When I somehow decided to pick up the book titled Shadows Over Innsmouth an Anthology of seventeen horror stories following the Lovecraftian genre, and edited by Stephen Jones, little did I realise that I would be impressed by the rather typical and unique kind of 'Horror' that would be thrown up by the first story in the anthology - an original novella by H.P. Lovecraft written in 1931, in its unedited version (so much so that the inverted commas remain in their incomplete form and the errors of editing are preserved in situ). I respect, Stephen Jones, decision in keeping the draft for the novella intact and in its original form.
While the first story in the anthology was a Lovecraftian original novella, the other sixteen were short stories written by sixteen other writers including: Beyond the Reef by Basil Copper,Big Fish by Jack Yeovil, Return to Innsmouth by Guy N. Smith, The Crossing by Adrian Cole, Down to the Boots by D.F. Lewis, The Church in High Street by Ramsey Campbell, Innsmouth Gold by David Sutton,…and so on.
Shadows over Innsmouth has a distinct saltiness about it, and the reader can feel, if not sense the distinct dampness of the whole plot, that suggests thoughts that border one’s consciousness. Unlike most of the other horror tales that have a coppery taste of blood, as in the case of most of them, Lovecraft has managed to create a rather distinct aftertaste of fishiness as a distinct indication of things not so normal. The suggestion of an important member of the Innsmouth society marrying a woman from his marine adventures and travels to far away lands and his progeny developing distinctly fishy characteristics after a certain number of years suggests that something is wrong in Innsmouth. The word, ‘fishy’ is very strongly brought out by H.P. Lovecraft in his novella, Shadows over Innsmouth! The residents of Innsmouth who have been affected by the disease brought in by one of the important members of the Innsmouth society makes itself felt when once a year people who have reached a certain age swim towards a particular island, a point offshore to unite with creatures that unique marine life characteristics.
Obed Marsh, the patriarch of the Innsmouth society is the man who first summoned the deep ones. Baranabas Marsh, the grandson of Obed Marsh, and the owner of Marsh refinery is one of the deep ones. He is probably the result of the union between Obed Marsh and a creature of the depths of the Oceans. He is a hybrid who will soon take to the waters once the transformation is almost complete. The Cthulhu Mythos brings out the myth of the union between human beings and the creatures of the depths of the oceans. The esoteric order of Dagon is all about a new religious order that promotes the interaction between human beings and the creatures that inhabit the depths of the oceans.
Ultimately, H.P. Lovecraft was critical about his own writing not perhaps realising the potential of his writing. The story of the publication of the Novella, ‘Shadows over Innsmouth’ is one that is replete with instances of rejections by publishers. Is this thus an example of how the cornerstone that was rejected by the builders became the cornerstone of a genre of writing that has became the forte of writers who have adopted a particular genre of writing today?
I very strongly believe that the suggestions presented by H.P.Lovecraft so many years ago needs to be explored by writers today. What makes Lovecraft’s writing distinct from the writing of today’s writers of horror lies in the suggestions that the novella Shadows over Innsmouth provides to the writer. The ability to suggest inferences rather than actual facts, the hints in themselves leave things open to suggestion! It wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that Lovecraft was way ahead of his times in terms of his writings. What matters in Lovercraft’s writings is the suggestions, the hints, and the implied suggestions of the results of hybridisation and genetics of interbreeding of species.
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