This article continues and concludes a review of where in his fiction H. P. Lovecraft cites Einstein or his theories. After the novella At the Mountains of Madness, the next time HPL mentions Einstein in his fiction is in the collaboration between HPL and Henry S. Whitehead – The Trap.
The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions by HPL (revised; Arkham House, 1989). This revised collection included the story The Trap.
Essentially, the story is about a mirror that was created by a sorcerer / glass blower who was conducting investigations into the 4th dimension. Through his work, he developed a means of creating a stable space (in hyperspace?)with the aid of the unique mirror he constructed. Within this mirror space, one does not age and “consciousness would go on virtually forever, provided the mirror could be preserved indefinitely from breakage or deterioration.”
As mentioned above, this sorcerer (Holm) was conducting a serious study of the 4th dimension and was far from beginning with Einstein’s work in our own era. Thus, Holm’s work on the 4th dimension was beyond anything that Einstein worked on; however, is it possible that this point of not aging within the mirror space is an outcome of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Is the mirror space somehow traveling close to or even faster than the speed of light in another dimension, which results in the incredibly slow rate of aging?
After The Trap, the next story where HPL mentions Einstein is The Dreams in the Witch House. A number of pervious articles were exclusively devoted to this story so here we only identify where Einstein was cited.
Dreams in the Witch House by Ronan McC
Einstein was cited twice in The Dreams in the Witch House. In the first instance it is recognized that Keziah Mason, a 17th century witch has the mathematical insight that was beyond the “delvings of Planck, Heisenberg, Einstein, and deSitter.” I will review each of these other physicists in future articles.
Later in the story while Gilman is in class at Miskatonic University, there is a discussion about the “freakish curvatures in space” and how there may be parts of reality – cosmic units as HPL called them – beyond the whole Einsteinian space-time continuum. Once again, HPL cites Einstein’s theories as an acceptable interpretation of our universe and that anything that does not follow his theories is “outside” or beyond our reality.
The last time HPL specifically cites Einstein is in his novelette The Shadow Out of Time. Future articles will focus on this story so again, here I will only discuss where Einstein is cited in the story.
A Yithian (by Zippo4k) from The Shadow Out of Time
Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee was a professor at Miskatonic University and suffered from an extended bout of amnesia from 1908 to 1913. Again, future articles will discuss The Shadow Out of Time in more detail but when Peaslee regained his “self” he suffered from strange dreams and impressions. When he conveyed some of these ideas to the professors of mathematics and physics at the university, they cited Einstein’s work on relativity and how he [Einstein] “was rapidly reducing time to the status of a mere dimension.”
A conceptual illustration of integrating time into the three dimension of space (from the article Distance Learning in Einstein’s Fourth Dimension by Robin Thorne; in Nonpartisan Education Review, Essays: Volume 3; Number 1)
In this last reference to Einstein in HPL’s work, he just doesn’t talk about ideas or things outside of Einsteinian space-time but here he is referencing Einstein’s work on Special Relativity that makes time the fourth dimension. By this time in HPL’s life he clearly recognized Einstein as making substantial contributions to physics, science and humanity as a whole. If HPL lived longer who knows where this may have lead in this writings. Would HPL have been as obsessed in a Unified Field Theory the way Einstein was? And what about Einstein’s work that led the way to developing nuclear weapons? I’m sure such ideas would have fueled HPL’s cautious fascination with science.
Next time, we will be talking about the science behind HPL’s story From Beyond. Thank you – Fred