just as Kuranes is. Kuranes went through all kinds of trials to become the king of Ooth-Nargai and the sky-realm above it, and yet less than two centuries later he’s totes bored of it. The sights Carter will one day learn to value are his home: Boston, Beacon Hill, Kingsport, Arkham, Dunwich, and various other New England sites which may or may not be copyright Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
Kuranes guest-stars in Carter’s adventure, appearing from his own short story of Lovecraft’s, written a decade or so earlier. Here Lovecraft tells us that Kuranes had in the old waking days (i.e. before his death) visited Carter in Boston, and was therefore himself familiar with many of these sights.
But, of course, Carter is unmoved by Kuranes’s arguments, and leaves his friend. He goes — guess where? — to the ancient seaside taverns to talk to crusty old salts! His favorite activity! Seriously, he goes down the Street of Pillars to the old sea wall, where he talk[s] more with the mariners of far ports and wait[s] for the dark ship he plans on booking for passage to Inquanok.
Primary Sources: the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath 17, Carter’s Buddy King Kuranes — No Comments
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