Message from discussion TSOU - The Horror in the Museum
From: "D.E. Kesler" <e...@fantasm.org>
Subject: Re: TSOU - The Horror in the Museum
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Organization: Cthulhu Mythos Readership Support Group
Hello Mr. Harms,
Perhaps I should have stated myself a bit more clearly. Although it is
very difficult to critically examine "The Horror in the Museum" as a
story seperate from the rest of Lovecraft's Mythos, it is by no means
I would imagine that the difficulty involved stems from the fact that
Lovecraft did refer to other tales in this work. One can hardly be
expected to read "about that ruined city in Indo-China where the
Tcho-Tchos lived" (HM, 221) without being reminded of Derleth and
Schorer's "Lair of the Star-Spawn." Perhaps, the only individuals truly
capable of looking at this tale as seperate from the rest of the mythos
would be those who are completely unfamiliar with Lovecraft and his
In any event, following your suggestion, I did re-read the story. I
tried very hard to view this tale solely as a single piece, completely
unconnected to the writer and his other works. It was a struggle all
the way. I do not believe I was entirely successful.
I've just finished reading Burleson's _Lovecraft: Disturbing the
Universe_, so thoughts similar to the following have been bouncing about
in my mind. Consider the fact that everyone who reads "The Horror in
the Museum" will interpret this tale in light of his or her memories and
experiences. The creation of the story becomes a collaborative effort
between the author and the reader. Since I have been exposed to large
quantities Lovecraftian material, I'm naturally inclined to read the
story as a part of a vast cosmic drama. The tale simply refuses to be
confined between pages 215 and 241.
Of course, personal experience can alter a story in a manner never
envisioned by the author. One of the things that struck me about the
tale was the name of the protagonist, Stephen Jones. Now, I know
perfectly well that Lovecraft was not writing about the editor of
_Shadows Over Innsmouth_ and _Horror: 100 Best Books_; however, that is
the face I visualized when I re-read "The Horror in the Museum."
Regarding the possability that Johansen was mistaken, I have no problem
with this. Personally, I think that the importance of continuity has
been vastly overated. After all, there are plenty of contradictions and
continuity errors in actually mythologies.
I suspect that I'm one of the few people who was not the least bit
concerned when Derleth had R'lyeh appear in the Atlantic. In fact, I
felt it was one of the few truly clever elements Derleth added to the
Mythos. After all, R'lyeh is not exactly normal. Why should it always
appear in the same place every time.
So to return to your suggestion, that Cthulhu resides in the basement of
a London wax museum, It sounds fine to me. In fact, I'll go one better.
Cthulhu, an entity who is simply beyond our frail human comprehension,
exisits simultaneously in a London wax museum and at R'lyeh (which might
be found eithier in the Atlantic or the Pacific).
By the by, the sentence you cited in your initial post supports the
theory of inhuman artists. "Rogers would lead his guest to one of the
hideous blasphemies in the screened-off alcove and point out features
difficult to reconcile with even the finest human craftsmanship" (HM,
Notice how Lovecraft tossed in the word human. It was not necessary.
One could read the sentence fine without the word. The only reason the
word is there is to suggest that the opposite might be the truth - an
inhuman craftsman. At least, that is what I think Lovecraft was trying
Regards and Best Wishes,
Donald Eric Kesler