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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Evil Clergyman (74.0 Kb)

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"The Evil Clergyman" is an excerpt from a letter written by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft in 1933. After his death, it was published in the April 1939 issue of Weird Tales as a short story.The letter, to his friend Bernard Austin Dwyer, recounted a dream that Lovecraft had had. Although Lovecraft frequently based stories on his dreams, An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia notes that "it is difficult to say how HPL would have developed this conventional supernatural scenario."The story begins in the attic of an an... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"The Evil Clergyman" is an excerpt from a letter written by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft in 1933. After his death, it was published in the April 1939 issue of Weird Tales as a short story.

The letter, to his friend Bernard Austin Dwyer, recounted a dream that Lovecraft had had. Although Lovecraft frequently based stories on his dreams, An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia notes that "it is difficult to say how HPL would have developed this conventional supernatural scenario."

The story begins in the attic of an ancient house. The narrator's companion refers to the former owner of the house and the presumably violent end that befell him. He advises the narrator not to stay after dark or touch anything, especially the small object on a table, which the companion seems to fear considerably.

The narrator is then left alone in the attic he notes the many theological and classical books, and one bookshelf in particular containing books on magic. He feels a considerable curiosity for the forbidden object on the table.

The narrator finds a strange flashlight-like device in his pocket that produces a peculiar violet glow. He attempts to illuminate the object on the table with this strange light, which he describes as being composed of particles. The object makes a crackling sound like a sparking vacuum tube, and takes on a pinkish glow with a vague white shape taking form from its center.

The narrator, feeling that his surroundings are taking on strange new properties, realizes that he is not alone the sinister newcomer is described as wearing clerical garb typical of the Anglican Church. The newcomer begins throwing magical books into a fireplace.

The narrator notices other men within the room, all dressed in clerical attire, including a bishop they confront the first man, who reaches for the object on the table with a wry smile. The other men, looking terrified, make a quick retreat.

The man then proceeds to retrieve a coil of rope from a cupboard and ties it into a noose as if to hang himself. When the narrator attempts to intervene, the man notices him and approaches threateningly. The narrator shines the strange light on the man as if it were a weapon, causing him to fall backwards down an open stairwell.

When the narrator proceeds towards the stairwell, he finds no body below, but rather three people approaching with lanterns. Two of them see the narrator and flee shrieking, leaving only the companion who had accompanied the narrator to the attic.

The companion says that the narrator should have left the object alone, that interfering with it had altered him. The man then leads the narrator to a mirror, where he is presented not with his own reflection, but that of the evil clergyman.

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.