domingo, 17 de noviembre de 2019

The Thing on the Doorstep

"The Thing on the Doorstep"
by H.P. Lovecraft
USA, 1937

"It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to shew by this statement that I am not his murderer" (341).  If it's also true, as I think I've read somewhere, that Lovecraft's conception of a successful supernatural tale hinged on the art of credibly relating something that couldn't have happened, then props to him for that doozy of an opening sentence and the preposterous but entertaining piece of writing that follows.  A Poe-like tale of madness, serial demonic possession and/or both, "The Thing on the Doorstep" waylaid me, the Lovecraft neophyte, with both its odd antiquarian bent and its loving appeal to local flavor (for example, the reference to "Cyclopean ruins in the heart of the Maine woods beneath which vast staircases lead down to abysses of nighted secrets" [349], so laughable out of context, is perfectly convincing here in the fussy secondhand telling by the unreliable narrator).  For non-New Englanders or at least those less enamored of a Weird New England setting on its lonesome, there's also an appreciably obsessive attention to metafictional detail evident in things like the allusion to one Justin Geoffrey--"the notorious Baudelairean poet" who "died screaming in a madhouse in 1926 after a visit to a sinister, ill-regarded village in Hungary" (342)--whom a footnote informs me is a character Lovecraft borrowed from Robert E. Howard's 1931 short story "The Black Stone."  That touch struck me as almost Borgesian, in fact, in terms of its sheer bookish fun.  Rating: PG for pulpy goodness, of course!

Source
"The Thing on the Doorstep," the title tale from The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (New York: Penguin Books, 2001), appears on pp. 341-365 of said collection.

5 comentarios:

  1. Are you reading the whole book? A lot of prime stuff in there. Prime, forbidden, crazy stuff.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. I was just planning on dipping into & out of it at my leisure, but I'm encouraged by what you say and what I've read from it so far. "Prime, forbidden, crazy stuff"? You're speaking my language!

      Eliminar
    2. I forgot to ask you whether there were any particular short stories or novellas in the collection you'd care to vouch for. Anything I should read sooner rather than later?

      Eliminar
  2. Charles Dexter Ward stands well on its own, and "At the Mountains of Madness" and "The Dunwich Horror" are central to the whole Lovecraft thing - why this writer has become so important. It ain't for the beautiful prose.

    It has been so long since I read most of these stories that I am sure I am missing something.

    ResponderEliminar
    Respuestas
    1. Thanks, that matches up pretty closely with some of the Lovecraft texts others have raved about as most important along with The Shadow over Innsmouth from another Penguin volume. The main reason I started out with this short story is that I heard its storyline featured Arkham Sanitarium, the real life inspiration for which I was fortunate enough to visit not too long ago--not as a patient, though!

      Eliminar