Thursday, August 2, 2012

Young Lovecraft Words

by Pa Rock
Word Sprite

It's been over four years since I first posted a piece on this blog related to the powerful vocabulary of the late (and very great) horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft.  At that time I had just finished reading the Library of America's collection of Lovecraft stories and novellas.    The works in that volume had been selected for publication by contemporary horror writer, Peter Straub.

The piece that I wrote four years ago centered on the Lovecraft story "The Statement of Randolph Carter."  It was the first story in the collection.  In writing about his strong vocabulary, I selected a dozen or so very unusual words that Lovecraft had used in the story, many of an arcane nature,  and presented them in their original context.

"Lovecraft Words" proved to be one of the most highly read entries that I ever made in this blog.

Recently I purchased a "complete" collection of the works of H.P. Lovecraft which, of course, contains works not included in the Library of America edition.  The stories in the complete collection appear be presented chronologically.  The first story, "The Beast in the Cave," the tale of a young boy who becomes lost in Mammoth Cave when he strays from a tour, was written by H.P. Lovecraft when he was only thirteen-years-old.  And even though the writer was a mere lad when he put pen to paper and drafted that story, the writing was exceptionally strong.

Here are some examples of the word power that H.P. Lovecraft was able to employ as a very young adolescent:

"The horrible conclusion which had been gradually obtruding itself upon my confused and reluctant mind was now an awful certainty." 
"I was lost, completely, hopelessly lost in the vast and labyrinthine recesses of Mammoth Cave." 
"If I must die, I reflected, then was this terrible yet majestic cavern as welcome a sepulchre as that which any churchyard might afford;  a conception which carried with it more of tranquility than of despair." 
"I remembered the accounts which I had heard of the colony of consumptives, who, taking their residence in this gigantic grotto to find health from the apparently salubrious air of the underground world, with its steady, uniform temperature, pure air, and peaceful quiet, had found, instead, death in strange and ghastly form." 
"And then I shouted, yelled, screamed, even shrieked with joy as I beheld the vaulted arches above the faint and glimmering effulgence which I knew to be the reflected light of an approaching torch." 
"The hands or feet were not prehensile, a fact that I ascribed to that long residence in the cave which, as I before mentioned, seemed evident from the all-pervading and almost unearthly whiteness so characteristic of the whole anatomy." 
"As I looked more closely, I saw that they were set in a face less prognathous than that of thee average ape, and infinitely more hairy."

Those are some mighty big words for a thirteen-year-old!

(Boone Macy, you need to be reading the dictionary and taking notes!)

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