“Tomb, The“


“Tomb, The“
   Short story (4,190 words); written in June 1917. First published in the Vagrant(March 1922); rpt. WT (January 1926); first collected in O;corrected text in D; annotated version in TD.
   Jervas Dudley tells of his lonely and secluded life. He discovers, in a wooded hollow near his home, a tomb that houses the remains of a family, the Hydes, that dwelt in a mansion nearby. This mansion had been struck by lightning and burned to the ground, although only one member of the family had perished in the flame. The tomb exercises an unholy fascination upon Dudley, and he haunts it for hours at a time. It is locked, but the door is “fastened ajarin a queerly sinister way by means of heavy iron chains and padlocks, according to a gruesome fashion of half a century ago.” Dudley resolves to enter this tomb at any cost, but he is too young and weak to break open the lock (he is only ten years old at this time). Gradually he begins to display various odd traits, in particular a knowledge of very ancient things that he could not possibly have learned from books. One night, as he is lying on a bower outside the tomb, he seems to hear voices from within: “Every shade of New England dialect, from the uncouth syllables of the Puritan colonists to the precise rhetoric of fifty years ago, seemed represented in that shadowy colloquy….” He does not say what the colloquy was about, but upon returning home he goes directly to a rotting chest in the attic and finds a key to unlock the tomb.
   Dudley spends much time in the tomb. But now another peculiar change takes place in him: hitherto a sequestered recluse, he begins to show signs of “ribald revelry” as he returns from the tomb. In one instance he declaims a drinking song of Georgian cast. He also develops a fear of thunderstorms. Dudley’s parents, worried about his increasingly odd behavior, now hire a “spy” to follow his actions. On one occasion Dudley thinks that this spy has seen him coming out of the tomb, but the spy tells his parents that Dudley had spent the night on the bower outside the tomb. Dudley, now convinced that he is under some sort of supernatural protection, frequents the tomb without fear or circumspection. One night, as thunder is in the air, he goes to the tomb and sees the mansion as it was in its heyday. A party is under way, and guests in powdered wigs are brought in by carriage. But a peal of thunder interrupts the “swinish revelry” and a fire breaks out. Dudley flees, but finds himself being restrained by two men. They maintain that Dudley had spent the entire night outside the tomb and point to the rusted and unopened lock as evidence. Dudley is put away in a madhouse. A servant, “for whom I bore a fondness in infancy,” goes to the tomb, breaks it open, and finds a porcelain miniature with the initials “J.H.”; the picture could be of Dudley’s twin. “On a slab in an alcove he found an old but empty coffin whose tarnished plate bears the single word ‘Jervas’. In that coffin and in that vault they have promised me I shall be buried.”
   HPL noted that the genesis of the story occurred in June 1917, when he was walking with his aunt Lillian Clark through Swan Point Cemetery and came upon a tombstone dating to 1711. “Why could I not talk with him, and enter more intimately into the life of my chosen age? What had left his body, that it could no longer converse with me? I looked long at that grave, and the night after I returned home I began my first story of the new series—The Tomb’” (HPL to the Gallomo, [January] 1920). The tombstone is evidently one in the Clark plot—one Simon Smith (d. March 4, 1711), apparently a distant ancestor of Mrs. Clark.
   William Fulwiler points out that the use of the name Hyde is a nod to Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,suggesting that both works involve a double. There may also be an influence from Poe’s “Ligeia.”
   The so-called “Drinking Song from ‘The Tomb’” was written separately, perhaps years before the story itself. The manuscript of the poem survives at JHL as part of an unfinished letter to an unknown correspondent. There the song is titled “Gaudeamus,” and HPL evidently wrote it as a response to another poem (apparently by an amateur journalist) of the same title, which HPL considered inferior. Will Murray has conjectured that the song may have been inspired by a similar song contained in Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan or New Canaan(1637), but a likelier source may be a song in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s School for Scandal(1777).
   See William Fulwiler, “‘The Tomb’ and ‘Dagon’: A Double Dissection,” Crypt No. 38 (Eastertide 1986): 8–14; Will Murray, “A Probable Source for the Drinking Song from The Tomb,’” LSNo. 15 (Fall 1987): 77–80.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Jesus Family Tomb — The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History (ISBN 0061192023) is a controversial book by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles R. Pellegrino (with a Foreword by James Cameron) published in February… …   Wikipedia

  • Tomb of Lazarus (al-Eizariya) — The Tomb of Lazarus at al Eizariya The reputed tomb of Lazarus in al Eizariya Basic information Location …   Wikipedia

  • The Crypt (Kings Island) — The Crypt (Formerly and better known as Tomb Raider: The Ride) at King s Island is a fully enclosed Giant Top Spin thrill ride built by HUSS Rides. It opened at King s Island in 2002 and is the world s only Giant Top Spin.The Crypt was a higher… …   Wikipedia

  • Tomb of the Scipios — The Tomb of the Scipios was an ancient Roman funerary monument in Rome, along the via Appia a short distance from Porta San Sebastiano.HistoryThe tomb was definitely founded at the start of the 3rd century BC by Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus,… …   Wikipedia

  • The Tomb (short story) — The Tomb is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft written in June 1917 and first published in the March 1922 issue of The Vagrant . It is the first work of fiction that Lovecraft wrote as an adult.ynopsis The Tomb tells of Jervas Dudley, a self… …   Wikipedia

  • Tomb of Akbar the Great — The Tomb of Akbar the Great is the an important architectural masterpiece set in 48 Ha (119 acres) of grounds in Sikandra a suburb of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. The third Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great (1542 – 1605), himself commenced its… …   Wikipedia

  • The Second Maiden's Tragedy — is a Jacobean play that survives only in manuscript. It was written in 1611, and performed in the same year by the King s Men. The manuscript that survives is the copy that was sent to the censor, and therefore includes his notes and deletions.… …   Wikipedia

  • Tomb of Genghis Khan — The Onon river, Mongolia in autumn, a site where Temüjin was born and grew up. The location of the tomb of Genghis Khan (died 1227) has been the object of much speculation and research. As of 2011, the site remains undiscovered. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Tomb of Zechariah — The Tomb of Zechariah ( he. קבר זכריה) is an ancient monument in the Kidron Valley, directly east of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is not, strictly speaking, a tomb, but a monument situated adjacent to a tomb. The structure, which has a pyramid… …   Wikipedia

  • The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959 film) — The Tiger of Eschnapur German film poster Directed by Fritz Lang Produced by …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.