The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

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Stormbringer
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:27 am

Sly Boots wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:17 am
Should be finishing this up tonight

Well done!
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Such is the song of the nether world
The hissing of rats
And the jarring chants of angels

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Sly Boots » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:57 pm

I actually finished this up the other night but forgot to write anything up.

So, one I quite enjoyed as it happens. I think the scene was set very well though the first 'twist', that the inhabitants of Innsmouth are creepy fish-people, was obvious from almost the very beginning (I think the first time he mentions their distinctive facial features and unblinking eyes), but such is the breathless nature of the reveal some 75% of the story later I don't think that was intentional.

Even calling the main big building in the town "the Gilman house" was a bit on the nose :lol:

I did, however, only see the second twist, that of the fate of the narrator, coming only a few pages before it happened so that one was quite well kept under wraps.

Random observations:

More than once the narrator has a meal involving crackers (either on their own or with the decadent accompaniment of soup). Is that a period thing, or a taste peculiar to Lovecraft?

While the narrative does give a good sense of place, I do feel old Howie rather belaboured the arrangement of street names, without the aid of a map I couldn't mentally picture the layout in my mind.

Racism-wise there's a deep suspicion of things South Pacific, their indigenous people being a strange lot of fish-f*****s. But then the caucasians end up doing the same so there you go. Unless I've missed it I couldn't see any influence of the dastardly Dutch this time.

I love the fact that his escape plan basically boils down to:

Image

I'm surprised he doesn't head to the Winchester to wait for the whole thing to blow over :lol:

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:23 pm

Am on it gents, sorry for the tardiness!
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Fri Nov 15, 2019 3:05 pm

Thanks for the write-up, Sly! Glad you enjoyed it. It is considered one of his "greatest hits".

Sly Boots wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:57 pm
More than once the narrator has a meal involving crackers (either on their own or with the decadent accompaniment of soup). Is that a period thing, or a taste peculiar to Lovecraft?

I'd heard a rumour on the internet that Lovecraft largely survived on this kind of fare, but evidence from his letters proves contrary:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/life/interest/foods.aspx

I love his $3.00 a week budget, though -- if only we could all survive on that today! :lol:

Sly Boots wrote:Racism-wise there's a deep suspicion of things South Pacific, their indigenous people being a strange lot of fish-f*****s. But then the caucasians end up doing the same so there you go. Unless I've missed it I couldn't see any influence of the dastardly Dutch this time.

There's a mention of alarm at the fact a New England man came home with a... *chokes* ... CHINESE wife!

But yes, Lovecraft had a strange unease about the South Pacific, apparently. It is, after all, where Cthulhu lives, and we've had at least three stories in recent times make reference to the area:

1. The Call of Cthulhu (obviously)

2. The Haunter of the Dark
H.P. Lovecraft wrote:Around the pillar in a rough circle were seven high-backed Gothic chairs still largely intact, while behind them, ranging along the dark-panelled walls, were seven colossal images of crumbling, black-painted plaster, resembling more than anything else the cryptic carven megaliths of mysterious Easter Island.
3. The Picture in the House
H.P. Lovecraft wrote:Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places...they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands.

I'd be very interested to know if Lovecraft ever wrote on why he was so fascinated by the South Pacific as a source of horror, in the same way he wrote as to why 17th Century New England was.


I think Lovecraft weaves at least three phobias into this one:

1. Foreigners (especially "inter-racial" breeding)

2. The Sea

3. Disreputable genetic heritage (likely as a result of point 1)

On the latter point, there's an strong element of Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family -- a man discovering the true source of his quirky traits and committing suicide as a consequence. This all seems to revolve around the idea that being anything other than a white Anglo-Saxon is an unbearable existence.


Three more things:

1. I like how Cthulhu is dragged into this tale; he's not just worshiped by human cultists on land, but by the Deep Ones beneath the ocean.

2. There's mention of a SHOGGOTH in the last paragraph, which scares the living daylights out of the narrator, though very little is said about it. Understanding this reference depends on the reader having already read the earlier tale, At The Mountains of Madness, which we will come to later.

3. This tale plays a huge role in shaping the plot of the 2004 first-person-survival-horror game, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, which you can buy on GOG.COM or Steam for £3.99:

https://www.gog.com/game/call_of_cthulh ... _the_earth



Recommended if you want to "game" this tale!
Between tedium and fright
Such is the song of the nether world
The hissing of rats
And the jarring chants of angels

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:36 am

I've been re-reading the story over the last couple of days while we wait for Snowy. ¬_¬

I noticed this section:
H.P. Lovecraft wrote:Then we reached the crest and beheld the outspread valley beyond, where the Manuxet joins the sea just north of the long line of cliffs that culminate in Kingsport Head and veer off toward Cape Ann. On the far, misty horizon I could just make out the dizzy profile of the Head, topped by the queer ancient house of which so many legends are told

REMEMBER THIS. We will be going back there later. Tales referenced within tales. I love how Lovecraft does this.

Also, I really love the whole Gilman House escape sequence.
Between tedium and fright
Such is the song of the nether world
The hissing of rats
And the jarring chants of angels

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:26 pm

Yeah, we would be reading my insights about now if I had been reading the Shadow over Innsmouth and not the Dunwich Horror...

Am on it gentlemen, just behind the curve even my my own woeful standards...
RCHD wrote:Snowy is my favourite. He's a metal God.
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:51 pm

Snowy wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:26 pm
Yeah, we would be reading my insights about now if I had been reading the Shadow over Innsmouth and not the Dunwich Horror...
:lol:

Oh boy. Well, since Sly has already read Dunwich, I guess that will be our next!
Between tedium and fright
Such is the song of the nether world
The hissing of rats
And the jarring chants of angels

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:53 am

OK Shadow over Innsmouth re-read, thoughts to follow. I have also picked up Dunwich Horror from where I left off too.

Shadow is, for me, the first of the full-blown Mythos stories that we have read, the ones that hooked me way back when I was introduced to Lovecraft by way of playing Call of Cthulhu with my old RPG group way back when. In fact, the CoC RPG was useful in rationalising what was otherwise a bit of a weird concept - why HPL's protagonists were so prone to fainting. When it was considered to be such a hammer-blow to your sanity to realise that such things existed, his cast of characters all having less of a grip on consciousness than a herd of fainting goats made more sense.

The story itself is great, the insinuation of the Deep Ones into Innsmouth and their breeding with the residents is pleasantly chilling, especially when factored against a once prosperous but now dying, rotting and boarded up city. That the protagonist does not end up in a sanitarium or topping himself when his own genealogy comes to the fore is a bonus for me though. His deciding to embrace the opportunity to go and live beneath the waves makes for a great ending, although it does call into question why he would choose to commit his intents to paper :lol:

Anyway, for me any story that contains Ia! Shub Niggurath! tends to be a winner. I will be back as soon as I finish Dunwich...
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:14 am

Cheers for the write-up, Snowy. I never thought of Lovecraft's protagonists fainting as a total loss of sanity points before, but that's an excellent way to regard it.

Are we happy to move on to The Dunwich Horror? I realise Sly has read this already (albeit a few months ago) and if I'm understanding his posts correctly, Snowy has also just read it?
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And the jarring chants of angels

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:55 am

I have indeed just finished it. I will post my thoughts when I have a few mins spare, hopefully this evening.
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Sly Boots » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:04 am

I decided to reread it as it has been a while, started last night and will probably be a few evening as I work through it.

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:54 am

Excellent. I'll get cracking and read it myself over the next couple of days.
Between tedium and fright
Such is the song of the nether world
The hissing of rats
And the jarring chants of angels

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:49 pm

First up for me then - a rarity indeed!

Another Lovecraft classic this one. Some similarities with Innsmouth too, the use of the legend of whippoorwills capturing the souls of the recently deceased being one such.

If I am correct, this is where Yog Sothoth is first really described as one of the Elder Gods. He clearly has a bit of the Greek gods in him, seeing as he appears to have impregnated poor Lavinia Whateley. It might also be the first mention of the dread Necronomicon being held in the Miskatonic University but I am not sure on that point.

A great tale this one, one that really builds to a climactic crescendo and you imagine would make a good film. Sadly seeing the trailer for the 1970 film of the same name makes me suspect it has very little to do with the book.
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:14 pm

Snowy wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:49 pm
If I am correct, this is where Yog Sothoth is first really described as one of the Elder Gods.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (which I doubt we'll read, as it's fairly long, and -- controversially -- I find it quite tedious ¬_¬) is where the mysterious Yog-Sothoth makes his debut appearance. However, in it, it's not really clear what it is except a name that is chanted as part of occult rituals. In The Dunwich Horror, Yog-Sothoth's purpose and power is not exactly clear, but we do at least find out that "he" is capable of impregnating human women, much like Zeus, as you suggest, but with more hideous offspring.

Snowy wrote:It might also be the first mention of the dread Necronomicon being held in the Miskatonic University but I am not sure on that point.
I think this is a good time to introduce this little "story":

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

This piece was written before Dunwich, though published a decade later, though clearly Dunwich depends on this history.
Between tedium and fright
Such is the song of the nether world
The hissing of rats
And the jarring chants of angels

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