“Loved Dead, The“
- Short story (4,000 words); written in collaboration with C.M.Eddy, Jr., probably in October 1923. First published in WT(May–June– July 1924); rpt. Arkham Sampler(Summer 1948); first collected in DB; corrected text in HMA man living in the rural village of Fenham becomes, as a result of a repressive upbringing, a necrophile; accordingly, he works for one undertaking establishment after another so as to achieve the desired intimacy with corpses. He then begins to commit murders, after which he secures “an ecstatic hour of pleasure, pernicious and unalloyed.” On one occasion, however, an employer catches him embracing a corpse and dismisses him. He then enlists in the army during World War I as an opportunity to be near corpses. Returning to Fenham, now a city of some size, he again works for an undertaker and again begins committing murders. At length he arouses the suspicions of the police, and they begin tracking him down as he flees from one hiding place to another. Ending up in a cemetery, he writes an account of his crimes before committing suicide.The story reads as if HPL had written it from beginning to end, although it clearly was based on a draft by Eddy. The tale is manifestly a self-parody and in its florid language brings to mind “The Hound.” Some passages are remarkably explicit for their day: “One morning Mr. Gresham came much earlier than usual—came to find me stretched out upon a cold slab deep in ghoulish slumber, my arms wrapped about the stark, stiff, naked body of a foetid corpse! He roused me from my salacious dreams, his eyes filled with mingled detestation and pity.”When the tale was published in WT,it elicited a protest from authorities in Indiana, who sought to have the issue banned. Subsequently, editor Farnsworth Wright became hesitant to accept any stories from HPL that featured explicitly gruesome passages of the kind found in “The Loved Dead,” and as a result several of HPL’s later tales were rejected.See David E.Schultz, “On ‘The Loved Dead,’” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 25–28.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.
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