Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Read 221 weird and fascinating ideas H.P. Lovecraft kept in his Commonplace Book

Over on Wired.com Bruce Sterling left H.P. Lovecraft fans a very nice little July 4 gift yesterday. He posted Lovecraft's commonplace book, a collection of thoughts and ideas that Lovecraft jotted down as he was thinking up all his weird fiction ideas:
This book consists of ideas, images, & quotations hastily jotted down for possible future use in weird fiction. Very few are actually developed plots—for the most part they are merely suggestions or random impressions designed to set the memory or imagination working. Their sources are various—dreams, things read, casual incidents, idle conceptions, & so on.
—H. P. Lovecraft
Presented to R. H. Barlow, Esq., on May 7, 1934—in exchange for an admirably neat typed copy from his skilled hand.
There are 221 entries that span more than a dozen years, things like:

11 Odd nocturnal ritual. Beasts dance and march to musick 
17 Doors found mysteriously open and shut etc.—excite terror.
23 The man who would not sleep—dares not sleep—takes drugs to keep himself awake. Finally falls asleep—and something happens. Motto from Baudelaire p. 214. [Hypnos]
27 Life and Death
Death—its desolation and horror—bleak spaces—sea-bottom—dead cities. But Life—the greater horror! Vast unheard-of reptiles and leviathans—hideous beasts of prehistoric jungle—rank slimy vegetation—evil instincts of primal man—Life is more horrible than death.
55 Man followed by invisible thing.
80 Shapeless living thing forming nucleus of ancient building.
125 Man abandon’d by ship—swimming in sea—pickt up hours later with strange story of undersea region he has visited—mad??
162 Ultimate horror—grandfather returns from strange trip—mystery in house—wind and darkness—grandf. and mother engulfed—questions forbidden—somnolence—investigation—cataclysm—screams overheard—
212 Strange human being (or beings) living in some ancient house or ruins far from populous district (either old N.E. or far exotic land). Suspicion (based on shape and habits) that it is not all human.
221 Insects or other entities from space attack and penetrate a man’s head and cause him to remember alien and exotic things—possible displacement of personality.

Read them all here.


  1. I've a complete copy of Lovecraft's Commonplace Book here, and have been meaning to write stories based on *all* of them--or, at least, those which he himself or someone else didn't tackle, like 221, for instance, which was clearly the basis for Ramsey Campbell's "The Insects from Shaggai."

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