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Author Topic: Lovecraft's Library  (Read 14341 times)
starblazie
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« on: March 13, 2012, 05:26:22 PM »

I thought it would be interesting to start a thread on the items read by Lovecraft.  He was known to have been a voracious reader of varied subjects and he most certainly read Enstein's Theory of Relativity.

It is almost certain that he used "Queensland, Australia" by John Dunmore Lang for his story "Shadow out of Time."  (see thread on show #104)

I think I have sourced another book that he may have read and used for the story, "The Beast in the Cave."  I believe he may have used "A Guide Manual to the Mammoth Cave," by Charles W. Wright (1860).  It contains relevant passages regarding persons who have gotten lost in the caves, a description of the horrible demise of the consumption patients who sojourned there and descriptions of the animals found in the cave (the blind fish, the rats, and the bats).
http://www.archive.org/details/aguidemanualtom00wriggoog





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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2012, 11:03:38 AM »

Damn, Starblaze, you are getting to be Johnny-on-the-Spot for literary research. Nice job!

Bob
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2012, 02:42:44 PM »

I've wondered at times if Lovecraft when he stayed in New-York City visited the same library Charles Fort frequented. I remember Joshi identified some books Lovecraft used as well.
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2012, 03:24:43 PM »

Damn, Starblaze, you are getting to be Johnny-on-the-Spot for literary research. Nice job!

Bob

Aw shucks!   Cheesy

To be fair, my interest was peaked at the relative ease at which I found the first book.  I have been going through the short stories and have taken a number of notes to see if I can't find additional tomes that HPL may have had access to.

I've wondered at times if Lovecraft when he stayed in New-York City visited the same library Charles Fort frequented. I remember Joshi identified some books Lovecraft used as well.

old book,
I would be surprised if HPL didn't.  One writer does seem to think so: http://tentaclii.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/lovecraft-in-the-new-york-public-library/


I also know that Joshi did, but I do enjoy going through the stories to see if I can find anything relevant since I don't have access to his biography or letters.  I may break down and get "I am Providence", but am still thinking on it.  Currently I am unemployed, and I am determining what my next steps are going to be (i.e., more education or self-employment); I am fortunate that I do have the luxury of some time.  I do know I don't want to go back the corporate world that I worked at for 13 years.

I think I found another book, btw.  I have yet to research the book itself, but the title itself (I think) makes it possible source for "Cool Air": "Theoretical and Practical Ammonia Refrigeration" by Iltyd I. Redwood, 1895.
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2012, 03:51:40 PM »

I may break down and get "I am Providence", but am still thinking on it. 

I've thought of that too, but the damn thing's a hundred dollars.
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2012, 04:42:25 PM »

I may break down and get "I am Providence", but am still thinking on it. 

I've thought of that too, but the damn thing's a hundred dollars.

Yeah, tis true, the price is the only reason I have for hesitating....
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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2012, 04:58:00 PM »

This is a bit addictive.  I might have found the source of pnakotic/pnakotus....

In a book of vocabulary words of the eskimos, I found that "ingik" or "pnak" are words for mountain.


The book is "Meddelelser om Grønland, Volume 11," 1891.  There is an english translation included in the book itself which is found here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=7OQUAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

edit: I did purchase "Lovecraft's Library" yesterday by Joshi.  Surprisingly, I just happened to come across it before Chris mentioned in the the podcast.  I also purchased "A Subtler Magic: The Writings and Philosophy of H.P. Lovecraft" by Joshi. 

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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 03:01:27 PM »

I may break down and get "I am Providence", but am still thinking on it. 

I've thought of that too, but the damn thing's a hundred dollars.

I'd say one of us should buy it and lend it around but........ when I do pony up I'm holding onto that baby with both hands.
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2012, 03:15:02 PM »

google/NSa has conveniently pulled that link so the picture says IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE, but the book is here:

http://www.archive.org/details/meddelelseromgr19unkngoog

According to my wordlist:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/e605v2

the modern Greenlandic for "mountain" is QAQQAQ (singular), but I guess there would be other words in other Inuit dialects and/or Yupik and/or Aleut. Inuktikuut (Labrador Inuit) looks sufficiently different from Kulaallisut (West Greenlandic) that I wouldn't hazard a guess on this one. Plus, I know what certain Europeans call a "mountain" is barely a hill where I come from.

What I saw from Joshi's book on Lovecraft's library didn't convince me, personally, for whatever reason, that all of the titles were correct.

I happened to grab everything Lovecraft from library.nu before it ceased broadcasting, so if there was anything there you wanted, PM me. The Joshi stuff was scant, but there were some other things. We impoverished Lovecraft students must stick together.

EDIT: Oops, I forgot, "Meddelelser om Grønland" is a series, so that link I posted is to the wrong issue. The links for #11 are probably:

http://www.archive.org/details/meddelelseromgr11grgoog

and

http://www.archive.org/details/meddelelseromgr11unkngoog
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 03:22:28 PM by old book » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2012, 04:58:05 PM »

google/NSa has conveniently pulled that link so the picture says IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE, but the book is here:

http://www.archive.org/details/meddelelseromgr19unkngoog

According to my wordlist:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/e605v2

the modern Greenlandic for "mountain" is QAQQAQ (singular), but I guess there would be other words in other Inuit dialects and/or Yupik and/or Aleut. Inuktikuut (Labrador Inuit) looks sufficiently different from Kulaallisut (West Greenlandic) that I wouldn't hazard a guess on this one. Plus, I know what certain Europeans call a "mountain" is barely a hill where I come from.

What I saw from Joshi's book on Lovecraft's library didn't convince me, personally, for whatever reason, that all of the titles were correct.

I happened to grab everything Lovecraft from library.nu before it ceased broadcasting, so if there was anything there you wanted, PM me. The Joshi stuff was scant, but there were some other things. We impoverished Lovecraft students must stick together.

EDIT: Oops, I forgot, "Meddelelser om Grønland" is a series, so that link I posted is to the wrong issue. The links for #11 are probably:

http://www.archive.org/details/meddelelseromgr11grgoog

and

http://www.archive.org/details/meddelelseromgr11unkngoog

Apparently there are about 20 dialects in Alaska alone which would make it difficult.  I did a fruitless search in comtemporary literature for "pnak," but I think we can assume this would have been a book that HPL would have been able to access. 
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0008/000861/086162e.pdf

I think though, that in HPL's story "Polaris," he had to have done some reading on the "esquimaux."   The "Inutos" he uses for the story appears to be inspired by the Inuit.  Can I prove that "pnak" was used by Lovecraft?  Of course not, but I think his creation of "Pnakotic" and "Pnakotus" is interesting in this context.
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2012, 04:40:50 PM »

...

the modern Greenlandic for "mountain" is QAQQAQ (singular), ...

Apparently there are about 20 dialects in Alaska alone which would make it difficult.  I did a fruitless search in comtemporary literature for "pnak," but I think we can assume this would have been a book that HPL would have been able to access. 
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0008/000861/086162e.pdf

I think though, that in HPL's story "Polaris," he had to have done some reading on the "esquimaux."   The "Inutos" he uses for the story appears to be inspired by the Inuit.  Can I prove that "pnak" was used by Lovecraft?  Of course not, but I think his creation of "Pnakotic" and "Pnakotus" is interesting in this context.


I did try to check up further on the Greenlandic word for mountain. By comparing the Danish and Greenlandic versions of the same news story containing the word "mountain" at knr.gl, I found a completely different word used, not the ones you specified and not the one on my word-list. NONE OF ABOVE! Smiley You probably know he WAS engaged imaginatively with Eskimos, that when he was a boy he set up an entire Alaskan Eskimo village in the vacant lot next to the Whipple mansion, for example. Also, our old favorite Olaus Wormius probably (imho) came to Lovecraft's attention via books about Greenland which reference his ideas about the lost Norse colonies (his real Norwegian name is something like Olaf Wormskiold, Wormius is the Latinization). Inutos are definitely related to Inuit, imo. There's also that place adjacent to Kadath in DQ/UK called Ingunek or something like that?

In defense of your Pnak idea (I still have to read the PDF you just linked) and of a Greenlandic origin, Greenlandic can boast of being the earliest-investigated-in-any-systematic-way of the various Inuit, Yupik, Aleut dialects/languages. It was thoroughly treated before there were grammars for some European languages, I believe, although I could be wrong about that (I know that's true for some Native American languages). I know the language has changed over time, as languages do, and there was recently a shift from the old (Kleinschmidt?) morphemic orthography to a phonetic orthography (and some people still use the diacritics to write their names, I believe). So if Lovecraft were borrowing words from an Inuit language, chances are it was Greenlandic, although his vacant lot village was definitely Alaskan. For more on that make-believe village, see Donald Tyson's Dream World of H P Lovecraft: His Life, His Demons, His Universe.

Taken all together (DQ/UK, CoC's "renegade Devil-worshipping esquimaux," the vacant lot village, Wormius, et al.) I think Lovecraft definitely (third time I used definitely here, what's up with that?) had a thing for the Inuit going on. I almost suspect there are other hints going on in other stories as if Lovecraft were toying with the idea that certain French Canadians had Eskimo blood that was itself tainted with Norse blood to form some new unholy race in the polar vastnesses beyond Ultima Thule. I also like the idea I had that "Innsmouth" is an anglicization (is that a word?) of an imaginary Greenlandic port called Inuisiimuit or something along those lines, transplanted in New England and mixing with the Turanian races of the South Seas and other darker and more occult races to form a new and hideous threat to the American way of life.

As the hosts noted on the 'podcraft, Lin Carter made up "Pnakotus" from "Pnakotic" in Lovecraft, so there's no real reason to follow up on that Greek-oid suffix, and at most we have "Pnakot-" or merely "Pnak-" to work with. Let's keep looking, even if it turns out to be from Pinocchio or something silly like that. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2012, 08:02:52 PM »

Apparently there are about 20 dialects in Alaska alone which would make it difficult.  I did a fruitless search in comtemporary literature for "pnak," but I think we can assume this would have been a book that HPL would have been able to access.  
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0008/000861/086162e.pdf

I should have been more clear, this last pdf is just a current publication on indigenous languages, one of the articles discusses the number of languages and dialects present in Alaska.  

old book,
I appreciate your willingness to engage.  This has been a fascinating conversation even if I turn out to be completely wrong.   It could be that my excitement overcame my good sense as I am a relative newcomer (imagine that!).  Smiley  Although, at times, it seems to me as though he picked things almost at random as I go through his stories.  And thank you for the additional information.  I was not aware that he had some fascination of the "esquimaux" as a child and it makes sense that he drew on that fascination for his fiction.  From what I can gather, "pnak" is a term from languages or dialects found in the Aleutian Islands.  It also appears "pnak" is also an Armenian word that can mean "plate" (or "bowl").  


I did an additional search and "pnak" appears in the following additional works:

"The Armenian Origin of the Etruscans"  (archive.org id armenianorigine00elligoog)
http://www.archive.org/details/armenianorigine00elligoog

"Sumoi" (archive.org id suomi06seurgoog) although I am not sure that HPL would have read this one, as it appears to be a Finnish glossary of indigenous languages that appears to attribute "pnak" to the Aleutian Islands.

"The Eskimo Tribes: Their distribution and characteristics, especially in regard to language" (archive.org id eskimotribesthei00rinkrich)
http://www.archive.org/details/eskimotribesthei00rinkric

"Pnak" also appeared in a number of Armenian titles and glossaries, but I didn't include them here since they did not seem relevant to this conversation.  

Taken all together (DQ/UK, CoC's "renegade Devil-worshipping esquimaux," the vacant lot village, Wormius, et al.) I think Lovecraft definitely (third time I used definitely here, what's up with that?) had a thing for the Inuit going on. I almost suspect there are other hints going on in other stories as if Lovecraft were toying with the idea that certain French Canadians had Eskimo blood that was itself tainted with Norse blood to form some new unholy race in the polar vastnesses beyond Ultima Thule. I also like the idea I had that "Innsmouth" is an anglicization (is that a word?) of an imaginary Greenlandic port called Inuisiimuit or something along those lines, transplanted in New England and mixing with the Turanian races of the South Seas and other darker and more occult races to form a new and hideous threat to the American way of life.

I love that idea!  Smiley

edit: I was able to find some nice descriptions of Tornasuk online, as I am switching gears a bit and taking a break from "pnak" (the devil Tornasuk in "Call of Cthulhu"). 
Quote
Mythology of the Esquimaux of Greenland. (Mythologie et legendes des Esquimaux du Groenland. Par l'Abbe Merillot. Paris: Maisonneuve et Cie., 1874.J From the Saturday Review, June 12th, 1875.
"According to the tradition of the Esquimaux, the whole world is inhabited by demons; but these are under the control of a superior being named Tornasuk . . . The residence of Tornasuk is in the lower world, a distinct region, apart from our earth and sea, which are supported by pillars. It may be reached by water and through crevices in the earth. The upper world, on the other hand, is but a continuation of our own, containing mountains, valleys, lakes—in fact, every variety of things terrestrial—and may be reached by an ascent from the middle of the ocean. As for the stellar sky immediately above us, it consists of a solid material, and moves on the summits of a mountain situated in the north, and probably forming part of the upper world. To one of the two worlds the souls of all the departed are compelled to'go, their lot being decided by the decree of Tornasuk. The lower is better than the upper world, abounding as it does in heat and food ; but the blessed, whose abode it is to be, cannot reach it without gliding for five days upon craggy rocks. The souls in the upper world dwell in tents, situated on the banks of frozen lakes, and suffer from cold and hunger. Their amusement is to play at tennis, with the heads of the hippopotamus for balls, and this recreation, by what process it is hard to explain, is the Aurora Borealis, What we have here stated accords with the primitive belief of the Esquimaux. Those who have been converted to Christianity place their paradise above the solid vault of the sky, but immediately below it the awful tennis-players continue their sport, and when the Aurora Borealis appears it is not safe to take one's walks abroad, as the spirits are likely to leave off their game, and, descending through the air, to carry off the living.
"Greenland was discovered towards the end of the tenth century by Eirik, a Norwegian, who gave it the name which it still bears (Greenland). . . . The origin of the Esquimaux is a matter of dispute. Some would trace them to Asia, others would derive them from America, and it is to the former view that M. Merillot inclines."
from The Astronomical Register, vol. 14, 1876.  I was only able to find this one on google.
http://books.google.com/books?id=EAgFAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA38&dq=tornasuk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IjxlT-TBCoPt0gHf6o3BCA&ved=0CFUQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=tornasuk&f=false

Quote
Eskimo exhibited a remarkable uniformity throughout the entire area inhabited by them. The leading idea is the government of the whole world by supernatural beings termed innas, or owners. Apparently the soul was regarded as the inua of the body. The general scheme of the Eskimo religion and cosmogony has been tersely summarised by the late Dr. R. Brown as follows: "The earth and the sea rest on pillars, and cover an under-world accessible by various mountain-clefts, or by various entrances from the sea. The sky is the floor of an upperworld, to which some go after death; while others—good or bad—have their future home in the under-world. Here are the dwellings of the arsissut, the people who live in abundance. This upper one, on the contrary, is cold and hungry; here live the arssartut, or ball-players, so called from their playing at ball with a walrus-head, which gives rise to the aurora borealis. The mediums between the inua and mankind are the avr/akoks, or wizards, who possess the peculiar gift of angakunck—or the state of 'being angakok '—which they have acquired by the aid of guardian spirits called tornak, who again are ruled by tornasuk, the supreme deity or devil of all." A kind of witchcraft, termed kusiunek or ilisinek, is believed to be the cause of sudden sickness or death.
The Living Races of Mankind
http://www.archive.org/details/livingracesofman02hutcuoft
« Last Edit: March 17, 2012, 10:11:26 PM by starblazie » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2012, 07:15:51 AM »

Did you know some people think Tornasuq is actually an inuitization of Thor? The Inuit name of Greenland, Kalaallit Nunaat (give or take a vowel!), some believe, comes from the word the Norse in America applied to natives, skraeling, which through complex phonological rules was reduced and reformed to kalaalit, the other word meaning "land." It sounds wild, but as far as I know, there is no alternative theory for the origin of the word, and it didn't come from nowhere.

I had read that PDF you posted before, about Arctic languages. Unfortunately the OCR (optical character recognition) used was not corrected in many places, so there are serious mistakes in the denser passages about grammar and phonology.

The Danish journal (number 11, I forget the title) which seemed to mention Pnak was a false-positive: the OCR was bad and a place-name appeared fine as a graphic but the OCR text underneath was warped to "Pnak." The place in question was mentioned in connection with an iron meteorite, which is interesting, but was not in any way "Pnak." I think it began with an N and ended in -ak. In fact P+N is impossible in Greenlandic as a sound, and the more so as an initial sound, and were it to enter somehow as a loan-word, it would probably have to be something more like *Panaak.

If I remember, Aleut does have some stranger or at least more complex consonant clusters than the rest of Inuit-dom, so that's a better candidate. There's also a sort of "lost race" of Eskimo, called the Dorset after an island where they were encountered by a European in Hudson's Bay, who once ranged much further and were displaced by the Inuit invasion, apparently, or simply assimilated. The houses or dwellings the Norse found in Greenland were probably not Inuit in the modern sense of the word, they hadn't arrived there in the southwest yet, most likely, and DNA sequencing of the earliest recoverable human material (hair) from Greenland indicated a gene-pool with some affinity with Siberians (Ket, Chuckchi) and probably a proto-Eskimo (proto-Inuit/Aleut/Yupik) group, although if I remember there was a closer match with Siberians. That would be from the Saqqaq culture if I remember right. Anyway, it was written up a year or two ago in Nature I think.

I'll have to look for "Pnak" in the sources you discovered. I laughed when I was looking for "Buddai" and found it's Welsh for "butter churn."

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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2012, 08:25:58 AM »

Here's another idea regarding Pnak: could it be from the art museums in Munich? There are the Alte, Neue and Moderne Pinakoteks there. I guess the new (1800s) one was destroyed in WWII, and the modern built but recently. The Pinak- is supposedly from Greek pinax supposedly meaning tablet or board. If you just glossed over it while speed-reading it would be possible to misread it the first time as Pnakotek and then to adjectivalize it as Pnakotic.

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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2012, 11:58:33 AM »

Did you know some people think Tornasuq is actually an inuitization of Thor? The Inuit name of Greenland, Kalaallit Nunaat (give or take a vowel!), some believe, comes from the word the Norse in America applied to natives, skraeling, which through complex phonological rules was reduced and reformed to kalaalit, the other word meaning "land." It sounds wild, but as far as I know, there is no alternative theory for the origin of the word, and it didn't come from nowhere.

Interesting, but not surprising, the Vikings would have probably come into frequent contact with the eskimo tribes.  (everything IS truly derivative) What I thought was interesting was their idea of an afterlife above and below. 

Actually,"pinak" came up quite frequently in my search for "pnak."   I am more than willing to entertain alternate theories/origin of the term. Yeah, tis true, I tend to scan first and then put things of interest on the "to read later pile."   To clarify, the word "pnak" shows up under the Alaskan languages only(page 87) in Vol. 11.  http://books.google.com/books?id=7OQUAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA87&dq=pnak&hl=en&sa=X&ei=lAVmT6L8B8Xg0QH3jeGNCA&ved=0CGQQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=pnak&f=false


So far the search for the word "pinak" comes up in the Choctaw languange (food provisions), one of the languages of India (someone under the influence of opium), and as part of a description of Shiva, "pinak" referencing the bow of Shiva. And of course, there were myriad references to the Pinakothek.

Quote
The Great Tower is fluted on the outside with horizontal flutes, which are also grooved cross-ways, and thus differ from those of the tower of Jagannath. On the E. face of the tower, under the figure of a large conventional lion, is a symbol called Surji Narayan, consisting of a line in the shape of a horseshoe, having a similar line within, in which is the figure of an aged man seated. This represents the 33 millions of gods. The figure which Kajcndralala Mitra calls a trident resembles, as has been said, a bow, and the people on the spot call it Pinak Dhenu or Shiva's Bow. It is surmounted by a bambu, with a white flag in which is a red crescent. For a small gratuity, 1 or 2 rs., a man will ascend the tower outside to the top of the bow and measure it. From the top of the bow to the bottom of the urn is 34 ft., and thence to the ground 127 ft., the total height being 161 ft.
Outside the enclosure are many small subterraneous temples, and at theN.F. corner is a platform, in which is a well of good water, and beyond it to the E. a very handsome tank, the water of which is foetid. The tank is surrounded on all sides by flights of 13 steps, which descend to the water, and above them is a row of small temples. 108 in number and (i ft. high, which extend all round. In the centre of the tank is a pavilion. The ground to the S. of the Great Tower, to the extent of 20 acres, is said to be the site of Lalatendu Kesharl's palace. It is now overgrown with jungle, but there are everywhere the remains of foundations and pavements. There are many mango trees and Bakula trees (Mtmusop* ehngi). X. of the temple, about 100 yds., is the very line tank called Vindnsagar,''ocean drop." It is faced with stone all round, and has numerous flights of steps descending to the water. In the centre is a Jal Mandir or " Water Pavilion," consisting of several shrines, on which perch numerous cranes, who in motionless repose appear to be a cornice. In front of the central Ghat of this tank there is a magnificent Temple,
http://www.archive.org/details/handbookbengalp00firgoog

Quote
PINAK s. m. A palankeen; drowsiness caused by intoxication, or nodding from opium.
http://books.google.com/books?id=YqoCAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA923&dq=Pinak&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0v5lT5vPE4ft0gHI1pi5CA&ved=0CFgQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=Pinak&f=false
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