Episode 73 – Medusa’s Coil

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Our final story with Zealia Bishop… Thank goodness!

This week we have the great vocal stylings of Dave Stinton! Check out his blog, The Sound of One Hand Withholding Applause.

Next week we’re away, but the following week we tackle The Whisperer in Darkness!

Post Comment 27 comments on “Episode 73 – Medusa’s Coil

  • Keith McCaffety on

    I hate to tell ya… I dug this story. It has many problems, yes, but there were elements that really caught me up. I have a lot to say about it, and once I write it all down I’ll post a link.

    Meanwhile, I did a drawing:

  • The Dunwich Whotsit on

    I read about over half of this story today while I was getting an Iron infusion in hospital, and what I got to read was actually pretty good. I didn’t reach any of the hair stuff in that sitting (thank God).
    I was hooked by the opening chapter, it reminded of ‘The Picture in the House’ BIG TIME.

    Also, what was with the Tommy Wiseau audio at the end!?

  • Brown Jenkin on

    I’ve wanted to shoot a few of my own paintings.

  • Matt Sheridan on

    On the subject of horror stories about hair, you might want to check out M.R. James’ “The Diary Of Mr. Poynter”. It’s an odd one, and legitimately pretty creepy. You can get an audio version on Librivox, too: http://librivox.org/short-ghost-and-horror-collection-008/

  • Reber Clark on

    Good job all. I’m glad we’re finally off to Whisperer and some other good stuff coming up.

  • hppodcraft on

    Heh… Tommy Wiseau?!?! Yep. Come on, the protagonist’s son is named DENNY! I just couldn’t let an opportunity slip by…

  • Iranon, the Singer of Songs... on

    I’ve never read Medusa’s Coil and I know nothing about the story, so the title has had me speculating somewhat; could it REALLY be about an I.U.D. device used to prevent Gorgons from conceiving…? Love Springs Internal…? Surely not…! 😉

  • JB Lee on

    As far as Lovecraft’s smoking habit goes: nonexistent. In fact, he proclaimed in one of his letters that “the ultimate horror on earth is a smoking car!” As far as “Medusa’s Coil” goes: re-reading it didn’t make it any better, but at least you managed to derive an entertaining podcast from it. And, yah, when I mentioned it during the endless “Mound” burrowing, I purposely abstained from telling you the most stupid Big Revelation in all of Lovecraft. It leaves the reader scratching their head and saying to himself “I guess that’s meant to be a GOOD thing, since, you know, at least she had some HUMAN BEING in her. Could have been another Yig kid or Yog-Sothoth kid or Deep One hybrid.”

  • Squidney on

    So what, none of you guys ever played Bayonetta? Check out some crazy demon-possessed hair action:

  • Mark Brett on

    Y’know, I was okay with this story right up til the end. The hair monster is the sort of goofy pulp creature that Lovecraft generally avoided, but I like it anyway.

    But then that ending. Oh holy crap, that ending. What’s worse than a foul monster from the depths of Atlantis? Why, the horrors of PASSING and MISCEGENATION, of course! I mean, really, was that her evil scheme? To pass herself off as a white (or off-white) woman and marry a white man? Seriously? DAMMIT, Lovecraft! I don’t think I’ve ever been so pissed off at his racism as I am right now.

  • […] (lyrics here). Next week we’re away, but the following week we tackle The Whisperer […] HPPodcraft.com – The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast Comments […]

  • Steve on

    I was intrigued by the reference to Great Zimbabwe

  • Al Bruno III on

    Another great installment gentlemen.

    Regarding the final ‘revelation’ of the story wasn’t there a Conan Doyle story that had a similar ‘twist’ ending?

    And I do wonder if Lovecraft would have gotten over his racism if he lived longer… I really wonder what he would have thought of the 1960’s!

  • Willy Pugnacious on

    I am just nigh preparing to listen to your podcast, but before it taints my mentality I must confess that I love this silly story to death. It hath inspir’d mine own weird fiction in countless & nameless ways. I love the melodrama and the characters and the Derlethian references to ye Mythos and I love weird fiction about artists and, gawd, how I love rad hair!

  • Reber Clark on

    Hmmm…Willy Pugnacious…hmmm…methinks it may be Mr. Wilum at work. Hello, Wilum!

  • Ye Queen of Eldritch Horror on

    You hinted at but did not expound on one of the really shocking aspect of the story — Derleth’s alternation of ye final line. It has been supposed that Augie was trying to clean-up Grandpa’s racism and shew him in a better light by deleting “negress” — but look at his alteration!
    “…though in deceitfully slight proportion, Marcelline was a loathsome, bestial thing, and her forebears had come from Africa.”
    Call me wacko, but I find this far more offensive than “negress.” What weird times we have had in our human history. That was the line for the story in its first book appearance in MARGINALIA (1944), all the way up Augie’s first edition of THE HORROR IN THE MUSEUM (1970), until S. T.’s corrected text edition of 1989!
    Hi, Reber!!

  • Mike Davey on

    Al Bruno III:
    You’re thinking of “The Yellow Face”.
    Slightly different, though, in that the woman trying to hide her half-negro offspring from her new husband turned out to be wasting her effort. When the husband found out, he was quite accepting of the child, if I remember the story right….

  • Mike Davey on

    The Yellow Face 2:
    Just looked it up. The husband’s wonderful line “I am not a very good man, Effie, but I think that I am a better one than you have given me credit for being” shows, I think, that ACD and HPL would not necessarily have agreed on one or two things…

  • Ernst Bitterman on

    For some reason, I kept thinking of the episode from Spielburg’s NBC series Amazing Stories entitled “Hell Toupee”….

  • Russell Bynum on

    I agree, Mike. While “pulling a Doyle” referring to the “lame secret negro surprise” is bad on the part of Lovecraft, as Mike shows the end of that story is rather positive and if anything shows that the presumed societal stigma (mostly from America in reference to The Yellow Face) is what is being critiqued. It is clear in other Holmes stories, particularly The Orange Pips, that Doyle is rather pro-equal rights.

    This makes sense since England abolished slavery and was otherwise more tolerant of Africans; you especially see this in later authors; Darwin in particular writes at length about his horror of South American slavery during his famed Beagle expedition. I think since abolition originated in New England, it is likely that what Lovecraft is tapping into is not racism in the Southern sense but rather in the isolationism he references consistently of “backwards” New England.

    Methinks if anything, what we keep running into with Lovecraft is not racism itself or even isolationism, but these are merely outlets or consequences of his fears of uncontrollability; that is, Lovecraft is dealing with his own fears of control of external and internal situations that are close to him. Thus, when things are outside of his control, and such is most extreme in those from outside his sphere of normality, such becomes the embodiment of his fears of lacking control in his life. …and now I’ll take off my psychology hat.

    As for smoking, I would think without reading some of the above comments that as a tea-toterler it would be highly unlikely that Lovecraft would have smoked or been okay with smoking.

  • Dark Wanderer on

    Russell Bynum you write eloquently and to the point. Very good thinking. Thank you for such clarity.

    P.S. Nice to see this site back up after the Shoggoths were inadvertently let loose in its servers.

  • Aram on

    I wonder… do we know what Zelia Bishop thought of this story?

  • ravensong99 on

    I loved this story. Im A little disappointed you kind of skimmed over this story like you didn’t care about it. I like the living hair part after all Hp Lovecraft tries to get you to use your imagination. That’s the best part about his stories in my opinion. The last sentence in the story is not that bad I think your simply misunderstanding it.

  • J. B. Whelan on

    I think the final sentence – actually the last 2 paragraphs, since you really cannot separate them intelligibly – really are “that bad”.

    I suspect the story suffers from a tension between the original underlying idea that Bishop gave Lovecraft to work with, and Lovecraft’s attempt to take that idea in a new, inhuman, otherworldly direction.

    I don’t mind that the story is inspired by Lovecraft’s and/or Bishop’s horror of miscegenation. But once Lovecraft tried to take that underlying idea in an otherwordly direction, the story needed to make a clean break.

    The failure to make that clean break – the attempt to return to that underlying idea at the very end, is artistically inconsistent, anti-climactic, and silly. This is probably the result of too many cooks preparing the broth.

    It is also, of course, extremely offensive to black people. But Lovecraft has indulged racist attitudes before without committing this level of artistic suicide.

  • ?? ??? on

    casio ???

  • laughingacademy on

    This is not a story to be tossed aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force. YE GODS.

  • Nadia V on

    This is one of the stories that leaves me feeling that I need to take a shower to become clean again. I had no idea Lovecraft wrote this, I thought it was Bishop with a little help from him. Blurgh!
    It isn’t just the racism, it’s in the the way he describes Marceline. It was only natural to feel repulsed by her and then the overly brutal way she’s killed in. Not woman hating at all. Sigh. All right, we get it, she was a hideous thing. The black serpent was creepy, I give it that. But then the story was creepy for other things than horror.

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