Tuesday, July 12, 2011

HP Lovecraft's Commonplace Book: entries 1-40

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.

1 Demophon shivered when the sun shone upon him. (Lover of darkness = ignorance.)
2 Inhabitants of Zinge, over whom the star Canopus rises every night, are always gay and without sorrow. [x]
3 The shores of Attica respond in song to the waves of the Aegean. [x]
4 Horror Story
Man dreams of falling—found on floor mangled as tho’ from falling from a vast height. [x]
5 Narrator walks along unfamiliar country road,—comes to strange region of the unreal.
6 In Ld Dunsany’s “Idle Days on the Yann”
The inhabitants of the antient Astahan, on the Yann, do all things according to antient ceremony. Nothing new is found.
“Here we have fetter’d and manacled Time, who wou’d otherwise slay the Gods.” [x]

7 Horror Story
The sculptured hand—or other artificial hand—which strangles its creator. [x]
8 Hor. Sto.
Man makes appt. with old enemy. Dies—body keeps appt.
9 Dr. Eben Spencer plot. [x]
10 Dream of flying over city. [Celephaïs]
11 Odd nocturnal ritual. Beasts dance and march to musick. [x]
12 Happenings in interval between preliminary sound and striking of clock—ending—
“it was the tones of the clock striking three”. [x]
13 House and garden—old—associations. Scene takes on strange aspect.
14 Hideous sound in the dark.
15 Bridge and slimy black waters. [Fungi—The Canal]
16 The walking dead—seemingly alive, but—. [x]
17 Doors found mysteriously open and shut etc.—excite terror.
18 Calamander-wood—a very valuable cabinet wood of Ceylon and S. India, resembling rosewood.
19 Revise 1907 tale—painting of ultimate horror.
20 Man journeys into the past—or imaginative realm—leaving bodily shell behind.
21 A very ancient colossus in a very ancient desert. Face gone—no man hath seen it.
22 Mermaid Legend—Encyc. Britt. XVI—40.
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]
24 Dunsany—Go-By Street
Man stumbles on dream world—returns to earth—seeks to go back—succeeds, but finds dream world ancient and decayed as though by thousands of years.

25 Man visits museum of antiquities—asks that it accept a bas-relief he has just made—old and learned curator laughs and says he cannot accept anything so modern. Man says that
‘dreams are older than brooding Egypt or the contemplative Sphinx or garden-girdled Babylonia’
and that he had fashioned the sculpture in his dreams. Curator bids him shew his product, and when he does so curator shews horror. Asks who the man may be. He tells modern name. “No—before that” says curator. Man does not remember except in dreams. Then curator offers high price, but man fears he means to destroy sculpture. Asks fabulous price—curator will consult directors.
Add good development and describe nature of bas-relief. [Cthulhu]
26 Dream of ancient castle stairs—sleeping guards—narrow window—battle on plain between men of England and men of yellow tabards with red dragons. Leader of English challenges leader of foe to single combat. They fight. Foe unhelmeted, but there is no head revealed. Whole army of foe fades into mist, and watcher finds himself to be the English knight on the plain, mounted. Looks at castle, and sees a peculiar concentration of fantastic clouds over the highest battlements.
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.
28 The Cats of Ulthar
The cat is the soul of antique Ægyptus and bearer of tales from forgotten cities of Meroë and Ophir. He is the kin of the jungle’s lords, and heir to the secrets of hoary and sinister Africa. The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath forgotten.
29 Dream of Seekonk—ebbing tide—bolt from sky—exodus from Providence—fall of Congregational dome.
30 Strange visit to a place at night—moonlight—castle of great magnificence etc. Daylight shews either abandonment or unrecognisable ruins—perhaps of vast antiquity.
31 Prehistoric man preserved in Siberian ice. (See Winchell—Walks and Talks in the Geological field—p. 156 et seq.)
32 As dinosaurs were once surpassed by mammals, so will man-mammal be surpassed by insect or bird—fall of man before the new race. [x]
33 Determinism and prophecy. [x]
34 Moving away from earth more swiftly than light—past gradually unfolded—horrible revelation.
35 Special beings with special senses from remote universes. Advent of an external universe to view.
36 Disintegration of all matter to electrons and finally empty space assured, just as devolution of energy to radiant heat is known. Case of acceleration—man passes into space.
37 Peculiar odour of a book of childhood induces repetition of childhood fancy.
38 Drowning sensations—undersea—cities—ships—souls of the dead. Drowning is a horrible death.
39 Sounds—possibly musical—heard in the night from other worlds or realms of being.
40 Warning that certain ground is sacred or accursed; that a house or city must not be built upon it—or must be abandoned or destroyed if built, under penalty of catastrophe.


  1. Where do you think he was planning to go with #18? I'm imagining a horror-haunted IKEA...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...