Jan 20th, 2018, Herbert West: Reanimator; Part VI: The Tomb-Legions by H.P. Lovecraft, The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft

The sixth and final part of Herbert West’s story finally sees the relationship between West and the narrator deteriorate completely. After Part V, in which West begins to reanimate parts of the human body, rather than a full corpse, the narrator of the story becomes disillusioned with his friend’s work. This begs the question of why this man would stay in West’s company as he becomes increasingly paranoid and deranged. It is recounted how West begins to look upon the narrator with an unnerving hunger, as well as other able-bodied people. While others do not understand the look West gives, they do perceive the fear of the narrator, and so this is why the police suspect him of foul play in the disappearance of Herbert West.

However, the narrator maintains his innocence and recounts how all the different specimens that he and West brought back to life assembled and. . . well. It isn’t pretty. And the last part of this piece shows the other-worldliness HPL was famous for. While this tale doesn’t deepen the religious mythos, it does ground readers firmly in the places that will play larger roles in the stories to come. Overall, not my favorite HPL piece, but likely a good sampling of his work.


Jan 17th, 2018, Herbert West: Reanimator; Part V: The Horror From The Shadows by H.P. Lovecraft, The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft

Finally, part V shows some change to both our narrator and Herbert West. If one would remember part IV, the actions of both the narrator and West take some dramatic turns, but the piece ends there and readers do not get the consequences until this part–part V.

The narrator is quite disgusted with West, as he has gone beyond the goal of reanimating a fresh corpse, and has now moved on to reanimating just detached limbs from human bodies. In West’s quest for specimens, he joins the efforts of WWI as a surgeon and drags the narrator along with him. Strangely, the narrator is critical of West but seems unable to do anything other than help West in his quests. This makes me wonder why power West has over the narrator, and whether the narrator is not a reanimated subject with programmed memories, whose only purpose is to help West achieve his goals. If not, I find the fact of the narrator helping West dubious at best.

This sets up the last part of this story, Part VI. While Miskatonic University and Arkham are commonly mentioned in this piece, the whole of it is less interesting to me than stories focusing on the mythos of Cthulhu and the pantheon of gods HPL created. While I will finish Herbert West soon, I will be glad to be done with it.

Jan 13th, 2018, Herbert West: Reanimator, Part III: Six Shots By Midnight by H.P. Lovecraft, The New Annotated Lovecraft

The third installment in this serialized story brings us more accounts of Herbert West and his nameless assistant, the narrator, trying to procure fresh corpses so the raise them from the dead.

Of course, this wouldn’t be an HPL story without a signature dose of bigotry and racism. This third part of the story is perhaps the most backward of all, and strangely, HPL proves himself wrong even when trying to establish black people inferior to white Nordic people.

West and the narrator get the fresh body of a black man who has been killed in a boxing match. Amid the bigoted descriptions of the corpse, they inject the body with the same solution they’ve used on white corpses (with only a bit of success, i.e. muscle spasms, eyes fluttering, and one white corpse sits upright on its own accord before slouching over once again), but with the black man’s corpse nothing happens at all. This is to imply that the solution used with white corpses would not work in a black person’s corpse. Earlier in the piece, it is established that animals need a different tailored chemical solution than animals. I think you know what HPL is trying to get at. But as I said, he proves himself the fool, as just days after they dispose of the body it comes to life again and. . . some sinister stuff happens. I’ll let you read it.

I can’t say that the racist messages HPL tried to disseminate don’t bother me. It wears on me for many reasons. That it is inherently wrong is an obvious reason, but that it is lazy craftsmanship is another. HPL narrated stories as himself. He didn’t have narrators who didn’t have views that weren’t his own, as far as I can tell thus far. A character with bigoted views would be understandable, but the sure number of letters HPL wrote in his lifetime leaves no doubt that his views on race would be seen as archaic and appalling in this day and age. Forgive me for saying so, but he’s about as racist as our president, so quite blatantly so.