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: 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=

Printer’s Devil Court—A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, 2014 (Cover + Excerpt + Link)

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Tonight’s Read: A ghost story/novella by the author of The Woman in Black: Susan Hill. It’s only $2.56 right now on Amazon for Kindle. (Link below).

Hill is a writer with some serious chops.

Here’s Part One (Note: the first panel is a letter that ends with the title of a book. The second panel is missing the header The Book—as what follows on the remaining panels is excerpted from Dr Hugh Meredith’s book.):

About the Author

Susan Hill, CBE (1942- ) is the winner of numerous literary prizes including the Somerset Maugham award for her novel I’m the King of the Castle (1971). She is the author of the Simon Serrailler crime/mystery series and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. Hill has written two literary/reading memoirs: Howards End is on the Landing, and Jacob’s Room Is Full of Books; and she is well known for her ghost-story novellas and novels: Dolly, The Man In The Picture, The Small Hand, The Man in the Mist, Printer’s Devil Court, Ms DeWinter (a sequel to Dumaurier’s Rebecca), and her most famous book, The Woman in Black—which was made into a 2012 feature film starring Daniel Radcliffe. (A play based on The Woman in Black has been running continuously in London’s West End for more than 20 years.) In 2012, Hill was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her service to literature.

Other Books by Susan Hill

Buy the Book…

“The House of the Red Candle”—A Murder Mystery by Martin Edwards

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The House of the Red Candle

Martin Edwards

To the end of his days, Charles Dickens forbade all talk about the slaying of Thaddeus Whiteacre. The macabre features of the tragedy—murder by an invisible hand; the stabbing of a bound man in a room both locked and barred; the vanishing without trace of a beautiful young woman—were meat and drink to any imaginative mind. Wilkie Collins reflected more than once that he might have woven a triple-decker novel of sensation from the events of that dreadful night, but he knew that publication was impossible. Dickens would treat any attempt to fabricate fiction from the crime as a betrayal, an act of treachery he could never forgive.

Dickens said it himself: The case must never be solved.

His logic was impeccable; so was his generosity of heart. Even after Dickens’s death, Collins honoured his friend’s wishes and kept the secret safe. But he also kept notes, and enough time has passed to permit the truth to be revealed. Upon the jottings in Collins’s private records is based this account of the murder at the House of the Red Candle.

* * *

A crowded tavern on the corner of a Greenwich alleyway, a stone’s throw from the river. At the bar, voices were raised in argument about a wager on a prizefight and a group of potbellied draymen carolled a bawdy song about a mermaid and a bosun. The air was thick with smoke and the stale stench of beer. Separate from the throng, two men sat at a table in the corner, quenching their thirsts.

The elder, a middle-sized man in his late thirties, rocked back and forth on his stool, his whole being seemingly taut with tension, barely suppressed. His companion, bespectacled and with a bulging forehead, fiddled with his extravagant turquoise shirt pin while stealing glances at his companion. Once or twice he was about to speak, but something in the other’s demeanour caused him to hold his tongue. At length he could contain his curiosity no longer.

‘Tell me one thing, my dear fellow. Why here?’

Charles Dickens swung to face his friend, yet when he spoke, he sounded as cautious as a poker player with a troublesome hand of cards. ‘Is the Rope and Anchor not to your taste, then, Wilkie?’

‘Well, it’s hardly as comfortable as the Cock Tavern. Besides, it’s uncommon enough for our nightly roamings to take us south of the river, and you gave the impression of coming here with a purpose.’ He winced as a couple of drunken slatterns shrieked with mocking laughter. The object of their scorn was a woman with a scarred cheek who crouched anxiously by the door, as if yearning for the arrival of a friendly face. ‘And the company is hardly select! All this way on an evening thick with fog! Frankly, I expected you to have rather more pleasurable company in mind.’

‘My dear Wilkie,’ Dickens said, baring his teeth in a wicked smile. ‘Who is to say that I have not?’

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Beyond the First Draft: The Art of Fiction by John Casey—Preamble + Chapter 1: “Dogma and Anti-dogma” + Link…

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PREAMBLE

These essays aren’t the alpha and omega of good advice, but they aren’t the ABC’s either. Perhaps the first one is. “Dogma and Anti-dogma.” They contain some notions of my own and a lot of help from Aristotle to Zola.

Most of them were originally presented as “craft talks” at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference over the last twenty years or so. A few of them were answers to specific requests. I’ve edited and in some cases rewritten them.

I remember Stanley Elkin starting one of his Sewanee craft talks by saying, “It’s . . . hard . . . to talk about . . . art.” He said this very very slowly. He paused for a while. Because Stanley was a man of many humors, most of them humorous, a few prankish, some people thought that first sentence might be all he was going to say.

I’ll bet he was tempted. He certainly milked the pause.

Of course he went on. With that first sentence he wasn’t apologizing or asking for indulgence. He was just setting the bar high. And then sailing over it. Crouched in his wheelchair he gave a funny, grouchy, instructive talk.

It’s hard to talk about art—so we should all be nervous. It’s hard to talk about art—but I’ve been around the block.

That’s Stanley I’m channeling. I’m not so sure I’d put it like that. I’d rather say I’ve been into the woods a lot. Sometimes I found the trail. Sometimes I lost it. Sometimes I had to spend the night in a pile of dead leaves.

These essays are suggestions about things to do, things to think about, when your writing has got you lost in the woods.

CHAPTER ONE: DOGMA AND ANTI-DOGMA

The dogma isn’t meant to crush your first draft. Think of these venerable sayings as hints from Tarot cards or the I Ching.

A common thing people ask me about writing classes is “Can you teach someone to write?”

I have two answers.

The first is no . . . but if someone is talented to begin with, I can save her a lot of time.

The second answer is also no . . . I can’t teach someone to write, but I can sometimes teach someone to rewrite.

For a long time I taught the way I’d been taught. I’d been in classes taught by Peter Taylor, Kurt Vonnegut, Vance Bourjaily, José Donoso, and what they did—after you turned in a story—was to tell you what they thought you’d done. Basically they’d say, “Here is what all those marks on the pages meant to me.”

And then I could figure out if that’s what I’d wanted to do—or if there was now something else I could do that looked better.

This holding up the mirror is a good way to be helpful to a beginning writer. Writing a story or a novel is like finding your way around a strange room in the dark. When you get through the first draft you think the light will go on. But it often doesn’t. At first you need a reader you can trust to tell you what you’ve done . . . and that there is or isn’t hope for this particular effort.

I think this process is useful because the majority of good beginning writers are at first less in love with structure or pattern and more in love with the words in a foolish but sweet way.

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From The Ingoldsby Legends by Reverend Richard Barham with Art by Arthur Rackham (University of Glasgow Library)

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The Ingoldsby Legends is a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories, and poetry prportedly penned by “Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Manor”—a pen-name of English clergyman, Richard Harris Barham. Read more, here: The Ingoldsby Legends

More “Lovecraftiana”

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Unless otherwise noted, all artists are unknown (Source: Pinterest/tumblr).

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