Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lovecraft's Medical Ailment?

I am an avid collector of Lovecraftiana trivia. :)

I ran across this old copy of Horror Times Ten*.

In the special notes by Sam Moskowitz, he states, "Even in the most bizarre and far-fetched tales, a little research will usually uncover the fact that at least the beginnings of the idea were developed from the author's personal experience. H. P. Lovecraft's, Cool Air, which originally appeared in Tales of Magic and Mystery for March, 1928, opens with the lines: 'You ask me to explain why I am afraid of a draught of cool air, why I shiver more than others upon entering a cold room, and seem nauseated and repelled when the chill of evening creeps through the heat of a mild autumn day.' Friends of Lovecraft recognized those symptoms as belonging to the author [who] had suffered from a kidney ailment, as well as Bright's disease (also an affliction of those organs) which was eventually to prove a major factor in his death at the age of forty-seven. Since kidney disorders decrease the tolerance to cold in some people, it seems quite logical that for a man suffering from such a condition the term 'cool air' would evoke horror."

[Honestly, I've never read this particular disease factoid before. S. T. Joshi, at least to my knowledge, never mentions this, but has discussed St. Vitus Dance and Rheumatic Fever. Anyone know about this particular disease in conection to HPL? and why Moskowitz might have thought this was the case?]

I also liked the cute pun from the editor, Alden H. Norton, in his Introduction, Cool Air by the late master, H. P. Lovecraft, is literally a "chilling" tale, all the more so since it displays the humanity of the dead."

This little book has Robert Bloch, Robery Erwin Howard, August Derleth and Lovecraft within its pages.

[Fellow blogger, let me know if you've also read this book, have it, or would like to know more about it.]

* I try to be very careful about using copyrighted material. As is standard practice in research, I use due diligence in quoting my references and using the least amount of verbage to get my blog across.

Horror Times Ten, ed. Alden H. Norton, Berkeley Medallion, 1967, 6th ed. 1970.

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