Episode 13 – Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family

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  • Great timing! A major human-ape ancestry find in the news just today!
  • Note from Chad: I found the cover of the copy of Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar that I read when I was a kid. Somehow, I fell in love with the woman in the deep background. Now, that’s imagination!
  • Also, I was wrong – in Alan Moore’s story “Allan and the Sundered Veil,” Randolph is John Carter’s grand-nephew, not his brother. I’m never talking about this story again, as this is the second time I’ve gotten the details wrong. Never!
  • Next Time: The Street

Post Comment 31 comments on “Episode 13 – Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family

  • Regular Frank on

    The real horror is when “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” doused itself in oil and set itself on fire after discovering it was descended from this horrible story.

  • J.B. Lee on

    Tonight even the music seemed insipid, tainted by the literary tedium. The usually piercing insight of our podcast protagonists was reduced, in the aftermath of this simian fiasco, to sub-MST3K drivel.

    However, Lovecraft apparently thought he had masterfully composed the “surprise” finish of this bore. When WEIRD TALES unexpectedly changed the title to “The White Ape,” HPL fired off an epistolary salvo at the editor, Edwin Baird: “One thing–you may be sure that if I ever entitled a story ‘The White Ape,’ there would be no ape in it. There would be something at first taken for an ape, which would not be an ape.”

    That’s nice, Howie, but in “Arthur Jermyn” there IS something taken for a horror story, which, alas, turns out to be anything but a horror story. “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” I think we all know what kind of person tells that sort of tale. But HPL will more than redeem himself in time — though not next week!

  • Chad Fifer on

    JB! You got it! Well – maybe you were making fun – but I genuinely used strictly B-movie music for this one – some Ed Wood and a track I lifted from a Canadian “Sounds of Horror” CD I picked up in 1994. I just… it’s a gorilla story, you know?

  • J.B. Lee on

    No, I wasn’t making fun — music is one of my great passions, along with horror fiction, etc etc etc
    and that stuff you used for this ep was a REAL comedown from the usual soundtrack. But absolutely reflective of the situation, so to speak.

  • Keith on

    I couldn’t help but think of my favorite ape movie ‘Gorilla at Large,’ starring Ann Bancroft. Ann Bancroft!!!

  • Danial Carroll on

    It’s true that this story was so very lame, but to Lovecraft, who, as we all know, was quite xenophobic and held dear the ideals of the English “gentleman”, the idea of being part ape would have been quite horrific.

  • TFMelinosky on

    I have to tell the truth, when I read the story, I imagined that these albino gorillas were some sort of horrible creature such as the Fishmen in The Shadow over Innsmouth or crab-creatures in The Whisperer in Darkness.

    I mean, how many white gorillas have you seen at a zoo? I think it was a biased narrative (Yes, a very weak argument, I know) but the main point would be that these albino gorillas are in fact horrible monsters and calling them white apes is about the closest thing to describing what they look like.

    I hope that does something to restore the dignity of the story. I’ll be the first to say, it’s not a great one, but anything Lovecraft deserves a defense.

    Carry on, Gentlemen! Love the show.

  • Chad Fifer on

    It’s a very good point! And some of the art I’ve seen for this story does depict the apes as pretty monstrous. Like this:


  • JulieH on

    I may be the only who likes this story – though it’s not much of a horror story. I like the weird “africky” feel of it, and the way it ties in to the Picture in the house and the natives depicted with caucasion features and the half-man half-ape things, all inthe woodcuts of the book. I always felt that the “white congolese civilization” was pre-ape, since it mentions “when the apes overran the city”, which implied to me that even the “princess” was a degenerate result of apes ravishing the local white women centuries back, creating this half-race, which then turned around and got back in the gene pool with Sir Wade.
    Everyone mentions Innsmouth as a logical progression of the mix breed idea, but Dunwich is as much a descendant of this story, from a writing point of view – considering the ratio of backstory to actual “story” they both contain…

  • CarlosMcRey on

    Hello, been listening to the podcast for about a month now. Enjoying it.

    Have to agree that this story is pretty lame, though I think the beginning and end are pretty good. One thing that struck me the last time I read the story was that Sir Wade is institutionalized when his son is only a couple of years old. Considering that Lovecraft’s father was put away when HPL was only a few years old, the description of how Sir Wade appeared to be relieved to be locked up away from his son struck me as very sad. (Armchair psychology, I know, but still.)

    Next week’s story, though, I think will make this one look like genius. I’ve only read The Street once and found it pretty irredeemable.

  • J. McGlothlin on

    What is that cool music at the beginning and appears toward the end of this episode? It’s real mellow.

  • Chad Fifer on

    It’s a sample from the soundtrack of Ed Wood’s “Orgy of the Dead,” slowed down and clipped up with a beat (actually sampled from a John Travolta disco song). It’s a piece I put together for the soundtrack of The Ward – a short film Chris and I made that we’ll be talking about now and again as it begins playing festivals. -C

  • A. Craig on

    I remembered hearing about something like this. Some kind of mad Russian scientist tried doing this sort of this before.

  • Phil on

    Must say the best thing about this story to me was: “A spark appeared on the moor, a flame arose, and a pillar of human fire reached to the heavens.” The circus ape fight just doesn’t read as well…

  • rodonn on

    I found the ‘Critical’ version of this story a far more pleasurable bit of pulp than the original Arkham House version, back when Derleth, god bless him, was simply using magazine texts.
    It’s far from HPL at his best, but, like much of HPL’s ‘average to poor’ presentations, parts are greater than the whole.

  • JacksonDane on

    I really really really really love these podcasts. I need to start checking the local used books stores though, across my three Lovecraft anthologies I’m still missing a few of the covered stories.

    Does anyone else listen to ambient black metal while reading Lovecraft? I’ve found it sets the perfect mood and the lyrics are so distorted (if they even exist) that they never become distracting.

    Anyways, keep up the awesome work.

  • Chad Fifer on

    Thanks! And remember that you can always read HPL’s stuff for free online at hplovecraft.com or dagonbytes.com.

    I listen to my fair share of black metal, but it’s usually when I’m out walking. Nothing compares to a nice stroll along the beach matched against some cookie-monster-sounding Norwegian singer urging me to burn churches.

  • rodonn on

    For confused readers – the geneology of AJ.

  • Matt on

    I was struck only when listening to your podcast by the fact that there’s also at least an implication of some sort of time travel in the story. If this is about an ancient, lost civilization, there aren’t enough generations between Arthur and Wade (his great-great-great-grandfather) to account for the legend. In my read, Wade not only discovers the lost city, but travels back in time, becomes the “white god,” marries and brings back the princess, begets a child with her, and then returns her to the city (in its ancient time), and has her mummified. Their son still lives in the 1700’s, and continues the family line.

    That’s pretty heavy stuff, especially as a mere implication of the story.

  • JulieH on

    I think I thought that at one time too, but looking back at it, the “white god” story was not connected, necessarily, the ancient civilization itself – not to mention that four generations or so in a civilized western country could easily be twice that in the degenerate tribes of darkest africa (in Lovecraft’s world, anyway)…

    In fact, one story (as told to either Arthur or Alfred – haven’t checked) even includes a note that the white god’s son did return – the son who “vanished off a navy ship”, leaving his own kid back home to carry on the line.

  • Matt on

    You know, the more I thought about it after I posted here, the more I think you’re right and I was just confused. I think I just assumed “ancient” when I heard “civilization of white apes” and I think I also thought “archaeologist” instead of “anthropologist.”

    The time travel thing would have made the rather unsubtle reveal at least a little cooler, I guess. SIGH.

  • Andrew Leman on

    Speaking of white apes, evolution, and cheesy music, Troy Nies was cleaning out an old piano bench back home quite some time ago and stumbled across some sheet music that dates from the Scopes Monkey Trial. The song is called “I Hope the Monkeys Win”, by Harry O. Beck. The first verse goes like this:

    It happened down in Dayton, in sunny Tennessee/
    They tried to make a monkey out of you and me/
    They gathered all the wise men from near and from afar/
    With their bab bab bab and rab-a dab dab they wonder who we are/
    Oh I hope the monkeys win, yes, I hope the monkeys win/
    To be locked in a cage then would not be any sin/
    We’d be fed on peanuts and monkey food galore/
    We’d just have to sit there and rab-a dab-a dab for more/
    We’d never have to worry about what to eat or wear/
    We’d bring our girl some cocoanuts and say to her now there/
    Then I’d tickle her under the chin
    My monkey maid would start to grin
    We’d bab-a bab-a bab and rab-a dab-a dab/
    I hope the monkeys win!

    There are five more verses….

  • rodonn on

    since I’m something of a fan of obscure fiction, I’d recommend the interested to compare the ‘White god’ stuff on AJ with that of the book ‘The Death Guard’ by Philip George Chadwick (pb 1939, and then vanished in the Blitz until the 90s – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Death_Guard)
    The makers of the guard move to Africa to develop the beasts and convince a local tribe that they created the black men and are now making them servants… it’s grotesque by modern standards, while still having the occasional chill for the modern reader. It can be tricky to find, but purely from the books ‘lost’ status, it’s worth digging up.

  • Tulse on

    Yeah, this is a pretty poorly executed story, but as folks have mentioned, it does fore”shadow” Innsmouth and Dunwich, and I think that makes it interesting in terms of the history of Lovecraft’s work. Indeed, I think it really does touch on some of the issues central to Lovecraft, such as atavism, the discovery that one’s bloodline is “tainted” in some fashion, his racism, and arguably even his possible personal discomfort with sex (great-great-great-granddad did it with an ape, after all, and look where that led!). We also see in this story the oft-expressed notion that exploration and curiosity lead to horror and catastrophe. And, for that matter, this piece also captures on a personal level the very Lovecraftian notion that true horror is finding out that the world is radically different than you believed, and that such discovery can literally drive one mad.

    I’m not sayin’ it’s a gem — the “twist” is obvious from the start, the geneological recitation is boring, and the implicit racism and caricature of Africa is not particularly appealing. But I think it is a mistake to dismiss it out of hand, at least in terms of its place in the genesis of Lovecraft’s far-better works. (Then again, I am an admitted fanboy, and perhaps this is just special pleading.)

  • Toastgoblin on

    Okay, I’ll admit it was fairly well signalled as a twist, but to me it wasn’t as unlikely a response from the Jermyns as you seemed to think. I’m not sure if this is as obvious to non-Brits, but the English gentry in particular were (heck, are) often incredibly bound up with ideas of exactly who your ancestors were and how noble they were; to the point where coming from a less fashionable region of England, let alone from Ireland or Wales, could be a big social drawback even for other toffs. Marrying a noble below your own rank was sometimes frowned on, never mind marrying into merchant families or anything less. And remember, people (okay, not quite that late in history, I suspect) used to assume your station was allocated by God and nobles were actually, genuinely superior to everyone else. Finding out your ancestors weren’t even human? Yeah, that’d flip your world over.

  • Chadd on

    IHow do you know that HPL didn’t know about his father’s syphilis and the dalliances it resulted from? That is, I’m asking if there’s evidence that HPL did not know that. I think, like most adults, HPL likely had certain illusions about his parents while he was young, and those illusions eroded as he grew older and worked things out. He was obviously very concerned not only about race and ancestry, but also with the physical attributes that give away one’s genetics. Perhaps this story and others were HPL’s way of dealing with the repulsion he felt for his parents or ancestry. It’s not hard to imagine HPL fretting over what his father may have been doing with women of “low” peerage, or wondering where his slightly ape-like features came from.

  • christian bravery on

    I wish Lovecraft had included details on what ‘Sir’ Arthur Jermyn did to earn himself a sweet-assed knighthood – that said looking at the current peerage it seems that honouring monkeys is de rigueur 🙂

  • […] We discuss the original Planet of the Apes book, Gorilla Grodd, cyborg gorillas, and the HPL Literary Podcast episode 13. […]

  • Todd Williams on

    Sorry to revive a fairly ancient thread just to say:lmao @ “..disturbing, almost mechanical cymbal playing..”
    Just started listening to these podcasts and am really enjoying them..over 200 to go…. whoopeee!!

  • Victor R. on

    Years late, but I’m really impressed you guys didn’t focus on a link that seemed really obvious to me: This is like Medusa’s Coil, in that the horror is miscegenation. The idea that people could have African blood and pass among us so you didn’t know! That you might one day learn YOU had Negro blood! How could you possibly handle that? Which just continues in making the story not terribly good.

  • Juhan on

    Just read it. Yeah, one of the weakest stories and was not very horrific. But as others have told, the hybrid race could not necessarily be half apes, but something more foreign.
    But after discovering, as Victor above put, that he has Negro Blood from Africa in him and instantly kills himself by fire before it lays eggs – that is quite funny XD

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