Lovecraft's Fragments (fiction)

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Upon his death, Lovecraft left behind some tantalizing "fragments" of uncompleted stories, in the form of entries in his "Commonplace Book (fiction)", bits of dreams described in letters, outlines or descriptions of unfinished ideas generously shared with his friends and correspondents for them to complete as their own work, and stories Lovecraft had started writing but never finished which would be found after his in his papers and other effects. Some of these fragments would later appear in collections of Lovecraft's fiction as (incomplete) stand-alone stories, others would be completed as "Posthumous Collaborations" written in some cases mostly or even entirely by Lovecraft's correspondents, friends, or admirers, and then sold as (or heavily implied to be) original Lovecraft stories.

A couple of these fragments may have been part of a failed attempt by Lovecraft to transcribe "The Fungi from Yuggoth (poem)" into prose in a period of writer's block; this is speculation with little evidence by S.T. Joshi, based on an October 1933 letter from Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard:

"I am at a sort of standstill in writing - disgusted at much of my older work, and uncertain as to avenues of improvement. In recent weeks I have done a tremendous amount of experimenting with different styles and perspectives, but have destroyed most of the results."


The Fragments

Commonplace Book Entries

See "Commonplace Book (fiction)".

The Thing in The Moonlight

A dream Lovecraft described to Donald Wandrei concerning Lovecraft (as a dream narrator) wandering through a strange, timeless, post-apocalyptic landscape, following some trolley tracks in the moonlight to a trolley car, and then being chased by a pair of bestial, howling, tentacled creatures dressed as trolley conductors.

J. Chapman Miske added a framing story and published the "collaboration" as "The Thing in the Moonlight (fiction)", and a side-by-side comparison between Lovecraft's fragment and the story as published by Miske can be found here: (link).


The Bruise

HPL appears to have offered to help Harry S. Whitehead with revising a rejected story, apparently entitled "The Bruise", involving a man who recieves a blow to the head and exeriencing strange visions, which Lovecraft elaborated into a weird tale involving recovered memories of a past life on the doomed lost continent of Mu 20,000 years into the past.

It's unclear whether Whitehead had ever finished the story; a tale matching this description, "Bothon (fiction)" (presumably by H.P. Lovecraft, Harry S. Whitehead, and mostly August Derleth) would suddenly be produced after Lovecraft's death by August Derleth, apparently one of Derleth's numerous "Posthumous Collaborations" (this one written and published in 1946, at roughly the same time as the other collaborations).


Cigarette Characterization

A very short, humourous vignette Lovecraft was invited to write in which he was asked to describe a man lighting a cigarette in a parody of his own writing style; Lovecraft turned a glimpse of a man lighting a cigarette into an amusingly exaggerated two- or three-sentence horror story.


Of Evill Sorceries...

See Of Evill Sorceries Done in New-England of Daemons in no Humane Shape, where this content is written up as if it were a Mythos tome. Six paragraphs of text written in imitation of an antique description of New England sorcery and witchcraft, describing a witch trial of Richard Billington, hints of his misdoings among the Wampanaug, Nanset, and Nahigganset "savages" led by a native sorcerer called Misquamacus, and their use of an Elder Sign (artifact) to summon Ossadagowah, son of Sadogowah, a beast that could in ancient times be commanded by the "Tribes of Lamah" before they were destroyed for their wickedness.

This fragment was incorporated into August Derleth's The Lurker at the Threshold (fiction) and unfinished "The Watchers out of Time (fiction)"; a transcription of the fragment can be found here: (link).


The Rose Window

Eight or nine paragraphs of rough notes in which Lovecraft describes a peculiar old Kingsport house built by Edward Crane in 1758 on the ruins of a much older structure, its labyrinthine floor plan, its unusual library, and an exceptionally strange glass framed in a carving like a tentacled eye, which acts as a sort of lens or prism capable of peering into another time and space which "stimulates hereditary memory", constructed by a wizard under the guidance of "Old Ones" who use it to observe our world. The notes also describe the ruins of a tower behind the house, and hints of extrasensory nightmares experienced by those who have slept in the now shunned place. The house is inherited by Dudley Ropes Glover.

This fragment was incorporated into August Derleth's The Lurker at the Threshold (fiction); a transcription of the fragment can be found here: (link).


The Round Tower

A paragraph of rough notes describing the titular shunned tower of cyclopean stone, a mysterious pre-human structure built and partially buried in a now dry river bed ravine by giant amphibious Lemurians in ancient times, serving as a sort of gate or doorway to an outer world.

This fragment was incorporated into August Derleth's The Lurker at the Threshold (fiction); a transcription of the fragment can be found here: (link).


The Book

Frequently published as if it were a finished story, this (late 1933?) fragment is about a man who obtains a copy of a rare and sinister tome from a mysterious book-seller. The story may be another of Lovecraft's abortive attempts to transcribe "Fungi from Yuggoth (poem)" into prose fiction (The Book, Pursuit, and The Key). May have been intended to be part of a cycle of stories, or a single story, that included the fragment "The Descendant" (see below).


The Descendant

Frequently published as if it were a finished story, this (variously dated to "not clear", 1926?, April 1927?, etc.) fragment, set in London, England, involves a dreamer named Lord Northam who screams when church bells ring, in connection to some sort of mystery learned from the Necronomicon. The story may be another of Lovecraft's abortive attempts to transcribe "Fungi from Yuggoth (poem)" into prose fiction (St. Toad's), which might date it to some time in 1933, though this conflicts with the more widely-accepted earlier dates to 1926/1927 (an alternative theory might be that "The Descendant" was first tried as a prose story, then abandoned and rewritten into the sonnet when "Fungi..." was written sometime between 27 December 1929 – 4 January 1930). The fragment also references another dreamer named only "Williams", the story "The Nameless City (fiction)", the fragment "The Book" (as described above), the Roman tribune Lunaeus Gabinius Capito and the Third Augustan Legion, and the story "The Rats in the Walls (fiction)".


The Very Old Folk

Frequently published as if it were a finished story, this 1927 Nov. 2 fragment is a recording of a dream described in a letter to Donald Wandrei, where Lovecraft's dream protagonist is a Roman military official in the Basque country near Pompelo. The countryside is, every year, ravaged by terrible hill people who kidnap citizens and perform cruel rituals at a Sabbath. The narrator wishes to lead a military expedition to crush these hill folk, as a feeling of approaching evil has enveloped the countryside, due to a riot between the citizens and the hill people. These hill folk came to trade, yet some of these are killed and later, no disappearances occur before the time of the Sabbath. The incursion is guided by a local-born son of Roman parents. As the Romans approach the seat of the Sabbath rituals, something terrible attacks. References C. Julius Verus Maximinus (narrator), Melmoth, Varius Avitus Bassianus, uncle Dr. Clark, ædile Tib. Annæus Stilpo, quæstor L. Cælius Rufus, proconsul P. Scribonius Libo, tribune Sex. Asellius, legatus Cn. Balbutius, M. Helvius Cinna, slave Antipater, and the fifth cohort of the XIIth legion.


The Evil Clergyman

Also published as "The Wicked Clergyman". Frequently published as if it were a finished story, this 1933 Oct. dream fragment was described in a letter to Bernard Austin Dwyer, detailing a morbid discovery in a secret attic library of alchemist's books invaded by ghostly apparitions of the past revealed in the light of a strange flashlight-like device, culminating in a mind-swap through time. After Lovecraft's death, it was published in the April 1939 issue of Weird Tales as a short story. The story was later adapted into the unreleased 1987 anthology film Pulse Pounders.

Notes