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Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Chipougne (IP Logged)
Date: 6 April, 2019 11:31AM
I first read «Far Below» as a teenager in this French anthology and was quite impressed by it. Back then it reminded me of Lovecraft’s «Pickman’s Model». It seems to me that these creatures qualify as ghouls, yes.

https://www.noosfere.org/livres/niourf.asp?numlivre=-1171438492

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 6 April, 2019 11:56AM
For the life of me, I cannot remember what Pickman´s Model is about, though its author belongs among my favourite writers, but the fact remains Lovecraft is explicitly mentioned in "Far Below". And not only Lovecraft, even Washington Irving, Nyarlathotep and cosmic horror are mentioned by the narrator. Simply a weird tale at its best. :-)

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Chipougne (IP Logged)
Date: 6 April, 2019 12:00PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> For the life of me, I cannot remember what
> Pickman´s Model is about, though its author
> the fact
> remains Lovecraft is explicitly mentioned in "Far
> Below". And not only Lovecraft, even Washington
> Irving, Nyarlathotep and cosmic horror are
> mentioned by the narrator.

Hence this "impression" I was under. :D Memory... Well, that was almost 40 years ago, time to read it again I guess.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 6 April, 2019 10:24PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Do you know a short story "Far Below" (1939) by
> Robert Barbour Johnson that was published in a
> Weird Tales issue?

Thank you. I was able to find it on archive.org from your description (Weird Tales, June-July, 1939). It is pretty good.

Like you said, it references Lovecraft's name directly, as an author who knew about "the Things". I think there is also a more subtle reference to Lucas White's "Amina".

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 6 April, 2019 10:32PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> For the life of me, I cannot remember what
> Pickman´s Model is about, though its author
> belongs among my favourite writers, but the fact
> remains Lovecraft is explicitly mentioned in "Far
> Below". And not only Lovecraft, even Washington
> Irving, Nyarlathotep and cosmic horror are
> mentioned by the narrator. Simply a weird tale at
> its best. :-)

Pickman is an morbid artist painting ghouls, and other horrific subjects, in Boston, who offers to show his friend, the narrator, his private studio where he does his best work. Eventually, the narrator realizes that the paintings are not fiction.

One of his paintings is called "Subway Accident", and depicts ghouls attacking subway passengers. This is the direct inspiration for "Far Below".

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 7 April, 2019 04:08AM
Archive.org is great, I used to visit the site to get stuff from there but now I visit www.luminist.org/archives/SF/WT.htm that Jeff Gilleland recommended in one of his posts on this forum some time ago. They have complete Weird Tales issues and other magazines.

By the way, why ghoul stories? Are you fond of this subgenre?

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 8 April, 2019 09:26AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> By the way, why ghoul stories? Are you fond of
> this subgenre?

I cannot recall any particular reason. After doing a certain amount of reading of certain authors, I found I knew a bit about ghoul fiction and folklore, and its origins. On a whim, I decided to see if could find out more. I decided to post my results here, since Clark Ashton Smith, morbid fellow that he was, has written more than the usual share of ghoul stories.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 17 October, 2019 02:43AM
The Chuckler ... In The Tomb (Fantasy Magazine, September 1934) - Donald Wandrei. Another one with a ghoul.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2019 11:36AM
Definition?

Let me cite the book that Abdul Alhazred himself would have consulted about such matters, if he had been able.

The book in question is Barbara Ninde Byfield's self-illustrated tome The Glass Harmonica: A Lexicon of the Fantastical (1967) -- formerly a fannish favorite.

'GHOULS, whose food is the flesh of the dead and whose homes are the graveyards and burial places of the world, are at times mistaken for Vampires. However, they are easily distinguishable: Ghouls, if clothed at all, wear clotted and stained ragas; Vampires are much more elegantly attired. Ghouls are not liquivores, as are Vampires, and far prefer human carrion to any other diet. It is only occasionally that they take the meat of a living child or the egg of a vulture.
"Ghouls can work during daylight if necessary; they are often blind since their senses of hearing and smell are highly developed and they can find what they need without sight. They are desiccated, with cracked lips, chapped knees, and fingers cakes with dried meats. Clever, swift, and wily, they are seldom caught at their practices and their presence is affirmed only by the discovery of untidily opened graves.
"Ghouls do not disturb Vampires, who in turn have no interest in Ghouls.
"There is no known cure."


The Glass Harmonica was reprinted in paperback as The Book of Weird, but my understanding is that the latter volume is cursed by a notably bad binding.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2019 11:39AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Chuckler ... In The Tomb (Fantasy Magazine,
> September 1934) - Donald Wandrei. Another one with
> a ghoul.

Thank you. I shall have to track that one down.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2019 12:41PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Definition?

Basically a ghoul is a demon or evil genie who haunts desolate places (including graveyards) and devours human flesh (including corpses found in graveyards).

I would prefer to distinguish them from flesh-eating zombies, which are sometimes called "ghouls".

HPL's "Pickman's Model" had some influence on the idea that humans can become ghouls. But this may be a misunderstanding. Pickman was a changeling. He was never human. At the very least, he was never fully human.

CAS's ghouls seem to be partly human in some cases. They are often born to human mothers who have had unfortunate encounters.

But I don't want to be too narrow about the term. I just want to trace ghoul fiction down to HPL's time, and a bit beyond.

> Let me cite the book that Abdul Alhazred himself
> would have consulted about such matters, if he had
> been able.
>
> The book in question is Barbara Ninde Byfield's
> self-illustrated tome The Glass Harmonica: A
> Lexicon of the Fantastical (1967) -- formerly a
> fannish favorite.

Thank you for the quote. It may have had some influence. The ghouls of the "Dungeons and Dragons" manuals, by Gary Gygax, for instance, which date back to the early 70s, seem to have followed this portrait. Gygax classified Ghouls as "undead", which seems to fit with this source.

> 'GHOULS, whose food is the flesh of the dead and
> whose homes are the graveyards and burial places
> of the world, are at times mistaken for Vampires.
> However, they are easily distinguishable: Ghouls,
> if clothed at all, wear clotted and stained ragas;
> Vampires are much more elegantly attired.

Personally, I would not say that clothing has anything to do with the distinction between ghoul and vampire.

> Ghouls
> are not liquivores, as are Vampires, and far
> prefer human carrion to any other diet.

This is more to the point (as far as I would tend to define ghouls). But I would also say that Vampires are undead humans; and that Ghouls, at least in original conception, are essentially inhuman and demonic in origin.

> "There is no known cure."

Suggesting the idea that ghouls are transformed humans in the opinion of this author.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24 Oct 19 | 12:43PM by Platypus.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2019 04:26PM
Byfield's book is a tongue-in-cheek thing that appealed to me a lot as a library user at about age 12, and that I remembered fondly enough eventually to get a copy of my own.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2019 01:14AM
Soon as I find it I'll link it here, but I recall a folkloric book which was either dedicated to ghoul folklore or had a chapter full of ghoul folk stories. It seems the Arabian definition of ghoul was a lot looser than most people would think. They, like genies, possessed many different forms and temperaments. In this particular book they're often described as strange chimeras with elements of horses, birds, and other animals. They also seem to eat the living as much as they eat the dead, possibly even preferring the living since most of the stories didn't even mention them eating the dead. But there are many benign examples of ghouls too. There's a story of a ghoul who adopts a girl and grants her magical knowledge, a story of a mother ghoul who adopts a human as her son and orders her ghoul children fly him to Heaven, and a story of an elderly ghoul who helps the kind protagonist overcome magical obstacles with his knowledge.

I'm not especially dedicated to Arabian culture and folklore, so I could easily be wrong, but it sounds to me like they're an example of the classic bogeyman, taking any shape and quality necessary for a particular story. I'm guessing that western writers eventually cemented the idea that ghouls are dedicated grave-diggers.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 25 Oct 19 | 01:18AM by Yluos.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2019 09:46PM
Yluos Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Soon as I find it I'll link it here, but I recall
> a folkloric book which was either dedicated to
> ghoul folklore or had a chapter full of ghoul folk
> stories.

If you can identify it, I would be grateful.


> I'm guessing
> that western writers eventually cemented the idea
> that ghouls are dedicated grave-diggers.

This is mainly due to the "Tale of Sidi Nouman" from a later volume of Galland's Arabian Nights. This is the story whose English translation introduced the "goule" to the English language in the early 1700s. But in that story, the goule does not do much more than dig up and eat a corpse, in the company of a sorceress who shares his/her/its repast.

In "Sidi Nouman", Galland helpfully provides a definition of "goule" (which I provided near the beginning of this thread). The definition makes clear that they do not actually inhabit graveyards, and tend to prefer freshly killed humans. But I guess people tended to remember only what actually occurred in the tale.

A she-ghoul (or "ghullah") actually appeared earlier in the very first volume of Galland's Arabian Nights, but in that early volume he translated it as "ogress". I guess this accident of translation helped prevent a more balanced idea of the ghoul.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 25 Oct 19 | 09:50PM by Platypus.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2019 02:48AM
I'm having a difficult time finding that book, but I'm keeping my promise of posting a link to it as soon as I can. Last time I read it was a little over a year ago on a website I don't remember. It offered a good handful of ghoul folk stories, each story accompanied by notes about their relevance to ancient Arabic culture.

I did however find this segment of an article which discusses the folkloric origin of ghouls.

[science.howstuffworks.com]

It's very brief and there aren't so many sources, but the author confidently states that the original Arabic ghuls were not grave-diggers, confirming some of what you shared. William Beckford may have also played a role in further cementing the relatively recent belief that ghouls are scavengers. Hope this helps; I'm gonna look even deeper into this.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 27 Oct 19 | 02:50AM by Yluos.

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