Howard Phillips Lovecraft - What the Moon Brings (62.0 Kb)
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What the Moon Brings is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, written on June 5, 1922. This story was first published in the National Amateur in May 1923. It is shorter than most of Lovecraft's other short stories, and is essentially a fragment. It is based on one of Lovecraft's dreams (a common technique of his).This story is told in the first person the narrator is never named. The story describes a surreal dreamscape. The narrator wanders through his garden one night and in the moonlight see... More >>>
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What the Moon Brings is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, written on June 5, 1922. This story was first published in the National Amateur in May 1923. It is shorter than most of Lovecraft's other short stories, and is essentially a fragment. It is based on one of Lovecraft's dreams (a common technique of his).
This story is told in the first person the narrator is never named. The story describes a surreal dreamscape. The narrator wanders through his garden one night and in the moonlight sees strange and bizarre things. He comes to a stream:
Silent and sparkling, bright and baleful, those moon-cursed waters hurried I knew not whither whilst from the embowered banks white lotus-blossoms fluttered one by one in the opiate night-wind and dropped despairingly into the stream, swirling away horribly under the arched, carven bridge, and staring back with the sinister resignation of calm, dead faces.
He sees that now the garden has no end, and where the walls used to be there are now more trees and plants and terrifying stone idols and pagodas. The dead faces urge him on farther and farther, as the stream becomes a river and leads him to the shore of a sea. Here the frightening moon makes the lotus-faces vanish:
And as I saw therein the lotus-faces vanish, I longed for nets that I might capture them and learn from them the secrets which the moon had brought upon the night. But when that moon went over to the west and the still tide ebbed from the sullen shore, I saw in that light old spires that the waves almost uncovered, and white columns gay with festoons of green seaweed. And knowing that to this sunken place all the dead had come, I trembled and did not wish again to speak with the lotus-faces.
What the sea has uncovered are the ruins of an ancient city, a city of the dead. The narrator sees a black condor and wishes to ask it about the people he knows that have died. He watches the sea for a time and sees ripples in it, attributing them to sea worms. He suddenly feels a chill and notices something far off beneath the sea:
Nor had my flesh trembled without cause, for when I raised my eyes I saw that the waters had ebbed very low, shewing much of the vast reef whose rim I had seen before. And when I saw that the reef was but the black basalt crown of a shocking eikon whose monstrous forehead now shown in the dim moonlight and whose vile hooves must paw the hellish ooze miles below, I shrieked and shrieked lest the hidden face rise above the waters, and lest the hidden eyes look at me after the slinking away of that leering and treacherous yellow moon.
Fleeing this monstrous thing, he dives into the city of the dead:
And to escape this relentless thing I plunged gladly and unhesitantly into the stinking shallows where amidst weedy walls and sunken streets fat sea-worms feast upon the world's dead.
The speaker clearly prefers death among horrors to this perceived-even-greater-horror revealed in carven grandeur. The tale ends, but does not confirm whether this was the ending of the speaker's life.
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.