The Call Of Cthulhu: TCL #47 Part 2 The Tale of Inspector Legrasse…

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”
“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

The above is from the second part of Call of Cthulhu, Lovecraft’s most well-known work, and one of his best. I’m not going to make any bones out of this, Call of Cthulhu is something of a masterpiece as far as Lovecraft’s stories go. It’s a sea change in his stories, moving from smaller personal tales to a wider perspective. This is a tale of events that span years, aeons in some respects, and are global in scope. It doesn’t tell of horrific events in one location happening to a single narrator. Instead, it instils a sense of dark wonder, at a horror that encompasses all human and the world. Importantly, however, tries to do so in such a way that the reader’s disbelief can be utterly suspended, and make them envision that menacing darkness that lays beyond this pool of light we call the rational world…  Which is a neat trick, if a writer can pull it off.

The Tale of Inspector Legrasse…

This part of the tale explains why the erstwhile Professor Angell was so interested in the bas-relief that gave the first part of the story, ‘The Horror In Clay’ it name. As opposed to dismissing the sculptor of the foul piece of art as a madman for his talk strange haunting dreams and driving urge to create the image of the being we know of as Cthulhu… the simplest explanation of which is, it was not the first time the professor had come across such a figure. The first time was some seventeen years prior at a meeting of the American Archaeological Society when an inspector of the New Orleans police came before the gathered alumni of that organisation bearing an ancient statue of an unfortunate province…

cthulhu-statuette-3d-model-obj-fbx-stl-mtl-3b

That statue, perhaps unsurprisingly, is one of the most popular Lovecraft collectable’s, or at least the several hundred different versions of it that have been created over the last few decades by various artists. Which is a wonderfully odd fact when you think about it. The Statue in the story had been in the possession of an ancient cult practising foul rites in the worship of the great old one represented in this strange piece of cunningly carved soapstone. Now representations of this fictional statue of a fictional god-like being reside on mantle pieces and in display cabinets around the world. The fictional cult of Cthulhu has far and away been surpassed by the cult the fiction created…

Whats that old chestnut about the power of belief shaping the gods, and the power of gods stemming from belief… In moments of whimsy, it is a strangely worrying thought that so many Cthulhu ‘worshipers’ look up at the craven image of the one who awaits the stars being right…

But idle speculation of the nature of belief on one side lets get back to the story. Inspector Legrasse tells the assembled great and good of American archaeology how he came by the statue, in the depths of the swamps below New Orleans, breaking up a strange ritual gathering where ten people were murdered to be the beat of tom-tom drums. A tale dark enough in the telling but what adds to its credence are the observations of Professor Webb one of Angell colleagues who came across a similar cult in Greenland years before, also practising dark rites. One which chanted in a strange dead language the words…

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

Words which he could not translate at the time. Legrasse, however, heard that same chant in the swampland of Louisiana and managed to ‘persuade’ one of the members of the cult he arrested to translate it as much as it could be into English…

“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

So now we have events in New England, Greenland and Louisiana swamps all tied to this strange image. But more than this as the narrator begins to investigate his uncle’s papers and beyond. He also begins to suspect that his uncle’s death was not entirely as innocent as it first appeared. Was his uncle killed by this strange cult that seems to have tendrils everywhere? What secrets lay behind all this…

It is the secrets that lay behind it all that really make this tale what it is, and it is this second part that the reader really starts to get a greater view of it all. Its disjointed in places, and suffers the fate of any tale that tries to encompass something so huge in scale so quickly. The further the narrator’s story goes into his own journey, the more he discovers, the more profound the mystery… the more horrifying the possibilities… It would be an easy thing to fail in this story, yet it doesn’t, all it does is draw you further in. A certain level of awe is inspired along the way.

I’m not going to talk much more about it, or all the lays upon lays of story here. Because at the end of the day I would not wish to spoil this tale for anyone who has not read it. But this is myth building at its finest, the growth of the mythos and the darker history of the world before humanities rise feels real, for all it is just a story, which is the real trick here, this is not just a suggestion of a time before human histories narrow scope but something darker and more fleshed out than in any earlier tale by old tentacle hugger…

The middle third of a tale is normally a tough cookie, but this builds on the first and sets up the third masterfully. So another five tentacles reaching out of the depths of the ocean… which is where we will be going next come to think of it…

5out 6

Further Lovecraftian witterings as ever can be found here

The first part of this three-part post is here …

Next, the final part, ‘The Madness from the Sea...’

Until then I am off to move my statue to a more respectful part of the mantle place because you never know…

“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”

 

This entry was posted in amreading, cthulhu, goodreads, Lovecraft, mythos, Nyarlathotep, opinion, rites, sci-fi and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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