Monday, December 18, 2006


"At the time his shrieks were confined to the repitition of a single mad word of all too obvious source: 'Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!'" At the Mountains of Madness

Most of us know this comes directly from Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of nantucket (1850), and occurs in several chapters, 22, 23, 25, "He could not be prevailed upon to touch it or go near it, shuddering when we attempted to force him, and shrieking out, 'Tekeli-li!'., and Ch. 26.

Poe was meticulous in producing the Tsalal language and (click to see online reference) Morrell's Narrative exemplify the vowel sounds and the process of reduplication characteristic of Malayo-Polynesian languages. Tregear gives tekelili (to shiver, to shake). But splitting Poe's word into tiki (god) and lili (angry) would also fit the context. (1)

However, in a priavte correspondence of several years back, it was called to Chrispy's attention that the word tekeli-li came from a play by Theodore Hook, entitled Tekeli; or The Seige of Montgatz. Poe's mother had acted a part in the production of this play. (2)

Lovecraft idolized Poe and would have absorbed every iota of Poe lore. He would have known these items, I'm sure.

Feel free to add your comemnts on this word, below !

(1) Quoted in [Text: J. V. Ridgely, "The Continuing Puzzle of Arthur Gordon Pym," from Poe Newsletter, Vol. III, no. 1, June 1970, pp. 5-6.] , [page 5, column 2:] , The Continuing Puzzle of Arthur Gordon Pym Some Notes and Queries , J. V. Ridgely, .Columbia University Edward , as Tregear's The Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (Christchurch, etc., New Zealand, n.d. [c. 1890?]).
(2) Unfortunately the correspondence was damaged, and I only have the correspondent as "S C Jordan".

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