Wednesday, January 11, 2006

An Idaho Jackrabbit In Arkham?

Today we have a glimpse inside the workings of Lovecraft's mind. The smallest incident, or an obscure fact, might influence a bit of horror. Perhaps his childood traumas or those long midnight walks throughout Providence triggered these flashes of odd briliance. In any case, the Colour Out of Space seemed to have more than its share of Lovecraftian flashbacks.

"...he said he was disturbed about certain footprints in the snow. They were the usual prints of red squirrels, white rabbits, and foxes, but the brooding farmer professed to see something not quite right about their nature and arrangement. ... There had been a moon, and a rabbit had run across the road, and the leaps of the rabbit were the longer than either Ammi or his horse liked."

Grandpa Phillips [2] was a wealthy businessman and scion of Providence. His company built a hotel and had large properties and a dam in Idaho. All of these needed intimate management at the beginning of the twentieth century, and would eventually lead to Phillips financial ruin and death. Everything changed for HPL in 1904 when Grandpa died. But those letters from the American west and memories were retained:

[1, p.88] "I was a small boy then; but his trips out there, and his descriptions of the country, interested me prodigiously. In his office downtown he had all sorts of samples of Idaho minerals and produce, and his occassional letters postmarked "Boise City," "Mountain Home," and "Grand View" (the latter place named by him, & occupying land owned by the company) lent a sense of reality to those exotic specimens."

The rabbit that Ammi saw [1, p.88] was a western jackrabbit.

To a boy the western specimens must have been fantastic. To his budding scientific mind - and remember, little Howard wanted to be a scientist in the worst way - he absorbed everything like a sponge. How different the western rabbit was to the eastern cottontail. How horrific! What would Poe make of it?

We know what the 37 year old man made of it in 1927 - he used it to describe an abberant alien landscape. Below, I include pictures of the familiar (to HPL) cottontail with snow prints.

1 Books at Brown (op.cit. this blog 1/11/06): John McInnis relates that the letters and trips out west were influential and influenced Lovecrafts stories. HPL was nostalgic for his pre-1904 days.

2 A wonderful site with a lot of background of HPL's early days.


G said...

great work CP. what did you do to the formatting??

pictures look good too.

Chris Perridas said...

Hi, G!

Thanks for your encouragement.

I got out my CSS book and still cannot figure out why the formatting went wild. It looks like a weekend project. :)


Blog Archive


Google Analytics