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OttoHarkaman

Sax Rohmer

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OttoHarkaman

I am really enjoying Sax Rohmer's "The Green Eyes of Bast". Rohmer was an extremely popular writer of the early 20th century, he is most famous for his Fu Manchu stories. This story I am reading seems very Lovecraftian in its investigation of a mysterious crime. Did Lovecraft ever read Rohmer? Surely he must have?

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wrieder66

"Dracula evoked many similar novels of supernatural horror, among which the best are perhaps The Beetle, by Richard Marsh, Brood of the Witch-Queen, by “Sax Rohmer†(Arthur Sarsfield Ward), and The Door of the Unreal, by Gerald Biss." - HP Lovecraft, "Supernatural Horror in Literature"

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TMS

I know that Lovecraft read Rohmer's Brood of the Witch Queen, since he mentions it in "Supernatural Horror in Literature." Not sure if he read anything else, though I think Robert E. Howard was one of Rohmer's fans.

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OttoHarkaman

HP Lovecraft, "Supernatural Horror in Literature" Thanks I had forgotten about this, might look at it later.

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OttoHarkaman

"TMS

Today, 06:54 PM

I know that Lovecraft read Rohmer's Brood of the Witch Queen, since he mentions it in "Supernatural Horror in Literature." Not sure if he read anything else, though I think Robert E. Howard was one of Rohmer's fans."

 

Thanks TMS, I am going to have a look at "Supernatural Horror in Literature".

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TMS

I'm betting that in general Lovecraft wouldn't have been a huge fan of Rohmer, though there could have been some influence. Rohmer's works aren't great literature, but they're fun to read, and I've turned to them repeatedly for inspiration in running Masks of Nyarlathotep.

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Taavi

I reckon the influence on Lovecraft might be a bit greater than people are willing to admit - especially the more unsavoury bits (racially motivated and stereotyped sorcerers/cultists). But yes, he can be a lot of fun, and most CoC campaigns (especially Masks) are more two-fisted Pulp Sax than fainting Purist Lovecraft.
 

Two things I especially noted as showing influence: Lovecraft may have gotten the name "Nephren Ka" from Sax Rohmer's history of magic "The Romance of Sorcery" which discusses the ancienct Egyptian sorcerer-pharaoh Ne-Nefer-Ka-Ptah; - and Brood of the Witch Queen has a scene where the hero is strangled by an invisible hand in his own warded doorway, he only knows it's there because it smells of an Egyptian mummy (spices and grave rot): "As a foulness shall ye know them. Their hand is at your throats, yet ye see them not; and Their habitation is even one with your guarded threshold" says the Dee Necronomicon...

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OttoHarkaman

Sax Rohmer's history of magic "The Romance of Sorcery"

 

Thanks Taavi, I need to track down a copy of this, funny how Hari Houdini's name always pops up. And perhaps there isn't much in the "Supernatural Horror in Literature" about Rohmer because Lovecraft was rushed in the end to get it finished?

 

I Finished the "The Green Eyes of Bast" last night. I was most intrigued by the investigative work that reminded me of Lovecraft's stories but then the story took another twist that made me think even more of Lovecraft. It went into a whole thing about hybrid races and hybrid human animals. I am using the mobile app on my phone so it's hard to write a lot about it. As TMS stated Rohmer isn't great literature but he writes a good "Shocker" which I think the term was used at this time.

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Ningauble

Thanks Taavi, I need to track down a copy of this, funny how Hari Houdini's name always pops up. And perhaps there isn't much in the "Supernatural Horror in Literature" about Rohmer because Lovecraft was rushed in the end to get it finished?

 

Possible, but not likely. HPL kept tinkering with the essay even after it was published in The Recluse and it was this revised version that was later serialised in The Fantasy Fan. He added a section on Hodgson and revised his description of Meyrink's The Golem, among other things, IIRC. So the reason why he didn't expand on Rohmer is probably that he didn't rate Rohmer that highly. I can't remember any references to Rohmer from the letters, but there may be some. If HPL had been a fan it would have been known, though.

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Taavi

August Derleth had a signed copy of Brood of the Witch Queen (saw it on a rare book auction site, too rich for my blood).

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WinstonP

Thought it says nothing of Lovecraft's interests. I feel obliged to note that the Mountain Goats have songs with both Lovecraft and Sax Rohmer in the title:

 

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OttoHarkaman

Having fun reading "Brood of the Witch Queen", the "Romance of Sorcery" is really hard to find, surely it must be in the public domain somewhere?

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skaye

It's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. in a variety of formats and prices. Also available from various libraries, either directly or via interlibrary loan.

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Wembley

I feel I really ought to plug my own new novella "Broken Meats," set in 1920's London which pus a new twist on Rohmer's Fu Manchu theme while also reworking a well-known HPL story. It connects neatly with Rohmer's occult interests but also brings in some Taoist elements which he was evidently ignorant of.

 

Review copies of the e-book available...

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OttoHarkaman

It's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. in a variety of formats and prices. Also available from various libraries, either directly or via interlibrary loan.

Thanks, I was hoping to find a copy on the Internet Archive or Gutenberg, I can't believe they don't have a copy.

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OttoHarkaman

Hah ha! in Daniel Harms & John Wisdom Gonce book "Necronomicon files:the Truth Behind Lovecraft's Legend"

 

"Rohmer had a substantial influence on Lovecraft, though most Lovecraft scholars seem unaware of it."

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Ningauble

Hah ha! in Daniel Harms & John Wisdom Gonce book "Necronomicon files:the Truth Behind Lovecraft's Legend"

 

"Rohmer had a substantial influence on Lovecraft, though most Lovecraft scholars seem unaware of it."

 

Yeah, but then you read on and it doesn't seem that substantial after all.

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manethon

Two things I especially noted as showing influence: Lovecraft may have gotten the name "Nephren Ka" from Sax Rohmer's history of magic "The Romance of Sorcery" which discusses the ancienct Egyptian sorcerer-pharaoh Ne-Nefer-Ka-Ptah

 

Could be, but Ne-Nefer-Ka-Ptah originates in a Demotic text from the Graeco-Roman Period known as "Setna 1." In the tale, the son of Ramesses II, "Setna Khemwas" (historical Khaemwaset), searches for the Book of Thoth in the tomb of Prince (not Pharaoh!) Ne-nefer-ka-Ptah and his wife, only to be cursed by him until the book is returned. It is also as probable that Lovecraft got the name "from the source," so to speak.

 

The story was already published in English and available in "popular" books by Lovecraft's day, such as in F. Ll. Griffith's Stories of the High Priests of Memphis (1900) and Flinders Petrie's Egyptian Tales (1895), though there were others. The first scholarly publication was about 1871, but in French.

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OttoHarkaman

Necronomicon Files: The Truth Behind Lovecraft's Legend

 By Daniel Harms, John Wisdom Gonce

 

https://books.google.com/books?id=JW_iqpErrFcC&lpg=PA94&ots=k7EwGW2S1v&dq=HORTOTEF&pg=PA93#v=onepage&q=HORTOTEF&f=false

 

scroll down just a little and there are a couple paragraphs after the heading Sax Rohmer: Cthulhu Manchu

 

I am not saying Lovecraft got everything from Sax Rohmer by any means. I was just having fun reading Rohmer's books and some things struck me as similar to Lovecraft. 

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Taavi

Lovecraft wasn't much for primary research - he got most of his "magical invocations" from the Encyclopedia Britannica - and we know that he did use The Romance of Sorcery. The lack of detail in Romance about Ne-Nefer-Ka-Ptah, which suggests he's a sort of undead sorcerer-vampire, is more consistent with the vagueness of Lovecraft about the character than one might expect from someone who had read Setna 1 or a translation.

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WinstonP

Lovecraft wasn't much for primary research - he got most of his "magical invocations" from the Encyclopedia Britannica

 

Well, he wasn't too thorough when it came to topics outside of her personal interests - his discussion of Providence architecture is pretty spot on ;)

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Ningauble

Lovecraft wasn't much for primary research - he got most of his "magical invocations" from the Encyclopedia Britannica - and we know that he did use The Romance of Sorcery.

 

Do we? He mentions it once in a late letter among a bunch of well-known sourcebooks on the occult, and can't remember its title. Is there a better source than that?

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OttoHarkaman

Well this is all just for fun, I am not trying to fulfill the requirements for a master's thesis or anything.

 

Finished "Brood of the Witch Queen" I thought it was interesting but awful especially how the ending just dropped off. Started on "The Secret Tales of Egypt."

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