“It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.”
We recently covered H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness on the podcast. Nate had a lot of strong feelings about the story and as a result we spent a lot of time dissecting where Lovecraft went wrong. As a result some of the details were misrepresented and some neat trivia bits were cut for time.
Correction: At The Mountains of Madness was not in Weird Tales magazine
I implied several times that this story was published in Weird Tales magazine. That was not the case. Much of Lovecraft’s work was published in Weird Tales, but At The Mountains of Madness was not. Lovecraft originally submitted the novella to Weird Tales in 1931, but it was rejected. At The Mountains of Madness would not find publication until 1935 in Astounding Stories magazine. Lovecraft received a substantial payout for the story, the largest of his career, in fact. It was published in a serialized format (3 installments), with numerous changes that Lovecraft did not approve. He was very angry about this. The version we read was not the originally published Astounding Stories version, but a restored text.
The story was not well received. Lovecraft took both the initial rejection from Weird Tales and the subsequent poor reviews very hard. This was a bit of a pattern with Lovecraft. Lovecraft was very sensitive to rejection and criticism, and it has been suggested that this fear of failure may have contributed to his lack of initiative in seeking publication for his work.
What was that about Guillermo Del Toro?
Nate briefly mentioned Guillermo Del Toro being able to make a good movie out of this story. We didn’t get a chance to talk about it much in the episode, but he didn’t just pull the director’s name out of cold air (see what I did there?). Guillermo Del Toro has in fact been trying for years to get a Mountains of Madness movie made.
Correction: What was that about referencing someone else’s stuff?
We briefly mentioned that Lovecraft was referencing someone else’s story with the mythos building in this story. I’m not sure if it was clear in the podcast, but we were talking about The Plateau of Leng. As near as I am able to tell, I was misinformed on that point and the Plateau of Leng is an original H.P. Lovecraft idea. The Shoggoth’s cry of “tekeli-li” was of course a reference to Poe’s work.
Did you know that Arthur C. Clarke wrote a Lovecraft parody?
At The Mountains of Murkiness was one of Clarke’s earliest published works. If you’re interested in learning more about it I highlight recommend checking out this blog post.