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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - Memory (58.0 Kb)

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"Memory" is a flash fiction short story by American horror and science fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, written in 1919 and published in May 1923 in The National Amateur. "Memory" uses many of H. P. Lovecraft's common images and ideas, such as relics of the deep past and things "without name". Also, his fondness for vast, monolithic ruins (a favourite with many other Cthulhu and horror writers) is evident in the intricate description found in the page-long story.This story takes place in the ancient valley of Nis, in vegetati... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"Memory" is a flash fiction short story by American horror and science fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, written in 1919 and published in May 1923 in The National Amateur. "Memory" uses many of H. P. Lovecraft's common images and ideas, such as relics of the deep past and things "without name". Also, his fondness for vast, monolithic ruins (a favourite with many other Cthulhu and horror writers) is evident in the intricate description found in the page-long story.

This story takes place in the ancient valley of Nis, in vegetation-covered stone ruins described by Lovecraft in great detail. These crumbling blocks of monolithic stone now serve only for grey toads and snakes to nest under. Interspersed in the ruins are large trees that are home to little apes. Through the bottom of this valley runs the great, slimy red river called Than.

"Memory" involves only two characters: "the Genie that haunts the moonbeams" and "the Daemon of the Valley". The Genie inquires of the Daemon who it was that long ago placed the stones that were now the desolate ruin near the river Than. The Daemon replies that he remembers the name of the creatures "clearly," but only because their name rhymed with that of the river: they were called Man. He also remembers "dimly" that they appeared like the small apes that now leap through the ruins. The Genie flies back to his moonbeams, and the Daemon turns to regard an ape in silent contemplation.

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.