Lovecraft On July 16, , I moved into Exham Priory after the last workman had finished his labours. The restoration had been a stupendous task, for little had remained of the deserted pile but a shell-like ruin; yet because it had been the seat of my ancestors I let no expense deter me. The place had not been inhabited since the reign of James the First, when a tragedy of intensely hideous, though largely unexplained, nature had struck down the master, five of his children, and several servants; and driven forth under a cloud of suspicion and terror the third son, my lineal progenitor and the only survivor of the abhorred line. With this sole heir denounced as a murderer, the estate had reverted to the crown, nor had the accused man made any attempt to exculpate himself or regain his property. Shaken by some horror greater than that of conscience or the law, and expressing only a frantic wish to exclude the ancient edifice from his sight and memory, Walter de la Poer, eleventh Baron Exham, fled to Virginia and there founded the family which by the next century had become known as Delapore. Exham Priory had remained untenanted, though later allotted to the estates of the Norrys family and much studied because of its peculiarly composite architecture; an architecture involving Gothic towers resting on a Saxon or Romanesque substructure, whose foundation in turn was of a still earlier order or blend of orders—Roman, and even Druidic or native Cymric, if legends speak truly.
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The Rats in the Walls is a short story by H. Lovecraft which was first published in Weird Tales in March The story begins in July Over the years there have been many horrific stories attributed to the castle:. And, most vivid of all, there was the dramatic epidemic of the rats—the scampering army of obscene vermin which had burst forth from the castle three months after the tragedy that doomed it to desertion—the lean, filthy, ravenous army which had swept all before it and devoured fowl, cats, dogs, hogs, sheep, and even two hapless human beings before its fury was spent.
After two years restoring the castle the narrator moves in. Within a week the cats start to act a bit strangely, staring at the walls and roving about the house. The narrator starts to have nightmares and when he wakes he can hear the sound of mice or rats scurrying about behind the walls of his room. On subsequent nights the noise intensifies and can be heard all over the house—but only the narrator can hear the noise.
It appears to him that the rats are descending to unknown depths and so he investigates the cellar. He asks his friend, Norrys, to assist him and when they find a draught of air coming from the base of an altar they decide to bring in a team of archaeologists to investigate further. As they descend the steps and venture further they come across a large grotto with buildings and a floor that is completely covered with bones.
Amongst these they find skeletons of humanlike quadrupeds that appear to have been raised like cattle for consumption, presumably by his ancestors. The narrator and Norrys become separated from the others and when the narrator hears the scurrying of the rats he panics and tries to escape. He is later discovered crouched over the half-eaten corpse of Norrys and is subsequently shut away in a cell in an asylum.
He refuses to believe that he could commit such an act and the story ends with the narrator pleading with the reader to believe him:. When I speak of poor Norrys they accuse me of a hideous thing, but they must know that I did not do it. They must know it was the rats; the slithering, scurrying rats whose scampering will never let me sleep; the daemon rats that race behind the padding in this room and beckon me down to greater horrors than I have ever known; the rats they can never hear; the rats, the rats in the walls.
I love the way this story turns from a quite ordinary ghost story into a much darker, more typically Lovecraftian story. The horror is that of slavery and cannibalism—and madness. Filed under Fiction , Lovecraft, H.
Tagged as , Cthulhu , H. Lovecraft , Horror , short story. Like Liked by 1 person. Yes, one of my favourites. I had to refresh myself on it once too. Wonderful imagery in your first quote! Yes, I agree. I just felt like a change from the book I was reading by Sherwood Anderson. Like Like.
A great entry for the Club! I think Lovecraft is one of those authors that are best read first when young. There is something about the way that he was able to tell tales of old horrors reawakening that really stirs the dark parts of ones imagination.
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Intermittencies of the Mind. Skip to content. He refuses to believe that he could commit such an act and the story ends with the narrator pleading with the reader to believe him: When I speak of poor Norrys they accuse me of a hideous thing, but they must know that I did not do it.
Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading October 25, at You chose a good one for your re-read, Jonathan. One of my favorites. I love HP Lovecraft. It has been a while since I read this one but I remember it fairly clearly. I actually enjoy his over the top style. October 26, at I love his over the top style as well. I think it splits opinions though. October 29, at Oh, that is odd; and annoying. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.
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The Rats In The Walls by H.P. Lovecraft
The Rats in the Walls is a short story by H. Lovecraft which was first published in Weird Tales in March The story begins in July Over the years there have been many horrific stories attributed to the castle:. And, most vivid of all, there was the dramatic epidemic of the rats—the scampering army of obscene vermin which had burst forth from the castle three months after the tragedy that doomed it to desertion—the lean, filthy, ravenous army which had swept all before it and devoured fowl, cats, dogs, hogs, sheep, and even two hapless human beings before its fury was spent. After two years restoring the castle the narrator moves in. Within a week the cats start to act a bit strangely, staring at the walls and roving about the house.
The Rats in the Walls
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The Uncanniness of Regression in Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls
Lovecraft breaks his usual mold, moving away from typical science fiction stories and taking a decidedly more Gothic approach. The story diverts from cosmic horror to give us a much more human villain and creates horror not through cosmic indifference but through the parallel it draws between humanity and our animalistic nature. The story constructs this parallel through the device of the rats in the walls, the sound of which only the protagonist can hear and which are revealed at the end of the story to be a reflection of the fact that his ancestors were ritualistic cannibals. By exposing of the repressed ancestral urges of the narrator, the story gives us the chilling message of the inevitability of the regression to the primitive stages of man. It should first be noted that the uncanny monster is something different from a strictly cultural or personal monster.