Sunday, January 15, 2006

Grandpa Whipple and The Beast In The Cave

I find it interesting that The Beast in the Cave was written in stages or drafts. [1, p.56-58] It was begun in the Spring of 1904 (before Whipple's death) and supposedly completed April 21, 1905. I think it was revised for its subsequent amateur publication, but that remains a discussion for another blog-day.

Whipple died of a stroke after exhausting himself with business failure in Idaho. The date was Monday, March 28, 1904. With a little research [2,3], I found that full Moon was Thursday, March 31, 1904 which meant Easter was the following Sunday, April 3, 1904.

In The Beast in The Cave Lovecraft utters, "...before I could completely understand what had occurred, [I] was lying upon the ground at the feet of the guide, embracing his boots and gibbering, despite my boasted reserve, in a most meaningless and idiotic manner, pouring out my terrible story". This is eerily similar to Luke 7:37,38. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment."

This is often Easter sermon material in the Baptist church, to which Whipple belonged. I've noted that Lovecraft usually reserves "gibbering" as a weak and contemptible feature and "superstition" for Christianity or Theosophy in his fiction.
Did young Howard take the Easter week death of Whipple and parody it in one of his drafts of Beast? He was certainly devoted and attached to "Grandpa" and his writing shows many instances wherein he tried to keep the memory (resurrect?) of Whipple alive. Frequently, his letter writing pseudonym was "Grandpa" even to family members.
Lovecraft often parodied scripture, most notoriously in Dunwich Horror. [1, pp. 316, 319]

" By their smell can some men know Them near..." Lovecraft parodies Jesus' Sermon on th Mount in the Dunwich Horror: Mt. 7:20, Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Psalm 91.6, "Sabaoth" meaning Lord of Hosts, and not to be confused with "Sabbath" is utilized.

"Help! Help! ff-ff-ff-Father! Father! Yog-Sothoth." Luke 23:46, Father into thy hands I commend my spirit ... and gave up the ghost (Cp. Mk. 15 & Mt 27)

I believe that the expression of the lost protagonist seizing the "guide" around the feet and "gibbering" is an early attempt by Lovecraft to parody scripture, a lifelong habit.

[1] The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, S. T. Joshi, 2001, Penguin.

[2] Perpetual Calendar Here.

[3] Calculate a full Moon Here.

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