Herbert West, Re-animator—A 1922 Novella of Horror by H. P. Lovecraft in Six Parts…

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Herbert West, Re-animator

H. P. Lovecraft, 1922


Part 1: From the Dark

Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only with extreme terror. This terror is not due altogether to the sinister manner of his recent disappearance, but was engendered by the whole nature of his life-work, and first gained its acute form more than seventeen years ago, when we were in the third year of our course at the Miskatonic University Medical School in Arkham. While he was with me, the wonder and diabolism of his experiments fascinated me utterly, and I was his closest companion. Now that he is gone and the spell is broken, the actual fear is greater. Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.

The first horrible incident of our acquaintance was the greatest shock I ever experienced, and it is only with reluctance that I repeat it. As I have said, it happened when we were in the medical school where West had already made himself notorious through his wild theories on the nature of death and the possibility of overcoming it artificially. His views, which were widely ridiculed by the faculty and by his fellow-students, hinged on the essentially mechanistic nature of life; and concerned means for operating the organic machinery of mankind by calculated chemical action after the failure of natural processes. In his experiments with various animating solutions, he had killed and treated immense numbers of rabbits, guinea-pigs, cats, dogs, and monkeys, till he had become the prime nuisance of the college. Several times he had actually obtained signs of life in animals supposedly dead; in many cases violent signs but he soon saw that the perfection of his process, if indeed possible, would necessarily involve a lifetime of research. It likewise became clear that, since the same solution never worked alike on different organic species, he would require human subjects for further and more specialised progress. It was here that he first came into conflict with the college authorities, and was debarred from future experiments by no less a dignitary than the dean of the medical school himself — the learned and benevolent Dr. Allan Halsey, whose work in behalf of the stricken is recalled by every old resident of Arkham.

I had always been exceptionally tolerant of West’s pursuits, and we frequently discussed his theories, whose ramifications and corollaries were almost infinite. Holding with Haeckel that all life is a chemical and physical process, and that the so-called “soul” is a myth, my friend believed that artificial reanimation of the dead can depend only on the condition of the tissues; and that unless actual decomposition has set in, a corpse fully equipped with organs may with suitable measures be set going again in the peculiar fashion known as life. That the psychic or intellectual life might be impaired by the slight deterioration of sensitive brain-cells which even a short period of death would be apt to cause, West fully realised. It had at first been his hope to find a reagent which would restore vitality before the actual advent of death, and only repeated failures on animals had shewn him that the natural and artificial life-motions were incompatible. He then sought extreme freshness in his specimens, injecting his solutions into the blood immediately after the extinction of life. It was this circumstance which made the professors so carelessly sceptical, for they felt that true death had not occurred in any case. They did not stop to view the matter closely and reasoningly.

It was not long after the faculty had interdicted his work that West confided to me his resolution to get fresh human bodies in some manner, and continue in secret the experiments he could no longer perform openly. To hear him discussing ways and means was rather ghastly, for at the college we had never procured anatomical specimens ourselves. Whenever the morgue proved inadequate, two local negroes attended to this matter, and they were seldom questioned. West was then a small, slender, spectacled youth with delicate features, yellow hair, pale blue eyes, and a soft voice, and it was uncanny to hear him dwelling on the relative merits of Christchurch Cemetery and the potter’s field. We finally decided on the potter’s field, because practically every body in Christchurch was embalmed; a thing of course ruinous to West’s researches.

I was by this time his active and enthralled assistant, and helped him make all his decisions, not only concerning the source of bodies but concerning a suitable place for our loathsome work. It was I who thought of the deserted Chapman farmhouse beyond Meadow Hill, where we fitted up on the ground floor an operating room and a laboratory, each with dark curtains to conceal our midnight doings. The place was far from any road, and in sight of no other house, yet precautions were none the less necessary; since rumours of strange lights, started by chance nocturnal roamers, would soon bring disaster on our enterprise. It was agreed to call the whole thing a chemical laboratory if discovery should occur. Gradually we equipped our sinister haunt of science with materials either purchased in Boston or quietly borrowed from the college — materials carefully made unrecognisable save to expert eyes — and provided spades and picks for the many burials we should have to make in the cellar. At the college we used an incinerator, but the apparatus was too costly for our unauthorised laboratory. Bodies were always a nuisance — even the small guinea-pig bodies from the slight clandestine experiments in West’s room at the boarding-house.

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Tonight’s Read: “The Haunting of Shawley Rectory” by Ruth Rendell (Tales from the Dead of Night: 13 Classic Ghost stories, ed. Cecily Gaylord, 2018 (TOC & Link)

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Get the book here!

 

Tonight’s Read: A Horror Novella About Puppets! 😱💀🤡

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‘No, unlike the other orphans, Sebastiano was content to sit at his little desk in the room he shared with three older boys, and to add and subtract and try to remember what chocolate tasted like. On an afternoon such as this, with the voices of the nuns rising from the church like the songs of angels, and the crashing of the sea, and the lovely smells of Sister Teresa’s wildly colorful flower garden drifting through the window, he could almost forget the exploding sky and the screams and the tears from July and August, just for a moment.

And then the moment would pass and he would remember.’

Here’s some more (Click on thumbnails to enlarge):


Grab your copy of the novella here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0312644744/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=&sr=

from “The Crown Derby Plate”—A Vintage Ghost Story by Marjorie Bowen, 1931

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“Very unpleasant,” said Martha Pym, undisturbed.

This ghost seemed too elusive for her to track down; she would have to be content if she could recover the Crown Derby plate; for that at least she was determined to make a try and also to satisfy that faint tingling of curiosity roused in her by this talk about “Hartleys” and the remembrance of that day, so long ago, when she had gone to the auction sale at the lonely old house.

So the first free afternoon, while Mabel and Clara were comfortably taking their afternoon repose, Martha Pym, who was of a more lively habit, got out her little governess cart and dashed away across the Essex flats.

She had taken minute directions with her, but she had soon lost her way.

Under the wintry sky, which looked as grey and hard as metal, the marshes stretched bleakly to the horizon, the olive-brown broken reeds were harsh as scars on the saffron-tinted bogs, where the sluggish waters that rose so high in winter were filmed over with the first stillness of a frost; the air was cold but not keen, everything was damp; faintest of mists blurred the black outlines of trees that rose stark from the ridges above the stagnant dykes; the flooded fields were haunted by black birds and white birds, gulls and crows, whining above the long ditch grass and wintry wastes.

Miss Pym stopped the little horse and surveyed this spectral scene, which had a certain relish about it to one sure to return to a homely village, a cheerful house and good company.

A withered and bleached old man, in color like the dun landscape, came along the road between the sparse alders.

Miss Pym, buttoning up her coat, asked the way to “Hartley” as he passed her; he told her, straight on, and she proceeded, straight indeed across the road that went with undeviating length across the marshes.

“Of course,” thought Miss Pym, “if you live in a place like this, you are bound to invent ghosts.”

***

“The Crown Derby Plate” was first published in 1931 in Grace Latouche and the Warringtons.

Read the entire story online, here:

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0607711h.html

“The Ghost in the Mill”—An Oldtown Fireside Story by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1872

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“Come, Sam, tell us a story,” said I, as Harry and I crept to his knees, in the glow of the bright evening firelight; while Aunt Lois was busily rattling the tea-things, and grandmamma, at the other end of the fireplace, was quietly setting the heel of a blue-mixed yarn stocking.

In those days we had no magazines and daily papers, each reeling off a serial story. Once a week, “The Columbian Sentinel” came from Boston with its slender stock of news and editorial; but all the multiform devices—pictorial, narrative, and poetical—which keep the mind of the present generation ablaze with excitement, had not then even an existence. There was no theatre, no opera; there were in Oldtown no parties or balls, except, perhaps, the annual election, or Thanksgiving festival; and when winter came, and the sun went down at half-past four o’clock, and left the long, dark hours of evening to be provided for, the necessity of amusement became urgent. Hence, in those days, chimney-corner story-telling became an art and an accomplishment. Society then was full of traditions and narratives which had all the uncertain glow and shifting mystery of the firelit hearth upon them. They were told to sympathetic audiences, by the rising and falling light of the solemn embers, with the hearth-crickets filling up every pause. Then the aged told their stories to the young,—tales of early life; tales of war and adventure, of forest-days, of Indian captivities and escapes, of bears and wild-cats and panthers, of rattlesnakes, of witches and wizards, and strange and wonderful dreams and appearances and providences.

In those days of early Massachusetts, faith and credence were in the very air. Two-thirds of New England was then dark, unbroken forests, through whose tangled paths the mysterious winter wind groaned and shrieked and howled with weird noises and unaccountable clamors. Along the iron-bound shore, the stormful Atlantic raved and thundered, and dashed its moaning waters, as if to deaden and deafen any voice that might tell of the settled life of the old civilized world, and shut us forever into the wilderness. A good story-teller, in those days, was always sure of a warm seat at the hearthstone, and the delighted homage of children; and in all Oldtown there was no better story-teller than Sam Lawson.

“Do, do, tell us a story,” said Harry, pressing upon him, and opening very wide blue eyes, in which undoubting faith shone as in a mirror; “and let it be something strange, and different from common.”

“Wal, I know lots o’ strange things,” said Sam, looking mysteriously into the fire.

“Why, I know things, that ef I should tell,—why, people might say they wa’n’t so; but then they is so for all that.”

“Oh, do, do, tell us!”

“Why, I should scare ye to death, mebbe,” said Sam doubtingly.

“Oh, pooh! no, you wouldn’t,” we both burst out at once.

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But Sam was possessed by a reticent spirit, and loved dearly to be wooed and importuned; and do he only took up the great kitchen-tongs, and smote on the hickory forestick, when it flew apart in the middle, and scattered a shower of clear bright coals all over the hearth.
“Mercy on us, Sam Lawson!” said Aunt Lois in an indignant voice, spinning round from her dishwashing.

“Don’t you worry a grain, Miss Lois,” said Sam composedly. “I see that are stick was e’en a’most in two, and I thought I’d jest settle it. I’ll sweep up the coals now,” he added, vigorously applying a turkey-wing to the purpose, as he knelt on the hearth, his spare, lean figure glowing in the blaze of the firelight, and getting quite flushed with exertion.

“There, now!” he said, when he had brushed over and under and between the fire-irons, and pursued the retreating ashes so far into the red, fiery citadel, that his finger-ends were burning and tingling, “that are’s done now as well as Hepsy herself could ‘a’ done it. I allers sweeps up the haarth: I think it’s part o’ the man’s bisness when he makes the fire. But Hepsy’s so used to seein’ me a-doin’ on’t, that she don’t see no kind o’ merit in’t. It’s just as Parson Lothrop said in his sermon,—folks allers overlook their common marcies”—

“But come, Sam, that story,” said Harry and I coaxingly, pressing upon him, and pulling him down into his seat in the corner.

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A Homosexual, a Pioneer, a Human rights Activist, & a Fiery Freedom Fighter—Hung by the Crown for Treason: Meet Sir Robert Casement

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Untold story of one of the most horrifying crimes of the twentieth century.

In September 1910, the human rights activist and anti-imperialist Roger Casement arrived in the Amazon to investigate reports of widespread human rights abuses in the vast forests stretching along the Putumayo river. There, the Peruvian entrepreneur Julio César Arana ran an area the size of Belgium as his own private fiefdom; his British registered company operated a systematic programme of torture, exploitation and murder.

Fresh from documenting the scarcely imaginable atrocities perpetrated by King Leopold in the Congo, Casement was confronted with an all too recognisable scenario. He uncovered an appalling catalogue of abuse: nearly 30,000 Indians had died to produce four thousand tonnes of rubber.

From the Peruvian rainforests to the City of London, Jordan Goodman, in The Devil and Mr. Casement, recounts a crime against humanity that history has almost forgotten, but whose exposure in 1912 sent shockwaves around the world. Drawing on a wealth of original research, The Devil and Mr Casement is a story of colonial exploitation and corporate greed with enormous contemporary political resonance.

Reviews

“Meticulously researched … A riveting, if harrowing, narrative which, in its treatment of corporate greed and exploitation, is full of contemporary resonance. A rich, moving, important book.” – Independent on Sunday

Above, clockwise: Casement in his 50s, he would be executed shortly; walking out of court after his appeal had been denied; Casement’s funeral in Ireland.

The New Yorker:

In 1910, the British government asked Roger Casement, a consular official, to investigate reports that a British-registered rubber-trading company was exploiting Barbadian workers in the Amazon. Intrepid and resourceful, Casement gathered testimonies about the armed extortion and debt bondage that supported the rubber trade. Back in London, he championed the rights of the Barbadian migrants as well as those of the indigenous Indians, tens of thousands of whom had died harvesting wild rubber for their masters. Casement was knighted for his efforts. But the adulation did not last. An Irish nationalist, he eventually left the consular services and devoted himself to organizing and arming the Irish Volunteers. In 1916, he was arrested and hanged for treason. With vivid touches of imagination and humor, Goodman captures the drama and paradox of Casement’s varied life. ♦

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In 1910, the British government asked Roger Casement, a consular official, to investigate reports that a British-registered rubber-trading company was exploiting Barbadian workers in the Amazon. Intrepid and resourceful, Casement gathered testimonies about the armed extortion and debt bondage that supported the rubber trade. Back in London, he championed the rights of the Barbadian migrants as well as those of the indigenous Indians, tens of thousands of whom had died harvesting wild rubber for their masters. Casement was knighted for his efforts. But the adulation did not last. An Irish nationalist, he eventually left the consular services and devoted himself to organizing and arming the Irish Volunteers. In 1916, he was arrested and hanged for treason. With vivid touches of imagination and humor, Goodman captures the drama and paradox of Casement’s varied life. ♦

Further Reading

https://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/casement.htm

http://www.easter1916.ie/index.php/people/a-z/roger-casement/

https://www.planetromeo.com/en/blog/gay-history-sir-roger-casement/

https://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/the-life-and-death-of-roger-casement

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/28/roger-casement-gay-irish-martyr-or-victim-of-a-british-forgery

https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/roger-casement-easter-rising-executed

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n17/colm-toibin/a-man-of-no-mind

https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/11/roger-casement-the-gay-irish-humanitarian-who-was-hanged-on-a-comma

Click thumbnails to enlarge images:

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Link to The Devil and Mr. Casement