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The shunned house (1937)

af H. P. Lovecraft

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Why did the inhabitants of an old, abandoned house all suffer sickness and death? A doctor attempts to find out.
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Viser 1-5 af 15 (næste | vis alle)
Folks, it actually took me a year to read this story. I kept falling asleep during the opening exposition, which is extra sad because it's such a clear look to Poe. (Even name checks him.) However, once I got past the first three sections of exposition, this one turned out to be a gem in the last two. Is it vampires? Is it werewolves? No, of course not! It's the elbow of an elder god! Also, the protag makes himself a freaking ray gun. How cool is that? ( )
  amyotheramy | May 11, 2021 |
I'd never read anything by Lovecraft before, and didn't know what to expect. Perhaps this one wasn't the best place to begin, as it starts out with an incredible amount of background information and takes a really long time for the action to kick in. Once it got going, I very much enjoyed it, though I almost gave up halfway through because I found the first part to be tedious. As someone who knows nothing about Lovecraft or horror, I'd say it wasn't bad considering it's free on Kindle. ( )
  greggmaxwellparker | Apr 15, 2021 |
In my weird and horror reading, H.P. Lovecraft is a cosmic black hole, conspicuous by his absence. True – I had read, a decade and a half back, an anthology of his short stories expertly curated by S.T.Joshi. I must admit, however, that I was not particularly impressed by Lovecraft’s overly dramatic and prolix style, sometimes bordering on self-parody. I have, since then, given his works a wide berth.

Lately, however, I’ve been tempted to once again dip into Lovecraft’s dark and hostile universe. Possibly the latest cataclysmic and post-apocalyptic news reports had a hand in this. I opted to start with the novelette “The Shunned House”, which I downloaded off the Gutenberg Project website.

“The Shunned House” is a relatively early work, having been written in 1924. It was also close to being the first published book by Lovecraft, with approximately 250 copies printed by W. Paul Cook for Recluse Press. As it happened, the book was never issued, and the work was published posthumously in the October 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

The story is interesting because whilst clearly indebted to the Gothic tradition, it also has some idiosyncratic elements which distinguish it as a Lovecraftian work. The plot is quite similar to many other “haunted house” tales, with some reliance on tropes of the genre and, more limitedly, reference to elements of vampire literature. The “shunned house” of the title has long lain untenanted and abandoned in a street of Providence, Rhode Island. Local legends associate it with a string of mysterious sicknesses and deaths by “wasting away”. The narrator who, as a boy, used to roam its fetid and dark rooms for a dare, develops an obsessions with the place and his history, one that he shares with his uncle, Dr Elihu Whipple “a sane, conservative physician of the old school…a bachelor, a white-haired, clean-shaven, old-fashioned gentleman, and a local historian of note”. The narrator’s research points to something horrible buried under the floor of the house’s cellar, which is infested with repellent “fungi, grotesquely like the vegetation in the yard outside…truly horrible in their outlines; detestable parodies of toadstools and Indian pipes”. With a view to exorcising the terrible presence in the house, the narrator and his uncle spend a night in the cellar. This is, of course, always a rash course of action in a horror story, and the nocturnal sojourn, unsurprisingly, leads to a terrifying denouement.

Lovecraft’s story is a tribute to the conventional “haunted house” tale, especially in its eerie descriptions and scary backstory. There are also several nods to the Gothic genre, not least the literary conceit that this story is a realistic account of an actual occurrence involving research of existing documentation. The concept of a present cursed by the sins of the past is also quite typical of the American Gothic.

What I found particularly interesting about this story is its “scientific”, materialistic approach. Although black magic and dubious rituals seem to have given rise to the entity haunting the house, the narrator and his uncle plan to battle it not through spiritual/supernatural means but with a contraption which shoots “ether radiation” and, should that not work, two World War I flame-throwers. Eventually, it is six carboys of acid which will put the house to rest. It is also significant that the “monster” is not a ghost in the traditional sense of the word, but a being much more physical and, in some ways, more horrible.

Of course, this idea of old monsters haunting the present would loom large in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories and, in this regard, “The Shunned House” acquires particular significance. The prose also points to Lovecraft’s mature style, with its preponderance of ornate, baroque descriptions replete with adjectives and adverbs. I guess I can live with that in limited doses.

https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-shunned-house-by-hp-lovecraft.htm... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
In my weird and horror reading, H.P. Lovecraft is a cosmic black hole, conspicuous by his absence. True – I had read, a decade and a half back, an anthology of his short stories expertly curated by S.T.Joshi. I must admit, however, that I was not particularly impressed by Lovecraft’s overly dramatic and prolix style, sometimes bordering on self-parody. I have, since then, given his works a wide berth.

Lately, however, I’ve been tempted to once again dip into Lovecraft’s dark and hostile universe. Possibly the latest cataclysmic and post-apocalyptic news reports had a hand in this. I opted to start with the novelette “The Shunned House”, which I downloaded off the Gutenberg Project website.

“The Shunned House” is a relatively early work, having been written in 1924. It was also close to being the first published book by Lovecraft, with approximately 250 copies printed by W. Paul Cook for Recluse Press. As it happened, the book was never issued, and the work was published posthumously in the October 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

The story is interesting because whilst clearly indebted to the Gothic tradition, it also has some idiosyncratic elements which distinguish it as a Lovecraftian work. The plot is quite similar to many other “haunted house” tales, with some reliance on tropes of the genre and, more limitedly, reference to elements of vampire literature. The “shunned house” of the title has long lain untenanted and abandoned in a street of Providence, Rhode Island. Local legends associate it with a string of mysterious sicknesses and deaths by “wasting away”. The narrator who, as a boy, used to roam its fetid and dark rooms for a dare, develops an obsessions with the place and his history, one that he shares with his uncle, Dr Elihu Whipple “a sane, conservative physician of the old school…a bachelor, a white-haired, clean-shaven, old-fashioned gentleman, and a local historian of note”. The narrator’s research points to something horrible buried under the floor of the house’s cellar, which is infested with repellent “fungi, grotesquely like the vegetation in the yard outside…truly horrible in their outlines; detestable parodies of toadstools and Indian pipes”. With a view to exorcising the terrible presence in the house, the narrator and his uncle spend a night in the cellar. This is, of course, always a rash course of action in a horror story, and the nocturnal sojourn, unsurprisingly, leads to a terrifying denouement.

Lovecraft’s story is a tribute to the conventional “haunted house” tale, especially in its eerie descriptions and scary backstory. There are also several nods to the Gothic genre, not least the literary conceit that this story is a realistic account of an actual occurrence involving research of existing documentation. The concept of a present cursed by the sins of the past is also quite typical of the American Gothic.

What I found particularly interesting about this story is its “scientific”, materialistic approach. Although black magic and dubious rituals seem to have given rise to the entity haunting the house, the narrator and his uncle plan to battle it not through spiritual/supernatural means but with a contraption which shoots “ether radiation” and, should that not work, two World War I flame-throwers. Eventually, it is six carboys of acid which will put the house to rest. It is also significant that the “monster” is not a ghost in the traditional sense of the word, but a being much more physical and, in some ways, more horrible.

Of course, this idea of old monsters haunting the present would loom large in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories and, in this regard, “The Shunned House” acquires particular significance. The prose also points to Lovecraft’s mature style, with its preponderance of ornate, baroque descriptions replete with adjectives and adverbs. I guess I can live with that in limited doses.

https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-shunned-house-by-hp-lovecraft.htm... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
This was a great short story that I loved from beginning to end. A perfect way to start off anyone's Halloween reading.

We follow a narrator from the 1915s who begins to tell of his and his uncle's obsession with an abandoned house located in Providence, Rhode Island. The narrator and his uncle become intrigued with the house because they are starting to realize a pattern of deaths associated with the house.

Though the story is quite slow to start, one realizes that our narrator is almost afraid to remember what happened with the 'shunned house'. We jump forward and backward at times in the same paragraph. You realize with a growing sense of dread that something awful has happened to the narrator and that he is forcing himself to reveal it to his audience.

When the narrator starts to describe the former inhabitants of the house is where things start to get interesting.

Of course as readers we know that something is off about the house. But reading how the narrator and his uncle investigated all of the former owners and figured out what was done to cause such a black cloud to hang over the house, especially the basement was really great.

The way that Lovecraft describes the house and the sounds and smell of it when the narrator and his uncle entered it would have had me hot footing it out of there with the quickness.

The writing at times I think may frustrate some readers. Maybe because you just want the narrator to tell the story to you straight. As I said, sometimes within a single paragraph he would allude to something and then back off on it, then go back and allude to it again. It can be a bit maddening while reading.

The flow after the first couple of pages was really good. The first few pages I thought were okay and basic. But once you get into who lived at the house was when the book starts moving at a brisk pace that doesn't let up until the end.

The setting of "The Shunned House" was perfectly done. I felt like I have been in a house like this when I was a kid. I swear every person has a house that feels off like this in their neighborhood growing up. You just feel evil/hostility emanating from the thing.

The ending of the story was a bit anti-climatic. I don't want to spoil for anyone else. But I was hoping for something bigger than a kind of bow on top of it resolution that didn't really fit with the rest of the story.

That said, I still loved this story. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
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