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Lovecraft's America

Extollager

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#41
Ah, ah! Music of the old, weird America:

Anthology of American Folk Music compiled by Harry Smith, re-released by the Library of Congress -- just got this on interlibrary loan. All of the recordings are from smack-dab in the middle of Lovecraft's productive period (1927-32). Starts right off with "Henry Lee":

"Get down, get down, little Henry Lee, and stay all night with me.
The very best lodging I can afford will be fare better'n thee."
"I can't get down, and I won't get down, and stay all night with thee,
For the girl I have in that merry green land, I love far better'n thee."


She leaned herself against a fence, just for a kiss or two;
With a little pen-knife held in her hand, she plugged him through and through.
"Come all you ladies in the town, a secret for me keep,
With a diamond ring held on my hand I'll never will forsake."


"Some take him by his lily-white hand, some take him by his feet.
We'll throw him in this deep, deep well, more than one hundred feet.
Lie there, lie there, loving Henry Lee, till the flesh drops from your bones.
The girl you have in that merry green land still waits for your return."


"Fly down, fly down, you little bird, and alight on my right knee.
Your cage will be of purest gold, in deed of property."
"I can't fly down, or I won't fly down, and alight on your right knee.
A girl would murder her own true love would kill a little bird like me."


"If I had my bend and bow, my arrow and my string,
I'd pierce a dart so nigh your heart your wobble would be in vain."
"If you had your bend and bow, your arrow and your string,
I'd fly away to the merry green land and tell what I have seen."



http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/RTOS-HenryLee.html


I love the way Bob Dylan sings this as "Love Henry" on World Gone Wrong....
 
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#43
Look at these... just look at these pulp-mag "personals," gathered by the great Lileks of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. This is Lovecraft's America, people.

http://lileks.com/misc/missing/
A part of it, yes... quite a small part, really... though that does not minimize the tragedies of these notices. (Frank Hemstreet, "sent back in a crate about 1884....")

Very interesting, and more than a bit affecting. There is one there that sounds quite familiar, as we had a minister around here who went missing for some time, and was found over a year later, apparently suffering from amnesia, in (if memory serves) Washington state.... I understand that genuine amnesia is extremely rare; yet so far as I know, this one was apparently an accepted case....
 

Extollager

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#44
I've just been reading "Canal Street," a long piece in Ian Frazier's Gone to New York. He tells the story of the construction of the Holland Tunnel, 1922-27, to link Manhattan and New Jersey. Lovecraft was living in New York during part of this time. I wonder if he was at all intrigued by this feat of subterranean engineering, which cost thirteen "sandhogs" their lives. The tunnel was filled with compressed air that was physically demanding on the men. On one occasion the air burst upward through the mud and blasted a fifty-foot geyser of water above the Hudson. (A man named Marshall Mabey was blasted from the tunnel, through the mud, into the air above the East River in 1916 during the construction of a subway tunnel, and lived.)

It would be interesting to have a detailed chronology not just of national news but local events for various times in HPL's life if there were reason to think that the events might have appealed to his imagination.
 
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#45
Certainly such things cropped up in his fiction. The Qabbin Reservoir may have sparked his imagination, but it was the Scituate Reservoir he had in mind when writing "The Colour Out of Space"... though the Qabbin wiped out several towns in its creation. An earthquake of 28 Feb. 1925 (which shook the entire Northeastern section of the country) occurred when he was in New York, and was almost certainly the genesis of the 'quake which brought R'lyeh to the surface (see The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, p. 395, note 16). The Vermont floods in "The Whisperer in Darkness" were very real; while a strike by the Boston police inspired "The Street", and a newspaper article on the New York Constabulary (published 27 April 1919) helped bring about "Beyond the Wall of Sleep". And the sinking of the Lusitania inspired the 62-line poetic screed "The Crime of Crimes", as well as defining how he depicted the German navy and its personnel in both "Dagon" and "The Temple". There are a number of other such instances, most (if not all) of which can be found in An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, under the entries for each of his tales.
 

Extollager

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#46
Certainly such things cropped up in his fiction. The Qabbin Reservoir may have sparked his imagination, but it was the Scituate Reservoir he had in mind when writing "The Colour Out of Space"... though the Qabbin wiped out several towns in its creation. An earthquake of 28 Feb. 1925 (which shook the entire Northeastern section of the country) occurred when he was in New York, and was almost certainly the genesis of the 'quake which brought R'lyeh to the surface (see The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, p. 395, note 16). The Vermont floods in "The Whisperer in Darkness" were very real; while a strike by the Boston police inspired "The Street", and a newspaper article on the New York Constabulary (published 27 April 1919) helped bring about "Beyond the Wall of Sleep". And the sinking of the Lusitania inspired the 62-line poetic screed "The Crime of Crimes", as well as defining how he depicted the German navy and its personnel in both "Dagon" and "The Temple". There are a number of other such instances, most (if not all) of which can be found in An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, under the entries for each of his tales.
There seems to be much discussion here at the Lovecraft zone of Chrons, regarding various editions of his stories. The edition I'd like to see would skip illustrations of Lovecraftian monsters and entities and would be based on vintage photos and artwork of sites relevant to HPL -- preferably taken from old newspapers, rural and urban agency offices, etc. This sort of thing:

http://www.nricd.org/landwaterconnection/history.htm

I'm bored by endless rehashes of body-builder torsos with squid heads and such schlocky stuff. But pictures that evoke HPLian settings, neighborhoods, etc. would be of interest.

http://www.vpr.net/episode/50094/

Look at that tumbling water. You can easily imagine a glimpsed Yugotthian crab-creature....
 
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#47
It would be nice to see more of that sort of thing, yes. There are a few such items. Both The Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, More Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, and From the Pest Zone: The New York Stories, all feature photographs of places which inspired aspects of the tales or which featured in them... though the first of these also reproduces the covers of the issues of WT in which each particular story appeared, as well as reproductions of paintings of certain historical figures mentioned in At the Mountains of Madness. (It also has a few black-and-white reproductions of some of Roerich's paintings, which had such in impact on the imagery of that tale.)

You may also want to look up Phillip A. Shreffler's H. P. Lovecraft Companion. While the text includes many errors, there are quite a few photographs which someone might find of interest. Ditto for Henry L. P. Beckwith's Lovecraft's Providence and Adjacent Parts, which also has some photographs of sites familiar to the readers of HPL's works. The University of Tampa Press edition of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward also features several pages of photos by Donovan K. Loucks of sites which feature on that short novel. And on a slightly different note, one can see a photo of HPL's beloved Grandfather Whipple Phillips (who has at times been cited as the inspiration for the uncle in "The Shunned House", as I recall), as well as numerous reproductions of pages from HPL's manuscripts -- which give an idea of just how difficult it could be to decipher those things -- in the Lovecraft issue of Books at Brown (1991-92; vol. XXXVIII-XXXIX) which, I believe, they still have some copies of... at least they did a few years ago when I contacted them about obtaining one....
 

Extollager

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#48
Extoller, as an aside, have you heard Skip James? Specifically a 1964 Vanguard album that remakes his 1930 recording sessions, called The Devil Got My Woman, and the title song of that name. Skip James sang in a voice like a ghost. He's a spooky presence coming out of the stereo speakers. His lyrics came out of the 19th century rural south deep in the heart of the old weird America.

Charlie Patton is perhaps the very definition of the old weird America insofar as music is concerned. Some of these early delta bluesmen invested their murder ballads and love songs with a dark mystical dimension that curdles the blood today. And of course they learned their craft from the 19th century generation that came before them.

Not the sort of thing HPL and his contemporaries would have been exposed to, although I'm sure they'd have felt sympatico if they had. I just thought I'd mention it.


Richard


http://elderly.com/recordings/items/TOMPKINS-CD2509.htm

I'm still exploring old blues recordings, roots music, etc. Just got a 3-CD set called People Take Warning! Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs, 1913-1938. This music from Lovecraft's era includes a short intro by Tom Waits: "....tragic chronicles of the perils of being human. Songs that are roadside graves dug quickly with crosses made from kindling while the grief was still fresh." Listen to these old recordings, Waits urges: "So, as the needle drops into the groove, the dead take that same needle and together we are knitting them all a new suit of flesh."
 

Extollager

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#49
Extoller, as an aside, have you heard Skip James? Specifically a 1964 Vanguard album that remakes his 1930 recording sessions, called The Devil Got My Woman, and the title song of that name. Skip James sang in a voice like a ghost. He's a spooky presence coming out of the stereo speakers. His lyrics came out of the 19th century rural south deep in the heart of the old weird America.

Charlie Patton is perhaps the very definition of the old weird America insofar as music is concerned. Some of these early delta bluesmen invested their murder ballads and love songs with a dark mystical dimension that curdles the blood today. And of course they learned their craft from the 19th century generation that came before them.

Not the sort of thing HPL and his contemporaries would have been exposed to, although I'm sure they'd have felt sympatico if they had. I just thought I'd mention it.


Richard
I thought I'd quicken this thread, one of my favorites for the HPL subforum -- and thank Richard again for putting me on to Skip James, whom I was listening to a few moments ago. (John Fahey has nifty variations on "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" on one of his late CDs...)
 

Curt Chiarelli

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#50
Here's a book I'd be interested in: if it exists. Can anyone help me out?

I am interested in a social history of America in the 1920s-30s that would be a rich source for a sense of how people lived. It would not be dry reading about Movements, Currents, etc. but would evoke the felt life of many persons.

What I am looking for, if this helps, is a book that would do for the States what Juliet Gardiner (The Thirties; Wartime; and now The Blitz) and David Kynaston (Austerity Britain 1945-1951 and, I assume, Family Britain, which I have not yet read) have recently done for Britain during the time that Tolkien was writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, C. S. Lewis was writing Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength, and Charles Williams was writing All Hallows' Eve, etc.
Hi Extollager:

The best social histories about America in the 1920s and 1930s are Only Yesterday (1931) and Since Yesterday (1939) by Frederick Lewis Allen. Both books have been recently combined and published in a handsome hardcover edition by Oxford City Press in 2010. Although no one volume will be able to capture the whole essence of a vibrant, complex society, these two books are well-written, sophisticated and have an immediacy and breadth of intimate detail that other volumes lack because they were written when the subject was fresh.
 

Extollager

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#51
Well, the Allen books seem to be in our library and in good online company, in that, when I did a keyword search of the catalog using ALLEN YESTERDAY as the terms, those two books came up, plus one more -- The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century Ghost Stories!
 

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