“From Beyond“


“From Beyond“
   Short story (3,030 words); written on November 16, 1920. First published in the Fantasy Fan (June 1934); rpt WT (February 1938); first collected in BWS;corrected text in D
   Crawford Tillinghast is a scientist who has devised a machine that will “break down the barriers” that limit our perception of phenomena to what our five senses perceive. He shows to his friend, the narrator, “a pale, outre colour or blend of colours” that he maintains is ultraviolet, ordinarily invisible to the human eye. As the experiment continues, the narrator begins to perceive amorphous, jellylike objects drifting through what he previously thought was empty air; he even sees them “brushing past me and occasionally walking or drifting through my supposedly solid body.” Later, as the experiment becomes increasingly peculiar and as Tillinghast begins shouting madly about the creatures he controls through his machine, the narrator suddenly fires a shot from a pistol, destroying the machine. Tillinghast is found dead of apoplexy.
   The story appears to be a fictionalization of some conceptions that HPL found in Hugh Elliot’s Modern Science and Materialism (1919), a book that significantly influenced his early philosophical thought (see SL1.134, 158). In particular, Elliot exhaustively discusses the limitations of our senseperceptions (specifically citing ultraviolet rays) and goes on to note that most solid matter is largely empty space. Several entries in HPL’s commonplace book written around this time (see \#34–\#36) appear to derive from Elliot’s book. Some of the characterization and imagery derive from HPL’s Civil War dream of early 1920 (see SL 1.100–102).
   In the original draft (revised much later for its first appearance), the scientist was named Henry Annesley. Both “Crawford” and “Tillinghast” are two old and wealthy families of colonial Providence (both are mentioned in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward). The story was submitted to several pulp magazines in the 1920s, including WTand Ghost Stories,but uniformly rejected.
   See S.T.Joshi, “The Sources for ‘From Beyond,’” CryptNo. 38 (Eastertide 1986): 15–19; Peter Dendle, “Patristic Demonology and Lovecraft’s ‘From Beyond,’” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 8, No. 3 (1997): 281–93.

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