Your favorite Lovecraft stories

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#41
Can plz anybody tell me why "Dreams In The Witch-house" is considered such a weak story by the majority?What are its great weaknesses or shortcomings-at least to that majority?
Good to see you again, nigourath!

Well, there are several. One of them is stylistic -- there's much less care and precision of language and structure here than was usual with HPL; certainly by this point in his career. He also tended to fall into hackneyed tropes and ideas here: the effect of the crucifix on Keziah Mason, for instance, which -- even if given the plausibility I personally assign to it psychologically -- isn't given the necessary emotional preparation to make it a realistic reaction on her part. It relies more on shock and gore than was usually the case with HPL, and again there is less careful preparation for this than in the few other cases where he had such. The denouement, too, leaves a bit to be desired, as it provides rather a weak ending for a "cosmic witch" who has had such a lengthy reign; and the almost happy ending (the elimination of Keziah and Brown Jenkin) also has something of a weakening effect (much like that of the eradication of the subterranean entity of "The Shunned House"; though in both cases I would argue that the final lines of the stories are nonetheless quite satisfyingly done.

And, lastly, the entire plot is rather shaky and relies too much on stereotyped images, tropes, and ideas, which weakens the overall effect as well.

Not that the tale doesn't have its strengths (it does, and in some ways is a personal favorite despite its flaws); but the question here was concerning why it is viewed as one of his weaker efforts, however worthwhile it may still be....
 
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#43
A story can very well be a personal favourite and have it's flaws. You would then not see these flaws or perhaps even appreciate the tale even more for the flaws. I think the crucifix might appeal to the sense of the dramatic in many people and there's nothing wrong with that.

Understanding the weaknesses does not make the story any less of a favourite and I take my hat off to all those here who love the Old Gent's tales and enjoy them but who also look at them as scholars do. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if it's well reasoned, those opinions are interesting to read and think about. They do not detract from a personal enjoyment or dislike of a story.

As can be seen from what JD has said, Witch House is a favourite of his, even though he has studied it and sees it weaknesses.

I fall into that category of readers that tends to feel, rather than analyse a story. However, reading a critique is always enjoyable ... if only because it gives me another reason to go back and read the story under discussion.
;)
 

Lobolover

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#44
The only HPL story that didnt enthrall me in any way was "The street"- kinda without point,thne "Ibid"-which I dont get and at last,ive LIKED "the thing on the doorstep" the least,though only cause of the ending,the stuff in between was marvelous.
 
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#45
The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Call me crazy, but I think it would be kind of fun to be a evil croaking human-fish hybrid.
It's addictive this one and like most addictions it grows. I like it more and more each time I read it and yes, I've come around to thinking it might not be all bad down there in the ocean. It's very descriptive. You can see everything as he goes along through the town, realises what is happening, escapes and then comes around to the reality of himself. Perhaps that is the point that gets me most. The recognising of oneself and realising.
 

Lobolover

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#46
well,compared to DinWH,DH actualy has the narrator runing through the town a quarter of the time,and its stil considered (rightfully) good.
 
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#47
"DH"? Would that be "The Dunwich Horror"? If so, I don't recall any such happening there; "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", however, has a lengthy chase sequence; but that one is very much appropriate in context; it's also a more carefully thought-out story, with much subtler implications (as well as use of language), more original in theme, etc.

Incidentally, "The Dunwich Horror" itself is often considered by many Lovecraftians as seriously flawed due to its stereotypical good-vs-evil aspects, the sheer buffoonery of Armitage, the sometimes hackneyed phrasing, etc., which alternate with passages that are quite brilliant, concepts that are breathtaking, and a general air of having been quite carefully planned out....

On "The Street"... I don't know of anyone who considers that one a favorite. I'll go into detail about it sometime later, but I do see some serious thematic and imagistic connections with others among his tales....

"Ibid", on the other hand, is a brilliant parody of scholarship in so many fields....
 

nigourath

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#48
First of all when i finished reading this superb novelle i didnt feel at any rate that it had a happy ending.On the contrary the death of the gillman character somehow froze me over when reading his tragic gory ending,a very sad brutal ending for a very sympathetic character-one of the characters that stands out in comparison to many of his works-inferior only to the main one in "the case of charles dexter ward".There is an accusation hanging over lovecraft"s capability of characterization of his heroes voiced by some modern horror writers like stephen king(who also ofcourse admits that lovecraft was a teacher to him even in later stages of his career......).But that accusation i feel it cannot be expressed about gillman character,his emotional reactions very vividly pictured ,his feelings of horror reaching right out of the pages.I never had the feeling that this was a happy ending,even with the defeat of the old hag.Not only that but the reaction of brown jenkin was so impressive,never expected such an emotional revenge.It was like the witch"s pet punished the unfortunate hero,not just killing but delivering a punishing deathblow ripping out his very heart .Can you imagine the picture of an infuriated brown jenkin "taking back the blood" of its fallen lady keziah gutting out poor gillman?Superb staff by HPL,i was so impressed!!
Another thing that shook me in this novel was the unique presentation of the
"BLACK MAN".Such a horrid figure ,very well presented by HPL!Ηis presence was not stereotypical in any way,it gave an unbelievable twisted eerieness" in the novelle i cant begin to describe.Suffice to say i remember this sense of "twisted eerieness" has grabbed no more than 3-4 times-always reading HPL.
This black guy pointing his finger to a horribly strange book in the table coldbloodedly and silently suggesting to poor gillman to put his signature on.What a thrill,when he woke up he didnt remember what was his response -did he sign on the black book or not?And ofcourse he did......This breathtaking figure called the black man we find out later his association with the teribble book called "necronomicon".He was NYARLATHOTEP the terrible messenger of the even more terrible AZATHOTH,keziah under his command in a gruesome unfathomable agreement between the two.Such a superb work by HPL,and i dont consider that the simplicity of his style -thats very accurate-in this novele takes away from it but -to me at least-it adds a lot more to the blackness of this faulted even but masterpiece work of HPL.
Great writing,even the stereotypical elements here are given out of this earth
significance,an extraterrestrial projection-a trademark characteristic of lovecraft"s uniqueness.
 
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#50
On the subject of "the Black Man"... there's some ambivalence on this one, I think. Though HPL has him as an avatar of Nyarlathotep, his actions here are rather stereotypical presentations of the normal role of the genuine "Black Man" of folklore -- especially concerning the New England witchcraft outbreak. So what we have here is Lovecraft putting a somewhat new spin on a very traditional trope in horror fiction; something he always felt very ambivalent about, as such traditional figures do tend to be hackneyed, predictable, and constrained by the long folkloric traditions assigned to them, whereas fresh, new creations which are given the appearance or feel of genuine folklore, allow the writer much more freedom and room for originality in theme and development. I'd agree that HPL makes him an impressive figure, but I'd say that's because he skillfully used those traditions to strike precisely those stereotyped reactions such figures still evoke when handled with an unusual degree of skill; not because there's anything particularly original in the figure or what he does with it. save in one or two minor incidentals.

As for Keziah, much the same thing can be said here; in truth, there's not a great deal of difference between her abilities and those exhibited by the sinister old beldame of The Lancashire Witches, in many ways. The main one is the hyperdimensional travel, and one can even see the vague precursor for that in Ainsworth's novel at times, in the witch's ability to evade capture for such a period.

And while gruesome in the extreme, Brown Jenkins' actions at the end are precisely the sort of gory scene that doesn't call for nearly as much skill; it relies much more on repulsion than genuine fear, and certainly more on a physical response than something resembling Lovecraft's eternal desiderata of "cosmic" fear or "adventurous expectancy". It relies on precisely that which he somewhat scornfully describes in Supernatural Horror in Literature as "the mundanely gruesome", rather than any frisson of spectral terror. However effective it may be, it does show a distinct falling-off from the effects he achieved in both earlier and later tales; and, again, Lovecraft himself was painfully aware of this, perhaps to an excessive degree.\

And I certainly didn't mean "simplicity" concerning his style here, but rather awkward use of phrasing, a tendency to redundancy rather than a modified reiteration, too-obvious striving for effect, and the like. In other words, a much less acute, precise, and exact use of the language to achieve many and particular emotional responses so common to much of his best work; a lessening of originality in concept and execution, including one of his trademarks, a seeming dichotomy which is actually an extremely acute awareness of the similarity of opposites (perhaps the best and most famous example of this is his "ecstatic fear" in "The Rats in the Walls").

So, while retaining a strong fondness for this piece, and certainly acknowledging the fact that it does often achieve some memorable heights, I still must maintain that it is among his weaker efforts overall... though given Lovecraft's abilities, that still means such things are often far above that achieved by so many others....
 

Lobolover

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#51
I kinda skipd most of your wall of text,J.D.,cause I got an angered atention span at the mo,seeing as its 3:23 AM and I have six not SO complicated but stil not one turn of a hand drawings to do for Descriptive Geometry,ill be brief.The way HPL described "the black man" didnt realy make him look anything like any ethnicum I know of.
 
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#52
I kinda skipd most of your wall of text,J.D.,cause I got an angered atention span at the mo,seeing as its 3:23 AM and I have six not SO complicated but stil not one turn of a hand drawings to do for Descriptive Geometry,ill be brief.The way HPL described "the black man" didnt
realy make him look anything like any ethnicum I know of.
"The Black Man" of the witch covens (according to folklore of the period) was not an ethnic. He was not an African, or any other sort of ethnic person; he looked, to all intents and purposes, like a Caucasian, except that he was dead black -- he was a negative of the Puritans' positive, so to speak. And he was very much a part of the folklore surrounding the beliefs in witchcraft of the period, and shows up in many of the transcripts of witchcraft trials, as well as in numerous books on the subject from the time. Hence, as I said, HPL's use of him was very much traditional in both his actions and his symbolic role in these beliefs, thus making such use very stereotypical. The only real way he broadened that was to make it not the Devil but Nyarlathotep and Azathoth; but the actions and role would have been much the same in either instance, which is what I mean by his falling into such hackneyed tropes....
 
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#56
I meant,or now mean,anway,that it would FIT to HPL's standarts.
Hmmm.... not really sure quite how you mean that, actually; but I don't want to keep you posting when it's that late, and you've got things to do; so perhaps tomorrow would be a better time to answer the following query: Do you mean "his standards" as in level of quality, or as in his views on ethnics (particularly blacks)? Or were you thinking of something else entirely....?:confused:
 

Lobolover

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#57
I meant something so-well,only partialy conected to any race visibly would fit HPL's yarn is all I meant by that.
 
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#58
Personally; though some of you may think it to be average! I have always enjoyed "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kaddath". Though possibly not very well written, and seen by some as "ripping" off ideas from other authors, it has always appealed to me.
Everyone would have to admit that Dylath-Leen is one of the great mysterious cities of Fantasy, you can vividly imagine it as a melting pot of shady trading and ancient magicks. The number of back alley knifings there would be horrendous! :p
 
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#59
Kadath has always been a favorite of mine, I must admit. I don't think he "ripped off" anyone there; though it does show the influence of both Dunsany and Beckford, the story is very much his own, and has been rightfully called a sort of "spiritual autobiography". In many ways it was his final sublimation and repudiation of his Dunsanian period and returning to his genuine roots, which would remain one of the most important aspects of his remaining fiction. Nonetheless, it's a wonderful (if flawed) little book, and a delightful and complex piece....
 

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