Walking the Night Land: A Story Retold

The series on William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land and associated works continues.

Essay: The Night Land: A Story Retold, James Stoddard and William Hope Hodgson, 2005.51inmNUdGWL

This is sort of a rescue project that Stoddard started around 1990: a rewriting, paragraph by paragraph, of Hodgson’s novel. Stoddard wanted the genius of Hodgson’s vision uncoupled from what Lin Carter, who oversaw the reprint of the novel in 1972 for his line of fantasy classics, called “dreadfully overwritten, overlong, and verbose and repetitive to the point of shameful self-indulgence.”

Stoddard condensed the novel by about half while preserving almost all of its plot. To do that, gone is the day by day account of the unnamed narrator’s journey. (In fact, Stoddard gives him a name, Andros, and the narrator of the opening section is named Andrew Eddins.) Gone is Hodgson’s prose cadenced like the King James Bible. Gone also are the archaic words.

But there are additions. Hodgson’s novel famously had no dialogue. Stoddard provides several conversations, mostly between Naani and Andros. He interpolates some scenes from Hodgson’s work, discussions of the world Naani and Andros know from dreams. We also learn that the dreaded House of Silence may have originally been built by men but warped by Evil Forces. We hear how Andros’ parents died and something about the family of Naani in the Lesser Redoubt. Continue reading