The Descendent: The Complete Lovecraftian #45

One of the problems with a writer dying young, apart from the whole dying thing which let’s face it probably puts a bit of a crimp in your day, is what happens to your legacy after you die.  By legacy, I am talking specifically here about all those scraps and scrawls of half-finished works which are crammed into draws and dusty box files around your study. Because a young writer, the young in general, never really consider the possibility of departing this mortal plain…

Well okay, yes they do, quite often in fact, it’s the subject of a vast raft of youth culture, and sub-cultures, it’s one of the reasons black eyeliner is always popular among youths of a certain mindset… But unless you actively contemplating taking the exit ramp, are ill in the terminal kind of way or find yourself shipped off to a war zone, most of us under fifty never really contemplate the idea of actually just dying…

Why and I talking about this, well its because personally, as a writer myself, I wouldn’t want the unfinished products of my fevered mind to survive me, because they were unfinished, quite often they are unfinished for a reason. I have hard drives full of unfinished novels and scraps of this that and the other, half-baked idea’s, random thoughts which amounted to nothing, little side alleys of description which never led out to the main road. But just because I have never really considered what would happen to it when I die, and because I suspect there would be little interest in it anyway, I have never really put any thought into what to do with it. Though as its all up on my cloud, it will probably just dissipate away when someone stops paying the bill. I suspect I won’t need to have the hard drives run over by a tractor to avoid anyone releasing my half-written works, unlike Terry Pratchett who had his hard drives destroyed publicly in this way after his death.

In the case of H.P.Lovecraft, who died young as well know, his old box files and folders were raided by those who wished to preserve his legacy and let’s be honest here, make money off it, for every scrap and half written extract they could scrape together into something printable. If this was in line with Lovecraft’s wishes, we will never know. Certainly, he gifted his papers away, but if he intended these small abstracts to find print is somewhat questionable.

As for my own view on them, well for a start Azathoth is one such abstract, which I gave a solitary tentacle as it is just 500 words of something which was intended to be much more, than lay abandoned for years until Lovecraft died. I don’t consider it worth reading because it was never intended to be read by the author. And this is not in an ‘it was the last thing he was writing when he died,‘ unfinished work. Azathoth is just a scrap of an idea, which may have become his greatest work later in life had he lived, but it was a long forgotten scrap he had not gone back to, and probably never intended to. So I don’t feel they have much business been out in the world.

The Descendant‘ then is another Azathoth, all be it a longer extract. (three times longer at 1500 words) It is still only an extract, a possible idea, a fragment of a narrative that will never be complete. Written a good ten years before he died… So I think it is safe to assume he never intended to return to it. He may have reused some ideas from it, ideas we can’t see because wherever he was going with this narrative, we have no incline. But at a guess, he went there in a later tale, if his idea was worth pursuing because nothing lays fallow in a writers mind for ten years without being used.

It’s a shame we don’t know more as its an interesting fragment, and as a Yorkshireman myself I would have been interested to see where Lovecraft went with this tale of a noble house of my homeland, certainly, the little extract below is enticing, (right up to the word tittered, tittered, no Yorkshireman ever tittered, I mean really, tittered….)

 Lord Northam, of whose ancient hereditary castle on the Yorkshire coast so many odd things were told; but when Williams tried to talk of the castle, and of its reputed Roman origin, he refused to admit that there was anything unusual about it. He even tittered shrilly when the subject of the supposed under crypts, hewn out of the solid crag that frowns on the North Sea, was brought up.

 

 

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Scarbrough castle on the Yorkshire coast… (which is not very Lovecraftian, but quite nice and has a gift shop…) 

 

But that just it, its interesting in a vague kind of way, but its interesting to me as a writer, not to me as a reader. It’s a scrap of unpolished prose, even if you ignore ‘tittered’, Lovecraft would have polished this within an inch of its life before he published it, and I suspect ‘tittered shrilly’ would be one of the first things to go as it just sounds wrong. But hey, we will never know. Which is kind of my point, why would Lovecraft want anyone to read a scrap of a first draft that was never fully realised?

So, to sum up, ‘The Descendant’ is of interest to only completists who want to read those small and incomplete twigs that reach out to Lovecraft’s greater mythology (there are a couple tiny things that you could argue do that but its really not worth the bother for a vague mention of someone looking for a nameless city in Araby…), those who write themselves in an abstract academic kind of way and, well that about it. What is isn’t of any real interest to, is to readers and in my opinion, it probably should never have been published at all. I suspect you can guess how many tentacles it gets… and I am been generous…

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Next up.. Cool Air, a frigid little tale of undying interest…

Further Lovecraftian witterings as ever can be found here

 

This entry was posted in amreading, book reviews, cthulhu, goodreads, Goth, horror, Lovecraft, mythos, Nyarlathotep, opinion, reads and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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