Thursday, September 27, 2007

Was the Original "Beast" in Beast In The Cave - a Cat?


For convenience, I'm using the Del Rey text of Beast in the Cave (*). Read this passage along with me.

"These impacts were soft, and stealthy, as of the paws of some feline. Besides, when I listened carefully, I seemed to trace the falls of four instead of two feet."

The next paragraph continues, "I was now convinced that I had by my own cries aroused and attracted some wild beast, perhaps a mountain lion which had accidentally strayed within the cave."

A bit later we read, "Meanwhile the hideous pattering of the paws drew near."

This presents a textual problem that has not been discussed to my knowledge. The story as it presently stands tells the story of a cave beast, a man who has degenerated and turned into an albino ape. To what purpose does all the subterfuge serve about the beast being a cat? It seems to only make sense if the original 1904 story was about a cat in a cave, and later the story was editied (redacted) to be an albino ape-man in a cave.

*7th edition of The Transition of H. P. Lovecraft: The Road To Madness, 1996 (1st ed, Oct. 1996).

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