Bowdoin Reads

Professor Denery is reading...

The Dunwich Horror and Others
by H.P. Lovecraft

I imagine there comes a moment in everyone’s life when they think to themselves, “I need to read the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft.” For me, that moment came last April and after a surprisingly difficult time I managed to track down the three volumes of his collected stories, At the Mountains of Madness, Dagon and Other Macabre Tales and the volume I saved for the end of summer, the one I am reading now, The Dunwich Horror and Others. What has reading some 1400 pages of H.P. Lovecraft taught me? For one thing, Rhode Island has profoundly ante-diluvian cultural influences. For another, Americans from quite different educational, social and economic backgrounds are remarkably adept at transliterating non-human languages, particularly ones in which “Ph’nglui mgw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” is a popular proverb. And, finally, for an extremely rare and dangerous book, the “mad Arab Abdul Alhazred’s” dread Necronomicon ex mortis is exceptionally common throughout New England in the original Arabic, as well as in Latin and English translations, not only in a variety of university and public libraries, but also in numerous run down shacks just outside of town, preferably inhabited by Puritans “divorced from the enlightenment of civilization…who in their isolation, morbid self-repression, and struggle for life with relentless nature” acquire “dark furtive traits from the pre-historic depths of their cold Northern heritage.” One of these traits, evidently, is a sort of happy-go-lucky cannibalism. I would say it has been a summer well spent.

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