- Paperback: 28 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 13, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1505533538
- ISBN-13: 978-1505533538
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.1 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,554,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Doom That Came to Sarnath Paperback – December 13, 2014
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H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote short stories in the '20s and '30s, is one of the acknowledged masters of this genre, influencing many who came after him, including Stephen King. His horror is not the jumping-out-at-you kind, but the kind that comes to you in nightmares when some horrible nameless, faceless entity is stalking you and you are sure you will die of fright (or go mad) if it catches you. His stories invoke the instinctual dread which certain old houses or locations inspire. His horror is perhaps the kind experienced by some who take LSD and have a very bad trip. (I assure you, I don't know this for sure.) I believe we all sometimes have the feeling at the fringes of our consciousness that very bad things may exist of which we are usually not aware. Lovecraft taps into that wellspring of fear.
One way he does this is with the style of his writing, which is consciously archaic, invoking a bygone age when people were less attuned to the strictly rational and more susceptible to instinctual feelings and superstition.
But it's in his word choices that he especially shows genius in capturing horror and disgust, being particularly fond of such words as "eldritch" and "flabby" and "putrescent" and "abyss" and "demoniac." He also uses alliteration to great effect, such as in "crawling chaos" and "sinister secrets" and "writhing of worms."
Lovecraft specializes in telling just enough to arouse fear and anxiety and letting the reader's imagination and subconscious supply the rest. One story protagonist says, "I flung myself into the oily underground river, flung myself into the putrescent juice of earth's inner horrors before the madness of my screams could bring down upon me all the charnel legions these pest-gulfs might conceal." He never describes the "charnel legions," but can't you see them in your mind's eye?
This collection of short stories comes from early Lovecraft, before he really hit his stride in the horror genre. It includes stories influenced by Poe, stories in the fantasy style of Lord Dunsany, and even one science fiction story. Other collections, especially 'At the Mountains of Madness,' are more representative of the style for which he is most well known.
Certainly not everyone enjoys this kind of literature, but for those who do, this is a must-read.
Farewell to the Dreamlands, an introduction by Lin Carter
The Other Gods
The Doom that Came to Sarnath
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
What the Moon Brings
The Cats of Ulthar
The Nameless City
The Quest of Iranon
The Crawling Chaos
In the Walls of Eryx
Imprisoned with the Pharaohs (published as "Under the Pyramid" in modern editions of H. P. Lovecraft)
What I especially enjoy about this wee book is that Lin Carter has written prefaces for many of the stories, revealing bits of information about the work and Lovecraft's life, quoting from Lovecraft's letters, &c. Here is Lin's preface to one of my favourite Lovecraft stories, "The Nameless City":
In a letter to Frank Belknap Long, dated January 26, 1921, H.P.L. discussed the next story, "The Nameless City." He wrote:
"At the risk of boring you, I will enclose my latest--just finished and typed--THE NAMELESS CITY. This had its basis in a dream, which in turn was probably caused by contemplation of the peculiar suggestiveness of a phrase in Dunsany's BOOK OF WONDER--'the unreverberate blackness of the abyss.' The character of the 'mad Arab Alhazred' is fictitious. The lines are mine--written especially for the story--and Abdul Alhazred is a pseudonym I took when I was about five years old and crazy about the ARABIAN NIGHTS. I hardly know yet what to think of this story--you are the first to see it--but I certainly put enough work into it. I tore up two beginnings, only hitting the right atmosphere the third time, and destroyed (or rather rearranged) one conclusion. I aim at a cumulative succession of horrors--thrill upon thrill and each the worse!..."
The lines HPL refers to as his own invention are:
"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die,"
which are now usually associated with Cthulhu, but they found their origin in this early non-Mythos tale
The prose poem, "Nyarlathotep," is one of the finest things that Lovecraft ever wrote. It has been enormously influential and has inspired writers, artists and film makers.
This is not, perhaps, the best book to begin reading Lovecraft if you are reading him for the first time. Still, it's a great wee collection of a variety of that which has come to be known as Lovecraftian horror.