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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Very Old Folk (85.0 Kb)

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"The Very Old Folk" is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. It is reportedly a recording of a dream, where the main protagonist is a Roman military official in Hispania. The countryside is, every year, ravaged by terrible hill people who kidnap citizens and perform cruel rituals at a Sabath. 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 fo... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"The Very Old Folk" is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. It is reportedly a recording of a dream, where the main protagonist is a Roman military official in Hispania. The countryside is, every year, ravaged by terrible hill people who kidnap citizens and perform cruel rituals at a Sabath. 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 Sabath. The incursion is guided by a local-born son of Roman parents. As the Romans approach the seat of the Sabath rituals, something terrible attacks them and in an instant, horrible things come to pass:

"He had killed himself when the horses screamed... He, who had been born and lived all his life in that region, and knew what men whispered about the hills. All the torches now began to dim, and the cries of frightened legionaries mingled with the unceasing screams of the tethered horses. The air grew perceptibly colder, more suddenly so than is usual at November's brink, and seemed stirred by terrible undulations which I could not help connecting with the beating of huge wings."

The story ends with the narrator waking up, offering one final word of mystery:

"Of the fate of that cohort no record exists, but the town at least was saved - for encyclop?dias tell of the survival of Pompelo to this day, under the modern Spanish name of Pompelona..." .

About Author:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 - March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, known then simply as weird fiction.

HP Lovecraft was one of the early exponents of horror fantasy, best known for the series of works known collectively as the Cthulhu Mythos. He peppered his books with references to an occult work called The Necronomicon, and, as his fame grew, he was besieged by readers asking where they could find a copy of it. But the truth was that Lovecraft had invented the book and its title. He wrote in a letter of 1937: 'The name Necronomicon (necros, corpse; nomos, law; eikon, image = An Image of the Law of the Dead) occurred to me in the course of a dream, although the etymology is perfectly sound.' So the title came before everything else, and substituted, perfectly reasonably, for the work itself.

This is a game that many writers have played, and the history of literature is full of references to books that don't, in fact, exist. Margaret Atwood, AS Byatt, Dorothy L Sayers, Frank Herbert, Martin Amis, Arthur Conan Doyle and many, many others have all joined in. Some of my favourite fictional titles are from Kurt Vonnegut, who, as Kilgore Trout, writes non-existent works such as The Barring-Gaffner of Bagnialto, or This Year's Masterpiece, which are usually accompanied by helpful plot summaries. Perhaps the most notorious fictional-book-inventors have been writers such as Umberto Eco and Jorge Luis Borges; naturally enough, since their writing often draws attention to literature as itself an artefact.

With the Necronomicon there was a difference, however. Other writers began to treat it as if it really did exist, quoting from the nonexistent work and even composing large sections of it; several Necronomicons were in fact later published, by hoaxers including L. Sprague De Camp and Colin Wilson.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Christian humanism. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century, who together with Edgar Allan Poe has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King has called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.