Read The Thing on the Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft Free Online
Book Title: The Thing on the Doorstep|
The author of the book: H.P. Lovecraft
ISBN 13: 9781609773229
Edition: Start Publishing LLC
Date of issue: February 10th 2014
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 32.57 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.7
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"I do not know—but others have strange things to tell of Edward and Asenath Derby, and even the stolid police are at their wits’ ends to account for that last terrible visit." - H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep
I must say I am particularly drawn to this harrowing H.P. Lovecraft tale of terror first published in 1937 since the author probes deeply into the various psychological and magical dimensions of consciousness, personal identity and personality via the story’s major theme: mind-transference. Also, how the narrator, Daniel Upton, along with his friend Edward Derby plunge head first down dark pits of horror leading to the final climactic scene when Upton encounters the thing on the doorstep. But, and here’s the key point, both men's long downward spiral spanning many years is taken in numerous small steps throughout the tale’s twenty-five pages, each step occurring within a deftly created atmosphere and articulated in the author's vivid, singular language. To provide a sampling of these many haunting, Lovecraftian steps, here are my comments conjoined with a number of direct quotes, a baker’s dozen, taken from the beginning chapters:
“An only child, he had organic weaknesses which startled his doting parents and caused them to keep him closely chained to their side. He was never allowed out without his nurse, and seldom had a chance to play unconstrainedly with other children. All this doubtless fostered a strange, secretive inner life in the boy, with imagination as his one avenue of freedom” ---- Edward Derby sounds like Lovercraft himself, an only child, sickly, living in seclusion, left alone with his vivid imagination. An entire mythology of the disturbed loaner has developed in the United States over the years, a mythology fueled by the media: when there’s a violent crime its usually committed by a loner.
“About that time I had leanings toward art of a somewhat grotesque cast, and I found in this younger child a rare kindred spirit.” ---- Likewise, the narrator, Daniel Upton, has much in common with young Edward Derby revolving around the arts and literature, particularly those works and writings pertaining to the bizarre and fantastic.
“As he grew to years of manhood he retained a deceptive aspect of boyishness.” ---- An indication of how, according to Upton, Edward Derby’s life is counter to the natural transformation a boy undergoes to become a man.
“What he did do was to become an almost fanatical devotee of subterranean magical lore.” ---- The plot thicken: Edward Derby the artistically inclined loner hasn't become a real man and in his protracted immature boyhood turns to the black arts.
“He was thirty-four, and for months he was incapacitated by some odd psychological malady” ---- With his physical illness in youth, his being a loner and follower of black magic, some would predict it follows logically Derby would develop serious mental issues, perhaps the lingering residue of how in past ages Edward would be labeled an alchemist and even a heretic, someone who must be destroyed.
“Edward was thirty-eight when he met Asenath Waite. She was, I judge, about twenty-three at the time. She was dark, smallish, and very good-looking except for overprotuberant eyes. ---- Why not? After all, Asenath is an attractive young lady.
“The old man was known to have been a prodigious magical student in his day, and legend averred that he could raise or quell storms at sea according to his whim. ---- Now that sounds serious in that not only is Asenath’s father acquainted with the dark arts but proficient in them; in other words, he is not only a student but a accomplished sorcerer.
“Most unusual, though, were the well-attested cases of her influence over other persons. She was, beyond question, a genuine hypnotist. By gazing peculiarly at a fellow-student she would often give the latter a distinct feeling of exchanged personality” ---- Similar to her father, it appears Asenath is also something of a sorceress. And a sorceress with power! Time to watch out.
“Her crowning rage, however, was that she was not a man; since she believed a male brain had certain unique and far-reaching cosmic powers. Given a man’s brain, she declared, she could not only equal but surpass her father in mastery of unknown forces.” –--- Here’s one tale where H.P. Lovecraft includes a woman and develops her character. And Asenath seeks far-reaching cosmic powers - by becoming a man! The men in her life could be in for some exciting times. From this point forward we are well to ask if both Edward Derby and Daniel Upton are more than a little naïve and trusting.
“When Edward called on me after the honeymoon I thought he looked slightly changed.” ---- Could this change be more than one simply involving personality? Or, is Daniel Upton witnessing the first step in a shift in personal identity for Edward Derby as a result of Asenath using her powers to put herself in a man’s body?
He was progressing fast in esoteric lore now that he had Asenath’s guidance. Some of the experiments she proposed were very daring and radical—he did not feel at liberty to describe them—but he had confidence in her powers and intentions."---- Confidence in her intentions! It would be bad news indeed if Edward Derby thought his wife Asenath had evil intentions. But, again, is this confidence the result of a shift in personality or a more drastic change, a shift in his personal identity? Why doesn’t Daniel Upton pick up on this possibility?
“It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to shew by this statement that I am not his murderer. At first I shall be called a madman—madder than the man I shot in his cell at the Arkham Sanitarium.” ---- The tale’s first lines. What if the majority of Daniel Upton’s statements about Asenath and Edward Derby are mere plays of fantasy? What if Daniel was so resentful of losing his friend to marriage that he concocted the whole tale as a projection of his deranged mind in an attempt to justify his murder of Derby and imprisonment of Asenath?
“Even now I ask myself whether I was misled—or whether I am not mad after all.” ---- Is Daniel Upton finally admitting to himself the possibility of his own madness, how his imagination ran wild?
I will leave you to wrestle with these question as mind-transference takes on spookier, decidedly more powerful dimensions in the second half of Lovecraft’s story. Available online via this link:
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Read information about the authorHoward Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.
Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fictions featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Christianity. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.
Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades. He is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th Century, exerting widespread and indirect influence, and frequently compared to Edgar Allan Poe.
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