Beyond languid and undying beauty, beyond the atmosphere, there is mystery and the basic human need to have what one is denied. The mystery starts with the “golden valley” that leads to “shadowy groves and ruins” (131). Which begs the question, who once lived there? This is deepened by the inclusion of a “mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze” whose latch is hidden. What once started out as a Lotos-land dream becomes an obsession. The narrator wants to the go through the gate, not only to escape his own world, but because he feels it must be better than anything he has seen yet in the dream world. Despite the fact his research uncovers divided opinions on topic--some authorities speak of wonders and others speak of horrors and disappointment beyond the gate--he has come to a point of no return. He has to breach the gate.
This sets up a doubt in the reader’s mind. Will it hold a horror or will it be wonderful? He finds a “white void of unpeopled and illimitable space” (Lovecraft 132). According to the narrator, this is beyond his greatest hopes. In the end, the question is answered as the authorities had answered it: it depends on the man.
There are a few other tidbits in this short piece that stand out. Such as, the narrator visits a dream-city to research the gate, and he finds what documents the people of that city had left behind. That alone is interesting--what happened to these dream-sages?--but what is most striking is that they were “too wise to ever born in the waking world” (132). Little details like this pepper the short piece, and they lend to the surreal atmosphere. For such a short story, it resonates on several levels, which is why, to me, it is so successful. That and I have always been a sucker for ruins, mystery, and the surreal.
Lovecraft, H. P. "Ex Oblivione." H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction. Comp. Barnes & Noble. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2011. 131-132. Print.