Classic Horror Lovers discussion

Tales to Chill Your Blood Reads > Pickman's Model by HP Lovecraft Group Discussion (Spoilers)

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I'm sorry to get this up late. This week's story is Pickman's Model by HP Lovecraft.

Here is a link to the story (thanks, Jason):

message 2: by Hazel (new)

Hazel Benson | 10 comments I've only just got around to reading this, so I thought I'd better get typing while it's still fresh in my mind. There was a lot of fearful atmosphere in this one. I could see the ending coming, but that didn't spoil the story for me. It left it in a creepy place for me and a bit revolting! An uncomfortable read...yes...I enjoyed tho.

message 3: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments I find that seeing the ending coming is fairly common with Lovecraft stories. I don't think he cared about that, though. I think that, to Lovecraft, it was more about the atmosphere and the situation than a twist at the end.

I thought that Pickman's Model was pretty good. I've heard it said that this is one of Lovecraft's favorites, though it i don't think it will be a favorite for me. Actually, thinking about it, it would make the top ten list of my Lovecraft's stories.

It's the ending that makes this story so good, imo. I thought it was really creepy. It reminds me of those situations where new friends tell you a little bit too much about themselves when you first go over to their house. LOL

message 4: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) Ooooh yeah a favorite of mine!

message 5: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) I still love it :) Can you imagine what Lovecraft might think of modern horror films and art? There are clear echoes of the story in Laymon's Beast House books.

message 6: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments You know, Amanda, I didn't think of that before, but I can see the connection.

Although I love this story, I thought it would have been better if Pickman fed the protagonist to the ghouls for a painting. But then, I'm kinda twisted. lol

message 7: by Simon (new)

Simon (friedegg) | 133 comments I particularly liked the way the demon paintings were described in this story. Quite an effective piece of storytelling.

message 8: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) Jason wrote: "You know, Amanda, I didn't think of that before, but I can see the connection.

Although I love this story, I thought it would have been better if Pickman fed the protagonist to the ghouls for a..."

Lol or if he physically saw what happened to Pickman.

message 9: by Werner (new)

Werner Amanda, I actually think (and Lovecraft and a lot of the other classic horror writers evidently agreed) that there's often more of a horrific effect when the reader doesn't physically see what happens --when it's left to the unbounded pictures the imagination can paint. Directly describing it reduces or domesticates it, psychologically, to a certain extent. :-) (And Jason, there would be a serious technical problem with Pickman feeding the narrator to the ghouls --if he had, who would Eliot be hearing about this from? The author would have to have used the third person instead; but the first person works really well here, IMO.)

I'm guessing that this was written before "The Call of Cthulhu" (1927), but you can see a foreshadowing of the Cthulhu Mythos in the image of a malevolent, subterranean non-human race menacing us from the shadows. The line, "The dog-things were developed from mortals!" also hints at another Lovecraft theme that appears in other tales as well, such as "Arthur Jermyn" and "The Lurking Fear," and that grows out of his Darwinism: the converse of evolution, the Darwinist's "lurking fear" of human devolution. And the italicized ending is a touch that this author used often for effect --practically a trademark. :-)

message 10: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments Very true, Werner, very true!

If written in the third person, however, I still think it would have been more fun for the protagonist to be fed to the ghouls. But in all honesty, I love the story just the way it is.

My first thought when the protagonist noticed the camera was, 'Oh no, we're about to be fed to a ghoul!'. I was so into the story at that point that I forgot I was reading a first person account. LOL

message 11: by Martha (last edited Feb 17, 2011 05:38PM) (new)

Martha (hellocthulhu) | 325 comments Mod
Astute, Werner. Joshi estimates "Call of Cthulhu" was written Aug or Sept 1926 (published Feb 1928) and "Pickman's Model" as written in Sept 1926 (published Oct 1927). So it's likely they were written around the same time. And I smiled at your mention of the italicized ending as being practically a trademark! Ia! Ia!

This isn't one of my favorites personally, but I do think it's one of Lovecraft's more accessible stories. The narrative isn't dense and overwritten like many of his stories, and has a conversational tone that is more gripping to the reader.
I enjoy Lovecraft employing all manner of styles, but I think reading "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" ruined this story a bit for me. Hearing of Pickman and his merry band of ghouls helping a dream-traveler on his way in a rambling dark fantasy tale kind of took away the scares and dread this story had. Maybe it's just me, but anyway, I don't recommend reading TDQOUK.

message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments LOL I'm reading Unknown Kadath right now. Near finished it, actually. Carter's "merry band of ghouls" really does ruin the creepiness of Pickman's Model. I hate Unknown Kadath for that reason alone.

message 13: by Werner (last edited Feb 18, 2011 06:12AM) (new)

Werner Thanks, Martha; that's interesting to learn! I've had The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath buried somewhere in one of my (many) to-read stacks for ages; but I didn't know it had a connection to this story. Hmmmm! Yes, it would be really hard to visualize Pickman and the ghoulish creatures he painted playing any kind of benevolent role; there would be quite a lapse in consistency there. (Nevertheless, I still plan to read that book; I'll get around to it one of these years.... :-) )

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
The consensus is HPL's fantasy is not quite as good. I admit that I thought "The Doom that Came to Sarnath" was a real disappointment.

I really liked this story. I liked how creepy it was, and how the narrator had lived to tell his tale, but he was probably driven insane by what he'd seen.

message 15: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments Agreed. His dream fantasy stories are, IMO, painful.

I'm amazed the protag didn't faint. Or did he, and I'm forgetting?

message 16: by mark (last edited Feb 18, 2011 07:37PM) (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 34 comments i guess i'm one of the few who loved Dream Quest! such an unusual story from the author. who knew that the cthulhu mythos could also inhabit the Fantasy genre. wasn't there a cheeky version of Nyarlothotep in there too? lovecraft must have been in a strangely good mood when he wrote it.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I probably would have fainted!

I read most of The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, including the forewords and the footnotes, and it was interesting to learn so much about Lovecraft. Apparently he went through a period where he emulated Lord Dunsany, and those stories are not highly regarded by critics.

message 18: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 34 comments ah! i did not know that. but it makes so much sense when thinking of Dream Quest.

message 19: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments Very true, Lady Danielle. I'm currently reading H.P. Lovecraft: A Life, and that issue was extensively researched by Joshi, as was every other detail in Lovecraft's writing and personal life.

Lovecraft also went through a fairly big Machen period, which, it is arguable I think, can go hand in hand with his Dunsany stories.

message 20: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments Mark, you're not alone in liking Dream Quest. Although I was taking shots at it above, I liked at least half of it. Joshi says that it's one of those stories that Lovecraft fans either love or hate. I'm somewhere in the middle, though.

I would have liked it better if I hadn't read stories like Pickman's Model. The ghouls in the story, along with the night gaunts and Nyarlathotep really ruined my impression of them from his more horrific stories.

But, I would also say that Dream Quest is one of the best of his dream/fantasy stories. That and The White Ship, which I enjoyed also.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I can definitely see the Machen nods in his stories, although he doesn't seem as into the spiritual aspects as Machen.

message 22: by mark (last edited Feb 18, 2011 08:18PM) (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 34 comments i will have to find The White Ship. and here i thought i had read all the lovecraft that there was to be read! including The Mound, which if i recall correctly, he allowed to be issued under the name of one of his female fans.

message 23: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments Actually, he revised The Mound for a woman by the name of Zealia Bishop. She paid him for the service. Another good one he revised for the same woman is The Curse of Yig. It's an awesome story that Lovecraft claimed to have pretty much recreated in his revision, but let Zealia keep her name on it.

I wouldn't know any of this if it wasn't for Joshi and a podcast I've been listening too lately as well. It's call The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, where the hosts, Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey, discuss Lovecraft's work in chronological order from when the stories were written. It's a very entertaining, educational and funny podcast.

Here's a link for it:

message 24: by mark (new)

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 34 comments cool, thanks!

message 25: by Werner (new)

Werner Personally, I actually liked "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" (and "The White Ship"). Of course, I'm weird. :-) (When you're reading Lovecraft, being weird probably helps.) Those stories are different from the main body of his work, but to me they just show more of his range --he wasn't a one-note composer, by any means.

Mark and Jason, Lovecraft actually did quite a few manuscript revisions, for a lot of aspiring writers, all of which tended to involve various degrees of re-writing; he either got shared credit or no credit, but he was paid for it and that was one thing that helped keep him marginally solvent. (During his own lifetime, his writing hadn't achieved the popularity it has now, and he actually lived in dire poverty.) The only one of those stories I've personally read is the mummy tale he revised for Harry Houdini (I don't have the title in front of me); but the multi-volume collection of his works, published I think by Arkham House, collects all of them in one volume.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
I would like to read the story he wrote for Houdini.

message 27: by Martha (new)

Martha (hellocthulhu) | 325 comments Mod
I have the collection The Horror in the Museum which collects his revisions and attempts to put them in the order of how extensively HPL rewrote them. They are mostly good stories, so I recommend it.

message 28: by Steve (new)

Steve Chaput (stevec50) Jason wrote: "Actually, he revised The Mound for a woman by the name of Zealia Bishop. She paid him for the service. Another good one he revised for the same woman is The Curse of Yig. It's an awesome story that..."

Thanks for the information on the pod cast. I'll have to check it out later today.

I had some brief correspondence with Joshi, back in the early '80s and found him an amazing storehouse of HPL knowledge.

message 29: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 164 comments No problem, Steve. I hope you enjoy it.

I envy you your corresponding with Joshi. He is a wealth of knowledge of all things Lovecraftian.

Yeah, Lovecraft's poverty was pretty bad. If I'm remembering correctly, he used to brag about how he could make a can of beans and a loaf of bread last one week.

Lady Danielle, that story Lovecraft wrote for Houdini is Under the Pyramids. It's also called Imprisoned with the Pharoahs. It was orignally published as the latter but became better known, and is now titled, as the former.

message 30: by Werner (last edited Feb 19, 2011 05:02PM) (new)

Werner Yes, that's it --"Imprisoned with the Pharaohs." Lady Danielle, you can find that one in Mummy Stories of the Living Corpse, as well as, of course, in the volume Martha cited, The Horror in the Museum.

Martha, that's the volume I was describing as a part of a complete collection of HPL's works. I stand corrected; the publisher is Del Rey, not Arkham House.

message 31: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen) , Jamesian Enthusiast (last edited Feb 19, 2011 05:12PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 1347 comments Mod
Thanks, Jason and Werner!

message 32: by David (new)

David 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward' was his masterpiece, and also 'The Dunwich Horror'.

back to top