Howard Phillips Lovecraft - Imprisoned with the Pharaohs (180.0 Kb)
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"Under the Pyramids," is the original manuscript title for a novelette commonly titled "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs,". It was ghost-written by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft for escape artist Harry Houdini in February/March 1924. It was first published under Houdini's byline in the May/June/July 1924 issue of the pulp magazine Weird Tales and was also reprinted in 34, No 1 (June-July 1939) of the same magazine. The proper title was deduced from an advertisement placed by H.P. Lovecraft in the Providence J... More >>>
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"Under the Pyramids," is the original manuscript title for a novelette commonly titled "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs,". It was ghost-written by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft for escape artist Harry Houdini in February/March 1924. It was first published under Houdini's byline in the May/June/July 1924 issue of the pulp magazine Weird Tales and was also reprinted in 34, No 1 (June-July 1939) of the same magazine. The proper title was deduced from an advertisement placed by H.P. Lovecraft in the Providence Journal (3 March 1924) declaring the loss of the typed manuscript.
Lovecraft did much research into the Egyptian setting for the tale (aided by guidebooks from and trips to the Egyptian Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art).
According to S.T. Joshi, "J.C. Henneberger, owner of Weird Tales, wished Lovecraft to write up an account Houdini had told him: on a trip to Egypt, he had been bound by Arabs and left in some deep chamber of Campbell's Tomb in the valley of the pyramids. Houdini was attempting to pass off this adventure as a true occurrence, but Lovecraft's subsequent research established that the story was largely fictitious. As such, Lovecraft allowed his imagination free rein, transferring to the temple of the Sphinx but otherwise retaining many of the details of the narrative as related by Houdini."
Lovecraft famously lost the manuscript of the novelette at Union Station in Providence when he was en route to New York to get married. Subsequently Lovecraft retyped half of the novelette on his own, before going to St Paul's Chapel to marry Sonia Greene. The last half of the novelette was typed by a stenographer's office in the Hotel Vendig, Philadelphia on the nights of March 4 and 5, 1924. Lovecraft received payment of $100 - the largest sum he had hitherto earned as a fiction writer - on March 21. It was the only occasion on which he was paid by Weird Tales in advance of publication. The story is told in more detail in S.T. Joshi's biography H.P. Lovecraft: A Life.
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.