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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.

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: 15 September, 2019 03:53PM
A. Merritt wrote a few essays, among them the two alluring titles "Man and the Universe" and "What is Fantasy?". Are these conspicuous by eccentric quality? In other words, are they worthwhile?

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: 23 October, 2019 12:18PM
"The altar front was a gigantic slab of purple covered with carvings. I can't describe these carvings! No human being could—the human eye cannot grasp them any more than it can grasp the shapes that haunt the fourth dimension. Only a subtle sense in the back of the brain sensed them vaguely. They were formless things that gave no conscious image, yet pressed into the mind like small hot seals—ideas of hate—of combats between unthinkable monstrous things—victories in a nebulous hell of steaming, obscene jungles—aspirations and ideals immeasurably loathsome—"

Very Lovecraftian, I think. :-)

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: 23 October, 2019 02:34PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "The altar front was a gigantic slab of purple
> covered with carvings. I can't describe these
> carvings! No human being could—the human eye
> cannot grasp them any more than it can grasp the
> shapes that haunt the fourth dimension. Only a
> subtle sense in the back of the brain sensed them
> vaguely. They were formless things that gave no
> conscious image, yet pressed into the mind like
> small hot seals—ideas of hate—of combats
> between unthinkable monstrous things—victories
> in a nebulous hell of steaming, obscene
> jungles—aspirations and ideals immeasurably
> loathsome—"
>
> Very Lovecraftian, I think. :-)

Yeah, if he had abandoned his lucrative career as reporter and head editor, embraced initial poverty and become a full time fiction writer, seriously dipping deep into it, he would have belonged to the Weird Tales Circle, or transcended their particular outlet, using parallel avenues, and had been much more famous today. Perhaps even become the greatest of them all.

Re: Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 14 February, 2020 11:38AM
I'm putting this query here since this seems to be the closest ED has to a thread devoted to Merritt, though there's some discussion of The Metal Monster going on right now, on a thread on CAS and Tolkien.

There are two versions of The Metal Monster, right? So which is better?

And there are two versions of The Moon Pool, aren't there? So which do you prefer -- whoever cares to comment?

Thanks.

I've read the 1960s Avon paperbacks of Dwellers in the Mirage and The Ship of Ishtar, and the version of "The Moon Pool" in Sam Moskowitz's Under the Moons of Mars anthology. Also "Through the Dragon Glass" in Lin Carter's The Young Magicians anthology, and "The Woman of the Wood" in some other anthology -- and I guess that's about all.

Re: Did A. Merrit's "People of the Pit" influence Lovecraft's "The Mound", and "At the Mountains of Madness"?
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 15 February, 2020 12:40AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And there are two versions of The Moon Pool,
> aren't there? So which do you prefer -- whoever
> cares to comment?

I have only read the original short story version, and I think it's a very remarkable jewel of a weird tale. It focuses largely on exploring (but never truly revealing) an ethereal, ancient mystery on a distant island.

The second version is an extended novel which takes the original short story and tacks on a much longer, much more conventional adventure in the lost land genre. I haven't read it myself, and I don't feel much desire to, but supposedly it isn't so bad, even if it doesn't measure up to the beauty, mystery, and originality of the short story.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 15 Feb 20 | 12:42AM by kojootti.

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: 15 February, 2020 02:20AM
kojootti Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dale Nelson Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > And there are two versions of The Moon Pool,
> > aren't there? So which do you prefer --
> whoever
> > cares to comment?
>
> I have only read the original short story version,
> and I think it's a very remarkable jewel of a
> weird tale. It focuses largely on exploring (but
> never truly revealing) an ethereal, ancient
> mystery on a distant island.
>
> The second version is an extended novel which
> takes the original short story and tacks on a much
> longer, much more conventional adventure in the
> lost land genre. I haven't read it myself, and I
> don't feel much desire to, but supposedly it isn't
> so bad, even if it doesn't measure up to the
> beauty, mystery, and originality of the short
> story.

I have read both. And as you say, the original short story is a finely and rather subtly written weird tale. The second version that is tacked onto and adapted to the follow-up story "The Conquest of the Moon Pool" and together published as the whole book The Moon Pool, has lost some of the fine subtlety and is more pulpy. I enjoyed the follow-up part in the book, because it has richly imaginative details, but it was also pulpy and inflated if my memory serves me right.

But I have not yet read the original magazine version of "The Conquest of the Moon Pool", so don't know if it is any different from its placement in the book.

I can say that I have read the magazine versions of "The Face In the Abyss" and "The Snake Mother", and they are much richer than the combined, shortened Avon paperback version The Face In the Abyss.

The original version of The Metal Monster has been published by [Hippocampus Press].



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 15 Feb 20 | 02:25AM by Knygatin.

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: 15 February, 2020 06:50AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> the shortened Avon paperback version The Face In the
> Abyss.

The editors seemed to go by the principle to remove every fourth or fifth sentence (I don't have the ratio, but that is how it felt), going through the text, just to skin it down. You can imagine what that does.

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: 1 May, 2020 03:00AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Oddly, at least one Betty Boop cartoon of the era
> has the same limitless subterranean motif.
>

I would be interested in seeing that. Can it be found on Youtube or elsewhere?

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: 1 May, 2020 11:44AM
I'm just not going to be able to recall it. I'm sorry.

The plot had Betty running thru an unwinding, unraveling corridor with portraits on the walls, many of which leered at her as she ran past.

It seemed both endless and multidimensional.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."



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