Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Was Lovecraft Robbed at Gun Point?

At the HPLblog, no detail is too obscure for us to notice. In fact, obscurianta is our game!

This morning, Chrispy was nosing through a copy of Penguin's H. P. Lovecraft: The Dreams of the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, and flipped through From Beyond.

From Beyond is the classic case of one of HPL's stories being a philosophical treatise disguised as fiction. It is all about Riemannian geometry and quantum reality. Not bad for Lovecraft - a guy who struggled with mathematics. Joshi reports that HPL cribbed portions from the 1919 Hugh Elliot monograph Modern Science and Materialism.

However, there is this curious sentence, "...I felt a childish fear which prompted me to draw from my hip pocket the revolver that I always carried after dark sicne the night I was hed up in East Providence."

It detracts from the entire paragraph - the next blog post will deconstruct this paragraph.

The sly footnote by textual critic par excellence, S. T. Joshi, caught my attention. He relates (p. 406, n7) that the sentence about carrying a revolver was added after the first draft of the story. Even Joshi is unsure if Lovecraft was robbed at gun point, but he does note that to get to his pal C. M. Eddy's house, he had to cross a seedy part of Providence.

It brings up an interesting point. Did HPL carry a revolver in early 1920? Would he have used it? Could he have the fortitude to kill another man if confronted? He wrote a great deal about violence, but one always suspects that for all the raging about emigrants, for all his prejudices, that HPL was a man of peace - an elitist, Edwardian, Archie Bunker - who really had a heart of gold.

4 comments:

Julilla said...

Is this the only reference to something of this sort by HPL? He's usually quite biographical, even in his fiction.

gugon said...

I just discovered your blog - and I love it. Having slogged through seemingly hundreds of dull blogs, it's great to find one genuinely informative and interesting. Of course, I am very much influenced by HPL (he's the only celebrity whose gravesite I visited).

Nice job! I will definitely be coming back.

Chris Perridas said...

Thank you both for the comments. As to HPL's revolver, he certainly carried one as a kid when he was a Baker Street Irregular. Several stories mention a revolver - such as The Hound - but HPL rarely mentione knives or swords rifles or other armature. I've not found other info on his carrying a gun, though.

cheesemeister said...

I really don't think HPL was the type to have been able to actually shoot another person. He was far too genteel. But I might envision him carrying a gun, just in case he needed to scare off some scoundrel.

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