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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:13 am
by Sly Boots
Sure, I'd jump back in.

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:17 am
by Stormbringer
Cool. Here's the link:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/tex ... on/hd.aspx

I'll check in again on Tuesday to see if anyone's read it.

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:53 am
by Snowy
I will try and fit it in and post some thoughts - was aware this thread was gaining dust when it shouldn't :)

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:58 pm
by Stormbringer
Has anyone succeeded in reading The Haunter of the Dark?

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:12 pm
by Sly Boots
No... but I shall do so tonight now that our D&D session has been postponed.

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:42 pm
by Snowy
Likewise will try and nail it tonight.

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:59 pm
by Snowy
Ah, Nephren Ka, some of Nile's finest...

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=O ... QOKqKT7asc

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:25 pm
by Snowy
Ahhhh man that was awesome, HPL at his finest and I have not read that in years.

Consummately told, bring on the exam questions!

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:32 pm
by Sly Boots
Done.

Favourite line quoted out of context: "What might still lurk in the bird-shunned shadows?" :lol:

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:31 am
by Snowy
I was pleased that the ghastly Dutch got to take the day off, and those crazy Italians stepped in!

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:18 am
by Stormbringer
FUN FACTS:

1. The Haunter of the Dark was HPL's last story (other than The Night Ocean, which was a collaborative work with a friend) before he died of cancer in 1937.

2. The church on Federal Hill that inspired Lovecraft's story was a real place, but NOT a Free Will Baptist church built of stone in 1810-1815, as suggested in the story, but a Roman Catholic church, called St. John's, built of red bricks in 1871. It was demolished in 1992 and the site is now a public park.

3. At the end of the tale, during Blake's final scribblings, he writes the name "Roderick Usher", who is one of the main characters from Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, which provides a hint of what happens at the end.

4. Robert Blake, the main character of the story, was based on real-world Robert Bloch, Lovecraft's friend and fellow author. Lovecraft had the "Blake" character die in this story as a (good-humoured) pay-back for one of Robert Bloch's own stories, The Shambler from the Stars, where Bloch had a character killed who was clearly based on Lovecraft. This is what the following section of the story refers to:
His earlier stay in the city—a visit to a strange old man as deeply given to occult and forbidden lore as he—had ended amidst death and flame

5. After Lovecraft's death, Robert Bloch wrote a further story called The Shadow From the Steeple, which tells of events concerning the Shining Trapezohedron and the Dr. Dexter who threw it into the ocean. Together, The Shambler, The Haunter and The Shadow form a loose trilogy.

6. The history of the Shining Trapezohedron pays homage to several mythos tales, including "Yuggoth" from The Whisperer in Darkness, the Pharaoh Nephran-Ka from The Outsider, "the crinoid things of Anartica" from At the Mountains of Madness and "the serpent-men of Valusia" from the tales of Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero Kull.

So what did you think of the story? Any interesting thoughts/feelings/insights? What do you think happened at the end?

My personal favourite part of the story has always been where Robert first enters and explores the interior of the church. The feeling of desolation, silence and fear is almost tangible to me, as he pokes around a shadowy, long-abandoned, fear-shrouded, spider-haunted and BIRD-SHUNNED building, containing creepy occult literature and altered religious furniture (i.e. the ankh instead of the cross on the altar). Something about the idea of poking around silent, abandoned buildings really gives me the creeps, especially if questionable activities have been taking place therein a century or more ago.

Also, something about the quote...
The few saints depicted bore expressions distinctly open to criticism
...even though it is vague, gives me a really uneasy feeling.

I also like the ascent into the church's tower and the finding of the skeleton and the notes, providing terrible suggestions about the history of the cult.

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:07 am
by Stormbringer
P.S.

FUN FACT #7: George R.R. Martin mentions "The Church of the Starry Wisdom" in Chapter 45 of A Dance with Dragons, his most-recently published novel from A Song of Ice & Fire.

What shameless plagiarism, George!

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:45 pm
by Snowy
I hope it is homage, not plagiarism :)

I absolutely loved it, and while I got the 'Roderick Usher' reference I did not know any of the other fun facts.

For me too the exploration of the church was the high point. The comment about the saints resonated with me too - it made me think of Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine chapel where he added the pope's master of ceremonies as the face of the judge of the underworld, with asses ears to indicate his stupidity and a snake biting his nethers in response to his criticism of nudity in the Sistine chapel. The whole feeling of taking a sterotypical religious rendering and adding in a subtext that the casual viewer will not spot. One wonders who those saints were...

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For me it was just classically Lovecraft. The nameless dread, profanity lurking waiting to be discovered and awoken, glimpses of a mind-melting reality not meant for mortal minds - all the things that make HPL unique for me.

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:37 pm
by Sly Boots
I enjoyed it, and concur with the above that the best part was the investigation of the church.

Re the ending, I did some reading around after finishing, and apparently one of the favourite theories is that the evil entity and Blake had become linked through his actions in the church, and then after its escape the entity was hit by lightning during the storm and destroyed, which due to the aforesaid link resulted in Blake getting electrocuted at the same time. That seems a reasonable conclusion to me.

I'm not sure I have any stunning insights to add, but as elsewhere with Lovecraft I'm left a little bemused at the assumed intimate knowledge of architecture and architectural vocabulary in many of his descriptions. I can just about cope with something being described as Gothic or having Doric columns, but anything more advanced than that and I'm unable to form a clear mental picture of the scene being described.

Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:46 pm
by Stormbringer
When I first read HPL in my collection of paperback books around 2004/05 I seemed to completely brush over the architectural and other details that I didn't understand. These days, the older version of myself is quite fascinated by researching all these little details, so when I read HPL today (which is invariably on the web-pages I have been linking to) I keep one tab open containing the story, and another tab open to Google-research every little detail. I actually look forward to the research as much as I do the tale itself, if not more so.

Case in point: I had to look up the "Aklo language" which Robert translates from the leather-bound record book he finds in the desk drawer. Turns out it's a fictional eldritch language invented by British weird fiction author, Arthur Machen (whom Lovecraft greatly admired) and is referenced elsewhere in Lovecraft's fiction.

I read this tale yesterday, as you both did, and was even checking out Google Maps for the location of Blake's residence on College Hill in relation to the Federal Hill church, to see both the distance and what the view is like. Lovecraft is correct in that the distance appears to be just shy of two miles. Then again, he would know, since his actual house where he wrote the story was the same building in which he describes Blake as living in on College Street (another FUN FACT I neglected to mention)

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Robert Blake's residence: 66 College Street, Providence (also Lovecraft's actual house from 1930 - 1937

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"The old Free Will Church" (actually St. John's Roman Catholic Church), 352 Atwells Avenue

This was the view from Lovecraft's house to the church, which I've circled in red...

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Not quite as dramatic as the story makes it sound, but maybe that's because there is less smoke today, and perhaps it needs sunset to really make it stand out.

Nowadays, the site of the church is a park, which looks like this:

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The 100% not creepy Atwells Avenue Park

Sly Boots wrote:Re the ending, I did some reading around after finishing, and apparently one of the favourite theories is that the evil entity and Blake had become linked through his actions in the church, and then after its escape the entity was hit by lightning during the storm and destroyed, which due to the aforesaid link resulted in Blake getting electrocuted at the same time. That seems a reasonable conclusion to me.
Yes; I didn't pick this up the first time I read it, but that seems quite obvious this time through.


By the way, I seem to recall, the first time I read this story, I was really freaked out by the bit where he finds himself drawn back toward the church -- even in his sleep -- and has to tie himself to his bed in the hope that this will prevent him from sleepwalking over there in the dead of night! But then the horror when he wakes up one night and actually finds himself in the tower!!! :shock: