Lovecraft for Christmas

The Festival   by H.P. Lovecraft (1925)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    December 2, 2014

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No one but Lovecraft could bring you to the dark and dreary yuletide of the season. Come to Kingsport, an old fishing town in Massachusetts. Willow trees. Graveyards. Crooked streets … “antiquity hovering on grey wings over winter-whitened gables and gambrel roofs; fanlights and small-paned windows one by one gleaming out in the cold dusk to join Orion and the archaic stars.” There are black gravestones in Kingsport that stick up “through the snow like the decayed fingernails of a gigantic corpse.”

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Not exactly glistening angels and the merry sparkles of Christmas trees. Charles Dickens’ gave us cranky old Scrooge on Christmas Eve, but Lovecraft brings us  into subterranean rituals. Are you ready for the opposite of merry, merry? Gloomy, gloomy. Our narrator tells us that four witches were hung in Kingsport in 1692. Lonely and far from home, he is looking for his relatives for the merry season. He finds his relative’s home on Green Street. A man answers the door, a man with a face like wax and eyes that do not move. Invited in, our narrator enters the house. No one speaks. All he can hear is the “whir of the wheel as the bonneted old woman continued her silent spinning, spinning” before the fireplace.

He participates in a procession through the streets to the Festival, led by voiceless guides to a church and yard. When he looks back, he finds there are no footprints in the snow of these night marchers … nor his own. What does this festival bring? And how does he survive it?

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imagesThe power of Lovecraft’s language here touches deeply into fear, not an emotion we associate with holiday time. Fear, loneliness, displaced from home can harbor its own madness. As Lovecraft tells us in Latin at the beginning of his story: Demons have the ability to cause people to see things that do not exist as if they did exist.

 

 

 

 

Creature Sketch Art by Jason Thompson: MockMan.com

 

Read the full text at H.P. Lovecraft.com

Listen to the audio version on YouTube with visuals. Turn out the lights and listen to this one!

Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjcM_sIDfUs Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62ICpQs9aac Part 2.

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5 Comments

Filed under Christmas stories, classic horror stories, demons, fiction, graveyards, horror, horror blogs, Lovecraft, occult, short stories, tales of terror

5 responses to “Lovecraft for Christmas

  1. Pingback: A Boy Named Claus: The Adventure | Paula Cappa

  2. I’ve not read anything by Lovecraft mainly because I am not a great lover of ghost/mysterious happenings kinds of stories. But I’m tempted to listen to this and maybe find my prejudices are misplaced.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Sean, yes, you make a good point about the star. The Festival is not well read, which is one of the reasons I wanted to feature it. It is somewhat of a nugget, though, for a truly dark Christmas story. Thank you for posting!

    Like

  4. In my view, this is one of Lovecraft’s better, if lesser known short stories. There is a clever reference to the star Aldebaran “that seemed to balance itself a moment on the ghostly spire”–I think this is a parody of the star of Bethlehem.

    Like

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