The Lovecraft series continues.

Raw Feed (2005): “He”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1925.Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

This is the second tale from Lovecraft’s “I hate New York” period, and the language is even more extreme than the first, “The Horror at Red Hook“.

Our narrator is an even thinner disguised version of Lovecraft than usual. He has come to find romance and mystery among the “pinnacles that rise blackly Babylonian” and, instead, become disillusioned with the New York City of

squalor and alienage and the noxious elephantiasis of climbing, spreading stone

and the streets crowded with

shrewd strangers without dreams and without kinship to the scenes about them, who could never mean aught to a blue-eyed man of the old folk.

The story is good, but it also turns out to be reminiscent of other Lovecraft tales.

The man who invites the narrator, after seeing him on his nocturnal antiquarian explorations, to his home turns out to be a sorcerer who has lived in the area since Greenwich was a village separate from New York City.

This story reminded me of Lovecraft’s later “Cool Air” in that both involve a man preserving something way past its natural time of extinction. In the latter story, it is a man extending his existence after he has died via refrigeration to stave off physical decay. Here the sorcerer extends the life of his home and himself by a sheer act of will.

“Cool Air” was definitely inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Case of M. Valdemar”, but I think this story was too. Whereas Poe used hypnosis to give a will capable of violating natural order, it is sheer sorcererously-amplified will that does it here and not only to the benefit of one man’s body but his surroundings too. The sorcerer’s house, which vanishes when the remains of Indians killed by his ancestor take their revenge, vanishes, and the narrator can’t find it again in the city.  This reminded me a bit of the odd portion of an unnamed city where Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann” is set.  (Feb. 13, 2005)


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