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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Festival (96.0 Kb)

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"The Festival" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft written in October 1923 and published in the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales. It is considered to be one of the first of his Cthulhu Mythos stories.The story was inspired by Lovecraft's first trip to Marblehead, Massachusetts, in December 1922. Lovecraft later called that visit the most powerful single emotional climax experienced during my nearly forty years of existence. In a flash all the past of New England--all the past of Old England--all the past of Anglo-Saxondo... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"The Festival" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft written in October 1923 and published in the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales. It is considered to be one of the first of his Cthulhu Mythos stories.

The story was inspired by Lovecraft's first trip to Marblehead, Massachusetts, in December 1922. Lovecraft later called that visit

the most powerful single emotional climax experienced during my nearly forty years of existence. In a flash all the past of New England--all the past of Old England--all the past of Anglo-Saxondom and the Western World--swept over me and identified me with the stupendous totality of all things in such a way as it never did before and never did again. That was the high tide of my life.

The narrator's path through Kingsport corresponds to a route to the center of Marblehead the house with the overhanging second story is probably based on Marblehead's 1 Mugford Street. The Congregational church in the story, though sometimes identified with St. Michael's Episcopal Church on Frog Lane, is more likely to have been inspired by one of two now-demolished Congregational churches the Episcopal church lacks a steeple and is not on a hill. The tale's cemetery resembles Marblehead's Old Burial Hill.

Lovecraft cited a book as another inspiration for the story: "In intimating an alien race I had in mind the survival of some clan of pre-Aryan sorcerers who preserved primitive rites like those of the witch-cult--I had just been reading Miss Murray's The Witch-Cult in Western Europe." This is why Lovecraft refers to the narrator's folk as "an old people, and...strange, because they had come as dark furtive folk from opiate southern gardens of orchids, and spoken another tongue before they learnt the tongue of the blue-eyed fishers." The idea of "pre-Aryan" survivals was the basis of Arthur Machen's "The Novel of the Black Seal", which Lovecraft had recently read and been much impressed by.

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.