“From Beyond”

The Lovecraft series.

Raw Feed (2005): “From Beyond”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1920.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

In his introduction to this collection, T. E. D. Klein notes that Lovecraft’s protagonist are usually solitary figures or, if a friend is shown, the friend is there to show the downfall of the protagonist.

This is such a story, and I liked the change of pace.

Crawford Tillinghast is described by his best friend, the narrator, as a man who should never have studied philosophy or science. He embarks on a plan to make the invisible entities around us visible — and, in turn, we will become visible to them and (as it turns out), prey.

I liked the bitterness of the story as Tillinghast, begged by the narrator not to continue his researches, kicks him away and then, eventually, tries to get one of the newly discovered entities from beyond to kill him, all the while gloating that at last the existence of his “pets” will be proven. Of course, it is Tillinghast they ultimately kill. Continue reading

“Celephaïs”

The Lovecraft series continues.

Raw Feed (2005): “Celephaïs”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1920.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

This is another of Lovecraft’s Dunsanian tales and features Kuranes, a minor character in the later “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath“.

This is the story of how the old Kuranes seeks and find “his old world of childhood”: the city of Celephaïs in the Valley of Ooth-Nargai.

The last paragraph, where Kuranes’ real body (he still lives in the dream world) is shown to be”the body of a tramp” below “the cliffs of Innsmouth” and washes (as the story ends)

upon the rocks by ivy-covered Trevor Towers, where a notably fat and especially offensive millionaire brewer enjoys the purchased atmosphere of extinct nobility

seems Lovecraft slapping a mundane, money obsessed member of the bourgeois who doesn’t know that he is in the presence of the sort of royalty and nobility he can only pretend to.

This story was written in 1920 when Lovecraft was 30. Seven years later, in “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath”, Kuranes has grown tired of his dream city and longs for the Cornish fishing village of his youth.

 

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“Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family”

Yes, it’s the same old story.  No new reviews so the Lovecraft series continues.

Raw Feed (2005): “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1920.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

Lovecraft, in this 1920 story, sort of enters Edgar Rice Burroughs territory in that the story centers around a horrid tribe of white gorillas in Africa and how their blood, in typical Lovecraftian fashion, came to be mingled with the Jermyn family. In its revelations of horrid family secrets, it is something of a dress rehearsal for Lovecraft’s later The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

 

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“The Temple”

 

The Lovecraft series continues because I’m still stalled in getting new stuff out.

This one, I hope, will eventually get another look for my World War One in Fantastic Fiction.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Temple”, H. P. Lovecraft 1920.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

It’s only 1920 and this is already, after his “Dagon“, the second time already he’s introduced the exploration of ancient, alien cities, a plot element prominent in his more famous “At the Mountains of Madness“, “The Call of Cthulhu“, and “The Shadow Out of Time“.

This is also the only Lovecraft story, with its tale of the mishaps of a German U-Boat, set entirely during World War One.

Unfortunately, his depiction of his narrator, the commander of the submarine, is a jarring caricature who constantly rails against the ignorant peasants under his command, the inferiority of non-Prussians, and generally spouts off German war propaganda.

I don’t know why Lovecraft did this. It could be he simply didn’t care much one way or another since doing realistic characters was not a major concern of his. He could be repeating, for whatever reason, American propaganda from the war, or Lovecraft the Aryan lover could be giving what he thought was a realistic portrayal. [This is an unfair characterization. Lovecraft was an Anglophile.] Or it could simply be that character of the German commander owes something to the editor at Weird Tales where this story was first published.

We don’t actually have any manuscript from Lovecraft for it, so we don’t know what was changed for publication.

 

More Lovecraft related material is on the Lovecraft page.

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“The Cats of Ulthar”

The Lovecraft series continues.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Cats of Ulthar”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1920.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

Cat lover Lovecraft does a Dunsanian tale about the vengeance the cats of Ulthar take, with the help of some strange wanderers, on the couple who has been killing their number.

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related period are on the Lovecraft page.

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“The Tomb”

The Lovecraft series continues.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Tomb”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1917.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

In a sense this story, like a lot of Lovecraft’s earlier tales, is a miniature study for a later story. Specifically, the plot of this 1917 story, with its narrator under the compulsive call of a dead ancestor laying in a locked crypt, foreshadows the similar plot (with a different conclusion) of 1927’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.  I was also interested to see the poet Lovecraft sneak one of his compositions — a Colonial drinking song — into the story.

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related material are indexed on the Lovecraft page.

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“The Tree”

Well I work on getting some new stuff out, I’ll continue with the Lovecraft series.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Tree”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1920.

Not a particularly compelling story, but there are two points of interest here (assuming I was paying attention and my memory is correct).

First, this is Lovecraft’s only story set in Ancient Greece.

Second, it is the first example in his work of the malignant, oddly shaped vegetation motif which shows up in other stories including, perhaps most notably, “The Colour Out of Space“.

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related material is on the Lovecraft page.

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“The Doom That Came to Sarnath”

Well I work on getting some new stuff out, I’ll continue with the Lovecraft series.

Raw Feed (2005): “The Doom That Came to Sarnath”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1919.

This story seems to feature some of the same places — given the names (and with the questionable assumption that Lovecraft self-consciously created a consistent dream geography) as the later “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath“. It seems Dunsanian in style, but, in the collection’s introduction, T. E. D. Klein makes the point that the plot itself is similar to what Lovecraft’s idol Edgar Allan Poe used in his “The Masque of the Red Death” in that both stories feature the strange deposition of a tyrannical ruler.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related material is on the Lovecraft page.

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“The White Ship”

Well I work on getting some new stuff out, I’ll continue with the Lovecraft series.

Raw Feed (2005): “The White Ship”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1919.

This appears to be Lovecraft’s first tale written under the conscious influence of Lord Dunsany. A lighthouse keeper boards a fantastic ship for a journey to places like Thalarion “City of a Thousand Wonders” and Xura “the Land of Pleasures Unattained” before returning home.

 

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related material is on the Lovecraft page.

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“Beyond the Wall of Sleep”

The Lovecraft series continues.

Raw Feed (2005, 2015): “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1919.

This is one of the very few Lovecraft tales where the narrator actually has a job other than college professor. He works, appropriately enough, at an insane asylum. Of course, he’s still very much in the Lovecraft vein of rich and smart protagonist or, at least, rich and smart enough to build his own electrical device to facilitate telepathy.

The alien inhabiting the body of white trash (proving that Lovecraft could certainly disparage Anglo-Saxon types as well as Italians, blacks, Poles, and Jews) is, in this 1919 story, the first example of the bodyswitching/bodysharing/psychic possession themes of the later tales “The Thing on the Doorstep“, “The Shadow Out of Time“, and “Through the Gates of the Silver Key“.

 

Besides the things I noticed on this first reading, this time I noticed how much of later Lovecraft is here: the dream lands which will appear, in another form, in his Randolph Carter story, and the rich, casual references to a hidden past and distant future. There are references to the future empire of Tsan-Chan, insect-philosophers on a moon of Jupiter. This is another example of earthly existence is a prison both temporally and physically.

On the first reading, I missed the reference to Professor Garrett P. Serviss, popular writer on astronomy and early sf writer most known for writing a sequel to H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, his Edison’s Conquest of Mars.

 

More reviews of Lovecraft related material is on the Lovecraft page.

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