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Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Statement of Randolph Carter (80.0 Kb)

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"The Statement of Randolph Carter" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft. Written December 1919, it was first published in The Vagrant, May 1920. It tells of a traumatic event in the life of Randolph Carter, a student of the occult loosely representing Lovecraft himself. It is the first story in which Carter appears and is part of Lovecraft's Dream Cycle.Lovecraft based the story on a dream that he transcribed, adding only a preamble to make it more fluid as a narrative, and wrote it in the form of a testimony given to the pol... More >>>
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Category 1:  Horror Tales
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Author:      Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Format:      eBook
"The Statement of Randolph Carter" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft. Written December 1919, it was first published in The Vagrant, May 1920. It tells of a traumatic event in the life of Randolph Carter, a student of the occult loosely representing Lovecraft himself. It is the first story in which Carter appears and is part of Lovecraft's Dream Cycle.

Lovecraft based the story on a dream that he transcribed, adding only a preamble to make it more fluid as a narrative, and wrote it in the form of a testimony given to the police.

An account of the actual dream Lovecraft had can be found in one of his letters to August Derleth.

"The Statement of Randolph Carter" is the first person, apparently verbatim, testimony of the titular character, who has been found wandering through swampland in an amnesiaic shock. In his statement, Carter attempts to explain the disappearance of his companion, the occultist Harley Warren.

In the story, Warren has come into the possession of a book written in an unknown language that he forbids Carter from seeing. Carter mentions that Warren has other "strange, rare books on forbidden subjects", several of which are in Arabic, though Lovecraft's fabled Necronomicon is never mentioned.

From his mysterious book, Warren apparently deduces that doors or stairways exist between the surface world and the underworld through which demons may travel. He encourages Carter to travel with him to the location of one such portal, an ancient graveyard near Big Cypress Swamp. Upon arriving, Warren locates a particular tomb and opens it to reveal a staircase that descends into the earth. Taking a lantern, he leaves Carter on the surface and follows the stairs into the darkness, communicating with his companion by a telephone wire.

After several minutes of silence, Warren suddenly begins to make vague, panicked outbursts that culminate in a desperate plea for Carter to flee. Finally, after Warren is silent for several minutes, Carter calls to him down the line, only to hear an alien voice telling him that Warren is dead.

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.