Monday, February 12, 2007

The Transition of Juan Romero

Lovecraft writes a western??


On 19 September 1919 Lovecraft penned this story. Chrispy has always thought it smacked of Ambrose Bierce, yet few others do. Lovecraft explicitly states that it was written as an exercise in copying Phil Mac - a story that was a "dull ... commonplace adventure yarn". (1)

Lovecraft did read Biere sometime in 1919 at Loveman's prompt. (2) In Early 1919 HPL wrote Beyond the Wall of Sleep, though in no way related to Bierce's Beyond the Wall. Still, it is a mighty interesting coincidence.

Compare just a few fragments ...

"Juan Romero" HPL
From the watchman's cabin however gleamed ...

"The Moonlit Road" AB
At that moment my attention was drawn to a light that suddenly streamed from an upper window of the house; one of the servants, awakened by what mysterious premonition of evil who can say, …had lit a lamp.

"Juan Romero" HPL
... A small square of yellow light like a guardian eye ...

"The Eyes of the Panther" AB
He could now dimly discern the aperture - a square of lighter black. Presently, there appeared at its lower edge two gleaming eyes that burned with a malignant lustre inexpressibly terrible!

And, as to the use of Transition by HPL, we read in Bierce, "A Jug of Sirrup" , where he narrates, "In brief, it was the general feeling in all that region that Silas Deemer was the one immobile verity of Hillbrook, and that his translation in space would precipitate some dismal public ill or serious calamity."

One must consider that someone had a very Biercean manner of speech - whether HPL copied it from Bierce, or from Phil Mac !!

1. p. 69, 9 Nov 1919 to Rheinhart Kleiner in Lord of a Visible World, Joshi & Scultz, Ohio Univ Press, 2000.

2. In April 1920, Lovecraft had a Civil War Dream that was inspired by him reading Bierce's Civil War stories.

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