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CRYPT or
CRYPT OF
CTHULHU
A Pulp Thriller and Theological Journal

Vol. 5, No. 4 Eastertide 1986

CONTENTS

Editorial Shards 2

"The Hound" -Dead Dog?


a 3
By Steven Mariconda
"The Tomb" & "Dagon" 8
By William Fulwiler
The Sources for "From Beyond" 15
By S. T. Joshi
Spawn of the Moon- Bog 20
By Will Murray
Exploring "The Temple" . 26
By David E. Schultz
On "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" 33
By M. Eileen McNamara, M. D.

The Little Tow-Head Fiend 35


By Will Murray
HPL's Style 38
By Ralph E. Vaughan

Fun Guys from Yuggoth 40

Three Who Died 42

Advice to the Lovecraft-Lorn 43

R'lyeh Review 44

Mail-Call of Cthulhu 49

1
2 / Crypt of Cthulhu

Debatable and Disturbing:


EDITORIAL SHARDS

Let's face it: when most of us Lovecraftians go back and read


our favorite HPL tales, there are some we never go back to, though
these are the ones on which our memories could probably use the
most refreshing. These are the "lesser tales" of Lovecraft, and
this issue of Crypt of Cthulhu finally forces you to take a second
look at them. We are focusing on "Lovecraft's lousier fiction" this
time.

Sometimes we will be pinpointing just what makes it so lousy,


but more often we will be arguing that more is there than meets the
eye. Many of these stories have been unjustly consigned to the bin
of also-rans. Granted, they are not nearly the equals of "The Dun-
wich Horror" or "The Call of Cthulhu," but this doesn't necessarily
mean they stink.

Let's give these stories a break, as some of our best Crypt ic


scholars examine "The Hound," "Dagon," "The Tomb," "The Tem-
ple, " "From Beyond, " "Beyond the Wall of Sleep, " "The Moon-
Bog, " and of course "Herbert West--Reanimator" (now a major
motion picture, as they always say on paperback movie editions),
one tale that just can't be left out of any discussion of Lovecraft's
lousier fiction.

Robert M. Price, Editor


Eastertide 1986 / 3

The Hound- a Dead Dog?


By Steven Mariconda

Though many Lovecraft enthusi- must place it beneath my pillow


asts are able to find a small place as I sleep ..who can say what
.

in their hearts for "The Hound," most thing might not come out of the
critics have dismissed the tale as centuried to exact ven-
earth
little more than a florid imitation of geance for his desecrated tomb?
Edgar Allan Poe. It does contain al- And should it come, who can say

lusions to Poe, and may have been what it might not resemble?*

written as a kind of homage to him;


but it nevertheless stands as an in- Lovecraft must have composed "The
teresting and effective if admittedly
,
Hound" soon after. Following the
secondary, work by Lovecraft. "The line of thought in his letter, he cre-
Hound" is primarily of interest to ated a tale of two men stalked by a
the student as the major fictional re- thing, resembling a gigantic hound,
flection of Lovecraft' s interest in from a grave they defiled. Love-
Decadent literature, and in its re- craft moved the location of the church
semblance to Joris-Karl Huysmans' to its native Holland, and set the rest
A Rebours It contains several other
. of the action in Kent, England. With
notable aspects, and its peculiar at- typical good humor, he used Kleiner
mosphere places it well above Love- and himself as the protagonists.
craft's most mediocre efforts. Kleiner's character, "St. John" (the
A certain object that Lovecraft nickname Lovecraft often used for
obtained during one of his antiquari- Kleiner in the salutation of letters)
an explorations provided the inspi- ends up "an inert mass of mangled
ration for "The Hound." On Septem- flesh"2; the narrator (i. e. Love- ,

ber 16, 1922, while visiting New York craft) shoots himself at the tale's
City for the second time, Lovecraft denouement.
and Rheinhart Kleiner examined the A "devastating ennui" (D 162) sup-
Flatbush Reformed Church at Flat- plied the protagonists motivation for
'

bush and Church Avenues in Brook- graverobbing and assembling a mor-


lyn: bid museum in a secret room of their
manor house in Kent. In this, the
That evening Kleiner and I inves- story's theme, we see the influence
tigated the principal antiquity of of Huysmans' A Rebours (1884) and
this section- -the old Dutch Re- the Decadents in general. Later
formed Church --and were well Lovecraft admitted that in youth he
repaid for our quest. Around . . .

delight[ed] to echo Continental


the old pile is a hoary churchyard,
iconoclasm and to experiment in
with inte rments dating from about
the literary sophistication, ennui,
1730 to the middle of the nine-
and decadent symbolism which
teenth century. .From one of
those around me exalted and prac-
. .

the crumbling gravestones dated


ticed. This phase, though, was
1747--I chipped a small piece to
exceedingly brief with me
carry away. It lies before me as
. . .

(SL II. 138) 3


I write -- and ought to suggest
some sort of hor ror- sto ry. I As the most pronounced example of
4 / Crypt of Cthulhu

the Decadent influence in Lovec raft's tasted every imaginable experi-


fiction, "The Hound" was assuredly ence, sank into a state of lethar-
written during the period mentioned 6
gy

here. One of the companions to whom


Lovecraft alludes in this quote is Des Esseintes retires in seclusion
Frank Belknap Long. Lovecraft first to the suburbs of Paris and under-
met Long in New York in April 1922, takes a series of episodic attempts
and wrote of him soon after as "a to amuse himself with, among other
sincere and intelligent disciple of things, elaborately decorated cham-
Poe, Baudelaire, and the French dec- bers, a guilded and bejeweled tor-
adents" (SL I. 175). Their ensuing toise, bizarre flowers and plants,
discussions on the subject likely recherche literature and art, and a
prompted Lovecraft to take a closer "mouth-organ" whichdispenses "in-
lookat Huysmans' ARebours Love- . ternal symphonies" of liqueurs. Af-
craft later called Huysmans the ter a time, however, he reflects:
"summation and finale"'* of the Dec-
adent movement, and had a great . . . since leaving Paris, he had
regard for A Rebours : withdrawn further and further
from reality and above all from
I read it & thought it excellent. the society of his day, which he
Huysmans shewed the aesthete & regarded with ever-growing hor-
decadent at his extreme develop- ror; this hatred he felt had in-
ment, & his work has really be- variably affected his literary and
come a classic of its kind- -the artistic tastes, so that he shunned
definitive epitomisation of the as far as possible pictures and
neo-hedonistic philosophy of the books whose subjects were con-
nineties. fined to modern life. 7
Huysmans is a great figure--
there is no question about that. . The introductory paragraphs of "The
. . You will find ARebours worth Hound" are a succinct restatement
going through a good deal of trou- of Des Esseintes' dilemma, and what
ble to get. 5 follows in Lovecraft' s tale is a more
grotesque (and perhaps subtly par-
A Rebours
("Against the Grain") odic) version of his attempted solu-
is the tale of Due Jean des Esseintes, tion.
the last descendant of an ancient There are also specific parallels
family. The novel's prologue docu- between the two works. Take, for
ments his youth and his growing dis- example, one of the items (which
illusionment and boredom with reli- surely must have appealed to Love-
gion, sex, Parisian society, and craft) in Des Esseintes' dining room,
academics in turn: which he has decorated to simulate
a ship's cabin:
Try what he might, however, he
could not shake off the overpower-
... a side table which was dom-
inated by a single book bound in
ing tedium which weighed upon
sea-calf leather: the Narrative
him. ... he began to imagine
of Arthur Gordon Pym specially
and then to indulge in unnatural ,

printed for him on laid paper of


love-affairs and perverse pleas-
pure linen.
ures. His overfatigued sen-
. . .

ses, as if satisfied that they had This is very similar to something


Eastertide 1986 / 5

found in Lovecraft's cellar gallery: ployed in "The Hound" is not a result


of an inability to write concisely, nor
A locked portfolio, bound in tanned is it simply pastiche. Rather, it
human unknown
skin, held certain stems from the theme, narrative
and unnamable drawings which it voice, and situation of the story. As
was rumored Goya had perpe- Lovecraft usually did, he chose first-
trated but dared not acknowledge. person narration, which enabled him
(D 153) to employ both subjective and objec-
tive description and to subtly portray
The obvious thematic influence of the mental state of the narrator.
A Rebours on "The Hound," coupled Lovecraft's prose reflects his char-
with more specific similarities such acterization of the narrator: a psy-
as this, imply that Lovecraft set out chotic who thrives on the colorful
to write a tale in the manner of the works of the symbolists, pre-Raph-
Decadents. This notion is borne out aelites,9 and Decadents. It also fol-
by the references to Poe sprinkled lows from the narrator's situation
throughout Lovecraft's tale. The at the time of the manuscript' s writ-
"oblong box" exhumed (D 154), the ing, pursued by a deadly ghoul and
mysterious "knock at my chamber about to commit suicide as a result.
door" (D 156), and the "red death" Lovecraft had previously written
brought by the Hound (D 158) all echo several concise tales, such as "The
Poe's phraseology. The bizarre Temple" and "Facts Concerning the
colored lights and hangings of the Late Arthur Jermyn and his Family"
underground museum, though simi- (both 1920), so it is evident that "The
lar to Des Esseintes' lodgings, also Hound" is intentionally written as it
recall Prince Prospero's seven is. The story gave him an opportu-
chambers in "The Masque of the Red nity to write colorfully, and the rel-
Death." The paintings and "disson- ish with which he wrote is obvious.
ances of exquisite morbidity and ca- The tale is well-written, especially
codaemoniacal ghastliness" (D 153) the descriptions of the subterranean
produced by the protagonists follow museum (which are very much in the
Roderick Usher, who also painted style of Huysmans)and the conclud-
and played long improvised dirges ing paragraphs, and it succeeds in
on a guitar. These allusions to Poe creating the atmosphere Lovecraft
in a story modeled after a great Dec- feltwas crucial to weird fiction. 10
adent novel seem confusing until we "The Hound" is also noteworthy
note aremark made by Lovecraft in in that contains the first reference
it

a letter to Long that Poe was "the to one of Lovecraft's most famous
father of the most redeeming features creations, the Necronomicon. Poe's
of decadent literature" (SL I. 173). Roderick Usher possessed many
One suspects that "The Hound" was tomes of mysterious content, among
written for the amusement of Long them "an exceedingly rare and curi-
and Kleiner as a tongue-in-cheek ous book in quarto Gothic the Vigilae
tribute to Poe's literary legacy, and Mortuorum Secundum Chorum Ec -
that the references to Poe's work clesiae Maguntinae " 1 1and perhaps
;

are a homage to that writer, whom Lovecraft felt compelled to furnish


Lovecraft told Kleiner was his "God a similar volume for his protagon-
of Fiction" (SL I. 20). ists' use. He ascribed the work
Despite claims to the contrary, to Abdul Alhazred, whose "unexplain-
the ornate style which Lovecraft em- able couplet" he had quoted the pre-
6 / Crypt of Cthulhu

vious year in "The Nameless City." tomb-loot ever assembled by hu-


Lovecraft later said the name "Nec- man madness and perversity. It
ronomicon" came to him in a dream, is of this loot in particular that I
evidently at the approximate time must not speak--thank God I had
"The Hound" was written; thus mak- the courage to destroy it long be-
ing the many attempts to determine fore I thought of destroying my-
the linguistic derivation of the word self! (D 153)
purely academic. In the story ^
Lovecraft gives little information Obscure hints and intimations such
about the Necronomicon other than as these lend much atmospheric ten-
the fact that it is a demonology (a sion to the story.
guide to heretical beliefs) rather than The fact that "The Hound" was
a grimoire (a collection of spells penned before the advent of Weird
and rituals) as he would later em- Tales removes it from any suspicion
ploy it. 1 ^ of being tainted by pulp formulas.
Though the tale is nominally a Lovecraft liked the tale originally,
straightforward one of supernatural for it was one of five he chose for
revenge, it contains certain ambi- his first submissions to Weird
guities that add to its atmospheric Tale .^ He later whimsically dis-
effectiveness. Foremost among missed "The Hound" as "a dead
these are the varied manifestations dog"; 15 he was, with typical mode sty,
of the occupant of the defiled grave. ignoring the many positive aspects
The amulet found in the coffin sug- of the story. Besides introducing
gests that the ghoul takes the form the Necronomicon ,it contains enough
of a winged hound, which is borne out ambiguity to keep the reader won-
by the frequently heard baying and dering, and it is written in a zestful,
flapping of wings and the state of St. almost baroque, style which is very
John' s remains. Yet the disembodied entertaining. It is important as one
chatter and shrill laughter heard by of the few literary testaments to
the narrator seem to conflict with Lovecraft' s interest in the Decadents
this manifestation. The ghoul also in general and to his regard for Huys-
takes the form of a "vague black mans in particular. The story tran-
cloudy thing" (D 157), foreshadow- scends its references to Poe and the
ing the entity in "The Haunter of the familiar motif of retribution from
Dark" (1935). Other unexplained beyond the grave through its original
disparities include the set of foot- twists and strange atmosphere. And
prints found beneath the window of though it may pale beside Love-
the manor house, which are "utter- craft's later achievements, from any
ly impossible to describe" (D 157), other pen it would be recognized for
and the horde of huge bats that seem what it is- -a worthwhile tale of ter-
to accompany the Hound. These dis- ror.
turbing details suggest the basically
unknowable character of the ghoul. NOTES
Then there is this intriguingly
vague aside regarding the under- 1 Love craft. Selected Letters (5auk
ground museum: City: Arkham House I, 98. Further
)

references in the text, abbreviated


. in a multitude of inlaid ebony
. .
"SL. "
cabinets reposed the most incred- ^Lovecraft, "The Hound," in Dagon
ible and unimaginable variety of and Other Macabre Tales (Sauk City:
Eastertide 1986 / 7

Arkham House, 1965), p. 157. Fur- final criterion of convincingness or


ther references in the text, abbre- unconvincingness in any tale whose
viated "D." major appeal is to the imagination."
^This quote was cited by S. T. l^Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of
Joshi in his review of Barton St. Ar- the House of Usher," in Selected
mand's H. P. Lovecraft: New Eng - Poetry and Prose (New York: Mod-
land Decadent in Lovecraft Studies ern Library, 1951), p. 124.
Vol. X, No. 3 (Fall 1 980), 35, in point- l^SLV. 418. Lovecraft himself
ing out that though Lovecraft appre- postulated an incorrect derivation
ciated Decadent literature, its influ- ("An Image [or Picture] of the Law
ence upon his work was limited. of the Dead"). S. T. Joshi merci-
^"Supernatural Horror in Litera- fully settled the matter in his "After-
ture, " in Dagon and Other Macabre word" to The History of the Necro -
Tales p. 372.
,
nomicon (West Warwick, RI: Nec-
5 Lovecraft to A. Derleth, 9 Feb- ronomicon Press, 1980), n. p. de- ,

ruary 1 927; 11 March 1927 (MS, State riving it as simply "Book Concern-
Historical Society of Wisconsin; rpt. ing the Dead. "
R. Alain Everts in the 16th mailing l^See "Genres in the Lovecraftian
of theH.P. Lovecraft amateurpress Library" by Robert M. Price, in
association, December 1982). Crypt of Cthulhu Vol. l,No. 3,p. 14.
,

6jo ris-Karl Huysmans, Against 14s L 1.27. The other s he sent we re


Nature (Middlesex, England: Pen- "Dagon, " "Arthur Jermyn, " "The
guin, 1968), p. 23. Cats of Ulthar,"and "The Statement
7 Ibid. , p. 180. Sjbid. , p. 34. of Randolph Carter. "
9The pre -Raphaelite movement 1 ^Quoted in Robert H. Barlow,
began in 1848 when Dante Gabriel "The Barlow Journal," in Some Notes
Rossetti, Holman Hunt, John Everett on H. P. Lovecraft (Sauk City: Ark-
Millais, and other artists established ham House, 1959; rpt. West War-
the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood as a wick, RI: Necronomicon Press,
protest against the artificial conven- 1982), p. 28.
tions and techniques then in use in
painting; they wished to regain the
spirit of simple devotion and adher-
ence to nature which they found in
Italian religious art before Raphael.
Several of the group were poets as
well as artists, and the effect of the
cultwas felt on English literature. CORREC TION
The main literary products of the
movement are Rossetti's verse and
translations of Dante, and the poems Lin Carter's "H. P. Love-
of Christina Rossetti and William craft: The History" first ap-
Morris. (The Decadents, on the peared in Fantasy Advertise r
other hand, held that art was supe- March 1950.
rior to nature, and that the finest
beauty was that of dying or decaying Many thanks to Roy A.
things. )
Squires for this information.
*Cf. ,
among many others, SL II.
90: ", . . in the end, atmosphere
repays cultivation; because it is the
8 / Crypt of Cthulhu

The Tomb* (Eh Dagon


A DOUBLE DISSECTION
By William Fulwiler

At the age of twenty- six, H. P. the strange phenomena described in


Lovecraft returned to fictional com- his narrative, declaring: "It is suf-
position after a nine year hiatus, ficient for me to relate events with-
writing "The Tomb" and "Dagon" in out analyzing causes.
quick succession. Perhaps in part The narrator, Jervas Dudley, tells
because these were Lovecraft's first of his boyhood spent reading ancient
mature stories, critics tend to dis- books and roaming the fields and
miss them as minor works. How- woods near his home. One day he
ever, a careful analysis of these discovers the locked hillside tomb
tales suggests they may be under- of the Hydes. This extinct family
rated. inhabited the mansion whose fire-
It is appropriate to examine the blackened ruins crown the hilltop.
two stories together, for they are The door of the tomb is fastened
much alike. Lovecraftexplained the ajar with heavy chains and a padlock.
similarity of the tales a few weeks Dudley resolves to enter the vault,
after their composition: but is unable to force the lock. He
becomes obsessed with the tomb,
Both are analyses of strange mo- visiting it often in vain attempts to
nomania, involving hallucinations force an entrance. His interest is
of the most hideous sort. Well, heightened when he learns he is dis-
may the shade of the late Mr. Poe tantly related to the Hydes.
of Baltimore turn green through Dudley becomes convinced that,
jealousy !
1 when the time is right, he will have
no difficulty in opening the tomb.
As the reference to Poe implies, After several years, voices from
these early efforts owe much to such within the tomb direct him to an old
studies in monomania as "The Tell- chest in his attic, in which he finds
Tale Heart" and "The Imp of the the key to the lock. The next day he
Perverse. " However, Lovecraft's enters the vault and discovers an
treatment of the theme is not slavish- empty casket inscribed with a single
ly imitative of Poe, for there is adis- name. Acting on impulse, he climbs
quieting atmosphere of uncertainty into the coffin.
in these stories that is uniquely Love- In the morning he leave s the tomb
craftian. In both "The Tomb" and a changed man. No longer sober and
"Dagon," it is unclear where reality studious, he is now a bold and reck-
ends and madness begins. less sophisticate. He acquires an
5j< jjs 5{
archaic manner of speech and an un-
"The Tomb" is a tale related by explainable fear of thunderstorms.
an inmate of an asylum to justify his One day at breakfast, he shocks his
seemingly irrational actions. Fear- family by singing an eighteenth cen-
ing his speculations would confirm tury drinking song.
the beliefs of those who doubt his Alarmed by his odd behavior, his
sanity, he offers no explanation for parents have him followed. One
Eastertide 1986 / 9

morning Dudley sees someone watch- immediacy and conviction of the first
ing him as he is leaving the sepul- person narration draw the reader in-
chre. Inexplicably, he later over- to the story and envelop him in an
hears watcher tell Dudley's father
the oppressive atmosphere of horror.
that his son spent the night sleeping He soon finds that, like the unfortu-
outside the tomb . nate narrator, he cannot distinguish
One night soon thereafter, Jervas the real from the unreal.
Dudley visits site of the Hyde
the The ending of the tale is fiendishly
mansion and finds it restored to its inconclusive. Dudley's introductory
former glory. A party is taking declaration that it is sufficient for
place, and he joins in the revelry. him "to relate events without analyz-
Then lightning strikes the mansion, ing causes" is obviously indicative
and he, now Jervas Hyde realizes ,
of Lovecraft's own sentiments.
his body will be burnt to ashes. He It is clear Dudley suffered from
resolves that he will be buried in the hallucinations- -there was no key,
family tomb "even though my soul go and he never physically entered the
seeking through the ages for another tomb. However, the central ques-
corporeal tenement to represent it tion remains unanswered: Was Dud-
on that vacant slab in the alcove of ley hallucinating that he was pos-
the vault. sessed, or was he hallucinating be-
The vision fades, and Dudley finds cause he was possessed ? The ordi-
himself struggling in the grasp of nary explanation is not entirely im-
two men as his father looks on. A plausible, but the case for the extra-
stroke of lightning has struck the ordinary explanation seems stronger.
ruined cellar, unearthing an antique In allowing the reader to choose
box that contains a portrait resem- between an ordinary and an extraor-
bling Dudley. It bears the initials dinary explanation for the events of
H. " the story, Lovecraft was following
"J.
His father insists the padlock of the example of his literary mentor
the vault has never been opened, and Edgar Allan Poe. However, Love-
that Dudley was often spied sleeping craft's motive for employing ambi-
outside the door. He asserts that the guity was not the same as Poe's.
things Dudley claims to have learned In his extraordinary stories, "Poe
from the dead were gleaned from often made slight concessions to ex-
reading ancient books. tremely matter-of-fact readers--in
Dudley cannot prove otherwise, suggesting that hallucination result-
for he has lost the key to the lock. ing from delirium, true insanity, or
He persuades a family servant to the use of opium might account for
open the tomb and explore within. the wonders. These ordinary ex-
The servant discovers an empty cof- planations are merely a sop for
fin inscribed with the name "Jervas." skeptics, and are not intended to be
Lovecraft's first mature story is taken se riously by more imaginative
an extremely well-crafted work. The readers.
stylistic model for "The Tomb" is In contrast, the ordinary expla-
the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, and nation offered in "The Tomb" is in-
no disciple followed Poe's example tended, not to appease skeptics, but
more successfully than Lovecraft. to raise doubts in the minds of all
Not a single word is wasted- -eve ry readers as to the reliability of the
scene is carefully constructed to aid narrator's story. Lovecraft com-
in establishing a single effect. The mented on his preference for ambi-
10 / Crypt of Cthulhu

guity in a letter to Frank Belknap once more reared its stately


Long: height to the raptured vision; ev-
ery window ablaze with the splen-
Somehow I am not so much thrilled dor of many candles. Inside
. . .

by a visible charnel house or con- the hall were music, laughter,


clave of daemons as I am by the and wine on every hand. 8
suspicion that a charnel vaultex-
ists below an immemorially an- Here the mansion symbolizes the
cient castle, or that a certain very former sanity of Jervas (Hyde). Sim-
old man has taken part in a dae- ilarly, the former sanity of Roderick
monic conclave fifty years ago. I Usher is symbolized by the radiant
crave the ethereal, the remote, palace described in the third stanza
the shadowy, and the doubtful. . of Poe's poem:
.5
Wanderers in that happy valley
The influence of Poe on "The Through two luminous windows
Tomb" is as much thematic
as sty- saw
listic. The use of "Hyde" as the Spirits moving musically
name of the narrator's alter ego is To a lute's well- tuned law. 9
a nod to Robert Louis Stevenson's
"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and When the Hyde mansion is struck
Mr. Hyde," but the major thematic by lightning- -both in Jervas' vision
sources for "The Tomb" appear to and in reality--the vision comes to
be Lovecraft's favorite Poe stories, an abrupt end:
"The Fall of the House of Usher"
and "Ligeia. " As the phantom of the burning
"The Fall of the House of Ush-
In house faded, I found myself
er," Roderick recites a poem of his screaming and struggling madly
own composition, "The Haunted Pal- in the arms of two men. ... A
ace, " by which the narrator per- blackened circle on the floor of
ceives "a full consciousness on the the ruined cellar told of a violent
part of Usher, of the tottering of his stroke from the heavens. . . .

lofty reason uponher throne. This


allegorical poem tells of a wise mon- Here the ruined mansion symbol-
arch who dwells in a radiant palace. izes the madness of Jervas (Dudley).
Evil invaders besiege the palace and Similarly, the madness of Roderick
slay the monarch. In a letter to Rufus Usher is symbolized by the haunted
W. Griswold, Poe said the title "The palace described in the fifth stanza
Haunted Palace" is meant "to imply of Poe's poem:
a mind haunted by phantoms--a dis-
ordered brain. . . And, round about his home, the
the palace represents the mind
As glory
of Roderick, so the Hyde mansion That blushed and bloomed
represents the mind of Jervas. When Is but a dim -remem be red story
Jervas Dudley visits the site of the Of the old time entombed. * 1

mansion, he has a vision in which he


relives the last night in the life of The main theme of "The Tomb
Jervas Hyde: is metempsychosis- -the passing of
a soul into another body. Either the
The mansion, gone for a century, soul of Hyde invades the body of
Eastertide 1986 / 11

Dudley, or Dudley imagines that it "Dagon" is a story in the form of


does so. Lovecraft's source for this a suicide note. The narrator is a
idea is probably Poe's "Ligeia, " in morphine addict who, lacking funds
which the soul of a man's first wife to acquire more of the drug, decides
temporarily reanimates the corpse toend his existence by throwing him-
of his second wife. self from the window of his garret
A comparison of "Ligeia" with room. He asks the reader not to
"The Tomb" reveals a fundamental consider him a coward, explaining:
difference in the writings of Poe and "When you have read these hastily
Lovecraft. "Ligeia" is representa- scrawled pages you may guess,
tive of Poe's works in evoking hor- though never fully realise, why it is
ror from death. "The Tomb" is rep- that I must have forgetfulness or
resentative of Lovecraft's works in death. "16
evoking horror from life. The narrator tells of his capture
Ligeia's resurrection is horrible by a German sea-raider at the in-
because it is foredoomed to failure. ception of the "great war. " He es-
The inevitability of death is acknowl- capes alone in a small boat and drifts
edged by Ligeia in her poem "The for several days. Awakening from
Conqueror Worm," which she recites a troubled sleep, he finds himself
to her husband on her deathbed. 12 half sucked into a plain of black ooze
Hyde's resurrection is horrible that extends as far as he can see.
because it is entirely successful. He crawls to the shelter of his boat,
Assuming the extraordinary expla- which is grounded nearby. 1^
nation of the story is correct, it is Decayed fish dot the plain, and
Hyde's possession of Dudley that the narrator deduces that he is
drives the latter to madness. stranded on an expanse of sea bot-
In depicting immortality as mon- tom brought to the surface by vol-
strous and unnatural, "The Tomb" canic activity. When the muck dries
reflects its author's own philosophy. sufficiently for travel, the castaway
A mechanistic materialist. Love- sets out in search of the shoreline.
craft did not believe in personal im- On the second night of his journey,
mortality. In a letter to August Der- he discovers a deep canyon. He
leth, he wrote: climbs down the slope to the shore
of a body of water that flows through
Life is not a thing but a process
the valley. On the opposite shore is
;

and a process ceases when its


a gigantic monolith inscribed with
component parts are dispersed.
hieroglyphs consisting of aquatic
Life is like a flame--which can-
symbols. In addition to this writing,
not survive the candle which pro-
the monolith is decorated with dis-
duce s it. 1
turbing bas-reliefs:
Lovecraft often said inhis letters
that he had no fear of death, once I think that these things were sup-
asking rhetorically, "whatis sweeter posed to depict men--at least, a
than oblivion ? " 1 His calm reaction certain sort of men; though the
when stricken with a fatal illness creatures were shown disporting
later proved the sincerity of his like fishes in the waters of some
statements. It is not surprising then marine grotto, or paying homage
that Lo vec raft' s works evoke horror, at some monolithic shrine which
not from death, but from life. 15 appeared to be under the waves
# # * as well. Of their faces and forms
12 / Crypt of Cthulhu

I dare not speak in detail. . . . ster afte r his re scue he is obviously


,

they we re damnably human in gen - suffering from hallucinations. How-


eral outline de spite webbed hands ever, as in "The Tomb, " the most
and feet, shockingly wide and flab- important question goes unanswered:
by lips, glassy, bulging eyes, and Was the narrator's first sighting of
other features less pleasant to the fish-man an hallucination, or was
recall. 18 it the cause of his subsequent hallu-
cinations? Here again, the ordinary
The narrator decides these carv- explanation cannot be ruled out, but
ings picture the imaginary gods of the extraordinary explanation seems
some incredibly ancient tribe. He more likely.
is stunned when a creature like those "Dagon" is based on a dream, but
illustrated rises from the waters: it may have some literary sources
as well. No full description of the
Vast, Polyphemus-like, and loath- dream has been discovered, so the
some, it darted like a stupendous extent to which it resembles the sto-
monster of nightmares to the ry is not known. In any case, even
monolith, about which it flung its if one assumes "Dagon" is littlemore
gigantic scaly arms, the while it than a transcription of a dream (like
bowed its hideous head and gave "The Statement of Randolph Carter"^
vent to certain measured sounds. it is possible the dream itself was
Ithink I went mad then. 19 inspired by Lovecraft's reading.
One likely source for "Dagon" is
The castaway returns to civiliza- "Fishhead" by Irvin S. Cobb The (

tion, but is haunted by visions of the Cavalier January 11, 1913). The
,

fish-man. Morphine provides him protagonist of the story (nicknamed


only temporary relief. He dreams "Fishhead") is a throwback- -a man
of a day when the things may rise whosehead resembles that of a fish.
from the sea to drag down mankind. Shunned by men, his only friends are
the giant catfish inhabiting the iso-
As the writer concludes his nar- lated lake by which he dwells. Fish-
rative, he once again sees the mon- head is ambushed and killed by two
ster: men in a boat, but before dying he
sends a strange cry skittering over
The end near. isI hear a noise the lake. His cry arouses the giant
at the door, as of some immense fish, which avenge their friend's
slippery body lumbering against murder in a horrible manner. Upon
it. It shall not find me. God, the publication of "Fishhead," Love-
that hand ! The window! The win- craft wrote to the editor of The Cav -
dow 20 ! alier; "It is the belief of the writer
that very few short stories of equal
"Dagon" follows the stylistic plan merit have been published anywhere
of "The Tomb, " with equally satis- during recent years. "21
factory results. As in the earlier Other probable sources for Love-
story, the reader becomes emotion- craft's tale are Edgar Rice Bur-
ally involved in the narrator's plight roughs' At the Earth's Core and its
because both share the same prob- sequel Pellucidar (both serialized in
lem--the inability to distinguish re- All-Story in 1914 and 1915 respec-
,

ality from illusion. tively). These novels are set in a


When the narrator sees the mon- vast underground land dominated by
Eastertide 1986 / 13

an intelligent reptile race that breeds most certainly wipe us out some
humans for food. day as the dinosaurs were wiped
Victor Rousseau's The Sea De - out- -leaving the field free for the
mons (se rialized in All-Story in 1916) rise and dominance of some hardy
is another likely source for "Dagon." and persistent insect species--
Rousseau's novel tells of an invasion which will in time, no doubt, de-
of England by a race of anthropomor- velop a high specialisation of cer-
phous amphibians. tain functions of instinct and per-
Lovecraft may have been influ- ception, thus creating a kind of
enced by all of the foregoing stories civilisation. . . . Probably the
in shaping the twin themes of "Da- period of human supremacy is on-
gon." One theme (which the narrator ly the prologue to the whole drama
declaims as a warning) is that man of life on this planet. , . .
^
was not the first intelligent race to
rule this planet, and is not likely to Lovecraft termed himself an "in-
retain his position of dominance in differentist," by which hemeant that
the future. The other theme (which he believed natural forces are indif-
the narrator finds too shocking to ferent to man--helping or hindering
state openly) is that man and fish- him only by accident. "Dagon" illus-
man evolved from a common ances- trates its author's view that the cos-
tor. The narrator is confronted with mos does not give "a damn one way
evidence confirming both of these or the other about the especial wants
unsettling possibilities when the and ultimate welfare of mosquitoes,
creature rises from the waters, rats, lice, dogs, men, horses, pter-
flings itsarms about the monolith, odactyls, trees, fungi, dodos, or
and audibly prays--thereby demon- other forms of biological ene rgy. "24
strating the existence, the antiquity, * #
and the intelligence of its race. 22 As the foregoing analysis shows,
In "Dagon, " as in "The Tomb, " "The Tomb" and "Dagon" possess
Lovecraft evokes horror from life-- more stylistic polish and thematic
in this case, from both human and power than one expects to see in
inhuman life. Assuming the extra- tales by a fledgling writer. If these
ordinary explanation of the story is fine stories are not fully appreciated,
correct, it is the realization that it is probably because they are over-
man evolved from earlier forms of shadowed by Lovecraft' s even finer
life, together with the prospect that subsequent stories.
man may soon be supplanted by fish-
men, that drives the narrator to NOTES
madness and suicide.
In depicting man's domination of 1 Lovecraft to Rheinhart Kleiner,
the world as a transitory incident, August 27, 1917, "By Post from
"Dagon" "The Tomb") reflects
(like Providence, " H. P. Lovecraft: The
its author's own philosophy. In a Marc A.
Californian 1934-1938, ed.
letter to James Ferdinand Morton, Michaud (West Warwick: Necronom-
Lovecraft wrote: icon Press, 1977), p. 45.
2Dagon and Other Macabre Tales
We are not nearly
so well equipped (Sauk City: Arkham House, 1965),
for combating a varied environ- p. 9.
ment as are the articulata; and 2 Ibid. , p. 17.
some climatic revulsion will al- ^Thomas Ollive Mabbott, "Intro-
14 / Crypt of Cthulhu

duction, Collected Works of Edgar


" (i. e. ,
jumping out the window). In
Allan Poe, ed. T. O. Mabbott (Cam- reference to this story, the phrase
bridge, MA: The Belknap Press of "terminal climax" has a twofold
Harvard University Press, 1978), m eaning.
II, xxii. ^^ The Cavalier February , 8, 1913,
-Lovecraft to Frank Belknap p. 361.
Long, May
1923, Selected Let -
13, 22The audible prayer serves to
ters I (Arkham House, 1965), p. 228. show that the fish-men have both a
6 collected Works II, p. 406. ,
spoken language and a religion- -two
7poe to Rufus W. Griswold, proofs of high intelligence.
March 29, 1841, The Complete Works ^Lovecraft to James Ferdinand
of Edgar Allan Poe ed. James A. , Morton, October 30, 1929, Selected
Harrison (New York: Thomas Y. Letters III, p. 43.
Crowell and Company, Publishers, 24jbid. , p. 39.
1902), II, pp. 83-84.
S pagon , p. 17.
^ Collected Works , II, p. 407.
1 pagon , pp. 17-18.
1 I Collected Works , II, p. 407.
Conqueror Worm" was not
12n'j'j1 e

included in the first published text


of "Ligeia" (1838). It was added in
1845 to emphasize the futility of
Ligeia's attempt to cheat death.
13povecraft to August Perleth,
Pecember 10, 1931, Selected Let -
ters III (Arkham House, 1971),
p. 443.
l^Lovecraft to Rheinhart Kleiner,
March 7, 1920, Selected Letters
-
I,

p. 112.
1 thoughts on life and
5 Lovecraft' s
death are perhaps best expressed in
his poem "The Eidolon," Fungi from
Yuggothand Other Poems (New York:
Ballantine Books, 1971), pp. 48-61.
1 paeon . p. 3.
now available essay "The
l?In his
Pefence Reopens " (1 921 ), Lovecraft !

said this scene had its origin in a


dream: ". I dreamed that whole
. .

hideous crawl, and can yet feel the


ooze sucking me down!" In Pefence (

of Pagon West Warwick, RI: The


,

Necronomicon Press, 1985).


S pagon p. 6.
' l^ibid.,p. 7. ,

20ibid. p. 8. One presumes from


,

these lines that the narrator imme-


diately fulfills his promise to com-
mit suicide by self-defenestration
Eastertide 1986 / 15

The Sources for From Beyond


By S. T. Joshi

unlikely that "From Beyond"


It is the ancient Skeptics similarly be-
(1920) will ever be regarded as one lieved that nothing can be known (and
of Lovecraft's better tales; and such some were as rigorously consistent
a judgment is perfectly justified, as to doubt whether even this- -that
since in its slipshod style, melodra- nothing can be known can be known!),
matic excess, and general triteness and waged extended polemics against
of plot, the tale compares ill even their opponents (especially the Stoics
with some of Lovecraft's other early and the Epicureans) who tried to as-
tales, such as "Dagon" (1917), "The sert both the possibility of knowledge
Picture in the House" (1920), and and the reliability of sense-data.
"The Outsider" (1921). But, as with After Descartes instituted his sys-
everything Lovecraft wrote, the tem of "Cartesian doubt," the prob-
tale's poor quality does not prevent lem of knowledge became a focal
it from displaying certain features point--some would say a bane--of
of enormous interest. In the first philosophical enquiry. Lovecraft
place, the philosophical sources of reflects this problem in "From Be-
the tale can now be traced with some yond" by conceiving of a way to
certainty; secondly, the story seems "break down the barriers"^ which
itself to have provided sources for our five senses impose and which
several later tales. prevent our catching a glimpse of
The philosophical interest of the reality "as it really is. "
tale is considerable, for it centers Part of the philosophical founda-
upon an issue of fundamental impor- tion of the tale is indeed derived from
tance in all modern philosophical Descartes, although in a parodic way.
speculation since Descartes -- the Crawford Tillinghast tells the un-
problem of knowledge. How do we named narrator how it is that we
know what we know? How can we be may glimpse "vistas unknown to
certain that the sense-impressions man":
we receive are accurate reflections
of external reality? Is there an ex- "You have heard of the pineal
ternal reality of which they are the gland? . That gland is the
. .

reflections? This problem certainly great sense-organ of organs--I


occupied some of the ancient philos- have found out It is like sight in
.

ophers. Parmenides and Democritus the end, and transmits visual pic-
questioned the truth- value of sense- tures to the brain. ..."
perception, and Gorgias the Sophist
w rote a celebrated treatise. On Not- This is actually a joke at Descartes'
Being (c. 440 B. C. ), wherein he expense: when Descartes, in the
maintained that (1) nothing exists; Meditations on First Philosophy, es-
(2) even if anything existed, it would tablished the distinction between a
be incomprehensible; (3) even if it material body and an immaterial and
were comprehensible, it would be immortal soul (one of the most per-
incommunicable - -and his whole ar- nicious ideas in the history of phi-
gument was based upon the unrelia- losophy, rivaled perhaps only by
bility of sense - perception. Finally,
1
Plato's Forms or Kant's a priori
1 6 / Crypt of Cthulhu

knowledge), he found himself in the is particularly interesting for our


awkward position of being unable to purposes, since it is precisely such
explain how two such fundamentally an "exte rnal uni ve r se" that is brought
different entitie s could ever interact, to view in "From Beyond. "
as they clearly do in the human be- A still more concrete case for
ing; he then (in The Passions of the Elliot'sbookas inspiration for "From
Soul seized upon the pineal gland as
) Beyond" can be made by collation of
the mediator between body and soul. actual passages from the two works.
Lovecraft was fully aware of this In Lovecraft' s tale Tillinghast boldly
celebrated venture into fatuity, ^ and dilates upon the fallibility of the
he is surely having a bit of fun with senses in a striking passage:
it in "From Beyond. "
But a more immediate and per- "What do we know, " he had said,

vasive influence for the genesis of of the world and the universe
the whole tale can be found--in the about us? Our means of receiv-
form of Hugh Elliot' s Modern Science ing impressions are absurdly few,
and Materialsim (1919). Lovecraft and our notions of surrounding
mentions this work only in a letter objects infinitely narrow. We see
of June 1921 (SL 1. 1 34; also SLI. 158), things only as we are constructed
but it is almost certain that he had to see them, and can gain no idea
read it before November 1920, the of their absolute nature. Withfive
date of writing of "From Beyond" feeble senses we pretend to com-
(cf. SL I. 121). That Lovecraft found prehend the boundlessly complex
this triumphant exposition of mech- cosmos, yet other beings with a
anistic materialism stimulating can wider, stronger, or different
be seenbyafew entries in his Com- range of senses might not only see
monplace Book which I have hypoth- very differently the things we see,
esized were inspired by the volume;^ but might see and study whole
worlds of matter, energy, and life
34 Moving away from earth more which lie close at hand yet can
swiftly than light- -past grad- never be detected with the senses
ually unfolded--horrible rev- we have. ..."
elation.
Note a very similar passage in the
35 Special beings with special introduction to Elliot's book:
senses from remote uni-
verses. Advent of an exter- Let us first ask why it is that all
nal universe to view. past efforts to solve ultimate rid-
dles have failed, and why it is that
36 Disintegration of all matter to they must continue to fail. It is,
electrons and finally empty in the first place, due to the fact
space assured, just as devolu- that all knowledge is based on
tion of energy to radiant heat sense- impre ssions, and cannot,
is known. Case of accelera - therefore, go beyond what the
tion - -man passes into space. senses can perceive. Men have
five or six different senses only,
It can be shown that each of these and these are all founded on the
entries has a correlation in various one original sense of touch. Of
passages in Elliot's book which dis- these five or six senses, the three
cuss the points in question. Entry 35 of most importance for the accu-
Eastertide 1986 / 17

mulation of knowledge are those tween four hundred billion and


of sight, hearing, and touch. By seven hundred billion a second)
these senses we are able to de- that sight ensues. If the waves
tect three separate qualities of the are below the lower limit of ra-
external Universe. Now, suppos- pidity, theydonot give rise to the
ing that we happened to have a sensation of light at all, though
thousand senses instead of five, they may give rise to a sensation
it is clear that our conception of of heat. If they are more rapid
the Universe would be extremely than the higher limit (as in the
different from what it now is. We case of ultra-violet rays) they are
cannot assume that the Universe not discernible by any sense at
has only five qualitie s because we all. 6
have only five senses. We must
assume, on the contrary, that the Finally, the narratorat one point
number of its qualities may be in- experiences great alarm when he
finite, and that the more senses sees, as a result of Tillinghast'
we had, the more we should dis- machine, "huge animate things
cover about it. ^ brushing past me and occasionally
walking or drifting through my sup -
Later in the tale the narrator is baf- posedly solid body " Lovecraft is
.

fled by a "pale, outre colour or blend here simply reflecting in a vivid way
of colours which I could neither place the simple physical fact that solid
nor describe"; Tillinghast replies: matter is largely merely empty
space. Elliot writes of it at length:
"Do you know what that is? . . .

That is ultra-violet." He chuck- Let us now . see what matter


. .

led oddly at my
surprise. "You would look like if magnified to,
thought ultra - violet was invisible, say, a thousand million diameters,
and so it is--but you can see that so that the contents of a small
and many other invisible things thimble appeared to become the
now. " size of the earth. Even under this
great magnification, the individu-
This has its exact correlate in El- al electrons would still be too
liot: small to be seen by the naked eye.
Small aggregations of these invis-
Not only are our senses few, but ible electrons, moving in invisi-
they are extremely limited in ble orbits round a centre, would
their range. The sense of sight be aggregated to form atoms, and
can detect nothing but waves of these again to form molecules,
aether; all sensations of light and appearing (if they could be seen)
colour are no more than aethereal to occupy the same volume as a
waves striking upon the retina football. The first circumstance
with varying strength and frequen- that strikes us is that nearly the
cy. And even then.it is only spe- whole structure of matter con-
cial aethereal undulations that sists of the empty spaces between
give rise to the sensation of sight. electrons. Matter, which appears
The majority cannot be perceived to us so continuous in its struc-
by the retina at all; it is only when ture is really no more than emp-
,

the wave s follow one anothe r with - ty space, in which at rare inter-
in certain limits of rapidity (be- vals here and there an inconceiv-
1 8 / Crypt of Cthulhu

ably minute electron is travelling sense-impressions I felt that I


at high velocity upon its way. It was about to dissolve or in some
ceases, therefore, to be remark- way lose the solid form.
able that X-rays can penetrate
matter and come out on the other We have already alluded to the
side. How should the tiny elec- "pale, outre colour or blend of col-
trons obstruct their passage? It ours" which the narrator of "From
ceases to be remarkable that an Beyond" sees - - and we can hardly fail
electron from radium can be shot to recall "The Colour out of Space":
clean through a plate of alumini- "The colour. was almost impos-
. .

um; for, from the electron's point sible to describe; and it was only by
of view, the aluminium plate is analogy that they called it a colour
very little different from empty at all. "9
space. Finally, the central philosophical
theme of "From Beyond"--the fal-
Clearly, then, the immediate in- senses--is emphasized
libility of the
spiration for "From Beyond" was in several later stories. I have
Elliot's Modern Science and Mate - studied this concept elsewhere,
rialism and the philosophical vistas and the idea of what I have termed
it opened to Lovecraft's fertile and "supra-reality"--a reality beyond
imaginative mind. But "From Be- that revealed to us by the senses, or
yond," however imperfect a product that which we experience in every-
in itself, very clearly served as a day life (what Onderdonk called the
springboard for certainlater stories "super-normal") is central tomuch
of Lovecraft's. It is as if Lovecraft, of Lovecraft's fiction; finding ex-
dissatisfied with the treatment of pression particularly in "Hypnos"
some themes in this early story, de- (1922), "The Unnamable" (1923),
cided to give them fuller and better "The Colour out of Space" (1927),
treatment elsewhere. "The Dreams in the Witch House"
Firstly, the narrator of "From (1932), "Through the Gates of the
Beyond" remarks at the outset: "That Silver Key" (1932-33), and others.
Crawford Tillinghast should ever Note also the following passage from
have studied science and philosophy "The Shunned House" (1924):
was amistake." We are immediately
reminded of "The Dreams in the To declare that we were not ner-
Witch House," where it is said: "Per- vous on that rainy night of watch-
haps Gilman ought not to have studied ing would be an exaggeration both
so hard. Non-Euclidean calculus gross and ridiculous. We were
and quantum physics are enough to not, as I have said, in any sense
stretch any brain. ... "8 A later childishly superstitious, but sci-
passage in "From Beyond" is also entific study and reflection had
suggestive of Gilman's voyages into taught us that the known universe
hyperspace: of three dimensions embraces the
merest fraction of the whole cos-
I was now in a vortex of sound and mos of substance and energy. . .

motion, with confused pictures .To say that we actually belie ved
before my eyes. After that
. . .
in vampires or werewolves would
the scene was almost wholly ka- be a carelessly inclusive state-
leidoscopic, and in the jumble of ment. Rather must it be said that
sights, sounds, and unidentified we were not prepared to deny the
Eastertide 1986 / 19

possibility of certain unfamiliar have been corrected through colla-


and unclassified modifications of tion with the A. Ms. (John Hay Li-
vital force and attenuated matter brary).
existing very infrequently in ^See "Some Causes of Self-Im-
three-dimensional space because molation" (1931), in Marginalia
of its more intimate connexion (1944), p. 185 (although "pineal" is
with other spatial units, yet close mistranscribed as "pi veal" and "gra-
enough to the boundary of our own tuitous" as "factuitous").
to furnish us occasional manifes- ^The numbering of entries is that
tations which we, for the lack of established by me for myforthcom-
a proper vantage-point, may never ing edition of Lovecraft's Collected
hope to understand. Works; it will be used by David E.
Schultz in his forthcoming critical
The closeness of wording between edition of the Commonplace Book .

this passage and parts of "From Be- ^Hugh Elliot, Modern Science and
yond" suggests that the idea was one Materiali am (London: Longmans,
of recurrent fascination to Lovecraft Green & Co. , 1919), pp. 2-3.
--and it is an idea derived from his ^Ibid. , p. 3.
continuing researches into the find- ?Ibid. , p. 54.
ings of modern science and philoso- Mountains of Madness and
^ At the
phy, especially such books as Elliot's Other Novels (1964), p. 249.
Modern Science and Materialism, ^ The Dunwich Horror and Others
Ernst Haeckel's The Riddle of the (1963), pp. 65-66.
Universe, and Bertrand Russell's 10"'R e ality' and Knowledge: Some
Our Knowledge of the External World . Notes on the Aesthetic Thought of
Hence "From Beyond" has in its H. P. Lovecraft," Lovecraft Studies,
clumsy way shown once again the I, No. 3 (Fall 1980), 18f.
unity and integration of Lovecraft' 1 lAt the Mountains of Madness,
work and thought. Science and phi- p. 237.
losophy, far from being antagonistic
to the creation of literature, were
for Lovecraft direct stimuli for it;
and his untiring delvings into the
strange worlds revealed by astro-
physicists, biologists, and philoso-
phers proved to be a central- -per- AD RATES
haps even a necessary- -inspi ration
for some of the greatest weird tales
of the century. Full page (6 3/8"x9 1/4"). . . $30
Half page (6 3/8"x4 5/8" or
3"x9 1/4") . $16
NOTES Quarter page (6 3/8"x2 1/4"
or 3"x4 5/8") ....... $8. 50
ISee G. B. Kerferd, The Sophistic
Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge Send camera ready copy, and do not
University Press, 1981), ch. exceed exact dimensions as stated
^"From Beyond," in Dagon and above (the first figure denotes width).
Other Macabre Tales (1965), p. 61.
All citations of the story derive from
this edition, although textual errors
20 / Crypt of Cthulhu

Spawn of the Moon -Bog


By Will Murray

"The Moon-Bog" hardly con-


is moon. This unsupported perception
sidered one of H. P. Lovecraft's is given credence when the man no-
important stories. It was written tices that the bog, although "lately
early in his fiction career 1 92 1 for
( ) quite devoid of animal life, now
a Saint Patrick' s Day reading at Bos- teemed with a horde of slimy enor-
ton's Hub Club, rather than for pub- mous frogs which piped shrilly and
lication. In later years, Lovecraft incessantly in tones strangely out of
himself denigrated it as "insuffer- keeping with their size. " Noticing
able maundering." Because the story that the gaze of these frogs is turned
bears no apparent relation to any of moonward, he looks up and beholds
the Cthulhu Mythos stories or the a beam of moonlight seeming to go
Dunsanian fantasies, Lovecraft read- up from the ruins on the isle to the
ers who agree with the author's own moon, in which the shadow of Denys
assessment tend to ignore it. Barry struggles.
But "The Moon-Bog" may not be "The Moon-Bog" isan inexplic-
as thematically insular a story as is able little tale. Lovecraft offers no
generally supposed. Buried in its explanation for the ruins or the frogs,
spectral prose are nebulous threads nor does he explain the significance
which ultimately lead to the Dunsan- of the piping. Yet, most of HPL's
ian stories and from there to the very fiction is interconnected, and his
"black spiral vortices of that ulti- tendency not to write stories in a
mate void of Chaos where reigns the thematic vacuum would lead us to
mindless demon- sultan Azathoth" at wonder whether "The Moon-Bog" re-
the core of the Cthulhu Mythos, flects elements from other stories.
Set in Kilderry, Ireland, "The In fact, only a year before writing
Moon-Bog" is nominally the story of the story, Lovecraft penned the very
Denys Barry, who returns to Ireland Dunsanian "Doom that Came to Sar-
to rebuild the castle of his ancestors. nath" which does precisely that.
It stands beside a bog. There is a It is the story of Sarnath, a city
tiny isle on the bog with an ancient standing by a still lake in the land of
ruin, from which emanate strange Mnar ten thousand years ago. Near
piping sounds by moonlight. Sarnath lay a city called lb, whose in-
Despite legends warning against habitants, Lovecraft tells us," were
such a move, Bar ry attempts to drain in hue as green as the lake and the
the bog. One night, after moonrise, mists that rise above it" and "that
a weird red light streams from the they had bulging eyes, pouting, flab-
old ruin and to the sound of phantom by lips, and curious ears, and were
drums and unseen flutes, the work- without voice. " Lovecraft does not
ers hired to drain the bog are led by describe them further, but adds that
a procession of bog-wraiths to the "It is also written that they descended
edge of the water where, impelled one night from the moon in a mist."
by the weird piping, they disappear After humans built Sarnath nearby,
into the bog. This is witnessed by they attacked the inhabitants of lb
a friend of Barry's, who links the and slew them, taking the idol of their
phenomenon to the influence of the lizard-god, Bokrug. Ib was no more.
Eastertide 1986 / 21

But, on the thousandth anniver- of other worlds, half-floating exactly


sary of the sacking of lb, shadows like the workers in "The Moon-Bog. "
descend from the moon into the lake, And no wonder, for as the narrator
causing green mists to rise up and writes: "And through this revolting
envelop Sarnath. The green beings graveyard of the universe [sounded]
have returned to exact vengeance. the muffled, maddening beating of
The waters of the lake rise, and sub- drums, and thin, monotonous whine
merge the gray rock called Akurion, of blasphemous flutes from incon-
and in time swallow Sarnath itself, ceivable, unlighted chambers beyond
leaving only "marshy shore" in its Time; the detestable pounding and
place. piping whereunto dance slowly, awk-
Even at face value, there are wardly, and absurdly the gigantic,
some interesting correspondences tenebrous ultimate gods--the blind,
between "The Moon-Bog" and "The voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose
Doom that Came to Sarnath. "1 The soul is Nyarlathotep. "
g reen beings of lb could well be frogs There is no reason to suppose the
of some species; the isle might have shadows that "squatted" were frog-
once been called Akurion; and the like, but the suggestion is there.
shadows ascending to (or descending Nyarlathotep is next mentioned in
from) the moon is a very telling im- "The Rats in the Walls, " in a brief
age. There is also a brief mention aside to "those grinning caverns of
in "The Moon-Bog" of an "imagined earth's center where Nyarlathotep,
city of stone deep down below the the mad faceless god, howls blindly
swampy surface" of the bog (once a in the darkness to the piping of two
still lake, no doubt) which mighthave amorphous idiot flute-players." One
been Sarnath--or even lb. About the of these unseenpipers--or a brother
only element of fantasy not present - -appears only months later in "The
in both stories is the piping sounds. Festival, " when the inhabitants of
But if we pick up the thread rep- Kingsport descend into a cavern lit
resented by those unexplained pip- by "a belching column of sick green-
ings and trace it chronologically ish flame. " In this story, the nar-
through HPL's fiction.it leads to the rator remarks: "I saw something
1920 story, "Nyarlathotep, " and to amorphously squatted far away in the
the very first mention of that entity. light, piping noisomely on a flute;
In that story, people attend Nyarla- and as the thing piped I thought I
thotep s exhibition. While watching
1
heard noxious muffled flutterings in
"the world battling against darkness" the foetid darkne ss whe re I could not
on a screen, "shadows more gro- see." Later, after the piping changes
tesque than I can tell came out and its "feeble drone to a scarce louder
squatted on the heads" of the audi- drone in another key," summoning
ence, the narrator says. Then: "I winged beings, we are told that "the
believe we felt something coming amorphous flute -player had rolled
down from the greenish moon, for out of sight. " He is not seen again.
when we began to depend on its light But in another underground cavern
we drifted into curious involuntary of hellish rites, in "The Horror at
marching formations and seemed to Red Hook," a vaguely similar entity
know our destinations though we is suggested: once the shiv-
". . .

dared not think of them. " They are ery tinkle of raucous little bells
drawn past an abandoned tram-car, pealed out to greet the insane titter
through snowdrifts, to ghostly ruins of a naked phosphorescent thing
22 / Crypt of Cthulhu

which swam into sight, scrambled as "great greyish-white slippery


ashore and climbed up to squat leer-
,
things which could expand and con-
ingly on a carved golden pedestal in tract at will, and whose principal
the background. No further descrip-
11
shape - - though it often changed - - was
tion is offered, but in the background that of a sort of toad without any eyes,
there is the now-familiar "sound of but with a curious vibrating mass of
thin accursed flutes. " short pink tentacles on the end of its
Amorphous pipers, singly or in blunt, vague snout. " Like those of
pairs, are a recurring motif in Love- lb, they are "voiceless. " At one
craft, especially in the Cthulhu My- point in Dream -Que st these moon-
,

thos stories. So are frogs and toads, beasts are seen huddled around a
often linked with that piping or with "greenish fire" like that from "The
the moon. While it might seem odd Festival. " They also make "loath-
to connect lunar influence with our some sounds" on "disgustingly car-
batrachian friends, this conceit is ven flutes, " and are "amorphous, "
not original with HPL. Frogs, toads, "fungous," and "jellyish." The first
and the moon are entwined in mythol- adjective, of course, applies to the
ogies all over the world. various unseen pipers in other sto-
To give some examples, in Bur- ries, while the inhabitants of lb, we
mese and Indo-Chinese mythology, were told in "The Doom that Came
the frog is an evil spirit who swal- to Sarnath, " were "soft as jelly."
lows the moon, thus symbolizing the The white-bearded daemon swine-
eclipse. Among the Lillooet Indians herd dreamed of in "The Rats in the
of British Columbia, it is told that Walls" was seen in the company of
three Frog Sisters were swimming "fungous, flabby beasts whose ap-
down a river and got caught in a pearance filled me with unutterable
whirlpool thatwhirled them right up loathing," the narrator claimed.
to the moon, where they now live. They and the moonbeasts are both
In China, Hsia Mathree-legged
is a linked to cannibalism.
toad who lives on the moon, and sym- At one point in Dream -Quest Ran- ,

bolizes the unattainable. No doubt dolph Carter meets the high priest
there are other moon-and-frog leg- not to be described, first mentioned
ends in other cultures. Who knows in "Celephais," and the piping of the
why Lovecraft seized upon this idea priest's own "disgustingly carven
and inserted it into his stories? It flute" makes Carter think of "a
may have something to do with his frightful red-litten city and of the
detestation of marine life. Amphib- revolting procession that once filed
ians probably represented a kind of through it; of that, and of an awful
life-form horrid to his conservative climb through lunar countryside be
sensibilities, yet which tickled his yond. " This could exactly describe
less-than-conser vative imagination, a scene out of "The Moon- Bog," ex-
so he used them. cept that it immediately refers to a
Toads play a major role in Love- scene that actually took place on the
craft's 1927 novel. The Dream-Quest moon earlier in Dream -Quest Car- .

ofUnknown Kadath wherein Randolph ter and other captives were part of
Carter has repeatedencounters with this procession, and only the arrival
the toadlike "moonbeasts" -- so- of an army of earth cats saved them
called because they live on the moon, from the "toadlike blasphemies. "
from which they descend in great The high priest, as is intimated
black galleys. They are described in the novel, is one of the toadlike
Eastertide 1986 / 23

moonbeasts (see my article, "Illu- "The Moon-Bog. " The black realm
minating 'The Elder Pharos'" in is called N'kai and was once inhab-
Crypt of Cthulhu #20 for more de- ited by Tsathoggua worshippers who
tails), possibly their ruler or leader. we re "not toads like Tsathoggua him-
Lovecraftdresses him in yellow silk, self. Far worse--they were amor-
sohis true nature is not obvious, but phous lumps of viscous black slime
when the silken mask slips, Randolph that took temporary shapes for vari-
Carter learns the truth. It is inter- ous purposes." Shoggoths, perhaps.
esting to note that the high priest In any case, the Yothians took Tsa-
squats on a golden throne very much thoggua-worship to their reptilian
like the one mentioned in "The Hor- bosom.
ror at Red Hook. " It is also of in- That is as much of Tsathoggua as
terest that "Red Hook" contains a we learn from "The Mound. " But
passing reference to the train of en- Lovecraft, too, embraced Tsathog-
tities who follow in the procession gua worship, mentioning him in many
led by the white, phosphorescent subsequent stories. "The Whisperer
thing, and that this parade contains, in Darkness" reaffirms that this
among other creatures, a "twisted "amorphous, toad-like god-creature"
toad. came from "black, lightless N'kai. "
All in all, frogs and toads were At the Mountains of Madness makes
firmly entrenched in Lovecraft' s fic- two references to "formless Tsa-
tion and in his imagination by 1929, thoggua and the worse than formless
when Clark Ashton Smith wrote "The star spawn associated with that
Tale of Satampra Zeiros," introduc- semi-entity. " This might be an-
ing Smith's dark, furry, amorphous other foreshadowing of the shoggoths
and betentacled toad god of ancient who appear later in the novelette.
Hyperborea, Tsathoggua. Lovecraft (Shoggoths also pipe, by the way. )

fell in love with the character; he no "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"
sooner finished reading the story in refers to the worship of "black, plas-
manuscript than he incorporated tic Tsathoggua" in ancient Hyper-
Tsathoggua into a re vision-in-prog- borea by beings originally from Ky-
ress, "The Mound. " thanil, the double planet of Arcturus.
In a letter to Smith dated Decem- According to Smith, Tsathoggua
ber 19, 1929, HPL told Smith that originally hailed from Saturn.
"The Mound" would detail Tsathog- Lovecraft was so taken with Tsa-
gua's background prior to his appear- thoggua, he began a story obviously
ing on the surface of the earth. Ac- inspired by him, at least in part.
tually, the story is not terribly il- But it was never finished. Posthu-
luminating on that subject. It seems mously, AugustDerleth incorporated
that there was once an underground the surviving fragment into The
world called Yoth in which Tsathog- Lurker at the Threshold . It con-

gua was worshipped. The inhabi- cerned a demon of old New England
tants of this world, who were "rep- which was "sometimes small and
tilian quadrupeds" of some sort, solid, like a great Toad the Bigness
claimed that Tsathoggua came from of a Ground-Hog, but sometimes big
"a black realm of peculiar- sensed and cloudy, without any Shape at all.
beings which had no light at all" be- It had the Name Ossadagowah which
,

neath Yoth. Yoth, by the way, is signifys the child of Sadogowah the ;

"red-litten," just like the lunar city last a Frightfull Spirit spoke of by
of the moonbeasts and the ruins of old men as coming down from the
24 / Crypt of Cthulhu

Stars and being formerly worshipt in to Azathoth' s " throne of Chaos where
Lands to the North. " Sadogowah is the thin flutes pipe mindlessly."
an Indian corruption of Sadoqua, it- Later the protagonist, Walter Gil-
self a Latin corruption of Tsathoggua man, ventures into another realm
used by HPL from time to time. The where he sees "a hint of vast, leap-
land to the north has to be Hyper- ing shadows, of a monstrous, half-
borea. acoustic pulsing, and of the thin,
It is interesting how this manifes- monotonous piping of an unseen flute
tation of Ossadagowah resembles the . .Gilman decided he had picked
.

moonbeasts of Dream-Quest. Tsa- up that last conception from what he


thoggua hadn't been conceived in 1 926, had read in the Necronomicon about
when Lovecraft wrote Dream-Quest ,
the mindless entity Azathoth, which
but in the undated fragment he seems rules all time and space from a black
to have been drawing a connection throne at the center of Chaos. "
between Tsathoggua and the white But it is a reference in one of
lunar toads. There is no explicit Lovecraft's final stories, "The
linking of Tsathoggua with the moon Haunter of the Dark," that uses lan-
in any Lovecraft story, but in a let- guage closest to that of "Nyarlatho-
ter toSmith dated February 11, 1934, tep" and "The Rats in the Walls. "
HPL makes a kidding reference to
"those reputedly immortal felines Before his eyes a kaleidoscopic
who guarded the shrine of Sadoqua, range of fantasmal images played,
and whose regular disappearances all of them dissolving at intervals
at New Moon figure so largely in the into the picture of a vast, un-
folklore of mediaeval Averiogne. " plumbed abyss of night wherein
But where do all these connec- whirled suns and worlds of an
tions lead? Amorphous pipers, toad- even profounder blackness. He
like moonbeasts, Tsathoggua and his thought of the ancient legends of
worshippers and all the rest? Ultimate Chaos, at whose center
In Fungi from Yuggoth written , sprawls the blind idiot god Aza-
about the same time as "The Mound," thoth, Lord of All Things, encir-
we find a significant clue. There are cled by his flopping horde of mind-
a few lines in Sonnet XXII, "Aza- less and amorphous dancers, and
thoth, " about the "shapeless bat- lulled by the thin monotonous pip-
things" that "flopped and fluttered" ing of a demonic flute held in
near Azathoth, which have a familiar nameless paws.
ring:
Are these "nameless paws" those
They danced insanely to the high, of the pipers of "The Rats in the
thin whining W alls," The Dream-Quest of Unknown
Of a cracked flute clutched in a Kadath - -or even "The Moon-Bog"?
monstrous paw. The connections are there, although
Whence flow the aimless waves they are sometimes vague or cir-
whose chance combining cumstantial.
Gives each frail cosmos its eter- The sound of "impious flutes"
nal law. haunts the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft
and the universe he created on paper.
"The Dreams in the Witch House" In fact, it seems to have haunted
elaborates on this connection between Lovecraft in real life as well. Years
the pipers and Azathoth, referring after he inserted those unheard
Eastertide 1986 / 25

sounds into his stories, he had a symbols for HPL. But symbols of
weird experience while living in a what? We may never know with cer-
one-room New York apartment circa tainty, but the web of connective im-
1925-26. He tells of it in a letter to agery crosses all categories of Love-
Bernard Austin Dwyer dated March craft's fiction and is especially
26, 1927: strong in a hitherto unappreciated
littlestory, "The Moon-Bog." None
The sounds in the hall! The of Lovecraft's stories really stands
faces glimpsed on the stairs The ! alone
mice in the partitions [Shades of ! While we may forever speculate
the rats in the walls!] The fleet- on the meaning behind these images,
ing touches of intangible horror their source is not that illusive. One
from spheres and cycles outside ofHPL's favorite fantasy stories was
time. . once a Syrian had a
. . The Moon Pool which along with its
,

room next to mine and played el- sequel, Conquest of the Moon Pool ,

dritch and whining monotones on was serialized in Argosy in 1919, a


a strange bagpipe which made me good two years before "The Moon-
dream ghoulish and incredible Bog" was penned. A. Merritt's fa-
things of crypts under Bagdad and mous spectral fantasy concerned
limitless corridors of Eblis be- ruins on Ponape containing the fa-
neath the moon-cursed ruins of bled Moon Pool. Out of this pool a
Istakhar. I never saw this man, being of light called the Shining One
and my privilege to imagine him was wont to emerge, accompanied
in any shape I chose lent glamour by unearthly music. Moonrise ac-
to his weird pneumatic cacopho- tivates it. Beyond the Moon Pool
nies. In my vision he always wore lies another world, one inhabited by
a turban and long robe of pale fig- people, dwarves, and a race called
ured silk, and had a right eye the Akka, who are half-human and
plucked out because it had
. . . half- frog They are bipeds and wear
.

looked upon something in a tomb a lot of jewelry, much like the fish-
at night which no eye may look frog people of "The Shadow over
upon and live. Innsmouth." In any case, the imag-
ery of Merritt's The Moon Pool
This unseen piper in silkmay have seems to have exerted a profound in-
inspired the flute-playing toads and fluence on the youthful H. P. Love-
high priest in The Dream-Quest of craft. Most of the weird elements
Unknown Kadath written within a , of "The Moon - Bog" - - the lunar influ-
year or two of the experience, but ence, ruins near a pool, odd music,
the piping itself was already part of transportation to other realms, and
the developing Mythos. It must have the intelligent frogs--first appeared
sent a thrill down his spine to hear in The Moon Pool Lovecraft's treat-
.

an approximation of the "thin, mo- ment was entirely different, of


notonous whine of blasphemous course, and it was uniquely his own.
flutes" from "Nyarlathotep" coming Consider it a tribute to the Merritt
from the next room! story, then, and "The Moon-Bog"
Images of frogs, toads (remem- doesn't seem so bad a tale after all.
ber St. Toad's church?), lunar in- It' s a long way from the peat bogs

fluence and noisome piping rever- of Ireland to the throne of Azathoth,


berate throughout Lovecraft's cor- and an equally long road that H. P.
pus. Clearly, they were powerful (continued on page 37)
26 / Crypt of Cthulhu

Exploring The Temple


By David E. Schultz

Perhaps most overlooked of all credibility gap between him and


Lovecraft stories is "The Temple," his readers.
written in 1920. This was Love- Careful study will also show that
craft's third story in 1920, following a character as closed-mindedly
"The Tree" and "The Cats of Ulthar." Prussian as Karl Heinrich was
The latter story was written some- essential to the telling of this sto-
where between May 21 and June 15. ry; its impact would have been
Unfortunately, Lovecraft's published destroyed if transmitted through
letters for 1920 are not many, and a more sensitive character. Not
in Selected Letters 1, there is a hi- only in his choice of narrator, but
atus between June 25 and November in his artistic handling of the sub-
19. According to Lovecraft, "The ject Lovecraft shows his near ge-
Temple" preceded "Arthur Jermyn," nius in creating a story which is
"Celephais" and "F rom Beyond," the surely one of his masterpieces.
latter two of which are mentioned in
his November 19 letter as having In his book Explorers of the Infinite ,

beenwritten recently. "The Temple" Moskowitz further waxes enthusias-


was probably written July-August tic.
1920.
In his introduction to "The Tem- This tale, in writing and plotting,
ple" in Hauntings and Horrors: Ten is a science fiction masterpiece.
Grisly Tales Sam Moskowitz says:
, . "The Temple" has not re-
. .

ceived the attention it deserves


"The Temple" by H. P. Lovecraft as one of Lovecraft's most suc-
is possibly the most underrated cessful and forthright presenta-
works, prob-
of all of that author s 1
tions.
ably because his portrayal of the
German submarine commander Unfortunately, others take a dim
of World War I struck readers of view of the story, and for the same
the September 1929, [sic: should
,
reasons that Moskowitz praises it.
read 1925] issue of Weird Tales , L. Sprague deCamp states:
where it first appeared, as a prop-
agandist's stereotype. Originally The storyis mediocre; the vari-
written in 1920, it probably was ous uncanny phenomena never
influenced by postwar anti-Ger- make a coherent pattern. Inter-
man feeling, but judged in the light esting is Lovecraft's portrayal of
of what we know today of the Ger- the German officer. ... It is, of
man military psychology, it course, a hostile caricature- -yet
scarcely seems a severe charac- not so much as to strain credulity,
ter portrait. In fact.it causes us for there have been many such
to face the grim fact that reality Germans. The irony is that Love-
is frequently far more bizarre craft failed to see that, when he
than any extra vaganza by a fiction spoke of Anglo-Saxon Aryan supe-
writer, who after all, must strive riority, he sounded like that him-
for belie vability to cut down the self.
Eastertide 1986 / 27

"The Temple" was a radical de- were lifted fromadiary. The activ-
parture for Lovecraft from his pre- ities of each day, from June 18 when
vious style of writing. Up to this the Germans sank the Victory to Au-
point, most of his stories were set gust 20, the day Heinrich abandons
either in the past or in his dream- his submarine are precisely chron-
,

land. And most of his characters icled. Latitude and longitude, time
were typical Lovecraftian "dream- of the day, day of the week--all de-
ers." Lovecraft s flights of fancy
1
tails of the bizarre occurrences that
tended to brood on vague, unseen plague the U-29 are given.
horrors, but "The Temple" bristles Very early in the "story" Love-
with precise detail. craft introduces the strange event
The revelatory manuscript is a that ultimately leads to the death of
de vice Lovec raft would use frequent- the entire crew. The corpse of the
ly inhis career. "(Manuscript found young seaman, from whom the ivory
on the coast of Yucatan)" opens "The curio is taken, brings to mind echoes
Temple. " The narrator of "Dagon" of Lovecraft's "The Tree" written
leaves behind an account of what hap- se veral months earlier. "The youth's
pens to him. So will the narrators head crowned with laurel" as well as
of "The Call of Cthulhu," At the Moun - the underwater city of Atlantis, seem
tains of Madness , "The Shadow out to grow from the Grecian motifs in
of Time," and "The Loved Dead." The "The Tree. " Lovecraft admits this
entire story, told in the first person, to Frank Belknap Long in a letter
is mapped out in precise, crisp de- written three and a half years after
tail, for that is the key to the story. "The Temple. "
"The Temple" is not so much an ac-
count of weird phenomena as an un- I do not consider that "In the
folding of the psychological make-up Abyss" anticipates my "The Tem-
of Karl Heinrich, Graf von Altberg- ple. " Wells' undersea dwellers
Ehrenstein. As in Poe's "The Tell- are natives of the deep, and ich-
Tale Heart," not only do we experi- thyoid in nature; whilst their city
ence the narrator's terror, but we is a work of men-a templed and
learn also of his madness from the glittering metropolis that once
manner in which he tells the story -- reared its copper domes and col-
as he tries to convince us otherwise. onnades of chrysolite to glowing
It is curious that the narrative of Atlantean suns. Fair Nordick
Karl Heinrich is written on August bearded men dwelt in my city, and
20, 1917, the day he dies, which was spoke a polish'd tongue akin to
Lovecraft's twenty- seventh birthday. Greek; and the flame that the Graf
It is also curious that he is the Lieu- von Altberg - Ehrenstein beheld
tenant-Commander of the submarine, was a witch-fire lit by spirits
U -29, for Lovecraft' s age at the time many millenia old.
he wrote "The Temple" was probably
29. Furthermore, in August 1917, Following the abandonment of the
Lovecraft had been attempting, un- dead seaman's body, the men of the
successfully, to join the Rhode Island U-29 begin to suffer from bad dreams
National Guard. and various delusions. Two men who
The manuscript found in the bottle "became violently insane" suffer
is extremely well-written, for were "drastic steps" necessary to disci-
not the title given above the story, pline them. The deaths of these two
one might actually think the narrative men are quickly followed by other
28 / Crypt of Cthulhu

deaths among the crew, for one rea- state. " He sees himself, with his
son or another. First there are two Prussian mind, as a most superior
suicides; next two engineers are human being.
killed in the disastrous explosion that He sees Klenzeas "given to imag-
cripples the submarine. The subma- inings and speculations which have no
rine begins to drift southward, un- value," because he is only a mere
able to navigate. Another crewman Rhinelander. His "fanciful stories
is killed for urging surrender to a of the lost and forgotten things under
nearby American ship. Two days the sea" and "endless poetical quo-
late r, six men are killed for attempt- tations and tales of sunken ships"
ingmutiny. Thirteen crew membe rs amuse Heinrich, who urges Klenze
are killed, lea ving only Heinrich and to speak of these things for his own
his lieutenant. entertainment. On the one hand,
Throughout the story, we have been Heinrich leads on Klenze in what he
picking up hints of the Lieutenant- euphemistically calls a "psychologi-
Commander's increasing instability. cal experiment" and on the other hand
Cloaked among the cool reporting of he claims to "dislike to see a Ger-
the facts that he feels will exonerate man suffer," though by experiment-
him, are suggestions pointing to the ing with Klenze he is increasing
eventual "impairment of [his] iron Klenze's suffering.
German will." He sees nothing wrong Heinrich declares that at "7:15
with killing seamen Bohn and Schmidt p. m., August 12," Klenze went mad,
todiscipline them, even though "Ger- as though madness would overtake
man lives are precious." He believes a man in a single instant. Heinrich's
that Lieutenant Klenze's shooting of obsession with such cold details
seaman Traube "quieted the crew. " makes him oblivious to the madness
One doubts that the occasional thin- that gradually overtakes him. No
ning (with a pistol!) of an already one could read "The Temple" and de -
small crew, in a submarine stranded cide at which exact moment Hein-
underwater, would "calm" the crew rich goes mad, and few would agree
members. And even though "German on the same time.
lives are precious" and Lieutenant Heinrich states "My course at once
Klenze balks at any further shoot- became clear. He was a potentially
ings, Heinrich assassinates six more dangerous madman. By complying
men, leaving only two to pilot the with his suicidal request I could im-
crippled ship. mediately free myself from one who
Heinrich then becomes a most in- was no longer a companion but a
teresting departure from the typical menace. " He shows no compassion
Lovecraft protagonist. Whereas to his sole companion, a German
most of Lovecraft s protagonists are
1
whose suffering supposedly bothers
dreamers, sensitive individuals that him so greatly. Heinrich calmly
the rude world ignores or scoffs at sends Klenze to his death and pre-
--ultimately the Lovecraftian "hero" posterously "wished to ascertain
--the reverse is true here. Hein- whether the water-pressure would
rich, a man who is utterly insensi- flatten him as it theoretically
tive to the hundreds of deaths he has should. " Surely these are not the
caused, including each and every words of an interested scientist, but
member of his own crew, simply a man every bit as mad as he has
brushes them aside saying "all things claimed his entire crew to be.
are noble which serve the German The Lieutenant is left alone onhis
ship for eight days before the end. the Atlantean ruins, is a theme found
His second day in isolation, Hein- throughout Lovecraft's stories. Inns-
rich discovers an immense under- mouth is a dying city. The cities of
water city. The ruined city seems the alien entities beneath the Austra-
to be a destroyed ve r sion of the beau- lian desert and the Antarctic snows
tiful te rraced cities that fill the lands are dead. The narrator of "He" calls
of Lovecraft's dream stories--the New York City a "dead city, " a
cities he himself ha dreamed of-- "corpse city." And of course, R'lyeh
particularly in light of his comments in "The Call of Cthulhu" is the corpse
concerning "The Temple" above in city where dead Cthulhu waits dream-
the letter to Long. Heinrich then ing. Heinrich's descriptions of the
makes an amazing statement in his titanic temple, "hollowed from the
manuscript: solid rock," its elaborate facade, the
"great open door" and "impressive
For as I examined the scene more flight of steps" are virtually echoed
closely I beheld embankments in Francis Wayland Thurston's ac-
once verdant and beautiful. count of the dead city R'lyeh, "the
hideous monolith-crowned citadel
He has used his imagination for once, wherein great Cthulhu was buried. "
instead of his computer-like mind, Heinrich spends many hours ex-
by filling in with his mind' s eye what amining the city from the submarine.
the city must have looked like. The He eventually wants to explore the
lapse is noticed immediately by the city: "I, a German, should be the
reader, and byHeinrich himself, for first to tread those eon-forgotten
he quickly follows this statement with ways!" Cities untrod by human feet
"In my enthusiasm I became nearly also abound in Lovecraft's works.
as idiotic and sentimental as poor On the fifth day following Klenze 's
Klenze. " death, Heinrich leaves the submarine
The "dead city" as Heinrich calls to explore the ruins. However, his
30 / Crypt of Cthulhu

lights grow dim and he must curtail be careful how I record my awaken-
his exploration to renew his source ing today, for I am unstrung, and
of light. much hallucination is necessarily
The realization impending
of his mixed with fact. " It seems that he
doom begins to take its toll on Hein- is thinking out loud to him self- - that
rich. He had acknowledged his real- he himself he must be care-
is telling
ization before, but as the end draws ful of the impression he will give his
near he "experienced the emotion of readers, for he wants to be assured
dread" for the first time. Left alone that "The Fatherland would revere
in utter darkness with only his my memory." Three impressions
thoughts for company, Heinrich become manifest to Heinrich: (a) a
muses: desire to visit the temple, though he
has no lights and said he would not
Klenze had gone mad and perished foolishly venture from the ship with-
before reaching this sinister rem- out one; (b)an impression of a phos-
nant of a past unwholesomely re- phorescent glow in the water; and (c)
38-
mote, and had advised me to go a series of chants coming from out-
with him. Was, indeed, Fate pre side the soundproof ship.
serving my reason only to draw (The following entries from Love-
me irresistibly to an end more craft's Commonplace Book seem to
horrible and unthinkable than any point to the events in "The Temple"
man has dreamed of? at this point:

Heinrich's madness continues to -Drowning sensations -- un-


grow. He contemplates suicide, re- de r sea cities ships sound
alizing his situation, but he euphe- of the dead. Drowning is a
mistically refers to it as "euthan- horrible death.
asia. " He falls asleep leaving the
lights burning, using what remained 39- - Sounds - -possibly musical--
of his electricity. He awakens and, heard in the night from other
in a frenzy, lights a series of matches. worlds or realms of being. )

Then, as he ponders his fate, he re-


alizes that "the head of the radiant Heinrich manages to overcome
god in the sculptures on the rock the aural delusion by drinking a solu-
temple is the same as that carven tion of sodium bromide. The light
bit of ivory which the dead sailor is discerned to be not of animal or
brought from the sea and which poor vegetable origin. Heinrich refuses
Klenze carried back into the sea. " to believe in the possibility of a su-
Though Heinrich declares that he is pernatural source for the light, which
"too sound a reasoner to connect cir- we have seen Lovecraft call a witch-
cum stances which admit of no logical fire. His madness lies in his inabili-
connection, or to associate in any ty to recognize the unexplained phe-
uncanny fashion thedisastrous events nomena as something beyond the
which had led from the Victory affair powers of reason to explain. The
to my present plight" he grudgingly dead youth swimming from the sub-
admits to being "dazed by this coin- marine is clearly an impossibility.
cidence" and that his dreams became The crew's insistence that it did hap-
affected by his recognition of the pen caused Heinrich to become un-
face. easy, but rather than become fright-
On his final day he states "I must ened as the crew did, he looked to
Eastertide 1986 / 31

reason for an explanation. However, ased in his own favor) are true or
as more and more uncanny events imagined. He does this superbly in
occur, he is less and less able to ac- "The Temple," for the reader is left
count for them. Heinrich swears that hanging at the end of the story. Were
Klenze was a soft-headed Rhineland- all the occurrences in this story sig-
er, who went mad from troubles a nificant or all coincidental? If they
Prussian could bear with ease. As were real, were they caused by per-
it turns out, the same troubles that sons living in the dead city of Atlan-
caused Klenze to break cause Hein- tis? And what is the fate of Hein-
rich to break as well. Heinrich, rich? Did he simply suffocate as he
however, does so with much more predicted, or did he join those be-
dignity, and he thrusts his coolness ings? Was he insane or not? A
before us to cloud what has happened master storyteller can cause his
to him. The dead ruins of the tem- readers ask questions like these,
to
ple, the solid rock that has crumbled for that shows that what plagued
from hundreds of years of imprison- Heinrich before the end of the story
ment in the cold Atlantic depths, is is now left to plague us. Of course,
a perfect symbol for the erosion of we will never know the answer, and
the rock-like Prussian officer. And since this is the case, "The Temple"
just as "The door and windows of the can be called a very successful tale.
undersea temple hewn from the rocky While it doesn't contain the trappings
hill were vividly aglow with a flick- that traditionally give his stories
ering radiance, as from a mighty their appeal, "The Temple" should
altar-flame far within, " so too is be considered a major success for
Heinrich aglow; he is facing certain Lovecraft.
death, but a persistent flame still
flickers within him.
While "what [Heinrich has] seen
cannot be true," and "the light in the
temple is a sheer delusion, " he is
s till obsessed with the idea of check- LIVE IN PROVIDENCE?
ing to be certain, and having written
his account, he leaves the ship to TAKE A COURSE ON HPL
walk into Atlantis. Does the "de-
monic laughter which I hear as I "H. P. Lovecraft: The Man, His
write [come] only from my own weak- Environment, and His Work" will be
ening brain"? Or are the sounds taught by Henry L. P. Beckwith, Jr.,
real? The last section of Heinrich s 1
author of Lovecraft's Providence ,

accountends on the note he so loathes, through Brown University's "Learn-


and his imagination grows as he ing Community" program. The
writes his final words: "So I will course is offered in 6 sessions,
carefully don my suit and walk boldly Wednesdays 7-9 p.m. April 16 -
up the steps into that primal shrine, May 21. It includes lecture, dis-
that silent secret of unfathomed wa- cussion, and walking tours of the
ters and uncounted years. " sites of Lovecraft's life and fiction.
Lovecraft had written several The cost is $75. For more infor-
stories before "The Temple" where mation call (401) 863-3452, Monday
the reader is left to decide whether through Friday, 8:30 a. m. to 5 p.m.
the events told to him by a first-per -
son narrator (whois necessarily bi-
32 / Crypt of Cthulhu

SOFT BOOKS

69 MARION STHFET. TORONTO, ONTARIO CANADA. M6R 1EB

We buv and sellArkham House. Berkley. Jonathan Cape. Dobson. Doubledav, Victor Gollancz,
Don Macdonald, Phantasia. Scream. Underwood-Miller. Viking - Crvpt of Cthulhu.
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Drumm. Fawcett. Norronomtcon. Pardoe, Spectre. Strange Co. - Aldis, Anderson.
Ballard. Bloch. Brennen. Campbell. Copper. Derleth. Ellison. Farmer. Hodgson. Howard.
King. Leiber. Long. Lovecraft, Moorcock, Niven. Smith, Straub. Vance. Wellman.
Wilson, etc., etc., etc.

We have also published the following items. - The Young Folks' Ulysses, hv H.P. Lovecraft.
FuBar 1. H.P. Lovecraft and the fanzine, detailed lists for Crvpt of Cthulhu. Nvctalops.
etc., - FuBar 2. Special art issue with ten full page illustrations Lovecraftian plus A

Checklist of Lovecraftian art. - Les Biblioteques 1. Lovecraft Chronology Part, 1,


1897-1914. plus examples of Lovecraft's work from this period, - Les Biblioteques 2.
Lovecraft Chronology Part 2. 1915-1917, and Part 3. 1918-1919, - Les Biblioteques 3.
Lovecraft Chronologv Part 4, 1920 - 1929, - Les Biblioteques 4. List of Lovecraft's
Jouvenile Manuscripts by S. T. Joshi: Press of Rov A. Squires a checklist, and more.

Please write for free catalogue.


Eastertide 1986 / 33

Oil Beyond the Wall of Sleep


By M. Eileen McNamara, M. D.

"Beyond the Wall of Sleep" has Lovecraft was only two years old
been te rmed one of H. P. Lovecraft's whenhis father abruptly went insane,
"uninspired" stories, part of his raving and hallucinating. Winfield
nondescript outputprior tohis crea- Lovecraft was confined to Butler
tion of the Cthulhu Mythos. Although Hospital in Rhode Island from 1893
of itself the story may appear supe r- to his death in 1898 from what now
ficially to be rather cliched, careful is thought to be general paresis--
reading correlated with historical disseminated syphillis. Lovecraft
data of Lovecraft's life reveal it to was raised by his mother in a mor-
be one of the most singular and ar- bidly close and dependent relation-
restingly personal tales that he ship after their loss of his father,
wrote. and she, too, eventually became de-
In the story the narrator is a psy- lusional and hysterical, and in 1919
chiatric intern (an "alienist" in the she was also committed to Butler
terminology of Lovecraft's day) in a Hospital. Lovecraft had never be-
mental institution. Under his care fore been separated from his mother
comes Joe Slater, who has committed and was now functionally, if not tech-
murder, e vidently in a fit of insanity, nically, an orphan.
and who hallucinates of distant, fan- Lovecraft had a pronounced aver-
tastic worlds. Compelled by the sion to matters physical, but in "Be-
patient's ravings, the narrator links yond the Wall of Sleep" he appears
minds with him with the aid of a tel- in fictional guise as a physician, car-
epathic machine and discovers that ing for the mentally ill. His patient
the patient's visions are no mere is of a "degenerate" race, but the
hallucinations. In sleep, he has an narrator treats him in a "gentle
alter ego that journeys across the manner," with a "certain friendli-
universe. After Slater's death, this ness. " These terms, which would
alter ego lingers long enough to send ordinarily be thought rather mild and
the narrator a promised signal, to hardly worth notice, are notable here,
confirm that he was no mere figment given the conspicuous absence of any
of the dead Slater s fevered imagina-
' comparable emotional tone in later
tion. Lovecraft works.
What is most remarkable about That this story was written when
the story is the consistent, gentle Lovecraft's mother was institution-
tone, quite unlike most of Love craft' alized might make one suppose that
subsequent stories with their isolated it is a thinly disguised wish to be
and alienated protagonists who strug- reunited with her. This may be in
gle alone, linked only with unname- part true, but a closer review sug-
able terrors. Perhaps surprisingly, gests that the loss of his mother
then, one notes that Lovecraft wrote awoke in Lovecraft memories of the
this story in 1919, when his mother similar loss of his father, with re-
was committed to a mental institu- pressed fantasies of re-union, and
tion, the same hospital in which his that here rests the deeper interpre-
father had died twenty-one yea rs be - tation of the story.
fore. The psychiatric patient. Slater,
34 / Crypt of Cthulhu

is obviously male, and in his forties THREE WHO DIED


at the time of his death, as was Love-
craft's father. Both were institu- CHRISTINE CAMPBELL THOMSON
tionalized at their demise , but in this (continued from page 42)
story death is finally denied. The
body of Joe Slater, his human aspect, about Dennis Wheatley, Dermot
is degenerate, as was Winfield Love- Chesson Spence, Jessie Douglas
craft's from the ravages of tertiary Kerruish, and other fantasy writers
syphillis. The narrator learns, how- and clients. Last year Miss Thom-
ever, through his telepathic link, son told me that she had had thirty
that both he and his patient have an books published (including several
alter ego that remains undefiled. light novels) under various names.
Death is only an escape from bond- Following the death of her second
age. The patient's alter ego is the husband H. A. Hartley (a radio and
narrator's "brother of light," who hi-fi expert), she returned to light
tells the intern that he is his "only fiction as "Dair Alexander" and in
friend on this planet--the only soul her 88th year completed a novel
to sense and seek for me within the called Shem's Piece A few years
.

repellant form that lies here on his earlier, under her married name
couch. " Although the body of Joe "Christine Hartley, " she published
Slater dies, the narrator knows that two interesting nonfiction works: The
he will one day be reunited with his Western Mystery Tradition (1968)
"brother of light. " andA Case For Reincarnation (1972).
In Lovecraft's later works, only British readers will always be
terror and isolation reign. "Beyond grateful to Miss Thomson for intro-
the Wall of Sleep" may be viewed as ducing Lovecraft, Derleth, Quinn,
Lovecraft's wish to see his father Long, and all the other great WT
untouched by the (quite real) ravages name s, to them during the golden age
of venereal disease and insanity, as so many years ago.
noble, caring, and ultimately unsep- [Thomson obituary
arated from his son. As such, it submitted by: Richard Dalby,
would be the most direct and loving North Yorkshire, England]
of his stories.

BACK ISSUES AVAILABLE


SubsCRYPTions
Copies of Crypt of Cthulhu #s 10,
16, 17, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31,
One year' s subscription (8 issues) 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37 at $3. 50.
costs $28 in the USA and Canada, $36
in Western Europe, and $38. 50 in Outside of USA and Canada, add
Australia. Pay in U. S. Funds and $1. 00 per booklet for postage. Pay
indicate first issue. in U. S. funds.
Eastertide 1986 / 35

The Little Tow- Head Fiend


OR THE PROBLEM OF "HERBERT WEST"
By Will Mur ray

As strange as it might seem in through it. Why this omission?


light of the enormous popularity of Well, for one thing it may have
H. P. Lovecraft's macabre fiction, something to do with the fact that
it wasn't until the early Seventies "Herbert West--Reanimator" is not
that the bulk of his fiction made it so much a novelette as the title of
into paperback collections. Prior six related stories, each featuring
to 1970, August Derleth, acting for that "fastidious Baudelaire of phys-
Arkham House, jealously and zeal- ical experiment," that "languid Elag-
ously guarded reprint rights to HPL's abalus of the tombs, " that, "cursed
works. His better stories had been little tow-head fiend," Dr. Herbert
collected into two oft- reprinted Lan- West, of Arkham. Not quite a nov-
cer anthologies, The Colour out of elette, not exactly a serial, these
Space and The Dunwich Horror, and six stories ("From the Dark," "The
there were a couple of Belmont edi- Plague -Demon," "Six Shots by Moon-
tions of The Case of Charles Dexter light, " "The Scream of the Dead, "
Ward, (and of course scattered an- "The Horror from the Shadows" and
thology appearance s but if the Love-
)
"The Tomb-Legions") are the
craft aficionado de sired to plumb the shunned orphans of Lovecraft's fic-
entirety of the corpus, he had to tion.
purchase it in Arkham editions. Originally published separately
Provided he knew they existed, that under the running title "Grewsome
is. This was a deliberate tactic on Tales" in G. J. Houtain's Home Brew
the part of Derleth, who wished to beginning with the January 1922 is-
m aintain a demand for the hardcover sue, each story is a sort of miniature
books and who never forgot those dime novel-style yarn detailing the
early days of Arkham House, when adventures (and then the further ad-
he couldn't give away copies of The ventures) of Dr. West. All they
Outsider and Others Perhaps it was
. lacked was the colon- split titles of
only the awareness that the end of yore. Actually, he's not Dr. West
his life drew near that caused him in the beginning, merely a rather
to relent. Thus, Ballantine Books obsessed Miskatonic University
enthusiastically began reprinting all medical student with a pathological
the Lovecraft stories which hitherto interest in reviving the dead. In the
hadn't seen a paperback collection. first episode, as narrated by an anon-
With one exception. For some rea- ymous friend, West succeeds, but
son "Herbert West -- Reanimator" the resurrection goes awry and West
did not appea r in any subsequent H. P. vanishes.
Lovecraft collection. Nor has it Subsequent stories recount West's
since. This is unusual. "Herbert increasingly bold pursuits. He tries
We st- -Reanimator" is a story of a Pavlovian experiment with some-
some length (about 14,000 words), one's head, creates corpses when he
set in Arkham, Massachusetts, with can't find them, goes off to fight
a very strong horror element running World War I just to be near a fresh
36 / Crypt of Cthulhu

and constant supply, and generally tongue-in-cheek flavor, and when


has a difficult time of it. At the cli- Houtain asked for another serial,
max of each episode triumph turns Lovecraft actually agreed, supply-
to fearsome failure. "Damn it, it ing "The Lurking Fear. "
wasn't quite fresh enough West is!
11
The Herbert West stories were
heard to lament, and he again van- subsequently serialized in Weird
ishes into the night, sometimes just T ale after Lovecraft's death, and
ahead of various pursuers of his own were as sembled toge the r for the first
making. time in Arkham's Beyond the Wall of
Over the course of the sixstories. Sleep then reprinted in Dagon Ar-
, .

West has tampered with a lot of guably, Dagon contains the most mi-
corpses, and while he is in the midst nor of the Lovecraft corpus, yet with
of a last great experiment, they de- the sole exception of West's adven-
scend upon him in "The Tomb-Le- tures, all saw paperback collection.
gions" ("Their outlines were human, There are sound comme rcial and
semi-human, fractionally human, artistic reasons for this seeming
and not human at all- -the horde was omission. This has nothing to do
grotesquely heterogeneous. "), and with the humorous nature of the sto-
the saga of Herbert West comes to ries, nor precisely with the serial
a messy conclusion. structure. After all, "The Lurking
Obviously, these are not serious Fear" was a serial, but it was not
efforts. While some manage a few only reprinted.it lent its title to the
nice shudders, the series reads like Ballantine collection of the same
a satire of the old cycle of Franken- name.
stein films--except that West was Where "Herbert West" is unlike
created a decade before Boris Kar- "The Lurking Fear" lies in its struc-
loff and his train began that cycle. ture. "The Lurking Fear" was a
How seriously can we take a story single story broken down into four
in which the corpse of a decapitated segments, none of which can truly
victim of the mad scientist returns stand by itself despite all the sub-
for vengeance- -but not before plac- climaxes. They can be read as parts
ing a wax dummy's head on its of a whole, or they can be assembled
shoulders ? into a single coherent, if awkward,
Lovecraft seems to have been short novelette. But the Herbert
having fun spoofing the mad scientist West stories can be taken by them-
horror story--but not to hear him selves. Often, months or years pass
talk about it in his Selected Letters: in the protagonist's life between epi-
"To write to order, and to drag one sodes. Lovecraft goes to some pains
figure through a series of artificial to maintain continuity from episode
episodes, involves the violation of to episode, inserting references to
all that spontaneity and singleness past stories so the reader can pick
of impression which should charac- up the series at any point, but doing
terise short story work," HPL com- it so deftly that, at first, this is
plained to Frank Belknap Long in fairly unobtrusive. Only with the
October 1921 while writing the se- final episode is any impact lost for
ries. "I shall be glad when the bur- not having read previous install-
then of this hack labour is removed ments, and even there one needs only
from my back ," he told Rhein-
. . .
to have read "The Horror from the
hart Kleiner. Despite these pro- Shadows" to fully appreciate "The
tests, the series has a distinctly Tomb-Legions. "
Eastertide 1986 / 37

Still, after four or five episodes, then publishing. But suppose they
the amount of past activities requir- spaced them two episodes to a book.
ing recap becomes significant and If someone were to have picked up
the finalepisode is especially heavy At the Mountains of Madness before
laden with exposition of that sort. The Tomb, they would have read the
Herein lies the real problem. two terminal episodes first. This
Read serially, "Herbert West-- makes no difference when reading
Reanimator" is fine. But assembled the Randolph Carter stories, where
together, they don't function well mood is the crucial element and
read at one sitting. Lovecraft ac- chronology is underplayed. But with
knowledged this in a lette r to Rhein- the pulpish Dr. West, the strong con-
hart Kleiner (October 7, 1921) when tinuity does not permit reading the
he grumbled, "In this enforced, la- stories out of sequence.
boured, and artificial sort of compo- Theoretically, Ballantine could
sition there is nothing of art or nat- have spaced the sixepisodes through-
ural gracefulness; for of necessity out a single volume, but this would
there must be a superfluity of strain- only have underscored the fact that
ings and repetitions in order to make they are after all, a unit. And ed-
,

each history compleat. " This "su- iting out the connecting passages was
perfluity of . . .repetitions" is the out of the question. Obviously, the
crux of the difficulty. What Love- Ballantine editors, seeing the situ-
craft was writing was, in effect, a ation as beyond their powers to rec-
series character like Nick Carter or oncile, opted to ignore the story. So
Doc Savage. It was pure pulp. Un- decrees Fate. And thus the cruel
like his Randolph Carter stories, fate of that orphan of Arkham, may
they cannot be comfortably read as he rest in peace--the cursed little
a unit. The Herbert West stories tow-head fiend!
are too short to absorb the charac-
ter's snowballing history. By the ["Herbert West -- Reanimator" has
end of the sequence, an editor is recently been reprinted as a booklet
likely to be tempted to retitle the by Necronomicon Press. ]
whole series "Herbert West--Re-
gurgitator. "
Now in the privately-printed Ark- SPAWN OF THE MOON- BOG
ham House editions, this drawback (continued from page 25)
was overlooked in the interest of
completeness. But in a mass-mar- Lovecraft traveled from that first
ket book, it is a distinct technical reading of "The Moon-Bog" to the
obstacle. Obviously the people at creative heights of his later stories
Ballantine could not bring themselves --but not as long as one might think.
to publish the series in toto; they
cannot be blamed.
There was another option: they
could have simply broken down the !
My thanks go to S. T. Joshi for
sequence into its component parts suggesting the connection between
and distributed them among the vari- the sunken city in "The Moon-Bog"
ous Lovecraft collections they were and lb.
38 / Crypt of Cthulhu

HPLs Style
By Ralph E. Vaughan

H. P. Lovecraft's use of adjec- must be remembered that most of


tives and adverbs has been criticized those references come from a dream
time and again, by admirers and de- sequence
tractors alike. L. Sprague deCamp, By comparison, the narrator in
biographer and horror-stricken crit- "Beyond the Wall of Sleep," an intern
ic of HPL, said that it was "Love- in a mental hospital, is able to re-
craft's worst fictional vice." He al- late what he saw and heard in a calm,
so asks "How does 'ghastly marble' dispassionate, scientific manner.
differ from any other kind? How The same holds true for "Arthur
does a star wink 'hideously'?" Jermyn" whose unknown narrator,
A casual reader of Lovecraft's in the tradition of William Faulkner'
stories immediately gets the im- "A Rose for Emily," relates the story
pression that his stories are chock in a detached, almost-journalistic
full of outlandish adjectives, terri- tone.
ble cliches, and horrendous vocabu- Lovecraft's stories are full of
lary that would baffle the most as- adjectives, and though not all of them
tute teacher of English. All of the are used effectively, they are nec-
foregoing is true- -to a certain point. essary devices in Lovecraft's quest
to describe everything totally, yet
The Adjectival Horror leave something in the way of a veil
to understanding.
Some of HPL's stories are filled Actually, despite all the criticism,
with outlandish adjectives, but a there is nothing wrong with linking
great deal depends upon whether the highly subjective adjectives with un-
story is told in the first or third per- likely objects - - poets have been doing
son, upon the occupation of the nar- the same thing for years. After all,
rator, and upon his mental state at what can "forgiving snow" or "rest-
the time. less stones" possibly mean?
For example, in "Dagon" the nar-
rator is a common seaman who is The Vocabulary out of Space
writing under considerable mental
strain, taking large quantities of The second criticism of Love-
morphine in order to quiethis nerves. craft's style, that of his tremendous
In such a condition, is it any wonder vocabulary, is easy to understand.
that the very soif of the newly risen He simply practiced what misguided
island seems "sinister"? creative writing teachers have been
But even though the narrator of advising for yea r s- - "W rite like you
"Dagon" is taking drugs, he is rel- talk. " For some people, a small
atively controlled compared to the minority, that is perfectly sound ad-
unnamed dreamer in "Polaris. " In vice, but, for most Americans, it

that story, the haunted narrator sees can only lead to disaster. For most
stars shimmering weirdly and wink- people, the problem is that they speak
ing hideously; he sees strange peaks, some dialect of basic English, such
strange plateaus, ghastly marble, as Black English or Southern Eng-
and sinister swamps. However it lish, but, in HPL's case, the prob-
Eastertide 1986 / 39

lem was that he spoke too well. He he perceives surrounding him, with
resisted the leveling effects of other the fervor of the most ardent reli-
peoples' speech, which bombards gious fanatic.
each of us daily. The most trying trait of Love-
When HPL used words such as craft's macabre fanatics and the
"squamous," "eldritch," and "ru- world's religious fanatics, other
gose," I don't think he was trying to than the fact that for them real life
be cute. From the evidence ofhis pales to unreality, is that they mouth
letters and the memories of those the meaningless stock phrases of
who knew him, that was the way he their respective faiths. Besides,
talked. Lovecraftdid notuse "pedes- using such phrases, even in third-
trian" speech unless he was in a jok- person narration, implies a certain
ing mood. In this case he might af- legitimacy of beliefs, a certain an-
fect "darkie" dialect, or report that tiquity- -much in the same way as we
he had received a hundred "berries" mouth certain patriotic platitudes to
for a story. legitimate various social or political
And since that was the way HPL schemes.
spoke, his narrators followed suit, So, it seems that Lovecraft's
e ven when, logically, their education three worst vices - -adjectivitis, ses-
and background was such that such quipidalianism, and triteness--were
ability with the English language was merely his attempt, successful in
not believable. More often than not, many places, to convey atmosphere,
however, Lovecraft's first-person state of mind, and education.
narrators were educated profession-
al men (or wealthy unemployed men)
who had nothing better to do than
educate themselves beyond the level
of the rabble, and it was logical, at
least in Lovecraft's mind, that such
people would speak as he did. OTHER CRYPTIC PUBLICATIONS
The Silver Cliche Shudder Stories #1 ..... $3. 00
Shudder Stories #2 .... . $3. 00
The last criticism usually leveled Shudder Stories #3 ..... $4. 00
at HPL, that he used the same cliche Risque Stories #1 ..... . $3. 00
phrases over and over throughout his Risque Stories #2 $3. 00
stories, is probably the truest. It Risque Stories #3 $4. 00
is true that, as we read his stories, Two-Fisted Detective Stories
we are continually barraged with by Robert E. Howard . . . $4. 50
phrases like "eldritch horror," "in- The Adventures of Lai Singh
accessible Leng, " "forbidden" (or by Robert E. Howard . . . $3. 00
"blasphemous") books, and features
"repellent" and "batrachian. " Also available:
Almost all of HPL's stories use
phrases that are cliches within the History & Chronology of
framework of his writing, but they the Book of Eibon by Lin
mostly appear in stories like "The Carter $1. 00
Hound" where the narrator has sunk
to such morbidity that he attacks the
occult and supe rnatural world, which
40 / Crypt of Cthulhu

Fun Guys From Yuggoth:


Will Murray

LOVECRAFT THE MAN, LOVECRAFT THE FAN


I remember picking up my first story about this Providence horror
Lovecraft book in 1969. It was a story writer who led a bizarre life
coverless copy of the Lancer Colour and disappeared under mysterious
out of Space I noted that "colour"
. circumstances. No one ever knew
was misspelled, but I bought the the mystery of what had happened.
book anyway. This was at a time I But there were dark rumors.
was experimentally purchasing pa- "What kind of rumors?"
perbacks. For some reason, I auto- hemmed and hawed pointedly.
I
matically gravitated to old pulp au- My friend waxed intent. "Say, is
thors like Lovecraft, Burroughs, there by chance a photograph of
Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. How- Lovecraft anywhere on that book? "
ard, A. Merritt, Maxwell Grant, and 1 asked, knowing full well that there
Kenneth Robeson, even though I knew was.
nothing of pulps and didn't realize "Yeah, there is. "
for years that the se authors had any- "Really? Photographs of him are
thing in common. very rare -- specially after what
The funny part is, I can't recall happened to him. "
anything of my first reading of HPL. "What happened? "
It's a blank. I know 1 liked the book; "Well, after years of writing these
1 shortly sought out a copy of Lan- weird stories, he retreated into his
cer's The Dunwich Horror Of that
.
attic because he couldn't bear to be
volume, I can only recall getting a seen by others. Is that photo in any
genuine thrill of horror at the con- way strange ? "
clusion of "The .Thing on the Door- "Yeah, sorta. "

step." (A recent rereading produced "I wonder if it matches the writ-


no such response. I wanted more,
)
ten descriptions I've read," I mused
and Ballantine Books shortly pro- and proceded describe the identi-
to
vided more in their Boxer editions cal photo from The Lurking Fear .

of The Lurking Fear and others, all


,
"Does he have a strangely elongated
sporting strangely-airbrushed pho- jaw? "

tos of Lovecraft on the back. There's "Yeah, he does. "

a funny story about that. Once I was "Is there a sort of discoloration
unable to get into Harvard Square to under the jaw like the skin is unnatu-
pick up one of these editions, so I rally dry? "
tapped an old friend to do it. When "Yeah, the re is. "
he phoned to say he'd gotten the book, "Is his head oddly shaped, and his
he expressed curiosity over this ears kind of pointed?"
Lovecraft character. Who was this "Yeah yeah!" The power of
. . .

guy, he wanted to know? Coming suggestion was clearly at work here.


from someone who'd known me since I pressed on.

kindergarten and had once dubbed me "And does it look to you like he
"Madman" Murray (a name which has no lower lip?"
never stuck, fortunately) he should "Yeah, yeah! God, what hap-
have known better than to ask. I im- pened to him ? "
mediately launched into a ponderous "Well, as I understand it, Love-
Eastertide 1986 / 41

craft's occult studies affected him enjoy his work as much as I had be-
horribly. Hishead began to lengthen, fore, I've found my absorption ex-
his ears grew pointed, and the lower pressing itself in assorted articles
part of his jaw started to transform for Crypt of Cthulhu and Lovecraft
until his head turned into ..." Studies. It surprises me to find that
"Yeah, yeah?" The friend was after all that's been written on old
beside himself with a mixture of in- "I-am-Providence," I--or anyone--
trigue and horror. can still find new things to write
". . a turnip "
. . about him. New discoveries, too!
There was a moment of shocked Lovecraft' s work is full of unrealized
silence, followed by laughte r- -mine riches.
boisterous, his nervous. His was like that, too, I think.
life

I don't think ha ving been born and He was horror


a giant in the field of
raised in Massachusetts had anything fiction. The giant, as far as I'm
to do one way or another with my concerned. But so much of his life
fascination with Lovecraft. He usu- was wasted, frittered away on fan-
ally wrote of portions of New England nish activities--letter-writing, the
which were as foreign to me as New amateur press, and the like- -and he
Jersey. I do recall being tickled by paid a price for it, I suppose. Some-
a mention of Plum Island in "The where between L. Sprague deCamp's
Shadow over Innsmouth" because I view of Lovecraft as an impractical
vacationed there often as a kid. But poser and Frank Belknap Long' s be -
probably my favorite Lovecraft lief thathe was a dreamer who right-
memory is the day I picked up At the fully existed apart from society's
Mountains of Madness in Harvard expectations, lies an assessment
Square and boarded the subway to which embraces both views. He was
return to North Quincy. Thumbing a genius, someone who wrote on a
through it, I came upon the scene professional level, but never ap-
wherein Danforth, pursued through proached writing as a full profes-
a tunnel by a shoggoth, flips out and sional; instead, he allowed a fannish
recites the Cambridge-Boston sub- mindset to limit him. We all know
way stops: "South Station Under-- people like that; they have prolifer-
Washington Under--Park Street Un- ated in Science Fiction fandom since
de r Kendall Central Harvard .
Lovecraft's day. Rereading Love-
My train had just pulled into Park craft's letters, 1 read the words of
Street. Lovecraft had ridden this a professional fan, and it's a shame.
subway It was Lovecraft's right to live

I was just a teenager then, dis- his life on his terms, DeCamp not-
covering Arkham editions in a Paper- withstanding. History has vindicated
back Booksmith in the shadow of Lovecraft the Writer. But Lovecraft
Harvard's Widener Library, where the Man remains an unhappy tangle.
a copy of the Necronomicon was sup- Long to the contrary. Society didn't
posed to repose. I bought all the fail him; he failed himself. His great
Selected Letters as they came out powers were imperfectly channeled
and read with interest how HPL at best. When I look at the volumes
changed from a turn-of-the -century of letters and junk poetry and self-
tightass into the archetypal Fan as a parodying revisions, I can only think:
W ay of Life. what if he had writtenjust one more
After returning to Lovecraft re- volume--or one story--equal to his
cently and being amazed to find I (continued on page 43)
42 / Crypt of Cthulhu

Three Who Died


L. RON HUBBARD a Harley Street doctor. Miss Thom-
son had a ve ry long career as a prom -
Reade r s will be saddened to learn inent literary agent. She created the
of thepassing of L. Ron Hubbard on famous Not at Night se rie s of horror
January 24, 1986. Hubbard's crea- anthologies sixty years ago (in Octo-
tive mind produced both captivating ber 1925). Produced very cheaply
pulp horror and science fiction and in red boards and eye-catching dust-
the Diane tics self-help therapy. Hav- jackets, they were instant bestsell-
ing devoted most of his time to the ers. The first volume was reprinted
controversial Church of Scientology ten times in three years, and ten
which he founded in 1952, Hubbard more were published annually under
had recently returned to his first her editorship up to 1936. The full
love and delighted readers with two series were: Not at Night (1925),
huge novels, Battlefield Earth and MoreNotat Night (1 926), You'll Need
The Invaders' Plan which was to be-
, a Night Light (1927), Gruesome Car-
gin a massive 10- volume series. goes (1 928), By Daylight Only (1929),
Those interested in the interrelation Switch on the Light (1930), At Dead
of the two sides of L. Ron Hubbard's of Night (1931), Grim Death (1932),
life work are recommended to read Keep on the Light (1933), Terror by
"Reasonably Fantastic: Some Per- Night (1935), and Nightmare by Day -
spectives on Scientology, Science light (1936). There was a large Not
Fiction, and Occultism" in Irving I. at Night Omnibus in 1937, and sev-
Zaretsky and Mark P. Leone (eds.). eral paperback selections in the
Religious Movements in Contempo - 1960s. Lovecraft's first appearance
rary America (Princeton University in a British anthology was in Y ou 11 '

Press, 1974). Need a Night Light with "The Horror


at Red Hook," followed by "Pickman's
Model" in By Daylight Only two years
WALTER GIBSON later. In all, Miss Thomson fea-
tured around one hundred stories
We
are sad to inform readers that from Weird Tales in this series, in-
Walter Gibson, creator of The Shad- cluding several by herself (under the
ow, died December 6, 1985. pseudonym "Flavia Richardson") and
her husband Oscar Cook. "Out of
the Earth" appeared in Weird Tales
CHRISTINE CAMPBELL THOMSON April 1927, and "The Gray Lady"
followed in WT October 929. Among
1

Christine Campbell Thom son, who her other horror stories are "Be-
did more than any other person to hind the Yellow Door" and "When
introduce Lovecraft and the other Hell Laughed. " Cook had five sto-
Weird Tales authors to British read- ries published in WT including the
ers over half a century ago, died at famous "Si Urag of the Tail. "
home on 29 September 1985 aged 88. In 1951 Miss Thomson wrote a
The funeral took place at Guildford fascinating autobiography, I Am a
Crematorium miles southwest of
(30 Literary Agent which is worth track-
,

London) on 7 October. Born in Lon- ing down for the numerous anecdotes
don on 31 May 1897, the daughter of (continued on page 34)
Eastertide 1986 / 43

ADVICE TO THE area? Why not go see one of them


and ask his advice? I'm sure he'd
be glad to see you--a refreshing
change from the pesky religious cult-
LOVECRAFTLORN ists,Avon ladies, and other nui-
sances that always show up on one's
doorstep.

DONNA DEATH

FUN GUYS FROM YUGGOTH


(continued from page 41)

bestfiction? If Lovecraft let himself


down, he let his readers down, too.
He left behind too many unfinished
stories, an unresolved body of fic-
tion, and too many stilted essays.
That what fiction he did complete is
among the best in his chosen genre
is no excuse, I think.

Dear Donna Death,

My problem is the extremely pos-


sessive nature of my wife. She is
Scarce and obscure items
determined to gain total dominion of
my body and my mind. My love for offered in my catalogs of
her has become hatred in the face books, autographs, & ephemerae
of her fierce, dominant will.
can add unique distinction
I've already stove her head in,
but still she is taking charge of my to any collection.
life. How shall I keep her in her
Current catalog plus the next
place? How caagglub . . . glub . . .

one, by first class mail, $2.00.

Dear Glub, Roy A. Squires


1745 Kenneth Road
I seem to have lost you at the end
Glendale, California 91201
there. You are being very over-
emotional. If you are to save your
marriage you must be more calm
and rational. Try to get control of
yourself! Got any old friends in the
44 / Crypt of Cthulhu

Rlyeh Review
H. P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator : Lovecraft even admitted, in a letter
Director: Stuart Gordon to Rheinhart Kleiner, that, "My sole
Screenplay: Dennis Paoli, William inducement s the monetary reward
i .

J. Norris, an$ Stuart Gordon . ." There you have it; the old gen-
Based on "Herbert West--Reani- tleman himself was bowing to Mam-
mator" by H. P. Lovecraft mon !

A Charles Band Production Many people have tried to cash in


Released by Empire Pictures on Lovecraft' s fiction since that rare
time when Lovecraft himself at-
(Reviewed by Marc A. Cerasini) tempted it, but only a few were suc-
cessful. Now Charles Band, a schlock
H. P. Lovecraft's first profes- producer who has previously made
sionally published fiction was a "sto- several obscure, low-budget genre
ry-cycle" he created for amateur films, has adapted Lovecraft's "Re-
press associate George Julian Hou- animator" for the screen.
tain's short-lived magazine. Home The track record for Lovecraft's
Brew, and is known collectively as fiction on film is, as we all know, a
"Herbert West--Reanimator. " The sorry one. It was only after he had
series of loosely-connected, short run out of Edgar Allan Poe stories
installments revolves around Dr. to adapt that Roger Corman tried his
Herbert West's experiments to re- hand at Lovecraft' s fiction. He could
vive the dead using a miracle drug not do the Master justice, however,
he invented. During the course of and even saddled the Charles Dexter
the grand guignol adventures, West Ward adaptation with the title The
and his assistant raise a number of Haunted Palace after Poe's poem.
,

people from the grave, though the (He must have thought that an Edgar
drug's results are somewhat unpre- Allan Poe poem was more familiar
dictable. The luckless resurrectees to American middlebrow audiences
include a boxer killed in an illegal than H. P. Lovecraft's name!) The
fight, a group of mutilated soldiers Dunwich Horror, which Roger Cor-
from the trenches of World War I, man produced in the sixtie s, was just
and Dr. Allen Halsey, the Dean of abysmal. Horribly miscast (Sandra
the medical college at Miskatonic Dee!), the Wilbur Whateley charac-
University (the first mention of this ter came acrossmore like a bargain-
hallowed institution). basement Charles Manson than as a
Lovecraft felt no great respect demigod.
for Home Brew, referring to it as a Luckily, Charles Band, who pro-
"vile rag." He also disliked the con- duced Re-Animator seems to have
straints of form he was forced to had two distinct advantages over
workwithin, to wit: "In this enforced, Roger Corman. One is a young film-
laboured, and artificial sort of com- maker named Stuart Gordon, the
position there is nothing of art or other a talented actor named Jeffrey
natural gracefulness; for of neces- Coombs. Gordon, who directed and
sity there must be a superfluity of co-wrote the screenplay, obviously
strainings and repetitions in order has more respect for the material
to make each history compleat. " than Lovecraft himself possessed.
Eastertide 1986 / 45

furthermore, Gordon was able to do Fanatical dedication of this sort


what the Master couldn't: he devel- will obviously get Kane into serious
oped the flimsy melodrama penned trouble. The audience knows just
by Lovecraft under the least artistic how in the next scene when the abra-
of constraints into a witty, intelligent sive genius. Dr. Herbert West, ar-
horror film that surpasses the fixed rives. West is a short, boyish nut-
conventions of the standard "gore" case complete with nervous tics,
movie. The Re-Animator is so orig- "Norman Bate s" haircut, and glasses.
inal, witty, and entertaining that the When introduced to "Miskatonic s '

film ultimately becomes a send-up shining star," a doctor who has won
of the blood-soaked slasher films it the Nobel Prize for inventing the
at first glance represents. "laser drill," West immediately ac-
The Re -Animator is inspired hor- cuses him of plagiarism.
ror of a decidedly "post-Romero" This kind of academic backbiting
sort. The influence of George A. continues all through the film. West's
Romero's horror films is apparent behavior ranges from the kind of ar-
not only by the level of gore (which rogance displayed by Peter Cushing
is at all times excessive) but also in the Hammer Frankenstein films,
by the fine delineation of each char- to the sheepish embarrassment that
acter, no matter how minor. Like might be felt by a malignant Beaver
Romero's first horror film. Night of Cleave r caught vivisecting the family
the Living Dead it is obvious that
,
cat. Dr. Allen Halsey, a character
The Re-Animator is not a typical right out of Lovecraft's story, is the
"splatter" film from the first reel. Dean of Miskatonic who is more con-
The action commences in Geneva, cerned with grants and government
where young Herbert West is experi- research projects than genius, or
menting with his reanimation formu- his own daughter's feelings for, you
la. The brilliant Dr. Gruber is his guessed it, young Dr. Kane, who
guinea pig. In a horrifying sequence, rents a room to "Herbie" West and
Gruber rises from a spastic attack falls increasingly under the mad-
to scream in pain as his eyes and man's spell.
the veins on his face burst outward, One extremely funny scene occurs
splattering the terrified witnesses. at a lecture by the Nobel winning
It seems the old professor had over- scientist and attended by Kane and
dosed on the drug, or so Herbert West. The lecturer deliberately
We st explains to the authorities. Af- prods West by stressing a point over
ter a credit sequence artfully pro- which the two men disagree. West's
jected over anatomical charts and reaction is to promptly (and loudly)
with a theme that sounds more and break his pencil in two. As the lec-
more like Bernard Herrmann's score ture progresses. West continues to
for Psycho as it progresses, we find interrupt the teacher with snapping
ourselves at the modern Hospital of pencils. At length, the flustered
the Medical College of Miskatonic professor concludes his lecture by
University. Inside, a young intern, suggesting angrily, "Mr. West, get
Dr. Kane, is trying to save a woman a PEN!"
who has just had a heart attack. He At this point, the film really takes
is unsuccessful, but so ardent are off, with West bringing a variety of
his ministrations that a colleague is people and animals to life, all with
moved to remark that a good doctor disastrous results. As one critic
"knows when to give up. " pointed out. West has the uncanny
46 / Crypt of Cthulhu

knack of resurrecting people that are quality by its ability to play at the
much stronger than he is. He first fancy art film theaters and on New
reanimates a pet cat, then a vagrant York's sleazy 42nd Street with equal
at the morgue, then Dr. Halsey, who acceptance, since a great film enter-
gets himself killed by the reanimated tains everyone regardless of the
vagrant. Finally, West kills, then level of their sophistication. Re-
revives the evil professor, who not Animator is showing at theaters of
only has stolen the work that earned both kinds in New York City as of
him the Nobel Prize, but sought to this writing.
steal West's formula as well. Charles Band, the producer, has
The climax in the University said that there will be another Love-
morgue indeed grisly, and includes
is craft film going into production early
a gross sexual scene not for the in 1986. It too will feature director
squeamish. But the fine acting, es- Stuart Gordon. This time he will be
pecially the quirky manner created tackling Lovecraft's short story
by Coombs as West, convinces the "From Beyond. " Advanced word
viewer of the sincerity of the char- has it that the character "Tillinghast"
acters, as well as their obvious in- is to undergo a name change to "Pre-
sanity. The viewer is forced to sym- torious," but that otherwise the movie
pathize with the protagonists at all will be fairly faithful to the Lovecraft
times because they are truly believ- story.
able, not just one of the many "vic- I, for one, look forward to more

tims" that usually populate movies films from Stuart Gordon, and more
of this kind. film adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft'
The impressive thing about The fiction. It's about time. Perhaps
Re -Animator is the fact that most of they will tackle one of Lovecraft's
the critics can see the quality inher- major stories in the near future,
ent in the film. The newspaper ads though I do hope they don' t get Sandra
for the movie are filled with Amer- Dee for a remake of The Dunwich
ica's most influential critics' ova- Horror >

tions for the film's wit and original-


ity. More impressive, the film has
won First Prize at the Paris Festival H. P. Lovecraft and Sonia Haft
of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Hor- Greene - Lovecraft, Alcestis: A
ror, and a Special Prize at the Cannes Play 15 pp.
. The Strange Com-
Film Festival. It seems more and pany, 1975. $4.00.
more that auteur film-makers like
Romero and David Cronenberg have (Reviewed by Stefan Dziemianowicz)
paved the way for the greater critical
acceptance of this type of horror The incredible low price for this
film. All the praise for The Re- attractive holograph is matched by
Animator is justified, however, on its very limited 200-copy printing.
the film's own merits. Though not But then, Alcestis: A Play will prob-
for everybody, this movie will do ably interest only the serious Love-
much to bring Lovecraft's name into craft collector. According to the
the public eye and anyone intelligent
,
brief introduction, Lovecraft wrote
and sophisticated enough to enjoy this the play from an idea suggested by
film for what it is will surely enjoy his wife at about the same time he
Lovecraft's works as well. fleshed out the Sonia Greene revi-
A friend once gauged a film's sions (cf. The Horror in the Museum
Eastertide 1986 / 47

an d Other Revisions ). Mercifully, from Thanatos and restores her to


Sonia Greene, and not Lovecraft, Adme tus- - sugge sts little more than
wrote out the final product, so the that a happy ending is in the offing.
fifteen unbound folio pages, repro- Apparently this edition was pre-
duced onheavy paper stock, are very pared ten years ago and only awaited
readable, margin notes and all. an introduction from Dirk Mosig,
Written in iambic pentameter, which was never forthcoming. Hav-
Alcestis is really meant to be read ing to speculate what Mosig would
or recited rather than acted. There have made of Alcestis is one more
is not much to its six acts but since reason to regret his departure from
the play is based on the same Greek the field of Lovecraft studies. How-
myth Euripides used for his Alcestis ever, it's worth noting that, in the
in 483 B. C. (and since it's hard to classical world that Lovecraft loved,
believe that Lovecraft, with his pas- the gods depend upon man for their
sionfor the classics, was unfamiliar existence and can sometimes be out-
with the original), it' s interesting to smarted by him because of their
compare the two. The Lovecraft- less-than-godly passions. Compare
Greene version begins with a tug of this to the real cosmos Lovecraft
war between the gods: on one side, knew, one in which the forces of ex-
Apollo and his son Asclepius, who istence were frightfully indifferent
fear that Pluto's appetite for human to men; it's not too difficult to see
deaths will deplete the gods of wor- why he found the idea of Cthulhu and
shippers and hence their reason for his minions so terrifying.
being; on the other, Zeus, who fears
that Asclepius' efforts to secure im-
mortality for men will mock the gods Douglas Winter, Faces of Fear.
and make their existence equally Berkeley, October 1985. 277 pp.
precarious. $9. 95.
The terms of the conflict, as de-
fined above, seem to be largely a (Reviewed by Stefan Dziemianowicz)
Lovecraft-Greene invention, since
Euripides' play begins after Zeus In Dennis Etchison's story "Talk-
has killed Asclepius and punished ing in the Dark," the main character
Apollo for avenging his son's death. realizes a fantasy all of us have in-
Apollo is literally shepherded to dulged: he finds his favorite writer
Admetus, a mortal prince, and his is a guy who wants to sit down and
wife Alcestis. When Admetus is in- talk with him over a six-pack. Doug-
formed he must die, Apollo bribes las Winter doesn't exactly belly up
the Fates to let someone take his to the bar with the seventeen horror
place, but Alcestis is the only volun- writers he interviews in Faces of
teer. The dramatic core of Euripi- F ear, but he does act as our surro-
des' play is Admetus' confrontation gate, asking them about their lives,
with family and friends who turn him their work, and yes, even whe re they
down and his feelings of guilt over get their ideas. In a genre notorious
dispatching Alcestis. This is notably for granting posthumous recognition,
absent from the Lovecraft-Greene Doug Winter is bringing them back
collaboration which, although it alive.
drops off anticipating Euripides' The book is a survey of the con-
conclusion- -i. e. Heracles, a guest
,
temporary horror scene that starts
of Admetus', wrestles Alcestis away in California and works its way
48 / Crypt of Cthulhu

cross-country up the northeast coast, book or deity. And the lack of overt
with an occasional sojourn in Eng- fantasy in much of T. E. D. Klein's
land. Along the way, old reliables work might be attributed to his love-
like Robert Bloch and Richard Math- hate relationship with the genre's
e son share space with young upstarts prescribed codes of conduct.
like Clive Barker; people largely But this is exactly what you should
unrecognized outside of the genre not do with Faces of Fear namely ,

like Charles Grant, David Etchison, come looking for touchstones. Giv-
Alan Ryan and T. E. D. Klein are ing answers to questions about cre-
given equal time with bestsellers ativity is an unnatural act for those
John Coyne and Whitley Streiber and doing the creating. Accept what you
talismen Stephen King and Peter find in this book as dimensions to
Straub; and even William Peter these authors you might never have
Blatty, who is not strictly a horror considered and resist the temptation
writer but whose work has had a sig- to "decipher" them. In the course of
nificant impact on the genre, is reading it you'll run across some
present. surprises (at one time, production
Winter brings out everyone s pe r-1
problems on the movie Psycho were
sonality largely by suppressing his so well known that for Bloch to ac-
own; with one exception, all of the knowledge he was the author would
interviews are presented as narra- have been a liability); some things
tives in which, after setting up the you might have expected (Dennis
context with bibliographical and bio- Etchison is as self-effacing an inter-
graphical facts, he drops out of the viewee as an author); some irony
picture to present a portrait of the (David Morrell, a professor of lit-
artist. The absence of call and re- erature, created the character with
sponse questioning allows each au- whom Sylvester Stallone has become
thor a voice for giving insight into synonymous- -not the boxer); some
his or her work, and those insights disappointments (Michael McDowell
are usually different from, if not and John Coyne take a mercenary
contradictory to, the criteria we use view of the genre); some interesting
to categorize these folks. match-ups (JamesHerbert and Rob-
Take the three whose names most ert Bloch on the morality of horror
frequently crop up here. A fair por- fiction; Stephen King and V. C. An-
tion of Robe r t Bloch's work has been drews on the cult of personality for
interpreted and analyzed, but were the bestselling writer); some omi-
you aware that Psycho II was written nous experiences (Whitley Streiber
in response and
to the antisociality surviving the crossfire of the Charlie
irresponsibility Bloch perceives in Starkweather massacre in 966); and
1

the horror literature and movies of one of the best reasons for becoming
today? (Ironically, the producers of a horror writer I've heard yet (a
the movie Psycho
II rejected Bloch's young Clive Barker, who had already
story for a more "visceral" screen- seen the ending of Psycho and who
play.) We sometimes think of Ram- watched the movie audience at the
sey Campbell as a neo-Lovecraftian, next showing going nuts with sus-
yet the biographical information he pense deciding, "'I want to do this
supplies when discussing why he be- to people. '"). And you may even
came a horror writer goes more come to appreciate the genre that
deeply than simply wanting to en- can embrace such a variety of indi-
cumber the Mythos with another viduals even more.
Eastertide 1986 / 49

MAIL-CALL OF CTHULHU
On the subject of special issues, Weirdbook Press) was one of my
how 'bout giving the celebrity treat- favorite fantasy reads of the past
ment to Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap year. And like Schweitzer I greatly
Long, and Henry Kuttner? The first enjoyed "Lord of the Worms," find-
and last listed have all kinds of im- ing it to be possibly Lumley' s finest
possible-to-find Mythos works that Mythos work. But I stand by my as-
would certainly be appreciated by sessment of the Crow novels, and
your readership. And it seems ob- Lumley's tirade against critics is
vious that since you're saluting the still embarrassing to behold.
"second wave" of Mythos authors you I loved Steve Behrends' enlighten-

should go back and give more credit ing article on the Carter-Smith col-
wave.
to the first It may even take laborations (in Crypt #36). These
two such issues to do proper justice are my favorite Carter works, though
to Bloch. And hurry up with that I haven't seen all of them. Which
Ramsey Campbell issue! brings me to my only complaint about
A note about Randall Larson's Behrends' piece: why not tell some
small press bibliography "The Fan of us unenlightened folk where these
Mythos" in Crypt #35: Etchings fa stories appeared ? Similar informa-
Odysseys managing director James tion concerning the publishing future
J. Ambuehl recently informed me of Carter's Book of Eibon Necro -
,

that E&O will devote every odd-num- nomicon. Terror Out of Time, and
bered issue to Mythos fiction. Cthu- Yoh-Vombis and other Charnel House
lhu & Co. continue to thrive in the publications would also have been a
small press. boon to the Carter issue. Oh well,
William Fulwiler's letter in #35 small complaints these on an other-
gave us the lowdown on "Professor wise fine issue. Get well, Lin!
Peabody' s Last Lecture" from TV's Crypt #37 was very impressive.
Night Gallery A few more details
. Once again the cover was stunning,
are available in the February 1986 and the interior art was equally
issue of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone creepy, especially Chris Gross'
magazine. The only notable detail stuff. And Darrell Schweitzer's
omitted byFulwiler is the identity of Curwen cartoon was hilarious.
one of the female students in Pea- Ralph Vaughan' s article on "Real
body's class: a "Miss Heald." Ap- W orld Links in Dream-Quest" doesn't
parently knew his Lovecraft pretty bring up the most obvious HPL-quote
well. concerning the ghoul-burrows con-
Geez, when you read letter my necting Dream-Earth and the waking
after Darrell Schweitzer's (in Crypt world: "So the ghoul that was Pick-
#37) I come off sounding like a one- man advised Carter either to leave
man crusade against Brian Lumley. the abyss at Sarkomand ... or to
Presupposing the inevitable deluge return through a churchyard [grave-
of pro-Lumley clarify the
letters I'll yard] to the waking world and begin
position my 45-caliber mouth got
. the quest anew" At the Mountains of
(

me into. First I'd like to point out Madness, p. 339). And Lovecraft
that Bri' s House of Cthulhu and Other very cryptically mentions yet another
T ale s of the Primal Land (from link between the worlds when de-
50 / Crypt of Cthulhu

scribing Carter s panoramic view of ' "The Descent into the Abyss," Weird
Celephais: and far in the back-
. . Tales #2 (Zebra Books).
ground the purple ridge of the Tana- "The Light from the Pole, " Weird
rians .behind which lay forbidden
. . Tale #1 (Zebra Books).
ways into the waking world and to- "The Feaster from the Stars," Crypt
ward other regions of dream" At the (
of Cthulhu #26.
Mountains of Madness, p. 352). Nasty "The Utmost Abomination, " Weird
place, the Tanarians. Tales Fall 1973; Ashley (ed. ),
,

"Lovecraft's Cosmic History" was Weird Legacies (Star Books).


also quite good. I had failed to no- "In the Vale of F*nath," Gerald Page
tice many of these discrepancies. (ed. ), Nameless Places (Arkham
Regarding Will Murray's fascina- House).
tion with shoggoths, particularly "Shaggai," August Derleth (ed.). Dark
their "appearance" in Charles Dex - Things (Arkham House).
ter Ward I had always pictured the
:
"The Unbegotten Source, " Crypt of =

"Custodes" as being incomplete and/ Cthulhu #23. ]

or badly recombined human forms


somewhat akin to the transporter
accident victims in the first Star Could I take the liberty of writing
T rek movie. Admittedly this does to mention a passage from the theos-
not explain their being carven into ophist work "A Treatise On Cosmic
the stone altar. Murray's argument Fire, " where it has it that the tra-
is very persuasive, though maybe ditional "black magician" uses the
the Custodes were something even forces of cosmic evil ruled over by
worse . six great entities, referred to in
A final note in the interest of bib- Revelation as the Beast 666.
liographical completeness: Crypt Written independently of Love-
#33's review of Henry Kuttner' s Elak craft fiction, I thought the parallel
of Atlantis contains a listing of an- might be of interest to yourself and
thologies which also contained Elak fellow readers. Particularly in the
stories. Here's another one: "The light of comparisons between Love-
Spawn of Dagon" appeared in Savage craft and Aleister Crowley.
Heroes (edited by Michael Parry, I must compliment you on your
Taplinger, 1980). m agazine which I feel is distinguished

--Kevin A. Ross by its clarity and attractiveness.


Boone, LA --Leslie Skingle
London, England
[H ere's where to find the Carter-
Smith collaborations: I really enjoy the digging people

do to get at a definition of just what


"The Double Tower," Weird Tales, the Mythos is or, in some cases, to
Winter 1973; The Year's Best Fan- scrape off the accretion of misinter-
tasy Stories [ # l]. pretation. I wish I'd had your "H. P.
"The Scroll of Morloc, " Fantastic ,
Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos"
October 1975; Year's Best Fantasy [Crypt #35] around when I was first
Stories #2; Lin Carter, Lost W orlds
(DAW Books).
getting into Lovecraft. At the time,
I accepted wholeheartedly whatever

"The Stairs in the Crypt," Fantastic , Derleth and Carter said e ven though
,

August 1976; Year's Best Fantasy I knew in my heart that there was

Stories #3; Lost Worlds. something wrong with trying to lock


Eastertide 1986 / 51

every story with a town, person, or Eldritch Horror of Oz" by Phyllis


book mentioned in a bona fide Mythos Ann Karr. It concerns one Harkam,

story into a system. I remember an assistant profe ssor at Mi Stic tonic


running all over the place trying to University in Oz (not far from the
find a copy of the Howard poem "Ark- Mistictonic Valley and west of the Oz
ham, " as per Carter's bibliography town of Dunewitch). Disturbed by
at the back of Lovecraft: A Look dreams of strange cities with unOzly
Behind the Cthulhu Mythos, and then, architecture and strange crab-like
after reading it, thinking, "Well, it creatures, he learns in the book
doesn't seem like it belongs with Mac ronom icon "of great Cthjello
everything else, but if Lin Carter sleeping through quintillions of ages
says so . .
" . in the sunken city of R'ealleh; of the
The problem is that the reader mighty Yug-Succotash, and of the
shouldn't approach these stories with gibbering mad god Hazimoth who sits
an either /or mentality. Asyoudem- at the center of the universe piping
onstrate, there is more than one insane antiphonies on his ocarina. "
myth cycle and occasionally they im- There are even worse discoveries,
pinge on one another; but they have and while the main character is
independent existences. Francis T. somewhat reassured of Oz's safety
Laney mentions that there are gaps by the good witch Glinda, he still
in the pantheon that need to be filled. makes one finaldisturbingdiscovery.
This presumes that Lovecraft was It is quite an unusual story and writ-
working with the same design that ten in deadpan, Lovecraftian style.
we've imposed on his work. In an It apparently can be ordered from

age of Frank Herberts and Robe rt A. the International Wizard of Oz Club,


Heinleins, who have calculated all c/o Fred M. Meyer, 220 North 11th
of the dimensions for the superstruc- Street, Escanaba, MI 49829 for $1.
tures on which they hang their sto- (I suggest adding something for post-
ries, we keep forgetting that Love- age. )

craft began "the Mythos" in a spirit --Thomas Owen


of fun. Even the slight coherence Cambridge, MA
he gave it towards the end of his life
seemed more a way of thanking oth- The cover illustration [for Crypt
ers for contributing to it than an at- #37] by Chris Gross is especially
tempt to found the First Reformed striking.
Church of Cthulhu. Any contradic- --Jim Cort
tions that exist probably exist be- Bloomfield, NJ
cause Lovecraft saw no need to clear
them up. I received Crypt #37 yesterday
--Stefan R. Dziemianowicz and read the entire magazine in a
Union City, NJ night. This has been one of your best
issues so far, a truly excellent col-
Having read and enjoyed Crypt 35 lection of articles. I was happy to
and awaiting 36 to arrive at my local see what Nicholas Roerich's art ac-
bookstore, I ran across an apparent tually looked like. The scenes from
Mythos story not listed in Larson's the mountains were not disturbing.
checklist, and a strange one it is in- I'll agree with Mr. Indick there, but
deed. In the Oziana #11, 1981, pub- the "Island of Rest" had a very
lished by the International Wizard of brooding, sombe r quality about it.
Oz Club appears a short story "The My favorite piece was S. T. Jo-
52 / Crypt of Cthulhu

shi's article on Dream -Quest fol- , Charles Dexter Ward And Will
.

lowed by Vaughan's different piece Murray, who is always a delight,


on the same subject. In fact, I'd like charmed me with his wee piece on
to say I enjoyed everything in this shoggoths.
book this time, even the advertise- I am learning much dark wisdom
ments. First rate issue, credit is from Crypt which
, is just as wonder-
deserved all around. ful a treasure as any copy of the
--Charles Garofalo Necronomicon would be.
Wayne, NJ The cartoon on page 45 was splen-
did. --Wilum Pugmire
enjoyed the Lin Carter issue of
I Seattle, WA
Crypt [#36], especially the interview.
Was glad to get the straight poop on Ben Indick's "Note on Nicholas
Kadath, as I'm one of the many who Roerich" was very illuminating.
paid for a copy and never got it. Thanks for reproducing those paint-
Hope Lin is getting over his medical ings. And speaking of art, I don't
problems. know where you got Chris Gross, but
--Richard L. Tierney I hope you hold onto him. Great
Mason City, IA stuff- -particularly the suggestive
piece on page 41
I loved this issue. Crypt #37, es- - - Will Murray

pecially for the material concerning North Quincy, MA

Copyright e 1986

Cryptic Publications
Robert M. Price, Editor
107 East James Street
Mount Olive, North Carolina 28365

Cover art by Chris Pelletiere


Art on page 14 by Allen Koszowski
Art on page 29 by Lance Brown
NEXT TIME

About time for some more fiction, you say? We agree! And
wotta line-up! Where else but Crypt of Cthulhu are you liable to find
a menu like this?

"Embrace of Clay, Embrace of Straw" by Steve Rasnic Tern

"Strange Manuscript Found in the Vermont Woods" by


Lin Carter

and others by Hugh B. Cave, Carl Jacobi, and Duane Rimel.

What'll we come up with next?