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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Tomb (75.0 Kb)

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"The Tomb" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft written in June 1917 and first published in the March 1922 issue of The Vagrant. It is the first work of fiction that Lovecraft wrote as an adult."The Tomb" tells of Jervas Dudley, a self-confessed day-dreamer. While still a child, he discovers the entrance to a mausoleum, belonging to the family Hyde, whose nearby family mansion had burnt down many years previously. The entrance to the mausoleum is padlocked and slightly ajar. Jervas attempts to break the padlock, but is unable... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"The Tomb" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft written in June 1917 and first published in the March 1922 issue of The Vagrant. It is the first work of fiction that Lovecraft wrote as an adult.

"The Tomb" tells of Jervas Dudley, a self-confessed day-dreamer. While still a child, he discovers the entrance to a mausoleum, belonging to the family Hyde, whose nearby family mansion had burnt down many years previously. The entrance to the mausoleum is padlocked and slightly ajar. Jervas attempts to break the padlock, but is unable. Dispirited, he takes to sleeping beside the tomb. Eventually, inspired by reading Plutarch's Lives, Dudley decides to patiently wait until it is his time to gain entrance to the tomb.

One night, several years later, Jervas falls asleep once more beside the mausoleum. He awakes suddenly in the late afternoon, and believes that a light has been latterly extinguished from inside the tomb. Taking leave, he returns to his home, where he goes directly to the attic, to a rotten chest, and therein finds the key to the tomb.

Once inside the mausoleum, Jervas discovers an empty coffin with the name of Jervas Hyde upon the plate. He begins, so he believes, to sleep in the empty coffin each night as its name matches his. He also develops a fear of thunder, and is aware that he is being spied upon, under his father's orders.

One night, against his own better judgement, Jervas sets out for the tomb on an overcast night, a night threatening to storm. As he approaches the tomb, he sees the Hyde mansion restored to its former state there is a party in progress, to which he joins, abandoning his former quietude for blasphemous hedonism.

During the party, lightning strikes the mansion, and it burns. Jervas loses consciousness, having imagined himself being burnt to ashes in the blaze.

He is awoken, screaming and struggling, to find himself being held by two men, his father in attendance. A small antique box is discovered, having been unearthed by the recent storm. Inside is a porcelain miniature of a man, with the initials J.H. Jervas fancies its face to be the mirror image of his own.

He begins jabbering that he has been sleeping inside the tomb. His father, saddened by his son's mental instability, tells him that he has been watched for some time and has never gone inside the tomb, and indeed, the padlock is rusted with age. Jervas is removed to a room with barred windows, presumed mad.

He then asks his servant Hiram, who has remained faithful to him despite his current state, to explore the tomb - a request which Hiram fulfils. After breaking the padlock and descending with a lantern into the murky depths, Hiram return to his master and informs him that there is, indeed, a coffin with a plate which reads 'Jervas' on it. Jervas then states that he has been promised to be buried in that vault and coffin when he dies and thus ends the previous narration.

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.