Monday, 14 March 2011

The Hound

"The Hound", first publised in Weird Tales, 1924.

This is the the ninth entry in my read through of the commemorative edition of Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H P Lovecraft.

A benchmark is reached here, as this is the first of HPL's stories to make it's first appearance in Weird Tales, the magazine with which he is always associated. Sixteen of the thirty-five stories in this colleciton first appeared there, and most his classic stories were published there first - The The Rats in the Walls, Call of Cthulhu, The Whisperer in Darkness, The Dunwich Horror, Pickman's Model (although with the significant exception of At the Mountains of  Madness and The Shadow Out of Time, both first published in Astounding Stories).

Lovecraft was, in fact, offered the edsitorship of Weird Tales in 1924, but turned it down because he didn't want to move to Chicago. On the one hand, I can sympathise with people who were frustrated by this - on the face of it - wilful lack of concern for his own wellbeing. Lovecraft was never wealthy, and endured periods of genuine poverty, and so a regular wage like this was something he really needed.

On the other hand, though, it would certainly have detracted fromthe time he could write, and let his imagination roam free to find new stories. Lovecraft deliberately chose poverty and the life of the aesthete rather than moderate comfort and the toil of a wage slave. Had he been forced to knuckle down to the commercial realities of running a magazine I fear all his stories would have been lost. And as Joshi points out in A Life, he likely wouldn't have been much good as an editor anyway: "His fastidious taste would have rejected much that was actually in its pages".

The story itself is an uncharacteristically lurid offering about two thrill seekers that find more than they bargained for in their search for new experiences. In An H P Lovecraft Encyclopedia Joshi states he thinks it's a pardoy. I'd say it's less a parody than HPL writing with an eye for commercial demands of Weird Tales. He over the eggs the pudding, perhaps, and it's therefore hard to take the thrill seekers' cackling debauchery very seriously, but it's an effective little tale nonetheless.

Next up, "The Rats In The Walls"

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