Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Temple (116.0 Kb)
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"The Temple" is a short story written by H. P. Lovecraft in 1920, and first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in February 1925. It was the first story Lovecraft published in Weird Tales, and indeed was his first publication in any professional outlet.The story is introduced as a "found manuscript" penned by Karl Heinrich, Graf von Altberg-Ehrenstein, a Lieutenant Commander in the Imperial German Navy during the days of World War I. It documents his untimely end at the bottom of the ocean.Altberg begins by declaring ... More >>>
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"The Temple" is a short story written by H. P. Lovecraft in 1920, and first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in February 1925. It was the first story Lovecraft published in Weird Tales, and indeed was his first publication in any professional outlet.
The story is introduced as a "found manuscript" penned by Karl Heinrich, Graf von Altberg-Ehrenstein, a Lieutenant Commander in the Imperial German Navy during the days of World War I. It documents his untimely end at the bottom of the ocean.
Altberg begins by declaring that he has decided to document the events leading up to his final hour in order to "set certain facts" before the public, aware that he will not survive to do so himself.
After sinking H.M.S. Victory, a British freighter, and thereafter sinking its surviving crew's lifeboats, the cruel and arrogant Altberg commands his U-29 U-boat to submerge surfacing later to find the dead body of a crewmember of the sunken ship, who died clinging to the exterior railing of the sub. A search of the body reveals a strange piece of carved ivory. Because of its apparent great age and value, one of Altberg's officers keeps the object, and shortly thereafter, strange phenomena begin to occur.
An uncharted current pulls the sub southward, and several members of the crew suffer the sudden onset of severe fatigue and disturbing nightmares. One even claims to have seen the corpses of the dead seamen from the British freighter staring at him through the U-boat's portholes. Altberg has him brutally whipped, rejecting the pleas from some of his men to discard the ivory charm. He eventually resorts to killing a couple of them when it is clear that they have gone insane from fright, ostensibly to maintain discipline.
Next, a mysterious explosion irreparably damages the U-boat's engines, leaving them without the ability to navigate, only the ability to surface and dive. They soon encounter a United States warship, and several of the terrified crew plead with Altberg to surrender, but instead, Altberg has these "traitors" killed, and facing ominous ocean waves, orders the U-boat to submerge, now being pulled southward without resistance.
With the U-boat's batteries running low, and their chance of rescue non-existent, the six remaining, delirious crewmen attempt a mutiny, successfully disabling the U-boat by destroying several key instruments and gauges, even as they rave on about the curse of the ivory talisman, but all are killed by the venomous Altberg. His lone companion, Lieutenant Klenze, grows increasingly unstable and paranoid. Certain of their fate, the two pass the time in their drifting vessel by sweeping the sub's powerful searchlight through the dark abyss, noting that dolphins follow them at depths and for lengths previously unheard-of.
Soon after, Klenze goes completely mad, claiming that "He is calling! He is calling!" Unable to soothe his insane companion, and unwilling to join him in suicide, Altberg agrees to operate the airlock, grateful to send Klenze to an assured death in the airless, crushing pressure of the deep. Altberg, alone at last, drifts for a couple more days before his U-boat finally lands at the bottom of the ocean, where he is amazed to see the sunken remains of an ancient and elaborate city, deciding that it is the ruins of Atlantis.
Overcome with excitement, Altberg dons a deep-sea diving suit, exploring the breathtaking, indescribable beauty of the ruined city, discovering a mysterious rock-hewn temple, amazed to find the image of the ivory carving within. He spends the next couple days in darkness as the sub's last battery reserves are expended. In the end, he acknowledges that even with his mighty "German will", he is no longer able to resist the powerful visions and auditory hallucinations, nor his madness-inspired impulse to depart his U-boat and enter the temple, now impossibly illuminated by what seems to be a flickering altar flame. Slipping on his diving suit, he releases his sealed manuscript in a bottle, and goes willingly to his death.
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.