Sweet Ermengarde

1 HARMSDM 15 Sep 1995
|-2 Thomas Iverson 16 Sep 1995
|-3 Bob Cannard 18 Sep 1995
\-4 Donovan Loucks 17 Sep 1995

From: HARMSDM@ctrvx1.Vanderbilt.Edu (HARMSDM) Newsgroups: alt.horror.cthulhu Subject: TSOU -- Sweet Ermengarde Date: 15 Sep 1995 00:56:17 GMT (OK, let's try this again.) The Shadow Over Usenet "Sweet Ermengarde" Sources: Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Miscellaneous Writings. Synopsis: Ermengarde is the beautiful daughter of a poor family. The villainious Squire, who has discovered gold on her parents' land, threatens to forclose the mortgage if Ermengarde does not marry him. Her valiant boyfriend sets off to the city to make his fortune and save the family, and ... What was that? No, I'm not kidding. This is a _real_ H. P. Lovecraft story. Though you can't tell from the above, the whole thing is a take-off on the Horatio Alger "rags-to- riches" genre, and is actually quite funny at places. Comments, Questions: If you've read this story, posting is mandatory. Hopefully we'll get something less obscure next week. Daniel
From: iverson@rocket.cc.umr.edu (Thomas Iverson) Newsgroups: alt.horror.cthulhu Subject: RE: Sweet Ermengarde Date: 16 Sep 1995 04:08:07 GMT HEEHEEHEE! I really loved this piece. A real gem. (And it contrasts nicely with HPL's more humourless works.) I could imagine the entire plot being made into a "Rocky & Bullwinkle" or "Dudly Do-right" show. :) TWI
From: Bob Cannard Newsgroups: alt.horror.cthulhu Subject: Re: TSOU: Sweet Ermengarde Date: 18 Sep 1995 06:23:56 GMT Excuse me, it's going to take a few minutes before I stop chuckling... I would love to know what caused HPL to write this particular piece of tomfoolery. It's true that he had been involved in certain squabbles over the merits (or lack thereof) of romantic stories, but those had generally been a decade earlier. Likewise, his poem "To Mistress Sophia Simple, Queen of the Cinema" is dated 1917. "Ermengarde" appears to have been perpetrated somewhere in the period 1919-25; but it seems the only evidence for this is the style of the handwriting in the manuscript. HPL's most uncharacteristic story refuses to be pinned down. That this tale is a parody is obvious from before the first line; the chosen pseudonym "Percy Simple" (no relation, one supposes) is enough of a giveaway. After this, the jokes run thick and fast, some more obvious or more entertaining than others. "Ermengarde" bears re-reading, each perusal revealing little digs or anomalies that were not apparent the previous time around. Some parts of the story leave me wondering. Consider the close of the first chapter: "Ermengarde, me love!" "Jack--my precious!" "My darling!" "My own!" "My Gawd!" Who said that last line? I have this sneaky suspicion that it's HPL, offstage, sniggering at his own vile dialogue. There are other places where it's unclear whether HPL was deliberately taking a poke at the ineptness of some writers, or whether he was unwittingly making a similar mistake himself. Would the following dialogue (from the end of Chapter 2) have changed if HPL had made a second draft: "Jack, my protector!" "Ermie, my sweet roll!" "Dearest!" "Darling!--and don't forget that ring at Perkins'." Surely Jack did not utter that last line, and literature contains so many cases of dialogue accidentally getting out-of-step with itself, that one has to suspect that this may be a deliberate mickey-take on HPL's part. Doubtless this and the other anomalies in the story will never be resolved; they may be nothing more than the inevitable errors that creep into a first draft. I gleefully hope that they are deliberate. On to Ermengarde herself. HPL's tales aren't exactly full to the brim with female characters, and HPL is not exactly noted for his respect for the female of the species. Nevertheless, for once we have a female character with pluck; I find myself contrasting Ermengarde's behaviour in tossing the perfidious suitor Algernon Reginald Jones out of the train, with that of the passive young lady in Brian Lumley's first Dreamlands novel. Bleached hair notwithstanding, Ethyl Ermengarde Stubbs is not to be trifled with. Finally, HPL turns the plot upside down by giving the villainous Squire everything his dastardly mind had schemed for: Ermengarde's hand, the gold, and the farm; but now it is all forced upon him, instead of being the results of his own machinations, and is described as "the last terrible punishment". Truly, Lovecraft's vision of Hell is strange and fearsome. +----------------------------+-------------------------------------+ | Bob Cannard, your friendly | Yuggoth Mining Corporation: Plunder | | local mi-go's newest spore | and interstellar travel specialists | | BobTheMigo@interramp.com | "Your Brain -- Our Gain!" | +----------------------------+-------------------------------------+
Newsgroups: alt.horror.cthulhu From: librik@netcom.com (David Librik) Subject: Re: TSOU -- Sweet Ermengarde Date: Mon, 18 Sep 1995 07:59:28 GMT HARMSDM@ctrvx1.Vanderbilt.Edu (HARMSDM) writes: > The Shadow Over Usenet > "Sweet Ermengarde" >Sources: Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Miscellaneous Writings. "One day as 'Squire Hardman sat in the front parlour of his expensive and palatial home, indulging in his favourite pastime of gnashing his teeth and swishing his riding-crop, a great thought came to him; and he cursed aloud at the statue of Satan on the onyx mantelpiece." I can't believe no one has responded to this article. "Sweet Ermengarde" is a great example of HPL's sense of humor -- learned (hands up, everyone who knows what methyl alcohol is), dry and literary ("You shall have the old home still [adverb, not noun]"), and with a tendency to throw high-flown prose incongruously together with 1920's colloquialisms. It's no surprise he didn't use it in his horror stories, since he believed that the sole purpose of such a story was to create an uncanny mood or image, and everything else that might distract from that (humor, characterization, plot) should be ruthlessly stripped away. But he could be touching, human, and funny, and while the best examples of this are in Selected Letters IV and V, "Sweet Ermengarde" is proof that even the reclusive early-1920s Lovecraft had a talent for farce. ("Collapsing Cosmoses" shows it off even better.) - David Librik librik@cs.Berkeley.edu
From: dloucks@primenet.com (Donovan Loucks) Newsgroups: alt.horror.cthulhu Subject: Re: TSOU -- Sweet Ermengarde Date: 17 Sep 1995 22:33:24 GMT Organization: Primenet (602)395-1010 This story had me in stitches! For those of you that aren't familiar with Lovecraft's letters, this story may come as something of a surprise. Lovecraft had a very strong sense of humour, and he lets it loose here. The story is broken up into 7 very short chapters (the entire stoy is a scant 7 pages long), and written in the style of an old-time serial. Lovecraft wrote this in his late 20's or early 30's, and was probably disgusted with the formulaic format of the serials of his time. This parody bears this out, and is chock-full of jabs at this style. For those of you unfortunate enough not to have this gem (it's printed in Arkham House's _Miscellaneous Writings_), here are some choice quotes: She had large black eyes, a prominent Roman nose, light hair which was never dark at the roots except when the local drug store was short on supplies, and a beautiful but inexpensive complexion. "Jack--my angel--at last--I mean, this is so unexpected and quite unprecedented!" "I cherish an affection for thee--consider me thine own and be sure to buy the ring at Perkins' hardware store where they have such nice imitation diamonds in the window." "I shall protect her--she is mine, mine, mine--and then some!" "Darling!--and don't forget that ring at Perkins'." Farmer Stubbs was quite distracted, and would have advertised in the papers if the cost had been less than a cent a word for each insertion. One day as 'Squire Hardman sat in the front parlour of his expensive and palatial home, indulging in his favourite pastime of gnashing his teeth and swishing his riding-crop, a great thought came to him; and he cursed aloud at the statue of Satan on the onyx mantelpiece. "Oh why," she sighed in innocent regret, "didn't I take his pocketbook before I pushed him out?" Perchance, too, he would not have known her; for in her poverty she had perforce become a brunette again, and Jack had not beheld her in that state since school days. But Ermengarde was doing some tall thinking. How could she get away with the sixteen-year-old stuff if she had been stolen twenty-eight years ago? Funny stuff! It's a shame that few of Lovecraft's fans know of his ability to write other than horror. +----------------------------------------------------------------------+ | Donovan K. Loucks Phoenix, Arizona dloucks@primenet.com | +----------------------------------------------------------------------+ | Lovecraft Web Page: http://www.primenet.com/~dloucks/hplpage.html | +----------------------------------------------------------------------+ | alt.horror.cthulhu FAQ: | | ftp://ftp.primenet.com/users/d/dloucks/alt.horror.cthulhu | +----------------------------------------------------------------------+

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