Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lovecraftiana: Harold S. Farnese

One of the more obscure, but incredibly influential forces on the evolution fo Mythos, Dr. Farnese (1885-1942) had three touchstones to HPL and his Legacy.

First, he was a late correspondent. [1, p. 306 & note 1] {August 5, 1932 to Donald Wandrei} "A man in Los Angeles wants to set 2 of my Yuggotian fungi to music". Joshi goes on to say, "...Farnese set two stanzas of Fungi From Yuggoth, 'Mirage' and "The Elder Pharos' to music, but HPL neither heard nor saw the finished work. He goes on to reference primary sources of Weird Tales, Feb-Mar, 1931 and Selected Letters IV on page 159 of which the latter has a page from The Elder Pharos. Chripsy found one reference where the music was performed, albeit altered and expanded, as an operetta on (Saturday) November 1, 2003. [2]

Dan Clore, an HPL scholar, has stated, "Harold Farnese ... it appears, had little grasp of what Lovecraft was doing in his fiction, and simply projected his own concerns with black magic onto Lovecraft, and then presented a paraphrase from memory {to Derleth}..." [3]

Second, Farnese was a source of accidental misinformation about Lovecraft's Mythos philosophy.

Elsewhere, Chrispy found this pericope. [4] "In a letter to Harold S. Farnese in 1932, Lovecraft discussed his fascination with that which is unknown, outside scientific classification, declaring it ... 'virtually permanent ... part of the human personality '. (Letters 4, 70-71) Although contemporary science 'destroys' human belief in the supernatural, Howard Phillips Lovecraft saw his work as: "a sense of impatient rebellion against the rigid and eluctable tyranny of time, space and natural law - a sense which drives our imaginations to devise all sorts of plausible hypothetical defeats of that tyranny - and second a burning curiosity concerning the vast reaches of unplumbed and unplumbable cosmic space which press down tantalisingly on all sides of our pitifully tiny sphere of the known. Between these two ... factors I believe the field of the weird must necessarily continue to have a reason for existence, and that the nature of man must necessarily still seek occasional expression ... in symbols and phantasies involving the hypothetical frustration of physical law, and the imaginative extrusion of knowledge and adventure beyond the bounds imposed by reality. " [4]

Finally there is this passage [5] "In his introduction to Arkham House’s “The Dunwich Horror and Others,” August Derleth makes the following comment:
“The pattern of the Mythos is a pattern that is basic in the history of mankind, representing as it does the primal struggle between good and evil; in this, it is essentially similar to the Christian Mythos, especially relating to the expulsion of Satan from Eden and Satan’s lasting power of evil. ‘All my stories, unconnected as they may be,’ wrote Lovecraft, ‘are based on the fundamental lore or legend that this world was inhabited at one time by another race who, in practising black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside ever ready to take possession of this earth again.’” [5]

"In fact, this quote did not come from Lovecraft, but from Harold Farnese, a brief correspondent of Lovecraft. After Lovecraft’s death, Derleth wrote Farnese, asking if he could borrow the letters from Lovecraft. Farnese gladly agreed, and mailed the letters to Derleth. In letters Farnese then wrote to Derleth, he often “quoted” Lovecraft—these quotes appear to be, at best, paraphrases. In one, Farnese writes:
“Upon congratulating HPL upon his work, he answered: ‘You will, of course, realize that all my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on one fundamental lore or legend: that this world was inhabited at one time by another race, who in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside, ever ready to take possession of this earth again.’” [5]

"Derleth took this “quote” as fact and used it on several occasions, but investigation into Lovecraft’s letters does not reveal this “quote.” In several other letters to Derleth, Farnese quotes the letters he sent to Derleth, yet comparison to the letters themselves reveals that Farnese was not quoting, but merely recalling. Farnese at one point refers to a writer for Weird Tales by the name of “Bellknap Jones”—an obvious misreference to Frank Belknap Long." [5]

"For a fuller discussion of this long-standing misconception, see David E. Schultz’ "The Origin of Lovecraft’s ‘Black Magic’ Quote" in Crypt of Cthulhu, issue 48." [5]




1 Letters of H P Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei, Night Shade Books, 2002

2 http:// http:// www. trummerflora.com / calendar / archives / 2003-11.html
Other Ideas at The SpaceFrom the San Francisco Bay Area: Tri-Cornered Tent Show. Andre Custodio (synthesizer, percussion), Philip Everett (drums, autoharp, elec. perc), Rent Romus (reeds, flute, toys, vocals), Ray Schaeffer (electric bass). The newest CD release from Tri-Cornered Tent Show entitled Legion of Dagon is inspired by early 20th Century horror-scifi writer H.P. Lovecraft's 38-sonnet piece entitled "Fungi In Yuggoth." Music by a Dr. Harold Farnese who wrote an unfinished operetta for Lovecraft's sonnets is the loose basis for this project. At The Space916 West Washington St.Mission Hills, San Diego

3 http:// www. geocities.com/ SoHo/ 9879/ lurker.htm

4 http:// www. geocities.com/ cadavre_exquis_uk/ caincraft

5 http:// www. hplovecraft.com/ life/ myths.asp

2 comments:

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Jannire Fresita said...

Oh ..my favourite lovecraft writing is a poem called "The Book" (it appears in Fungi from Yuggoth). I love it

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