The Inspiration for The Nameless City in The Thousand and One (Arabian) Nights

Doing a little digging for my annotations: HPL’s “The Nameless City” was published in 1921, and Howard Carter had not yet found KIng Tut’s tomb, so we can’t blame Egyptomaina for the story (which I quite like, incidentally).

The most likely source of inspiration is The Thousand and One (Arabian) Nights. Checking the contents of the English translations, we find a short story about Irem, a long-deserted wealthy metropolis smote by God (shades of The Doom That Came to Sarnath?) and a more obscure story called “The City of Brass” which contains (among other elements) an ‘archaeological’ expedition across the Sahara to find an ancient lost city, a mummified queen and petrified inhabitants.

I present them here, for the interested reader:

The City of Irem

The City of Brass (summary)

The City of Brass (full)

“…and there came to the builders’ hands of all these things so great a quantity as may neither be told nor imagined.”

–Payne’s translation, The City of Irem

Earlier, the narrator counted one thousand trillion (people) (using 100K x 100K x 100K), so this number must have been pretty high indeed :)

H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Nameless City” Annotated

I have taken the liberty of annotating (footnoting, actually) HPL’s “The Nameless City,” in fixed-layout PDF format.

Hopefully, I’ve caught most, if not all of the British-isms and archaic spellings and obscure references. This is deliberately designed for someone less familiar with HPL’s British spellings and obscure words (“vigintillion” for example). May be useful for English Second Language (ESL) students?

I thought I’d try out my scholarship on this lesser-known story, rather than having a go at “The Call of Cthulhu” first.

111 footnotes on 25 pages.

Please let me know what you think.

Nameless City