What Lurks Beneath – Human Fear of the Unknown

[sic]. 2019;9(2) DOI 10.15291/sic/2.9.lc.5


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: [sic]

ISSN: 1847-7755 (Online)

Publisher: University of Zadar

LCC Subject Category: Language and Literature: Literature (General)

Country of publisher: Croatia

Language of fulltext: English, Croatian

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Tomislav Denegri


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

From Homer’s Odyssey and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe to Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the sea has always featured prominently in Western literature. Stories of voyages over (or under) boundless oceans, tales of mutiny and piracy, of treasure and adventure, have all become an integral part of our literary tradition. And while it was frequently admired, the sea’s capricious nature and fathomless depths have often led to it being feared in equal measure. Compiled and edited by Mike Ashley, From the Depths and Other Strange Tales of the Sea is an anthology comprising fifteen lesser known stories taken from other collections and pulp magazines dating back to the early 20th century, which ably illustrates that period’s fascination with the sea, especially with its more fantastical and uncanny aspects.The collection opens strongly with an invitingly horrific, if somewhat traditional ghost ship story. Albert A. Wetjen’s “The Ship of Silence” draws heavily both from legends like the Flying Dutchman and real-world mysteries like the Mary Celeste. An abandoned ship’s fate is revealed through the frenzied screeching of a parrot, the ship’s sole survivor, as it repeats the words of the doomed crew in their final moments. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to many of H. P. Lovecraft’s stories, the horror here lies not so much in what is shown, but in what is left to the reader’s imagination. Morgan Robertson’s “From the Darkness and the Depths” continues in the same vein and also features a ship assailed by invisible terrors. It is one of a number of stories from the period which emphasize, and often overestimate, the power of science and its ability to combat forces unfathomable to the human mind.