Monday, January 16, 2006

Poe and Lovecraft

First, thank you fellow bloggers and fans of HPL! Your personal notes of encouragement are appreciated. Thanks to Tom, Fran, and the rest of you who link to this site. Also, I've had to think long and hard about the philosophy of this blog. I don't want to just reach out and take snapshots of HPL stuff and post it here. I don;t want to copy willy nilly and infringe on copyrights. I want each entry to be my original thought and work. I do due diligence to reference intellectual work. Any pictures I use are usually auto-referenced by their properties. The rest are my original photos, sketches, etc. It makes it very hard, but it challenges me as a writer and an essayist.


There are a number of limited and incredible items on ebay right now. Apparently a collector has turned loose of several autographs in HPL's hand. Christmas cards to Bloch and Clark Ashton Smith, a theater program with notes, and others. Make it a regular trip over to ebay and even if you can't buy something for $500, at least the photos are excellent.

Always feel free to email me at Chris 560729 @ yahoo . com.

Now, today.

Have you ever wondered when people say - Lovecraft immitated Poe? In the coming weeks, I'll show you snippets of text where HPL's early stories cribbed a lot of Poe.

Here, we look at two paragraphs at the beginning to E. A. Poe's William Wilson and compare it to Lovecraft's Alchemist and Tomb.
Also notice that it looks very suspicious that two stories written 9 years apart, but published within month of each other should so eerily alike. I think it shows that HPL edited the 1908 Alchemist. In the future we might deconstruct the Alchemist to show how the teenage HPL was revised by the older writer.

"I am the descendant of a race whose imaginative and easily excitable temperament has at all times rendered them remarkable; and, in my earliest infancy, I gave evidence of having fully inherited the family character. As I advanced in years it was more strongly developed; becoming, for many reasons, a cause of serious disquietude to my friends, and of positive injury to myself. I grew self-willed, addicted to the wildest caprices, and a prey to the most ungovernable passions. Weak-minded, and beset with constitutional infirmities akin to my own, my parents could do but little to check the evil propensities which distinguished me. Some feeble and ill-directed efforts resulted in complete failure on their part, and, of course, in total triumph on mine. Thenceforward my voice was a household law; and at an age when few children have abandoned their leading-strings, I was left to the guidance of my own will, and became, in all but name, the master of my own actions.

"My earliest recollections of a school-life, are connected with a large, rambling, Elizabethan house, in a misty-looking village of England, where were a vast number of gigantic and gnarled trees, and where all the houses were excessively ancient. In truth, it was a dream-like and spirit-soothing place, that venerable old town. At this moment, in fancy, I feel the refreshing chilliness of its deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with undefinable delight, at the deep hollow note of the church-bell, breaking, each hour, with sullen and sudden roar, upon the stillness of the dusky atmosphere in which the fretted Gothic steeple lay imbedded and asleep."

{highlights mine)

The Alchemist (1908):

“…I spent the hours of my childhood in poring over the ancient tomes that filled the shadow-haunted library of the chateau, and in roaming without aim or purpose through the perpetual dust of the spectral wood that clothes the side of the hill near its foot. …”, “…It was perhaps an effect of such surroundings that my mind early acquired a shade of melancholy. Those studies and pursuits which partake of the dark and occult in nature most strongly claimed my attention. …”, “…yet as I grew out of childhood, I was able to piece together disconnected fragments of discourse, let slip from the unwilling tongue…”

“…I was an only child and the lack of companionship which this fact entailed upon me was augmented by the strange care exercised by my aged guardian, in excluding me from the society of the peasant children whose abodes were scattered here and there upon the plains that surround the base of the hill. At that time, Pierre said that this restriction was imposed upon me because my noble birth placed me above association with such plebeian company. Now I know that its real object was to keep from my ears the idle tales of the dread curse upon our line that were nightly told and magnified by the simple tenantry as they conversed in hushed accents in the glow of their cottage hearths. …”

The Tomb (1917):

”…I have dwelt ever in realms apart from the visible world; spending my youth and adolescence in ancient and little known books, and in roaming the fields and groves of the region near my ancestral home. I do not think that what I read in these books or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what other boys read and saw there; but of this I must say little, since detailed speech would but confirm those cruel slanders upon my intellect which I sometimes overhear from the whispers of the stealthy attendants around me. …”, “…Close by my home there lies a singular wooded hollow, in whose twilight deeps I spent most of my time; reading, thinking, and dreaming. Down its moss-covered slopes my first steps of infancy were taken, and around its grotesquely gnarled oak trees my first fancies of boyhood were woven. Well did I come to know the presiding dryads of those trees, and often have I watched their wild dances in the struggling beams of a waning moon but of these things I must not now speak. …”, “… of this I must say little, since detailed speech would but confirm those cruel slanders upon my intellect which I sometimes overhear from the whispers of the stealthy attendants around me…”

“…I have said that I dwelt apart from the visible world, but I have not said that I dwelt alone. This no human creature may do; for lacking the fellowship of the living, he inevitably draws upon the companionship of things that are not, or are no longer, living. …”, “…the race whose scions are here inurned had once crowned the declivity which holds the tomb, but had long since fallen victim to the flames which sprang up from a stroke of lightning. Of the midnight storm which destroyed this gloomy mansion, the older inhabitants of the region sometimes speak in hushed and uneasy voices…”


Jeffrey Buford said...

I love your site, and I am very excited to see that there are still writer's, thinker's, and creative individuals out there who are still in the midst of Lovecraft's work. I am a big fan of his work, and your writing is very good.


Gael said...

This blog is a great idea. I really admire you for focusing so avidly on one writer and taking the time to explore his work in full. The links with EA Poe in the passages you quote are remarkable! Do the two writers also address similar themes in their work?

Anonymous said...

really great concept for a blog. i'll have to catch up when i have some time - i haven't even read hpl's work in some time.

Chris Perridas said...

Jeffrey and Gael, thatn you for stopping by. I appreciate your encouragement.

Poe influenced a number of writers, including Jules Verne, de Maupesant, and Lovecraft. I can;t speak directly to Poe, whom I admire and enjoy, but it seems he was able to pull the "gothic" story into a more modern situation. He brought an intense atmosphere to horror, and created the concept of detective stories.

Lovecraft imitated Poe until he learned to have his own voice. He moved past supernatural horror and created a world in which mankind was insignificant and alien beings - also "people" - were so advanced that we were less than bugs to them. Be very afraid!

I'll attempt to address more of this as I blog merrily along!

Chris Perridas said...

Thanks for stopping by "rain".


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