Raw Feed (2005, 2014): “The Music of Erich Zann“, H. P. Lovecraft, 1921.
Another early story that shows Lovecraft operating in a less characteristic way than he was to become famous for.
This is another European story in that its locale is vaguely European. The only specific geographical reference is to Rue d’Auseil street yet the language of the narrator is unstated as is his purpose for being in the city.
The story is less explicit than Lovecraft’s most famous stories; it is almost entirely a mood piece.
The Rue d’Auseil, supernaturally disappearing and abutting alternate dimensions, is an extreme example of the lost Pickman apartment in Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model“.)
And yet, there is something of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror here in that Erich Zann, whose motives are never made clear, seems to look out his window at cosmic dimensions and play his strange, original music as much to keep monsters at bay as call denizens of the cosmos to him.
On again reading the story in 2014, I noticed some extra things.
Rue d’Auseil seems, at least for the narrator and Zann, to be a place of psychic sickness. The narrator describes himself as unwell in his metaphysical studies.
It’s still unclear whether Zann is calling or repelling the denizens of the other dimension.
This is the Lovecraft story where the menace is closest to a normal city – in a city in the open at a height and just over a wall. That wall and height also bring to mind Lovecraft’s “Strange High House in the Mist”.
More reviews of Lovecraft are indexed on the Lovecraft page.