i-299384c4bb1d12e109d79f8b211fa469-Drabblecast 175- The Outsider by HP Lovecraft.jpgWhen was the last time you read H.P. Lovecraft’s 1921 story “The Outsider“? Have you ever? Let me tell you, it’s a rare dark pleasure.

Written when Lovecraft was 31, the story is one of the high points of his early work when the influences of Poe and Dunsany were still strongly in evidence. It is made particularly interesting by the autobiographical sub-text under the overt horrific surface. Lovecraft was a lonely child, brought up by elderly relatives and reading voraciously in his grandfather’s library of 18th and early-19th century books. After years of solitary introspection, he then broke out of his shell and saw moonlight, as it were, when the amateur press (the fanzine or blog culture of the 1910s) put him into contact with like-minded people. Part of the enduring appeal of “The Outsider” is that it is at heart a story about growing up, recognising that you are different, an outsider – and then finding your community of outsiders. “Now I ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-wind, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile.”

Earlier this summer, Norm Sherman of the Drabblecast podcast tweeted an invitation to suggest Lovecraft stories for audio production. I suggested “The Outsider”, and I got my wish! For a beautifully Gothic reading and production of the story by the multi-talented Mr. Sherman, hie thee to the Drabblecast. I for one just set up a monthly donation from the Paypal account where my ScienceBlogs earnings reside.

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Comments

  1. #1 Celegorm
    August 16, 2010

    I suppose you have heard the swedish compilation “Skräckens labyrinter” read by Ernst-Hugo Järegård. It is wonderful.

  2. #2 Martin R
    August 16, 2010

    Ah yes, a classic. I’ve got the mp3s somewhere. I particularly like the bits where he shouts the text insanely and makes slobbering noises.

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    August 17, 2010

    Lovecraft belonged to what Brian Aldiss´ calls “the Dreaming Pole” of speculative fiction, while “hard” SF by authors like A. C. Clarke belongs to the “the Thinking Pole”.
    It explains the paradax that while Lovecraft was a bad author, he was also a very good one. Despite the poor dialogue, logical loopholes in the plot and shallow characterization of the protagonists, there remains a genuine vision of otherworldly horror that even Stephen King cannot take for granted (if you do not like this kind of stories, there is no point in trying to explain).
    The analogue feeling in SF might be the “sense of wonder” of a really good SF story/novel.

    Another thing; on the matter of “outsider” stories, nothing can beat John Gardner´s “Grendel” http://www.amazon.com/Grendel-John-Gardner/dp/0679723110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282051504&sr=1-1

  4. #4 KennyG
    August 17, 2010

    I read on wikipedia that The Outsider can be interpreted as a mockery of the concept of an afterlife:

    This story can be seen as an allegory for Lovecraft’s own belief that an afterlife was absurd and unbelievable. Each facet of the plot serves to prove this disbelief. The narrator in the story lives delusionally in his own crypt. When he comes out, hoping to finally see the light, he is completely disappointed with what he finds. This notion parallels Lovecraft’s belief that anyone who believes in seeing the “light” of the afterlife will further be disappointed.

  5. #5 Martin R
    August 18, 2010

    Yeah, that’s also implicit in the story. But note that the story starts when the protagonist leaves his crypt-centric afterlife and returns to the real world.

  6. #6 Will Hart
    August 21, 2010

    Great 120th Birthday Presents to/from H. P. Lovecraft!

    Happy 120th. Birthday H.P.L.!

    Freebies released in celebration of H. P. Lovecraft’s 120th. birthday on 20-August-2010, and to stir up excitement for the possible making of the Universal Studios 3D version of “At the Mountains of Madness” by Guillermo del Toro and James Cameron; and as a celebration by Will Hart of the 20th. anniversary of his being at Lovecraft’s grave-side on his 100th. birthday.

    Released during the last few hours in MP3 Format on:
    http://cthulhuwho1.com
    (The audio companion to the CthulhuWho1 Flickr collections.)

    “Fungi from Yuggoth”
    H. P. Lovecraft’s complete 36 sonnet set; in an all-new recording by William (Will) Hart; in single file, and multiple file versions. A dark poetry reading if there ever was one…

    “What If H. P. Lovecraft Had Lived Into The 1960′s?”
    A 163 minute panel recording in six parts, of Professor Dirk W. Mosig, Professor Donald R. Burleson, J. Vernon Shea, Fritz Leiber, Jr., and S.T. Joshi at the 36th World Science Fiction Convention in Phoenix in 1978. A must-have for Lovecraftians!

    Plus, behind the scenes recordings including a live reading by Don Burleson of his darkly funny, “The Last Supper.”

    And more audio goodies too!

    And there are now over 1200 Lovecraft, Cthulhu, and Providence related images for the taking at the CthulhuWho1 Flickr page at:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cthulhuwho1/collections/
    (The image companion site to the http://cthulhuwho1.com audio site.)

    All of the above items (and more to come) were created in honor of H. P. Lovecraft; but since he’s not here with us, it’s up to you, and everyone you can share them with to enjoy them!

    Will Hart
    aka CthulhuWho1
    aka California Cthulhu
    willhart-at-roadrunner-dot-com

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