Thoughts Imprisoned With The Pharaohs

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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#1
It's been some years since if read it. My impression was that it doesn't seem to get as much love as some Lovecraft's other stories. It's a bit of conventional horror story, not really connected to the Mythos stories . I found to be a excellent and one of his better stories.

Thoughts? :)
 
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#2
Weeellll.... for one thing, it wasn't in any way a "Mythos" story (even ignoring the problematic aspect that Lovecraft himself didn't see such distinctions; he most he ever said was calling something a part of his "Arkham cycle" or "Yog-Sothothery", and even this was in an extremely nebulous sort of distinction), nor was it, save in some very general ways, any sort of precursor to what we moderns tend to view as his Mythos tales. For another, it wasn't a story which originated with Lovecraft, but in response to his being asked to ghost-write a tale based on something Harry Houdini had apparently related to WT's editor... so HPL had to stay within certain (admittedly very broad) limits. And, of course, as HPL himself had never visited Egypt, he had to do a lot of research on the locale and its antiquities before getting to the core of the tale. As he put it in his letter to James F. Morton of 12 March 1924 (just after finishing the thing and getting married):
I went the limit in descriptive realism in the first part, then when I buckled down to the under the pyramid stuff I let myself loose and coughed up some of the most nameless, slithering, unmentionable HORROR that ever stalked cloven-hooved through the tenebrous and necrophagous abysses of elder night.
-- Selected Letters I: 1911-1924, p. 326
If you'd like more on the story itself, you might look at this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imprisoned_with_the_Pharaohs

As it notes, Lovecraft's own title for it was "Under the Pyramids", which is really a more fitting title, given the incidents in the tale.

My own personal reaction to the tale was that I originally liked it a great deal when I read it when young, but that liking has become somewhat tempered over the years. I still think it is an interesting and in some ways admirable story, but not among his very best. Mid-range, I think, to my taste....
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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#3
He see's the creature and realizes that what he's seeing is a mere paw. The horror is something bigger then he can see and comprehend.
 
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#4
He see's the creature and realizes that what he's seeing is a mere paw. The horror is something bigger then he can see and comprehend.
Much as the narrator of "The Shunned House" sees only "a titan elbow", indicating the vastness of the entity buried beneath....
 
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#6
I loved that ending. (y)
I've got to admit that, on my initial reading of the story (back when I was about 12 or 13) I found it quite jarring... enough to almost spoil the story for me. However, the rest of the tale more than made up for what struck me as almost comic, rather than cosmic. Later readings (much later) had me finding it to be much less jarring, and I began to appreciate what he was doing. I always enjoyed everything else about it, though, and I am one of those who found the historical background utterly fascinating, and the bittersweet ending quite touching. Even with that less-than-pleasing effect, in all other ways the story began as and has remained among my favorites.

Just as a sidelight concerning "The Shunned House"... were you aware of the various levels of genuine history and folklore HPL included there? The Roulet family, for instance, is very genuine, and the story of that ancestor crops up in, for instance, Sabine Baring-Gould's Book of the Werewolf; the flood mentioned, where the ship actually all but tapped the windows of the house, was a genuine historical event in Providence; the vampire beliefs of the region were also genuine (see, for instance, J. Earl Clauson's "Vampirism in Rhode Island", in his These Plantations, as well as Faye Ringel Hazel's "Some Strange New England Mortuary Practices: Lovecraft Was Right" (Lovecraft Studies 29, Fall 1993), and the bit about the "human-shaped figure" comes from Myths and Legends of Our Own Land, by Charles M. Skinner (in vol. 1, if memory serves).
 

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