Friday, September 07, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: David McCallum

From the seller of this item (probably some of it from the album cover): This CD {Original c. 1973 - Chrispy} contains "The Rats in the Walls", one of H. P. Lovecraft's most evil and macabre stories. Read by David McCallum. "The Rats in the Walls" is told by the scion (meaning descendant or heir) of the Delapore family, who has moved from Massachusetts to his ancestral estate in England known as Exham Priory. On several occasions, the protagonist and his cats, specifically his favorite cat hears the titular sounds of rats scurrying behind the walls. Upon investigating further, he finds that his family maintained an underground city for centuries and that the inhabitants of the city fed on human flesh, even going so far as to raise generations of human cattle (who eventually began to de-evolve due to their sub-human living conditions). In the end, the protagonist, unknowingly maddened by the revelations of his family's past and driven by the stronger force of his own heritage, attacks one of his friends in the dark of the cavernous city and begins eating him. He is subsequently subdued and locked in a mental institution. The protagonist of the story maintains his innocence, proclaiming that it was the rats that ate the man. The rats still persist however, as he continues to be plagued by the sounds and sights of rats in the walls of his cell.
Lovecraft had very clear convictions about writing, particularly macabre tales. He believed that nothing was so essentially terrifying to the human spirit aa dislocation in space and time, for instance; yet in all his fiction, for all that it ranges widely into the unknown, he kept himself moored to familiar country, against a meticulously constructed background. "The keynote should be that of scientific exposition - since that is the normal way of presenting a 'fact' new to existing knowledge - and should not change as the story gradually slides off from the possible into the impossible," he wrote on one occasion, and, on another: "Spectral fiction should be realistic and atmospheric - confining its departure from nature to the one supernatural channel chosen, and remembering that scene, mood, and phenomena are more important in conveying what is to be conveyed than are characters and plot. The 'punch' of a truly weird tale is simply some violation of transcending of fixed cosmic laws - an imaginative escape from palling reality - since phenomena rather than persons are the logical 'heroes.' Horrors should be original - the use of common myths and legends being a weakening influence."
David McCallum attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and worked in the theatre, in television and in films in Europe before coming to America in 1962. He has lived in the U.S. ever since. He work includes "Billy Bud" (film), "the Man From Uncle" (television series), and more recently he stars in the CBS television series NCIS as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard.

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