Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: The Hound by H.P. Lovecraft

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories:
by Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Penguin Classics (1999), Paperback, 448 pages

‘Madness rides the star-wind …
claws and teeth sharpened on centuries of corpses …
dripping death astride a Bacchanale of bats from night-black ruins of buried temples of Belial.’ (p.88)

The Hound was written by H.P. Lovecraft in 1922.
This short story has been influenced by many important books: A Rebours by Joris-Karl Huysmans; Vathek by William Beckford; and Edgar Allan Poe.

The narrator and his friend St.John are interested in robbing graves. They have set up a museum in their basement: headstones, skulls, a portfolio bound in tanned human skin.
One day the narrator and his friend learn about a cemetery in Holland where a former grave robber has been buried, several centuries before.
Reaching the cemetery they notice a barking giant hound. Both start digging finding a coffin, inside the coffin they are surprised to find a corpse still intact. Hanging from the corpse’s neck there is a jade amulet: it is one mentioned in the forbidden book Necronomicon.
‘Necronomicon … the ghastly soul-symbol of the corpse-eating cult of inaccessible Teng, in Central Asia.’ (p.84)
They return home and strange sounds (the hound?) can be heard in their house.
St.John is killed by an unknown creature.
The narrator wants to stop the curse and return to the Holland cemetery, discovering … the amulet is hanging from the neck of the former grave robber.

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