Monday, April 5, 2010

Four Minor Works by H.P. Lovecraft

Here's four more of Lovecraft's short stories that I couldn't justify giving a full-length post to--but in my chronological journey of his works, I've promised to review them all, so my thoughts follow (brief as they may be).

The Cats of Ulthar: Another entry in Lovecraft's rather dull fairy tale type stories, this one is said to at least be peripherally attached to his Mythos. In the land of Ulthar, it is against the law to kill a cat. This is a fable explaining why. Originally published in the November 1920 issue of The Tryout, after "Poetry and the Gods" but before "Nyarlathotep".

The Street: Lovecraft was a notorious Anglophile, and that pathetic, xenophobic trait is on full display here. Lovecraft traces the history of The Street as it grows from a mere pathway into a town and then an idealistic city. In time, a new breed of immigrant moves in and turns his Anglo-Saxon haven into a festering slum. The Street itself has taken on a form of sentience thanks to its exposure to its original saintly inhabitants, and sends the whole city crashing down upon the violent newcomers, a little slice of genocide. Lovecraft seems to have forgotten that his holy Anglo's were once immigrants here themselves. But nobody ever accused racists of using common sense. Originally published in the December 1920 issue of The Wolverine, after "Polaris" but before "Ex Oblivione".

The Crawling Chaos: When Lovecraft described the title character of "Nyarlathotep" as The Crawling Chaos, he must have liked the way it sounded because he used it as the title for this unrelated short story, written in conjunction with Elizabeth Berkely--no, not that hottie from Showgirls. The story opens with a discussion about the effects of opium, and what we're hoping to be a Lovecraftian drugsploitation tale (how boss would that be!?) turns out to be about a man who hallucinates that he travels to a mythic version of our world and watches from a safe distance as it consumes itself. Originally published in the April 1921 issue of The United Co-Operative, after "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" but before "The Terrible Old Man".

The Tree: This is another of Lovecraft's less-than-fascinating fairy tale inspired stories. This time it takes place in Ancient Greece and follows two sculptors who enter into a friendly competition and the fate that befalls them. Makes reference to the Greek god Pan, but ignores those of the Cthulu Mythos. Originally published in the 1921 issue of The Tryout, after "The Picture in the House" but before "The Nameless City".


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1 comment:

  1. The phrase "crawling chaos" is one of the best things HPL ever came up with!


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