“Deaf, Dumb, and Blind“
- Short story (4,720 words); written in collaboration with C.M.Eddy, c. February 1924. First published in WT (April 1925); first collected in DB;corrected text in HM.A deaf, dumb, and blind man, Richard Blake, “the author-poet from Boston,” rents a lonely cottage — the Tanner place, on the outskirts of Fenton—because he thinks its “weird traditions and shuddering hints” might be an imaginative stimulus. The hermit Simeon Tanner had been found dead in the house in 1819, and something about the expression on his face led the townspeople to burn the body and the books and papers in the house. Blake moves into the place with his manservant, Dobbs. But after some anomalous incident Dobbs flees, babbling incoherently. Blake is left to himself, and he records his impressions in a diary he is preparing on his typewriter. This diary shows that Blake had become aware of some nameless presence in the house, and presently he somehow hearsbizarre sounds, then a blast of cold air, and finally icy fingers “that draw me down into a cesspool of eternal iniquity.” Blake is found dead, and Dr. Arlo Morehouse, who comes to investigate, becomes certain that the final bit of writing found in the machine was not typed by Blake. In a letter to August Derleth (in DB), Eddy reports: “[HPL] was unhappy with my handling of the note found in the typewriter at the very end of the protagonist’s account of his eerie experiences, the final paragraph that seemed to have been typed by one of his persecutors. After several conferences over it, and an equal number of attempts on my part to do it justice, he finally agreed to re write the last paragraph.” This seems to suggest—although perhaps not by design—that HPL revised only the last paragraph; in truth, the entire tale was probably revised, although Eddy presumably wrote the first draft.The tale’s conclusion bears some analogy with “The Statement of Randolph Carter”: in that story, the monstrous entity makes its presence known by speech (through a telephone); here, the entity reveals itself by writing. There is also a foreshadowing of “The Dunwich Horror,” in that Simeon Tanner is said to have “bricked up the windows of the southeast room, whose east wall gave on the swamp,” suggesting that he had kept some creature imprisoned within the room, just as Old Man Whateley attempted to contain Wilbur Whateley’s twin.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.
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