Sunday, March 19, 2006

A few "puns" in Dreams of the Witch House

Continuing our deconstruction of DotWH here are some amusing asides.

We see as the story reaches its penultimate climax that we have a "Mary Czanek" which clearly alludes to The Terrible Old Man, To make sure his Mythos pals don;t miss it, he states, "...they had seen a crazily dressed trio furtively entering the dark passageway..." and finally, "formed terrible conjectures...".

Lovecrfat makes a clear error in his haste. As referenced below, a "black man" is Satan, and has no relation to race. However, Lovecraft says, "a huge robed negro {he should have said black man}, a little old woman in rags, and a younf white man in his night-clothes...".

The phrase, "...dark, livid marks on his throat as if he had tried to strangle himself..." seems a clear allusion to Stoker's The Judge's House.

Perhpas you enjoyed the Wizard of Oz-ish "who can say what underlies the old tale of broomstick rides through the night?" And earlier, "...the evil old woman ... bent back, long nose, shriveled chin ... and shapeless brown garments..."

The 1919 White Ship has, "In the land of Sona-Nyl there is neither time nor space..." [1] whereas we have here, "one might ... pass into a timeless dimension ...".

HPL's story of Rats in the Walls is slyly mentioned [2], "...Dombrowski must attend to the poisoning of those rats in the walls."

It appears that HPL made a natural division (a two-parter?)of this short novel when he summarizes the events at the paragraph "Fever - wild dreams - somnaumbilism .."

Lovecraft conjures Abraham and Isaac with "...a second later the downward motion of the knife broke the spell completely...". Cp. Gen 22 10. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham ... Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

Finally, we are sure grounds of satire when Lovecraft invokes the grandmothers. "Joe knew about such things, for his grandmother in the old country had heard tales from her grandmother ...".

The telltale Loevcratisms are numerous. Abyss (innumerable times), cyclopean (twice), angled planes, octopi, peeling wallpaper, moss covered stones and phosphorescence, odd spellings such as "phantasies" & "phantasms", astronomical bodies (Hydra, Argo Navis), mention of elder gods (Nyarlathotep, Azathoth) and books (Necronomicon).

1 The Dreams of the Witch House, Penguin, S T Joshi, p. 445, n. 18

2 op.cit. n. 17

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