Harley Warren

Harley Warren

Harley Warren is a mysterious occultist who appears in H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Statement of Randolph Carter" as a friend of Carter. He apparently perishes while exploring an underground crypt in Big Cypress Swamp, leaving Carter above, unharmed but mentally shaken. Warren is also mentioned in another Lovecraft story, "The Silver Key", as "a man in the south, who was shunned and feared for the blaspemous things he read in prehistoric books and clay tablets smuggled from India and Arabia" as well as "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" in which he was revealed to have been an expert linguist of the primal Naacal language of the Himalayas.

What singles Warren out from Lovecraft's many other doomed characters is his self-sacrificial, gentle nature (he pleads with Carter to put back the crypt's slab and run for it while he still has the chance) combined with a sinister element that is more in keeping with Lovecraft's other ambiguous anti-heroes such as Pickman and Herbert West (Carter describes Warren's expression as disquieting when he talks of his occult theories).

What really caused Warren's death down there in the underground swamp crypt is unknown; in a letter that Lovecraft wrote to Clark Ashton Smith, he mentions that Warren may have been destroyed by a 'begetting entity' within Smith's tale "The Nameless Offspring", but this is quite possibly more speculation between friends than actual fact.

Whatever the cause of Warren's demise, it is certainly probable that the answer to his fate after death is revealed in Lovecraft's "The Outsider", the tale of a ghostly, decaying protagonist who climbs out of a tunnel-like crypt to the world of the living only to met with revulsion and finally find his place with other supernatural spirits and, possibly, in the realms of the Old Ones. A character who bears a resemblance to him is Clark Ashton Smith's antehuman sorcerer Haon-Dor (from "The Seven Geases"), another seeker after forbidden lore. Warren is also mentioned in Brian Lumley's "Titus Crow" series as a member of a Bostonian group of psychics.

Several actors in cinematic renditions of "The Statement of Randolph Carter" have portrayed Harley Warren, the most notable of them being John Rhys-Davies.


*"", Del Rey, 1982

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