The Hound

  1. kippie

    kippie New Member

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    Fifth Floor Film recently made a short movie based on "The Hound".
    Check it out at their website fifthfloorfilm.com
     
    Feb 5, 2010
    #21
  2. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    I linger within ye shadows of Sesqua Valley, dream
    But, gentle daemons -- none of ye are discussing "The Hound," of which this thread is "re". I grow more fond of this tale with each passing year -- & I do not consider such fondness ye beginning of senility! I love the Gothic feel of the tale, and I love its evocative language. Last year I tried to recreate Lovecraft's language when I penned my own sequel to "The Hound," a continuation of his original narrative; & I found the experience richly rewarding, although I've had no feedback on what people think of the actual story. By trying to write in Lovecraft's narrative voice, I came to found that the idea, voiced by some, that his writing in the tale is outlandish, out of control, wild, or -- silliest of all -- that Lovecraft wrote this tale as a parody of his own style, utter stuff & bollocks. To my mind, the writing is quite precise and absolutely effective.

    I consider the tale a complete success because the sense of mystery and dread is kept to the very last sentence. We do not know what The Hound truly is or what it signifies. We know only its terrible work. One is wise to keep in mind what HPL wrote when a careless editor changed a title of one tale to "The White Ape": "If I ever entitle a story 'The White Ape,' there would be no ape in it." It may be folly to hold Lovecraft to his word on this, but I wou'd like to suggest that in called his tale "The Hound," he had no intention of writing a story about some daemonic mutt. There is a consistency of motion in the tale -- the flapping of wings, the throng of bats, "...the phosphorescent insects that danced like death-fires under the yews...", an uncanny whirring at a window, "A wind stronger than the night-wind rushed by...", "...a lean vulture darted down out of the cold sky..." and so forth.

    I love this tale with all mine black heart, and wish I had the genius with which to write an entire novel inspir'd by it. Michael Shea has written such a novel, & I pray to ye Old Gawds that, some day, I may peruse it.
     
    Feb 22, 2010
    #22
  3. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    That would be Some Distant Baying Sound, included in Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley, which I've not yet read. I hope to acquire this volume later this year, and hopefully provide you with some of that feedback. I'll also take the opportunity to re-read The Hound and perhaps bring this topic a bit back on-topic at that time.
     
    Feb 22, 2010
    #23
  4. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    Yes -- that is the story. I hesitate to speak of my books here in fear of spamming. Now the thing about writing a direct sequel to one of Lovecraft's tales is -- can my own story be understood by they who have not read Lovecraft's "The Hound"? But this is the dilemma of being a dyed-in-ye-wool Lovecraftian writer -- is my fiction comprehensible to they who have not read HPL and the Mythos. I used to worry about this a lot, but no more -- I write for Lovecraftians. If you would like to listen to "Some Distant Baying Sound," the entire tale has been superbly read by MorganScorpion and may be listened to at Thomas Ligotti Online.
    Julia's reading of the tale is dead-on because my narrator is a British woman. I decided that, since Lovecraft's original narrator in unnamed, I could give "him" a bit of a sex-change. :eek:
     
    Feb 22, 2010
    #24
  5. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Yes; I've got that one set aside for my next book to read (once I finish with the current batch of Poe's writings -- those from 1839: reviews, essays, letters, tales, etc. -- which I hope to do sometime tomorrow).

    As for "The Hound" itself... perhaps you're right, Wilum, but I'm afraid there is too much there which does strike me as at least seriously tongue-in-cheek, if not outright parody. It is just a bit too perfervid in its use of language, taking things to far too exaggerated a level, much as the later parts of "Herbert West -- Reanimator" or "The Horror in the Museum". Whether Lovecraft intended that to be the case or not is, of course, impossible to say, short of some correspondence coming to light which specifically states his aims. But that his writing was so overheated in tone at a time when he was showing just how restrained he could be, and when he was indeed so precise... that, to me, argues for the idea that he, for one of those quite rare instances, broke his own rule and did deliberately go not for the purple, but the ultraviolet.

    Which is not to say that there aren't some genuine eerie passages in the tale -- and certainly some quite powerful concepts -- but the tone simply goes too far and becomes risible at times. It is, perhaps, not so much a parody of his own work as that of Huysmans; an affectionate parody (if so), but an effective one nonetheless.

    Still, as you say, the "hound" of the tale may be anything but a canine figure... though I do like the idea of it being related to his concept of the ghouls as presented in his work, which certainly had strong canine features. Perhaps, as has been suggested elsewhere (Robert M. Price and George Wetzel, iirc) as a sort of embodiment of that spirit -- an embodiment whose "physical" lineaments may be as malleable and chaotic as that of the force in "The Unnamable".

    I am in agreement with the opinion that it is one of his lesser tales, but that is not to say that I don't think it is worthy of recognition or even admiration -- or even, for the matter of that, of emulation or expansion. And certain elements of it do make it rather integral to his developing myth-cycle. It's an odd little tale, rich in potential readings, and at the very least not one to be easily dismissed....
     
    Feb 22, 2010
    #25
  6. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    Now I need to do another careful re-reading and compare it to the tales he wrote directly before and after he wrote "The Hound" -- and this is why the Barnes & Noble edition is so cool, as all of the tales are in chronological order. I know that HPL dismiss'd "Ye Hound" in latter years, but he also dismiss'd "The Shadow out of Time," with which he was not pleased. I have a stubborn desire to see HPL as, usually, a very serious Literary Artist -- which is only difficult to maintain when I read "The Horror in the Museum" and some others of ye revisions. It still perplexes me as to why he wou'd wish to mock his style in "The Hound" -- but perhaps that is too extreme in describing his sense of fun with the story, which more and more seem to see. I shall investigate this after to-day's writing.
     
    Feb 22, 2010
    #26
  7. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Well, I suppose I see it in the same light that I do many of Poe's grotesques and jeux-d'esprit -- walking a fine line (not always entirely successfully) between the horrific (or strange) and a somewhat dark form of humor. It can, of course, be read as a straight piece too, but I'd say in that case it has some serious problems which seem out of keeping with his general level of artistry.

    Of course, even with such a humorous approach, it takes a great deal of the serious literary artist to maintain the tone well, as Lovecraft does here. Think, for instance, of L. P. Hartley's "The Travelling Grave", where the lighthearted, almost farcical tone of the tale is carefully maintained, yet that very tone, where the wording is extremely carefully chosen, increases the grotesqueness and horror of the piece as one goes along, and results in one of the grimmest and most effective weird pieces (quite possibly the best of its particular kind) ever written. Or the very careful maintenance of ironic tone of Bierce's more effective pieces. So I wouldn't say his taking such a tack with this story indicates anything of a lessening of his being a serious literary artist, but rather than he was experimenting with different approaches and types of tale; something he continued to do for some time....
     
    Feb 22, 2010
    #27
  8. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    Today, I re-read 'The Hound' as well as 'The Statement Of Randolph Carter'.

    The first thing that struck me was purely autobiographical: 'The Hound' is the first ever Lovecraft story I ever read! I just realised it was included in one especially wonderful anthology pulled down from my father's shelf (which also included 'The Death Of Ilalotha' by Clark Ashton Smith and 'The Death Of Halpin Frayser' by Ambrose Bierce). I must have been less than 12 years old at the time. (I'd previously thought that 'The Outsider' was the first Lovecraft tale I'd ever read; instead it is only the second). I'm sorry about the needless detail: it's just that the works of several favourite writers seem to be woven through the years like a recurring motif, surfacing again whenever needed.

    Perhaps that early exposure explains it, but I have never found 'The Hound' over-written except in the way that Lovecraft's style sometimes strains the outer bounds of stylistic perfection in its description of ultimate horror. I find it hard to imagine that this is purely the sign of insufficient skill or editing; 'Randolph Carter' is a significant comparison because it is, first of all, nearly the same story (two friends delve into forbidden lore; enter a place where the dead are interred, pursuant on some dark errand; terror is unleashed - the rudiments are the same) and secondly, a jaundiced eye could find examples of 'self-parodying' prose in the latter tale as well.

    For example, here are two quotes from 'Randolph Carter':

    Even given that the narrator characterises his fantasy as absurd, 'rotting stone' is, on the face of it, almost an oxymoron. Stone crumbles; it does not rot. Yet, to the receptive reader, the idea of rotting stone combined with suggestion of great age suggests a place that is so ancient that even the very rocks have somehow begun to decay in a manner only possible after un-numbered aeons have passed. The fleshy beings interred here can rot - and if even their tombstone have begun to rot, what state beyond normal decay are they in, now?

    How can something be both luxuriant and unhealthy? It makes sense if we take into account Lovecraft's general conception of forms of life that are inherently inimical, horrific, sometimes debased, even as they are fecund - and this fecundity is terrible because of the nature of these life-forms.

    Here are two places in 'Randolph Carter' where Lovecraft seems to pen down semantic absurdities, yet illuminates a vaster sense of unease. His prose may never again have been as openly poetic as in his Dunsany-esque tales, but I feel it often needs to be read for allusion and suggestion, like poetry. I should really offer similar citations of over the top instances in 'The Hound' but my point is that one can find such in any Lovecraft tale, if primed to; whether they are really over-writing or purposeful derangement of mundane concepts can at least be debated.

    In 'The Hound', I believe Lovecraft is revisiting the same theme anew from a new angle, both in style and content, not parodying it. 'Randolph Carter' stemmed from a dream he had, and a particularly haunting and chilling dream it must have been. The earlier tale is apparently more or less an unadorned rendition of this original dream as related to his correspondents. In 'The Hound', he has either spontaneously revisited aspects of this dream or consciously used his graveyard visit to recreate elements of the old story, only this time, he decided to do more - more detail, more suspense, more terrible events. Perhaps he did consciously pile it on, but not without, as JD Worthington also notes, genuine eerie passages. I think the two elements work together - the whole piece is a study in excess: of style, of invention and of terror. Not a parody but an attempt to push certain things to the limit.

    At least that's my take on it, for now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
    Mar 1, 2010
    #28
  9. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    As I said earlier, I don't think he was consciously parodying his own style, so much as the Decadents (especially Huysmans) whom he had become absorbed in fairly recently. He expressed high regard for Huysmans, but also reservations, feeling that J.-K. had taken things about as far as they could go in that direction without lapsing into the absurd; perhaps had even done so, on occasion. In his emphasis on the decadent aspect of his protagonists, he makes quite strong connections between this tale and Huysmans, especially À rebours and Là-Bas, in the manner and type of characters, taking an exaggerated form of each. The story was also something in the manner of a jeu d'esprit, as its origin would suggest. As he wrote to his Aunt Lilllian on Sept. 29, 1922:

    -- Letters from New York, pp. 27-28​

    I draw your attention to the birds who flew down and "pecked at the ancient grave-earth", and compare this with the bats and vulture of the tale; not to mention the "chatter" of the birds which HPL "would like to have understood", which compare with the chattering "in the Dutch language" of the mysterious entity (cf. "who can say what it might not resemble?") As far as the text itself is concerned, though, the language does retain an overheated tone throughout, rather than at the heights of emotional or impressionistic intensity; while his protagonists are neurotic in the extreme, even for this period in Lovecraft's career (which works frequently featured characters of an intensely nervous temperament, something he toned down considerably over the years, though never quite eliminating entirely).

    At any rate, it is not a bad tale (as some critics have accused it of being), but merely not quite in the mode HPL usually sought. There is a sort of macabre exuberance and overindulgence to the whole thing, but I would say it is quite conscious and done with a great deal of zest; certainly not the result of carelessness or lack of ability.
     
    Mar 1, 2010
    #29
  10. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    Yes, that's exactly what I meant when I suggested this tale was a study in excess.

    As for the Huysmans influence, the characters in this story are certainly a fine pair of Des Esseintes', and their quest like that of Lovecraft with this story, is for progressively more intense levels of excess. All in all,I think Lovecraft knew what he was going about when he wrote this story and he achieved it pretty well.
     
    Mar 2, 2010
    #30
  11. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

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    I remember you had a particular "fondness" for "Ashes" , J.D. Almost as big as "Horrid Mysteries" :grin

    I have been debating whether or not to read A Rebours (I have an english translation of the text , mind you) , but have been putting it off , because of other things - mostly books which I have been "itching" to read for a long time .
     
    Mar 2, 2010
    #31
  12. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    A Rebours is a remarkable book, and very much worth reading.
     
    Mar 2, 2010
    #32
  13. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Indeed it is; though I think I should warn you, Lobo, there is little of the actual "weird" in it, save for some atmospheric passages here and there. It was included more because of its influence in opening up new avenues to explore in the weird field as far as character analysis and a certain manner of approach are concerned, rather than actual strangeness in and of itself.

    Nonetheless, a very remarkable book. As remarkable and as dense, in its way, as The Golem....
     
    Mar 2, 2010
    #33
  14. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    A Rebours is also a fascinating exploration of synesthesia. It can get to be heavy going because Des Esseintes becomes so listless, so dull as his tastes become more and more ridiculously refined and specific but I found a great deal of interest in these successive fads.

    I re-read parts of Baudelaire's Le Fleurs Du Mal yesterday. If he had been reading material like this, and Huysmans shortly before penning The Hound I think that alone explains something of the frantic way in which this story is packed with imagery.

    There's an element of mockery here, but I don't think it's self-parody. There's the passage where the narrator talks about how he and his friend cling for a long time to the theory that their dissolute ways have driven them insane rather than accept that some supernatural agency is 'hounding' them, and there's a definite note of farce here - the two characters seem less like refined, decadent aesthetes than a pair of Laurel-and-Hardy like bumblers who have gotten themselves into another fine mess.

    Another passage that may be accused of going over the top is when the Holland cemetery is described in such detail, in a bravura crescendo of imagery and phraseology that extends over a very long paragraph; this description is more or less reiterated in shorter form in the very next paragraph, as the narrator mentions how he will never forget the scene he has just described! I think, again, it's the narrator's aesthetic preoccupation that is being gently mocked here, how he is unable to stop himself from lingering lovingly over this morbid, sinister scene, even while avowing that he regrets the impulses that drove his friend and him into the situation they found themselves in after returning to England.
     
    Mar 3, 2010
    #34
  15. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Those are two excellent examples of what I was talking about, really. As I mentioned before, I don't think it is so much a self-parody (though I do think a little of that comes into play, as he did sometimes enjoy poking fun at his tendency to pile on the adjectives... just as he enjoyed Edith Miniter's parody of "Randolph Carter", "Falco Ossifracus") as a bit of parody-cum-criticism anent the Decadents. And yes, he had been reading Baudelaire and Huysmans at about this time, hence not only the references to them in this tale, but the use of a motto from Baudelaire in "Hypnos", written in March of the same year.

    Incidentally, "Falco Ossifracus" can be found in the Hippocampus collection of Mrs. Miniter's writings, Dead Houses and Other Works. Now, if only someone would come out with a decently-priced reprint of her novel, Our Natupski Neighbors.....
     
    Mar 3, 2010
    #35
  16. Lobolover

    Lobolover Well-Known Member

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    If it is as anything as unusual as How Like a God or more then I will gladly read it , regardless of the minimal amount of strangeness .

    I think you would remember Rex Stout's "How like a god" is one of those books I said you absolutely must get (along with The Other Side of the Mountain) .
     
    Mar 3, 2010
    #36
  17. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    I linger within ye shadows of Sesqua Valley, dream
    I haven't read "Herbert West-Reanimator" for many years because something about the story annoys me. I found a reading of it at YouTube and just listen'd to part one, and I rather like it -- and it has forced me to think again about my stern feelings that "The Hound" was not penned as parody; for I think that "West" was, and yet I find the tone mock-serious, but similar in ways to the tone of "The Hound," whut was written in the same year as "Herbert West." Hmmmmm..........
     
    Apr 3, 2011
    #37
  18. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    It starts off so well:
    Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only with extreme terror. (Warning: Horror story!)
    and by the second paragraph:
    - he had killed and treated immense numbers of rabbits, guinea-pigs, cats, dogs, and monkeys, till he became the prime nuisance of the college.
    Ya gotta hate this Herb character. I'm reading on to see what happens to him. )

    My collection is Hound-free! This is arful and will be rectalfied.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
    Apr 6, 2011
    #38
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