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Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 21 July, 2018 12:03PM
Recently having read "People of the Pit" for the first time, it was difficult not to think it was, in some sense, derivative of Lovecraft's ghost-written "The Mound", and in a vague way, and very much less so, "At the Mountains of Madness".

Then I found out that the Merritt story was written in 1917, predating the Lovecraft works.

The similarity to ATMOM is very tangential: there is the notion of a very, very old cycle of civilized life that pre-dates a historical records by hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of years. That's about it, and this is not necessarily unique, although I think this concept was most deeply--not to say obsessively--explored by Lovecraft.

POTP, however, postulates a hidden remnant of a civilization that is found by an explorer who is captured and essentially mutilated by this civilization. It is below ground, known to American Indians, and feared greatly. The explorer finds a way to pass his tale of warning to representatives of modern society.

Sound similar?

I would be very interested in hearing any opinions on this, but let's start by recognizing that this not an assault on Lovecraft's originality, but more long the lines of exploring an interesting lineage of a weird fiction trope: the warning against messing with a malevolent subterranean civilization.

Re: Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 21 July, 2018 01:46PM
Ahh, the wonderful Abraham Merritt!!! And his great little tale "The People of the Pit"! It was awhile ago I read it, but just hearing the title puts me in a very good mood. I remember especially the giant spanning bridge of this hidden civilization, and its vast scale may perhaps be reminiscent of Lovecraft's settings. A. E. van Vogt was inspired by A. Merritt, and vast scales is a bit of his central hallmark. I don't know if Lovecraft read this story, but he did read and was much inspired by "The Moon Pool", and later also The Metal Monster which exalted him.

Re: Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 21 July, 2018 01:50PM
Merritt's person has been compared to a shmoo.

Re: Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 22 July, 2018 05:04AM
I have not read "The Mound" yet but there are definite similarities between "People from The Pit" and "At The Mountains of Madness". It is hard to tell if Lovecraft ever read "People" but I remember when I was reading it, the thought of "At The Mountains Of Madness" came immediately to my mind. :-)
By the way, I like Merrit´s "People" much more than Lovecraft´s "The Mountains".

Re: Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 22 July, 2018 08:33AM
Lovecraft's "The Mound" was greatly inspired by Edgar Rice Burrough's "Pellucidar" stories, and to an extant by various other "inner Earth/Lost Race/Lost Civilization" tales. I don't think HPL mentions "The People of the Pit" specifically.

Re: Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 July, 2018 11:25AM
Ancient History Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lovecraft's "The Mound" was greatly inspired by
> Edgar Rice Burrough's "Pellucidar" stories, and to
> an extant by various other "inner Earth/Lost
> Race/Lost Civilization" tales. I don't think HPL
> mentions "The People of the Pit" specifically.

After I first posted, I got to thinking about the "subterranean civilization" motif in Weird Tales era stories. CAS has <i>Vulthoom</i> and <i>The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis</i>, at least. I would not count <i>The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan</i> or <i>The Seven Geases</i> because the subterranean setting is incidental to the main narrative, not central to it.

Oddly, at least one Betty Boop cartoon of the era has the same limitless subterranean motif.

I'm aware that this idea is very old and broadly distributed, but I'd like to concentrate on the late 19th/early-mid 20th C manifestations of forgotten civilizations underground.

FWIW, I really enjoy this forum...

Re: Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 6 August, 2018 10:05AM
Underworlds, usually with some hint of "civilization", and almost always horrific, have been touched upon in various HPL stories, and not just the two you mention above:

"The Transition of Juan Romero"; "The Rats in the Walls"; "The Festival"; "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath"; "Arthur Jermyn"; "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs"; "The Thing on the Doorstep"; "The Outsider"; "The Nameless City"; "Pickman's Model"; "The Horror at Red Hook"; "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward"; and "The Statement of Randolph Carter".

Even Cthulhu ("The Call of Cthulhu") is less an underwater entity, than an underworld entity whose access to the surface is (usually) blocked by water.

There are many other examples of underworld horror, from HPL's contemporaries, such as Clark Ashton Smith.

But how many before "The People of the Pit" (1919)? I can think of a few, but not many that are very comparable, unless you go all the way back to ancient myths. I am tempted to conclude therefore that "The People of the Pit" was indeed influential.



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