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To: alt.magick
From: "Peter J. Sanderson" 
Subject: Re: necronomicon
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 2002 11:42:35 -0700

"Satyr"  wrote in message
How much of Lovecraft have you read?

At one point I had a fairly complete collection of his published works and
am now trying to rebuild my collection.  I had also collected as much of the
work of the correspondents and contributors who paid homage to his work
through imitation including August W. Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith and
Bloch...Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan, wrote a few mythos tales as
well in his own unique style.  I was surprised that with the readers of
Lovecraft around that the references in my earlier reply didn't even get a
low chuckle...oh well can't win 'em all.

> Personally, I think the fictional works of the man who inspired HPL, Lord
> Dunsany, are vastly superior in every way.  Have you read him?

I actually quite enjoy Dunsany, what little I have read of his work.  The
style is antiquated, yet has a certain nobility and grace to it lacking in
more "modern" writing.  I haven't read his poetry, which Lovecraft also
allegedly found inspiring for his own verse but have read The Charwoman's
Shadow and The King Of Elfland's Daughter (that one in a very thorough
examination).  Apparently one of the devices, a creation of an imaginary
pantheon of deities for the characters in the stories, was used by Dunsany
in the books  "The Gods of Pegana" and "The Book of Wonder".  I have yet to
find these.  I have enjoyed others of these early works of "fantasy"
literature that predate Tolkien, such as E.R. Eddison's "The Worm Ouroubos"
and William Morris' "Well At The World's End"

My own interest in the occult preceded my discovery of HPL but I was
certainly fascinated by the stories.  Most people who read a bit of his work
only peripherally or desperately want there to be a real "Necronomicon" are
usually shocked to discover that HPL was a die-hard non-believer in things
supernatural...however as Lin Carter wrote in a forward to one of the books
I have, it was that which gave him the ability to write with cold detachment
about the alien horrors that plague his characters.  Apparently the device
of using an illusion of authenticity to increase the suspension of disbelief
was something that HPL borrowed from other writers he enjoyed like Arthur
Machen (1863 - 1947) and Robert W. Chambers (1865 - 1933).  Chambers in
particular had, in his short stories, a recurring book of of a verse-play
that had an corrupting effect on his characters who posessed it, The King In
Yellow, fragments of which were quoted in the stories themselves.  Lovecraft
did the same with the Necronomicon and references to other real texts(as
another poster mentioned) and mythical ones that sounded like they might be
real with fictional authors (Cultes de Ghouls, Pnakotic Manuscripts, etc.).

I find it amusing that the fictional book he created garners so much
attention that the man himself and the actual stories he created about it,
of which it was central but still a plot device, often fade into
obscurity...I have heard people suggest that HPL "discovered" the book or
"channeled it" or other reams of nonsense  that come from people coming
across a reference to it in a role-playing game or one of the Evil Dead
films or of course the Simonomicon.  HPL would be, doubtless greatly pleased
and amused by his success at so skillfully creating the illusion of
authenticity...but perhaps he would be saddened by the dumbing down of a
populace that didn't read books and didn't mind information to be taken in a
vacuum, in 30 second soundbites, out of context and divorced from their

Glad to see someone else has read Dunsany on the list tho...


Why should I fret in microcosmic binds
   That chafe the spirit, and the mind repress,
When through the clouds gleam beckoning beyonds
   Whose shining vistas mock man's littleness?
              - H.P. Lovecraft, "Phaeton" (1918)

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