Providence 10

Providence10-reg
Providence #9 regular cover, art by Jacen Burrows

Below are annotations for Providence, No. 10 “The Haunted Palace” (40 pages, cover date July 2016, released 10 August 2016)
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Jacen Burrows, based on works of H.P. Lovecraft

>Go to Moore Lovecraft annotations index

Note: Some of this is obvious, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there is anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.

General: Basic annotations are up – still being refined.

Cover

  • The church depicted on the cover is Saint John’s Roman Catholic Church, on Atwells Avenue in Federal Hill in Providence, RI. The church building is now demolished; the site is today Saint John’s Park. The church was Lovecraft’s inspiration for the Starry Wisdom church in “The Haunter of the Dark“:
    St. John's Church. Image via Flickr user Will Hart
    St. John’s Church. Image via Flickr user Will Hart

    “Of all the distant objects on Federal Hill, a certain huge, dark church most fascinated Blake. It stood out with especial distinctness at certain hours of the day, and at sunset the great tower and tapering steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky. It seemed to rest on especially high ground; for the grimy façade, and the obliquely seen north side with sloping roof and the tops of great pointed windows, rose boldly above the tangle of surrounding ridgepoles and chimney-pots. Peculiarly grim and austere, it appeared to be built of stone, stained and weathered with the smoke and storms of a century and more.”

  • The church appears a few times in Providence #9. With Howard Charles, Black visited the church on P10-13. It also appears in the view from his room on P20.

Page 1

panels 1-4

  • The date is December 27, 1919. Given the darkness, this page takes place later in the day than the following narrative on P2-13.
  • The setting is the front steps of St. John’s Church – see cover above and P10-13 below.
  • The central woman coming forward is Johnny Carcosa’s mother, last seen in Providence #9, P20,p4.
  • The women to either side of the steps are praying before votive candles, and the flowers appear to be lilies.
  • While what we have seen so far of the Stella Sapiente has been largely male-dominated, here are a large group of women that seem somehow connected with them.
  • The voice in the text boxes belongs to H. P. Lovecraft, as revealed on P2. Most of Moore’s text for Lovecraft is not drawn directly from his letters, but is original, though phrased in Lovecraft’s voice and expressing typical sentiments. The text, in Alan Moore fashion, has elaborate double meanings, referring to the Carcosa’s mother scene depicted.
  • These form a zoom sequence. The “camera” appears to be moving down the steps, and (see P1,p2 below) perhaps represents someone or something’s point of view.
  • Panelwise, the borders are ruler-straight. From Neonomicon (beginning #3 P5,p1) and various instances throughout Providence (beginning #2 P15,p3) the straight panel borders indicate a heightened perception of paranormal activity.

panel 1

  • “Those feet…” is Lovecraft speaking of Edgar Allen Poe, the great American writer of horror and detective fiction, who was a tremendous influence on Lovecraft. This section is not taken from any specific letter by Lovecraft, but follows some of his sentiments. Poe visited to Providence in 1845 and 1848.
  • “Those feet…” and “the epitome of horror and the weird” also refer to Carcosa’s mother. In Providence #9 it is implied (see P11,p4 and P20,p4) that Carcosa’s mother is the “inner head” or “secret chief” of the Stella Sapiente.
  • Commenter Kelly Sheehan points out that this may also be alluding to William Blake’s “Jerusalem”:
    And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England's mountains green:
    And was the holy Lamb of God,
    On England's pleasant pastures seen

    This would be one of many pieces of imagery linking Lovecraft, the Stella Sapiente’s “Redeemer”, with Jesus Christ.

panel 2

  • “That ballooning brow” is Poe’s large forehead, though perhaps also Carcosa’s mother’s forehead.
  • “Brow, behind which teemed torture and plague and suffocation…” refers to some of Poe’s greatest works of horror, notably “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” Again, this could refer to Carcosa’s mother’s leadership of the Stella Sapiente.
  • From the gaze of the woman on the lower right (as well as the gaze of Carcosa’s mother in the next two panels) it appears that something or someone is emerging from the church.

panel 3

  • “Morbid stones” refer to the graves shown on P2. They also perhaps refer to the St. John’s Church and the Shining Trapezohedron (called “the stone from Manchester” – Providence #9 P11,p2) within.
  • “A compulsion for the conversation of but one specific woman” refers to the reason behind Poe’s stay in Providence in 1848. That visit was due to his (ultimately unsuccessful) courtship of Sarah Helen Whitman. Lovecraft made a point on some of his tours of Providence to point out Poe’s signature in a book in the Atheneum, the same building where Whitman broke off her relationship with Poe on 23 December 1848.
    In the first paragraph of “The Shunned House” Lovecraft recounts “Providence, where in the late forties Edgar Allan Poe used to sojourn often during his unsuccessful wooing of the gifted poetess, Mrs. Whitman.”
    For a second meaning, this “conversation” would be the encounter between Robert Black and the Carcosa’s mother, possibly in the form of Black’s encounter with Johnny Carcosa later this issue.
  • “More than most, I am not competent to speculate upon those yearnings, nor those expectations” refers to Lovecraft being a virgin, and never having had never a romantic relationship up to that point. This also means that Lovecraft has not yet knowingly encountered any of the Stella Sapiente.

panel 4

  • “A monumental being” refers to Poe, and his great influence on Lovecraft. On the other hand, perhaps Carcosa’s mother is a monumental being, or there is perhaps a monumental being not yet shown that Carcosa’s mother is facing? It might be one of the monsters of the Lovecraft mythos.
  • “Ylyl yr nhhngr” is Aklo. See basic Aklo notes in Neonomicon #1 annotations for P6,p3.
  • “Yr nhhngr” was the third Aklo word given to Aldo Sax in The Courtyard, originally drawn from Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror.” In Providence #5 P3,p3 Father Race describes “yr nhhngr” as “apparently a tense denoting nested time.”
  • “Now is before” could be a literal translation, indicating a meeting of past and presence, the closing of a temporal loop, or perhaps the replacement of Charles Howard with Japheth Colwen. With reference to Providence in particular, this issue brings together elements and characters from the first issues of Providence.
The Cathedral of St. John - photo from thephora.net
The Cathedral of St. John – photo from thephora.net

Page 2

  • The setting is the old cemetery of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Providence. Both Poe and Lovecraft visited this place.
  • The date is December 27, 1919 – made clear on P16,p1 below.
  • Seated are Robert Black and H.P. Lovecraft.
  • In the lower right corner can be seen a “memento mori,” a skull and crossbones, an old grave motif.
  • In the distance the dome of the Rhode Island State House.
  • “The Haunted Palace” refers to Poe’s poem “The Haunted Palace,” and which later was incorporated into the story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” which was very influential on Lovecraft. It may also refer to director Roger Corman’s 1963 film of the same name, which despite the title was actually an adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

Page 3

panel 1

  • “Mrs. Whitman” is Sarah Helen Whitman – see P1,p3 above.
  • “Almost dreamlike, though entirely unlike Dunsany” refers to how several of Dunsany’s stories (first discussed in Providence #8 where Black and Lovecraft attended a reading by Lord Dunsany) take place in a “dream world” which presaged Lovecraft’s own Dreamlands tales, notably Dundany’s “Idle Days on the Yann” from A Dreamer’s Tales (1910).

panel 2

  • His world is more an invented mythology” conveys that Dunsany’s artificial mythos presaged, and partially inspired, Lovecraft’s own.
  • “The White Ship” is a story by Lovecraft, it was published in the November 1919 issue of The United Amateur.
  • “This December chill enervates me considerably” refers to how, throughout his life, Lovecraft experienced an acute physical reaction to cold.

panel 3

  • In the background, some youths are having a snowball fight.
  • “…noble Plunkett…” is Lord Dunsany (his correct address.) His full name is Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett.
  • “…is exactly my own self, in all particulars.” refers to a not-uncommon sentiment for Lovecraft, who often identified closely with those he greatly admired.
  • …realism in fantasy…” refers to the way that Lovecraft’s more mature fiction would be marked by his great attention to realism, crafting every detail of the story as carefully as a well-done hoax would be. A parallel can be drawn to the efforts by Moore and Burrows in Providence to provide as much realism as possible.
  • The location is the church’s gate on Church Street – compare to contemporary street view.

panel 4

  • “There are those tales which Poe fashioned after life, like his Marie Roget story” refers to Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” which was initially marketed as Poe having solved the murder of Mary Rogers. Poe and Rogers were mentioned earlier – see Providence #2 P4,p4.
  • “…his hoaxes, like ‘The Gold Bug’…” – “The Gold Bug” was a famous cryptographic hoax involving a supposed pirate treasure; in having Lovecraft walk through this material with Black, Moore is effectively walking it through with the readers as well, suggesting Poe’s influence on Lovecraft’s fiction.
  • “Young Robertus” – Lovecraft is only 29 in 1919, while Black is approximately the same age; but Lovecraft had the affection of styling himself an old man even as a young man. “Robertus” is of course an affection for Robert Black, similar to the Latinate nicknames he would give to friends like Frank Belknap Long (“Belknapius”) and James F. Morton (“Mortonius”).
  • Black and Lovecraft are on Benefit Street at Church Street – see contemporary street view.

Page 4

panel 1

  • First appearance of Japheth Colwen, who is smoking an old-fashioned clay pipe, and bears stubble on his chin – to contrast with the beardless youth Charles Howard seen in Providence #9. Colwen and Howard are Providence‘s analogues for Joseph Curwen and Charles Dexter Ward from Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. In Ward, the contemporary Charles Dexter Ward revives his evil ancestor Curwen who then takes Ward’s place.
  • “Commonplace book” is the diary and story ideas which formed the back-matter of Providence, chronicling Black’s journey so far. Lovecraft himself maintained a commonplace book of weird plots from 1920 on.
  • “I’d not considered my native soil a suitable backdrop for the fantastical.” – Compare with Lovecraft’s “The Picture in the House,” written in 1920, which opens with:

    But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous.

  • The location is Benefit Street looking north toward Cady Street – see contemporary street view. It is not overtly shown, but from the street view, it is clear that Colwen is standing in front of “The Shunned House” at 135 Benefit Street. That house appeared in Providence #9 on the cover and on P8,p4. In Providence, this house is where Stella Sapiente founder Jacques Roulet settled.
  • Panels 1-4 form a fixed-camera sequence.

panel 2

  • “Is that a joke?” “Emphatically not. No one appreciates it when I do that.” refers to Lovecraft’s quite dry sense of humor, sometimes making it hard to tell when he is being serious or pulling someone’s leg.
  • “Already misappropriate the anecdotes about meeting Mr. Annesley on your arrival last month.” states that since Providence #9, Lovecraft apparently took inspiration to write “From Beyond.”

panel 3

  • “It’s all splendid fun” is Lovecraft slyly pointing out the kind of in-jokes he liked to put in his fiction, underscoring how he was pulling Black’s leg earlier about not joking.

panel 4

  • “…really peps me up” is slightly archaic for contemporary readers, “pep” means “high energy, high spirits,” etc., derived from the word “pepper.” It is mostly familiar today as the basis for Pepsi. It also came to refer to stimulants in the 1920s and 30s, particularly “pep pill” for amphetamines.

Page 5

panel 1

  • “Howard Charles” is the descendant of Japheth Colwen that Black met and had sex with in Providence #9. Howard Charles is the Providence analogue for Lovecraft’s Charles Dexter Ward. Colwen has replaced Charles.
  • “You just look different to when I last saw you” implies that Charles has been replaced by his ancestor Colwen, following the basic events of “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.” Emphasizing this, Charles/Colwen is wearing an old-fashioned tall hat (compare to the fedoras worn by Lovecraft and Black) in addition to his old-fashioned pipe.
  • Panels 1-4 form a zoom sequence. The “camera” pulls away from the street and into the upper window of the Shunned House.

panel 2

  • “More a grown man” is quite literally, or perhaps punningly, if Colwen was raised (grown) from his essential salts.
  • “Akin to my illustrious forebear.” shows how Charles/Colwen’s diction has become more formal and archaic (somewhat like Lovecraft’s, ironically), further emphasizing he is a man out of time.

panel 3

  • “His essential nature” is a sidelong reference to the essential salts used in the resurrection process in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.”
  • “Our sanctuary here” is apparently the Shunned House Colwen is standing in front of.
  • “The Festival just passed” is a reference to Lovecraft’s “The Festival,” which Black mistakes for Christmas.

panel 4

  • Someone is observing this conversation from the upper window of the Shunned House. It is not clear who is in the window, but the house is owned by the Stella Sapiente.

Page 6

panel 1

  • “It’s something boys do to assert their manhood.” is perhaps a reflection on Lovecraft’s own predilection for acting older than his own age. Also a reference to Charles/Colwen analogues from Charles Dexter Ward.
  • The 135 Benefit Street house is visible on the right, behind Lovecraft’s head – see contemporary street view.

panel 2

  • “I’ve resolved to secure such a tome myself” foreshadows how Lovecraft began his own Commonplace Book in 1920.
  • “The name Hali, for example, is referred to by my recent discovery Mr. Bierce.” references that Ambrose Bierce included references to Hali in “An Inhabitant of Carcosa,” which Robert W. Chambers borrowed from in creating the stories in The King in Yellow. See notes for Providence #1.
  • The steps to the Shunned House are visible on the left – see contemporary street view.

panel 3

  • “Chambers the romance writer? I wouldn’t have thought so” refers to how, after his turn at weird fiction, Robert W. Chambers became a very successful romance novelist, rarely returning to weird fiction. Lovecraft would not read The King in Yellow until 1926.
  • “Mad Arab, Khalid ibn Yazid” is Providence‘s analogue for Lovecraft’s “Mad Arab,” Abdul Alhazred, and author of Hali’s Booke.
  • The location is the corner of Benefit and Meeting Streets – see contemporary street view.

panel 4

  • “Grandfather Theobald” is one of Lovecraft’s nicknames for himself; he also wrote under the pseudonym “Lewis Theobald, Jun.”
  • “…some of my other sons and correspondents.” – “Sons” was an honorific Lovecraft extended to certain close friends, notably Albert Galpin and Frank Belknap Long; women in this category (notably Lovecraft’s aunts) were addressed as his “daughters.” Lovecraft was a frequent and voluminous correspondent, and recorded many of the events of his life in his letters – unfortunately, many of his letters from 1919 were not preserved.
  • The location is Benefit Street looking south toward Angell Street – see contemporary street view.

Page 7

panel 1

  • “…Loveman, dear Samuelus.” – Samuel Loveman, a poet and bookman who was one of Lovecraft’s closest acquaintances for many years.
  • “…his ‘Hermaphrodite’ poem…” – “The Hermaphrodite,” a neo-Classical poem by Samuel Loveman – while some sources (like Wikipedia) say that Loveman did not begin this poem until 1921, Moore here is following Joshi who infers it was begun in the late 1910s.
  • “There is a quality in Loveman’s bearing which recalls your own.” – Loveman was also of Jewish descent and homosexual. It is not apparent that Lovecraft was aware of his friend’s sexuality.
  • “Each an Adonis…” – Greek deity. Known for his beauty; Lovecraft’s comparison here could be taken as a flirtation, which may be why Black stammers.
  • The location is the corner of Benefit Street and Angell Street – see contemporary street view.

panel 2

  • “Epicene” is having characteristics of both sexes or no characteristics of either sex. “Epicene company” is Lovecraft conflating homosexuality with lack of masculinity in men. This subject is discussed in some detail in Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos. Loveman was friends with, among others, the homosexual poet Hart Crane, whom Lovecraft met socially but did not particularly care for.
  • “…cleaves to a Platonic ideal…” – “Platonic” in the sense of the Greek philosopher Plato, who proposed that pure ideas exist. This echoes Lovecraft’s written comments on The Hermaphrodite in his letters:

    No—the main poem has nothing to do with human abnormality, & will doubtless disappoint many smut-hounds who buy the book. It deals with a mythological being typifying pure beauty—the beauty that is beyond sex. It re-creates the atmosphere & colour of the Hellenistic world. (Letters to Richard F. Searight 75-76)

  • “…rather than debase himself with loathsome actuality.” – Lovecraft professed a disgust with homosexual relations, though this was mostly intellectual, as he asserted “I never heard of homosexuality as an actual instinct till I was over thirty…” (Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft 4.234-235)
  • “Horticultural specimens” – Delicate flowers, indicating Lovecraft’s belief that homosexuals were sensitive and feminine.

panel 3

  • A return to 598 Angell St., where Lovecraft lives – see contemporary street view.
  • “All the more remarkable when one acknowledges that Loveman, though exceptional to that unlikeable tribe, is a Jew.” displays Lovecraft’s common prejudice against Jews. He made exceptions for his friends such as Loveman or his future wife Sonia Haft Greene, which caused him to modify his views somewhat later in life, and he took pains to avoid voicing such statements in any correspondence with Jewish friends.

panel 4

  • “…infernal Christmas cheer.” reference’s Lovecraft’s atheism, and while not a foe of Christianity became apostate at an early age.
  • “…somewhere warmer…” again shows Lovecraft’s affliction to cold.

Page 8

panel 1

  • Lovecraft is literally casting a large shadow obscuring Black. This may foreshadow future developments; Black will die and his Providence adventures will live on only through Lovecraft.

panel 2

  • “I’m glad you found my writings… memorable.” Commenter Sithoid points out that shortly before (P7,p3) “Lovecraft used the word “memorable” to describe Loveman’s poetry. Robert sarcastically parrots him, offended by his friend’s homophobic rant.”
  • Note the careful insertion of the wallpaper pattern in the background; this was the subject of a question in an interview with artist Jacen Burrows.

panel 3

  • “…the Arab book alone is priceless…” suggests that Black’s exploration of the Kitab has inspired Lovecraft to create his Necronomicon, fictionalizing the reality of Black’s experiences. This echoes or enforces what Brears noted in Neonomicon #2, about how Lovecraft and his Mythos both exist in this narrative universe.
  • “…as for an author, as a boy I devised an Arabesque play-name that might suffice…” refers to how Lovecraft, as a child who adored the Arabian Nights, used to run around as “Abdul Alhazred” long before he wrote any of his Mythos fiction.
  • “It’s made you what you are, I guess.” is essentially just a prompt so Moore can have Lovecraft expound, but perhaps also a question for the reader – especially given the prejudices that Lovecraft has just shown (and perhaps implicitly the criticism Lovecraft has received for those views) – about how much Lovecraft’s environment and seminal influences are responsible for who he was and what he wrote. Of course, this might be reading too much into a simple statement.

Page 9

panel 1

  • “…one’s background and lineage impart a form of destiny.” – This was expressed in Lovecraft’s fiction in what’s been called biological determinism – as expressed in “Arthur Jermyn” or “The Shadow over Innsmouth” where one’s biological heritage irreparably informs their life, but is also an expression of his essential classism; it does not imply any sort of belief in supernatural fate, as Lovecraft was a materialist. In the context of Providence, of course, this ties in with the Stella Sapiente’s view of time, where things could be said to be either preordained or to have already happened, since all events actually happen simultaneously, and only our experience of the universe gives them a linear narrative. Compare with a comic book: all the panels exist, but only the reader’s imposition of a reading from the first panel of the first issue to the last panel of the last gives the narrative a form we can understand.

panel 2

panel 3

  • Susan Lovecraft (left), Winfield Scott Lovecraft (right), H. P. Lovecraft (center); 1892
    Sarah Susan Lovecraft (left), Winfield Scott Lovecraft (right), H. P. Lovecraft (center); 1892

    The picture of Lovecraft and his parents is based on a real photograph of Lovecraft at age 2.

  • “Fauntelroy” – From the novel Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), a children’s novel whose illustrations inspired fashion trends. Commenter Sithoid points out that these fashion trends were away from dresses for little boys, so this might not be the best comparison.
  • “…the habit of trousers.” – As a child, following the desires of Lovecraft’s mother, he went unbreeched until the age of six.

panel 4

  • “Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a true son of Mother England born in Rochester, New York” – Historically accurate; much of Lovecraft’s paternal family remained in the Rochester, NY area.
  • “I… I just thought I recognised him.” – Black saw W. S. Lovecraft in the Stella Sapiente photograph in Providence #6, P10,p1, and again in Providence #7, P11,p1.

Page 10

panel 1

  • The old women begin to gather in front of St. John’s Roman Catholic Church. This scene precedes page 1.
  • “Many people supposed him to be an Englishman.” – W. S. Lovecraft had an English accent, and was indeed sometimes mistaken as an Englishman. Part of this is taken directly from one of Lovecraft’s letters: “My father was constantly warned not to fall into Americanisms of speech and provincial vulgarities of dress and mannerisms—so much so that he was generally regarded as an Englishman despite his birth in Rochester, N. Y.” (Selected Letters 3.362)
  • “The import of an ancient tradition” has a double meaning. On the surface, it refers to Lovecraft’s father’s fondness for English tradition. It can also refer to the traditions of the Stella Sapiente.
  • Panelwise, again there are ruler-straight borders – see P1 above.

panel 2

  • “…was a protege of grandfather’s…” – Suggested by W. S. Lovecraft’s membership in the Stella Sapiente, and marriage to Whipple Van Buren Phillips’ daughter.
  • “…otherwise construe his presumed introduction to my mother.” – As a fact, it is not clear how Winfield and Susie met, and Kenneth W. Faig, Jr. suggests that her parents might have disapproved of their union in his essay “The Parents of Howard Phillips Lovecraft.”
  • “…some craft guild from his blacksmith days…” – W. S. Lovecraft worked as a blacksmith in Rochester, N.Y. in 1872-1873; craft guilds preceded and have been largely replaced by trade unions.
  • “…or through freemasonry.” – While Whipple Van Buren Phillips is known to have been a freemason in real life, there is no evidence that Winfield Lovecraft was; however, Lovecraft as a freemason is a key point in Colin Wilson’s hoaxful introduction to the Hay Necronomicon.
  • “…his pronouncements shaped many of my own prevailing attitudes.” – Winfield Lovecraft was struck by paresis in 1893, and died in 1898; Lovecraft’s actual memories of his father were few, given his young age.

panel 3

  • “…when he was a salesman…” – Winfield Scott Lovecraft was a “commercial traveler” (read: traveling salesman) for Gorham & Company, silversmiths from 1889-1893, working mainly in Boston.
  • “…wh-where did he travel, exactly?” – Black beginning to put things together regarding Lovecraft’s father’s history and what he knows of the Stella Sapiente, presumably.
  • “…trade in gold and silver…” – Gorham & Co. were silversmiths; the reference to gold suggests ties to the Boggs Refinery in Salem from Providence #3. Suydam refers to “a funny little Englishman” who sold items for the Boggs Refinery (see Providence #2 P12,p3).
  • “…Salem, New York, and Chicago…” – Salem is the location of the Boggs Refinery; New York has the church in Red Hook; Winfield Lovecraft was in Chicago when he reportedly suffered an hallucinatory episode, probably brought on by neurosyphilis, which Moore and Burrows adapted into the short Recognition  in Alan Moore’s Yuggoth Cultures (which is not in continuity with The Courtyard, Neonomicon, or Providence).

panel 4

  • “Did…did he ever go to Manchester?” – Site of Black’s adventures in Providence #5-6.
  • Commenter Daniel Thomas notes Lovecraft’s use of the word “nativity” here, another piece of Christ-imagery.
  • “…I’d thought some of my elaborations upon your notions might be passed off as dreams. That, at least, is my excuse for ‘Dagon.'” – Many of Lovecraft’s stories were reputedly based off dreams; “Dagon” (first published in The Vagrant, November 1919) being one such.

Page 11

panel 1

  • Panelwise, again there are ruler-straight borders – see P1 above.

panel 2

  • “…you seem to have a close relationship with dreams. A-almost as if they represent a complete other world to you.” – Black still fishing; at this point he may suspect, as some occultists like William Lumley and Kenneth Grant have suspected, that Lovecraft was an “unconscious adept” who received real occult revelations coded as dreams. Given Lovecraft’s apparent ignorance of the Stella Sapiente, it is Black putting these pieces together into uneasy speculation.

panel 3

  • “I recall regularly encountering great flocks of black, rubbery, faceless things with bat-wings and barbed tails. I dubbed them ‘Nightgaunts’.” – Lovecraft first dreamed of nightgaunts at age 6, after the death of his maternal grandmother.
  • “…the insidious tickling when they carried me…” – As Black experienced firsthand in Providence #8, P14,p2.

panel 4

  • “…after your father’s passing…” – Actually, W. S. Lovecraft died in 1898, and the nightgaunt dreams began in 1896, but there is no evidence H. P. Lovecraft saw his father after 1893, so this might be a forgivable slip.
  • “…the folk-stories he told you.” – Whipple Van Buren Phillips was the principal male figure in H. P. Lovecraft’s life after his father’s hospitalization, and used to tell his grandson stories:”My grandfather had travelled observingly through Italy, and delighted me with long first-hand accounts of its beauties and memorials of ancient grandeur.” (Selected Letters 1.300)

Page 12

panel 1

  • “…tales of the things the swarthy immigrants did in the woods…” – Recalling the rites in “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Call of Cthulhu,” as well as H. P. Lovecraft’s prejudices regarding immigrants. However, there is a Catch 22 to this as an “explanation” for Lovecraft’s prejudices and inspiration for his fiction, in that in the universe of Providence there is a real truth to such horrors, as expressed by the various supernatural entities that Black has encountered (and going beyond that, Johnny Carcosa and his mother who immigrated from “the old country” in The Courtyard and Neonomicon).
    The swarthy immigrants also refer to the women depicted gathering at the church.
  • “The darkness and superstition in their lowly and insanitary neighbourhoods. The blasphemous conceptions clandestinely voiced in scarcely-human tongues.” – Recalling “The Horror at Red Hook” and perhaps “The Street.”
  • “The depths to which such people might, with time, degenerate.” – Recalling “The Lurking Fear,” “The Beast in the Cave,” “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family,” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”
  • Panelwise, again there are ruler-straight borders – see P1 above.

panel 2

  • “Were it not for certain fraternities […] mankind’s end would be lingering and ignobly mongrelised.” – Implying that the Stella Sapiente’s goals, among others, might be to avoid or oppose the kind of miscegenation represented by the Deep One hybrids in Salem encountered in Providence #3 – and which might go some way to explain Whipple Phillips’ joining forces with the racist society Black experienced in Providence #8.

panel 3

  • “…prone to both headaches and apoplectic spells…” – A family complaint, according to Lovecraft.
  • “…founded the town of Greene and its masonic lodge.” – This is historically accurate.
  • “…met with dignitaries, bishops, and Confederate generals.” – Phillips was a prominent Providence industrialist, but if he met with any Confederate generals outside of the meeting Black saw in Providence #8, it is unattested.

panel 4

  • Based on a real daguerreotype:

    Whipple Van Buren Philips
    Whipple Van Buren Phillips
  • Note the beads of sweat on Black’s face – he recognizes Phillips’ from the photo of the Stella Sapiente seen in Providence #6 and #8.

Page 13

panel 1

  • “…modern eyes can scarce encompass the full stature of such individuals…” – Note how Lovecraft mythologizes his grandfather, just as he did Poe earlier. The irony, of course, is that H. P. Lovecraft appears ignorant of the true extant of his grandfather’s powers and influence.

panel 2

  • “Van…van Buren?” – Black had heard the name, or variants of it, several times already. See notes to pages 14-15, below.
  • “Rathbun” – Lovecraft’s maternal great-grandmother’s family.
  • “…the influenza seizing Providence a twelvemonth since…” – The Spanish flu ripped through Providence in late 1918.

panel 3

  • “Were our positions reversed, I’d doubtless yearn for Providence.” – Foreshadowing, as Lovecraft did indeed yearn to return to Providence after moving to New York City.

panel 4

  • “…running away like this…” – Black’s words cast his actions as cowardice, but after mentally running away from all the horrors he has experienced so far, it is this quiet conversation in a study with a man utterly ignorant of the real horrors who provides Black the confirmation of everything he had told himself he didn’t believe throughout the series. Being chased by monsters Black could pass off as an hallucination or a dream, but not the utter prosaic reality of talking genially with Lovecraft.
  • “Your visit, I suspect, may have shaped Grandfather Theobald into the author he was destined to be.” – Ironically accurate given the events of Providence up to this point: Black’s commonplace book having provided Lovecraft with the seeds for many of his most famous stories.

Page 14

Black haunted by the things he has heard over the course of this series.

panel 1

panel 2

panel 3

  • “For forty years their salesmen…” – Providence #2, P12,p3.
  • “Mind, the Stella Saps…” – Providence #3, P11,p3.
  • A black cat is visible in a window (thanks to commenter keshavkrishnamurty).

panel 4

  • “See, this society I belong to…” – Providence #4, P9,p1.
  • The setting is the fence along Brown University, seen earlier in Providence #9 p3,p1.

Page 15

panel 1

  • Black returns to 66 College Street.
  • “In thuh ‘deemer story…” – Providence #4, P19,p4.
  • “He was out here with his friends…” – Providence #5, P13,p2.
  • “Uhm, that’s Buren…” – Providence #7, P11,p1.

panel 2

  • “The, uhm, the man next to him…” – Providence #7, P11,p1.
  • “It’s the, uhm, the world of dreams…” – Providence #7, P11,p2.
  • “In 1889 there was an arranged marriage…” – Providence #9, P6,p1.

panel 3

  • “All perfectly consensual…” – Providence #9, P6,p1.
  • “Happily, they produced offspring…” – Providence #9, P6,p2.
  • Panels 3 and 4 form a fixed-camera sequence.

panel 4

  • Black stares out the window of 66 College Street – which will show the steeple of St. John’s Church on Federal Hill. This is the setting described in “The Haunter of the Dark”:

    Blake’s study, a large southwest chamber, overlooked the front garden on one side, while its west windows—before one of which he had his desk—faced off from the brow of the hill and commanded a splendid view of the lower town’s outspread roofs…

Page 16

panel 1

  • A glimmer of light shows the steeple of St. John’s Church on Federal Hill, recalling “The Haunter of the Dark” (“…he thought he saw a faint trace of luminosity in the crazily angled stone.”) which looms larger as if the church is growing closer, though the rest of the view stays the same.
  • “Dear Tom” – Evidently written to Tom Malone, from Providence #2.
  • Panel 1 through P17,p4 form a fixed-camera sequence.

    perseus and algol
    Perseus and Algol
  • Commenter fedestroy points out that the bright star visible above St. John’s Church is Algol, in the constellation of Perseus. Lovecraft wrote about the star Algol in “Beyond the Wall of Sleep“.

panel 2

  • Panelwise, here through P21 (where Black closes his eyes) there are ruler-straight borders – see P1 above.
  • “There’s an old church in the distance.” – St. John’s Church. Black has not yet noticed that the “distance” is shrinking rapidly.

panel 3

  • “…what I think is a meteorite taken from a site outside Manchester…” – The Shining Trapezohedron, which Black first heard about in Providence #5 and saw in Providence #9.

panel 4

  • “On the waterfront of Salem there’s people I don’t think are people. The FBI should probably know about them too.” – The Salem folk encountered in Providence #3, and an echo of the invasion of Innsmouth by the federal authorities in “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, later referred to in The Courtyard and Neonomicon.
  • “And Suydam in Red Hook. […] it might involve children.” – A presage to “The Horror at Red Hook,” and referring to Providence #2.

Page 17

panel 1

panel 2

  • “…and by God, Tom, I believe that it will swallow me.” – Quite literal foreshadowing.

panel 3

panel 4

  • The Shining Trapezohedron appears on Black’s right. The church setting becomes superimposed on Black’s room.

Page 18

panel 1

  • Black’s multiple selves recall the time dilation experienced in reading Hali’s Booke in Providence #6.
  • The dialogue and falling are reminiscent of the climax of most episodes of Little Nemo in Slumberland, an important early 20th Century comic strip that Moore is very familiar with. Of course, Little Nemo usually starts in a phantasmagoric world, from which falling awakens him. Black is not so lucky.

panel 2

  • First appearance of Johnny Carcosa, last seen in Neonomicon. His appearance recalls the appearance of normal humans as seen from Leng in the end of Neonomicon #4.
  • Johnny Carcosa appears to be a two-dimensional being, extending through time as a third dimension. This ties back to his becoming part of a chalk drawing in Neonomicon, and to his fundamental nature as a comic-book character. See further notes about his shifting number of dimensions, below.
  • The bloodshot eye extending from Carcosa (and seen again on P24) is probably a reference to the “three-lobed burning eye” from HPL’s “The Haunter of the Dark”.
    • Commenter Phil Smith points out that this resembles an eye-in-the-pyramid motif — a symbol whose formal name is The Eye of Providence.

panel 3

  • “Don’t be.” A perfect summation of existential terror. Black is terrified, not by any action that Carcosa is taking, but by the raw fact of his existence.

panel 4

  • “We thalute you.”  – “We salute you.” Carcosa still has his lisp.

Page 19

panel 1

  • “In out eyeth, your theryith ith gloriouth.” – “In our eyes, your service is glorious.”
  • “Methenger, your methage ith retheived. The theathon of your labourth ith at theathe.” – “Messenger, your message is received. The season of your labours is at cease.”
    • Black has served his purpose, to deliver the ideas to Lovecraft.

panel 2

  • “We are wordth on papyruth, a thouthand yearth ago. Now ith before.” – “We are words on papyrus, a thousand years ago. Now is before.”
    • The Mythos entities were described in Hali’s Booke – did it somehow create them? Did Black’s actions cause a renewal of some kind of cycle? “Now is before” repeats what Carcosa’s mother said on P1 above.
  • Here, Carcosa’s hands and arms seem to have 3 dimensions.

panel 3

  • “Now ith the time of Fethtival. Rejoithe.” – “Now is the time of Festival. Rejoice.”
    • Recalling Japheth Colwen’s talk of Festival, which he said had “just passed,” but given Carcosa’s speech, is perhaps still occurring…or always occurring; time and space are one after all, and space is warping pretty badly for Black at the moment.

panel 4

  • “Rejoithe…and thpeak…and thay aloud…” – “Rejoice…and speak…and say aloud…”
  • Cracked eyeglasses are, of course, a common symbol for madness.

Page 20

panel 1

  • “…that our Redeemer liveth.” – “That our Redeemer lives.”
    • “Liveth,” by a neat trick, echoes the archaic English of the King James Bible; in fact, Carcosa is echoing Job 19:25-27:

      For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

  • Carcosa is wearing evening dress, black tie, with gloves and spats. Appropriate club wear for the period.
    • Also extremely similar to (though not identical to) the clothing Jonathan/Lily is wearing in Providence #1 (thanks to commenter Brian J. Taulbee for pointing this out).
  • The vista of space behind Carcosa is visually reminiscent of the opening/closing image of Neonomicon, though that image turns out not to actually be outer space.

panel 2

  • “I am a thub-thet of itth numberth.” – “I am a sub-set of its numbers.”
    • Implying that Carcosa is a portion of the whole; if Aklo is a number system as well as an alphabet, as in Hebrew, this could imply that he is a smaller portion of the text.
  • “Am the thythtem by which it communicateth. I am itth voithe.” – “Am the system by which it communicates. I am its voice.”
    • Carcosa is the way it – presumably Nyarlathotep, but possibly something else, such as Azathoth – communicates with human entities.
  • Here, Carcosa’s lower half is definitely 2-dimensional, whereas his hand still seems to have depth.

Page 21

panel 1

  • When Black has his eyes closed, Carcosa is not there, nor is the interior of the church tower, suggesting this is happening in his mind.
  • Panelwise, this panel resumes the uneven hand-drawn border, indicating normal (non-paranormal) reality.

panel 2

  • “Yeth, it ith. For Black ith the methenger. And Black ith hith Dethtiny.” –  “Yes, it is. For Black is the messenger. And Black is his destiny.”
    • From Hali’s Booke (see Providence #6, P35) – although there it was “black is his path.”
    • The all-caps lettering leaves some ambiguity in the exact meaning here; Nyarlathotep of course was described by Lovecraft as the “Black Messenger,” which could be interpreted different ways (black as in swarthy, or black as in evil or dire); so does this imply that Black is his destiny, or that black is his destiny?
  • Panelwise, this panel resumes the ruler-straight borders – see P1 above. These continue through P24.

panel 3

  • Carcosa is no longer exhibiting the Leng-effect, and appears fully three dimensional. It may be that the “Leng” version of Carcosa is actually Nyarlathotep speaking through Carcosa.
  • “We are worth on papyruth, a thouthand yearth ago.” – “We are words on papyrus, a thousand years ago.”
  • “Pleath, Mithter Black, be theated. All thith will be tho much eathier.” – “Please, Mr. Black, be seated. All this will be so much easier.
    • The act which Carcosa wishes to perform probably would be easier if Black was seated.
  • Carcosa picks up Black’s own chair, which had not been visible to Black for most of the last few pages.

panel 4

  • “Mithter Black, it ith you who detherveth our thankth.” – “Mr. Black, it is you who deserves our thanks.”
  • “In your mithery and your dethpair, you have thatithfied our prophethy, yeth?” – “In your misery and your despair, you have satisfied our prophecy, yes?”
  • “You have thurrendered our thtroieth to Providenth. You have brought the good newth to our thaviour and Redeemer.” – “You have surrendered our stories to Providence. You have brought the good news to our saviour and Redeemer.”

Page 22

panel 1

  • “That ithn’t our conthern.” – “That isn’t our concern.”
  • “Your thignificanth lieth in thupplying the Redeemer with the thingth he needth to rethtore the world to itth previouth ethtate.” – “Your significance lies in supplying the Redeemer with the things he needs to restore the world to its previous estate.”
    • Implying Lovecraft’s actions as the Redeemer will “reset” the world in some fashion, bringing things full circle, echoing the arc words “Now is before.”
  • Panels 1-2 form a fixed-camera sequence.

panel 2

  • “He doethn’t need to know. He thimply needth to tell hith thories…” – “He doesn’t need to know. He simply needs to tell his stories.”
  • “…and your thpethieth thyall inthith that they are real.” – “…and your species shall insist that they are real.”
    • Implying that Lovecraft’s creations will achieve reality because people believe in them; again, Moore playing with the boundaries between reality and fiction.
  • “My name ith Carcotha.” – “My name is Carcosa.”

panel 3

  • “Ficthion ithn’t what you think it ith. And there ith a protheth known ath potht-thelecthion that you do not yet underthtand.” – “Fiction isn’t what you think it is. And there is a process known as post-selection that you do not yet understand.”
    • “Postselection” is an aspect of probability theory, where an event is selected which conditions a probability. The implication is that Black is necessary to insure that Lovecraft writes the stories he needs to write. This is similar to the Strong Anthropic Principle, a theory that Moore has used in other works, notably The Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels.
  • “Ath for the writerth you menthion, we have no interetht in Chamberth…” – “As for the writers you mention, we have no interest in Chambers…”
    • Presumably because Chambers stopped writing weird fiction.

panel 4

  • “…and Amrbothe ith with uth now.” – “…and Ambrose is with us now.”
    • Ambrose Bierce disappeared on a trip to Mexico in 1913.
  • Note that the window and curtain from Black’s physical room have briefly reappeared behind Carcosa.

Page 23

panel 1

  • “No. That’th not the thituathion. I’m thaying that in naming thomething formleth, they bethtowed identitieth.” – “No. That’s not the situation. I’m saying that in naming something formless, they bestowed identities.”
    • Sort of a restatement of the Doctrine of Names in magical practice, the idea that to name something was to create it, or that knowing its name gave you power over it.
  • “Bierthe thyaped me. Thith thtone ith an abthracthion of hith creathion Hathtur…” – “Bierce shaped me. This stone is an abstraction of his creation Hastur…”
    • Bierce created the name Hastur in “Haïta the Shepherd”; it was later adapted by Lovecraft and others into the Cthulhu Mythos.

panel 2

  • “Hathtur ith the thing itthelf, that cannot be dethcribed. Your dreth uth in worth and attributeth.” – “Hastur is the thing itself, that cannot be described. You dress us in words and attributes.”
  • “And the Redeemer thyall bethtow nameth on all the partth.” – “And the Redeemer shall bestow names on all the parts.”
    • Technically, Lovecraft did not invent all the names, but borrowed several of the creations of other authors – Bierce, Chambers, Arthur Machen, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Frank Belknap Long, August Derleth, etc.
  • “And thith world thyall by Yuggoth; thyall have alwayth been Yuggoth.” – “And this world shall be Yuggoth; shall have always been Yuggoth.”
    • A bit recursive, as hinted at in the Hali’s Booke fragments in Providence #6: Lovecraft’s creations create the conditions they need to be created.

panel 3

  • “No. You are dreamth that we were exthperienthing. You are part of uth.” – “No. You are dreams that we were experiencing. You are part of us.”
    • Echoing Zhuangzi’s dream of the butterfly – where he is not sure if he is the butterfly dreaming of being a man, or a man dreaming of being a butterfly; Black thought that humans were creating the entities of Lovecraft’s Mythos – but Carcosa suggests it is they who dreamed humans into being, to create themselves. This self-creation echoes a major aspect of the Judeo-Christian God (and many other Creator-figures).
    • This also recalls the following, from Alan Moore’s discussion of magic with Dave Sim:

      Now, the rationalist view of all magical encounters is probably that all apparent entities are in fact externalised projections of parts of the self.  I have no big argument with that, except that I’d hold the converse to be true as well: we are at the same time externalised projections of them. In one sense, the simplest viewpoint might be to accept that all manifestations, ourselves included, are simply different stages of the unfolding of one multi-dimensional being into form.

  • “You thodomithed that boy here becauthe the thone abthorth the blue energieth of thexthual releathe.” – “You sodomized that boy here because the stone absorbs the blue energies of sexual release.”
    • Black sodomized Howard Charles in Providence #9. The “blue energies” are orgone, as referenced in Neonomicon, and earlier in Providence. (Thanks to commenter mr bungle for mentioning this should be a note.)

panel 4

  • “Nothing ith wrong. The univerthe dothn’t care. Thith ith not punithment, but rather ith appretheathion.” – “Nothing is wrong. The universe doesn’t care. This is not punishment, but rather is appreciation.”
    • One of Lovecraft’s central conceits was that the universe was materialistic and amoral, with no divine or supernatural reward or punishment.
  • “I am come to reward your endeavourth. Thee, tho thyall I abthe mythelf. Tho thyall I kneel before thee…” – “I am come to reward your endeavors. See, so shall I abase myself. So shall I kneel before thee…”
    • In Lovecraft’s “Fungi from Yuggoth”, the poem Nyarlothotep starts with the following lines:

      And at the last from inner Egypt came
      The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;

      In Neonomicon, Moore refers to this phrasing in a double-entendre about oral sex. Carcosa (who, in at least some sense, is Nyarlothotep) seems to be making a similar connection.

Page 24

panel 1

  • The Leng-effect returns.

panel 2

  • “All our thervantth thyall be recompenthed in accordanth with their accomplithmentth.” – “All our servants shall be recompensed in accordance with their accomplishments.”
  • “Khalid ibn Yathid ith at prethent a lake of floutethent gath near a thtar in Tauruth.” – “Khalid ibn Yathid is at present a lake of flourescent gas near a star in Taurus.”
    • To explain the confusion as to Hali could be a person in Bierce’s “An Inhabitant in Carcosa” and a lake in Chamber’s The King in Yellow: both are true, “Hali” was simply transformed through his service.
    • It is unclear just how this could be “in accordance with [Khalid’s] accomplishments”.
    • Commenter Matthew Harris notes: “The ‘lake of flourethent gath’ […] might be a nod to ‘S’ngac the violet gas’ who ‘point[s] the way’ to Randolph Carter at the end of ‘The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath’.”

Page 25

panel 1

  • “Thith cannot be forethtalled, or changed, and ith the thame alwayth.” – “This cannot be forestalled, or changed, and is the same always.”
    • Like the words written on a page in a book.
  • “Alwayth, thith inthtant. Alwayth thith room. Alwayth thith happening, without theathe.” – “Always, this instant. Always, this room. Always this happening, without cease.”
    • This recalls parts of The Moon And Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels:

      There is something happening.
      There is only one moment.
      There is only one room.
      There is one person here.
      I love you.

  • “You life was long ago. Thith ith the path.” – “Your life was long ago. This is the past.”

panel 2

  • Carcosa’s mask finally moves, revealing…not quite a mouth, but an orifice, somewhat resembling an anus.
    • Commenter Greenaum points out “Carcosa, in The Courtyard, to Sax, says “Joey Fathe ith an ath hole who taketh too much ecthtathy”, while pointing to his face with his thumb. If you knock “Joey” off that sentence, he’s saying “Fathe ith an ath-hole” while pointing. And indeed, it is!”
  • “Now ith before.” – “Now is before.”
    • Closing arc words, bringing the issue full circle.

panel 3

  • The implication is that Carcosa performs oral sex on Black – perhaps an appropriate “reward” for the man.
  • In “The Haunter of the Dark,” an avatar of Nyarlathotep kills Robert Blake.
    In Providence #10, an avatar of Nyarlathotep brings Robert Black to orgasm…”the little death.”

panel 4

  • Black moaning, but not showing Carcosa…again, begging the question how much of this is “really” happening. Again, we only see “ordinary reality” when Black’s eyes are closed or covered.
  • Panelwise, the rough hand-drawn borders return.

Page 26

panel 1

  • panels 1-4 effect a zoom sequence from Black’s room back to St. John’s church.

panel 2

panel 3

  • The woman on the ground is the one who clawed at her eyes – see P1,p3 above.
    • If this is the case, there’s a coloring error, as the hood and robes do not match.

panel 4

  • We are looking over the shoulder of Carcosa’s “mother”. A similar framing over her shoulder was used in Providence #2, P4p1 (Thanks to commenter Lalartu for noting the similarity).

Page 27

Commonplace Book – November 28

  • This first entry is dated two weeks after the last entry in Providence #9.
  • “Walking through the antique streets he clearly loves so much” refers to how H.P. Lovecraft’s frequently walked through Providence, including taking guests on long walks.
  • “Randall Carver back in Boston” – see Providence #8.
  • “Problems with his health once the thermometer dips down…” refers to Lovecraft’s acute sensitivity to cold.
  • As Black states “poikilothermism” is being cold-blooded, as in reptiles. Commenter jasonmehmel points out that this “might also allude to some Deep One blood somewhere in his family? Or at the very least the coincidence of it to enhance Lovecraft’s mirroring of the events Black has processed?”

Page 28

Commonplace Book – November 28 continued

  • “largely self-educated” – Lovecraft never completed high school, due to ill-health and a mental breakdown as a teenager, and failed to go to college; mostly he was self-taught.
  • “His knowledge of astronomy” – Lovecraft was a keen amateur astronomer since he was twelve, and wrote articles on astronomy even as a teenager.
  • “…exploding star in the vicinity of Algol…” True.
  • H.G. Wells” is the renowned British author.
  • The Invisible Man” is Well’s 1897 novella.
  • Edgar Allen Poe” was an American writer – see also P1 above.
  • “[Alexander] Pope” was a British poet.
  • “[John] Dryden” was a British poet.
  • All of this material on Lovecraft’s interests comes directly from his letters, which were voluminous and wide-ranging in subject matter, showcasing a keen interest in all of these subjects that Moore touches on in brief on this and the following page.

Page 29

Commonplace Book – November 28 continued

  • “…a Roman presence in early America…” Of course, there are multiple such theories, but none are very accredited.
  • The White Ship” is a Lovecraft Story.
  • Black’s view of the “steeple of the derelict St. John’s Church” echoes Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.”
  • “Church where I had such an interesting and eventful time with young Howard Charles” – see Providence #9 P10-13.

Page 30

Commonplace Book – November 28 continued

November 30

  • “Milwaukee”, WI, is Black’s hometown – see Providence #1 P6.
  • Black does not note it here, but “Jonathan” is the name of his lover (aka “Lily”) who committed suicide in Providence #1.

Page 31

Commonplace Book – November 30 continued

  • “Tom [Sawyer] & Huckleberry [Finn]” are fictional characters from Mark Twain novels.
  • “nervous shock that were reported in the young soldiers returning from war” – ‘Shellshock’ as it was better known for the veterans of the trenches of World War I, what we would today call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Page 32

Commonplace Book November 30 continued

  • “Pandora’s box” – Ancient Greek myth, where Pandora was given a box and told not to open it, but overcome by curiosity she does, letting evil out into the world. A good simile for Black himself, though it remains to be seen if, like Pandora, there is any hope left at the end.
  • Marblehead” is an actual Massachusetts town (which Lovecraft based his fictional Kingsport on.) Marblehead was mentioned a few times in Providence #3 (beginning P9,p1) then Marblehead: an American Undertow becomes the name of Black’s novel – see Providence #4 P27.

Page 33

Commonplace Book November 30 continued

  • “[Bram] Stoker‘s Dracula” is the 1897 vampire novel.
  • “convenient talismans or contrived weaknesses” – Like crucifixes against vampires; Lovecraft generally avoided this kind of thing, though he did establish the Elder Sign in “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”

Page 34

Commonplace Book – November 30 continued

  • “mimeographed journals” – Amateur journalism; Providence is set before the hey-day of pulp fiction.
  • Lord Dunsany” – see Providence #8.
  • “Lily” aka Jonathan Russell, also known as Lillian Russell – see Providence #1 P1.

Page 35

Commonplace Book – December 23

  • “He must write two or three epistles a day… has an extraordinary range of correspondents” refers to Lovecraft’s extraordinary output of letters. Lovecraft wrote perhaps 80,000 pieces of correspondence in his 47 years, from postcards to letters 40, 50, even 100 pages long.

Page 36

Commonplace Book – December 23 continued

  • Samuel Loveman” was a poet and a correspondent of Lovecraft’s – see P7 above. Like Black, Loveman was gay and Jewish.
  • Ambrose Bierce” was an American writer – mentioned P6 and P22 above. Bierce and Loveman shared a brief correspondence, which Loveman published after Bierce’s disappearance as Twenty-One Letters of Ambrose Bierce (1922).
  • “Stella Sapiente” are the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente, the American coven associated with Liber Stella Sapiente (aka Hali’s Booke or the Kitab), Providence’Necronomicon analog. See Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2 for background.

Page 37

Commonplace Book – December 23 continued

  • Nitpick: centre is British spelling
  • “Just from… Loveman’s poetry, I have a feeling… I could meet kindred spirits” refers to both Black and Loveman being both gay and Jewish.

Page 38

Commonplace Book – December 23 continued

  • “My eye tends to habitually seek out the distant pinnacle of St. John’s Church” echoes “The Haunter of the Dark“: “Of all the distant objects on Federal Hill, a certain huge, dark church most fascinated Blake. It stood out with especial distinctness at certain hours of the day, and at sunset the great tower and tapering steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky”
  • “…made me believe, just momentarily, that I had glimpsed a figure moving in the tower…” – Recalls Carcosa’s mother in Providence #9, P20,p4.
  • Dagon” is Lovecraft’s 1919 story.

Page 39

Commonplace Book – December 23 continued

  • “I somehow don’t believe that the adventure mode of storytelling […] is appropriate to the variety of strange tale that I wish to tell.” – A sentiment Lovecraft shared with regards to some of Robert E. Howard’s more sanguine fiction in Weird Tales, but not embraced by several of Lovecraft’s literary followers, who preferred to address the Mythos head-on, thus largely missing the point.
  • “I deliver it to Howard  […] tomorrow morning, which is Christmas Eve.” This delivery represents the culmination of the Herald’s work towards the Redeemer. It is unsurprising that it should happen on a day closely associated with the birth of the Christian Redeemer.
    • The fact that is Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas itself, may also be significant. In much folk tradition, the day immediately before a major holiday was extremely ill-omened. A remnant of this remains in Hallowe’en, which is the night before All Hallows.
  • “the other St. John’s church” – St. John’s Episcopal Church, see P2.

Page 40

Commonplace Book – December 27

  • “Tom [Malone]” – see Providence #2.
  • The letter is mostly shown in the captions of P16-17 above – see annotations there.
  • The text after “I so wish that we’d […]” was not seen on P16-17. Presumably, Black wrote it after his experience with Carcosa.

Back Cover

  • November 5-9, 1935 refers to the period during which Lovecraft wrote “The Haunter of the Dark.”

 

270 thoughts on “Providence 10

  1. Hello,
    on p.16 panel 1-4, the shining star over St.John Church much probably is the star “Algol” (with the others stars, constellation of “perseus”)

    Like

  2. i’m not certain to which particular part of this book this small insight is best related to but it is worth noting that not only is Lilly named “John” and Cracossa is named “Johnny” (and they dress similartly, as already noted by others) – but also Carcossa’ place of birth is the Church of St. John.

    Like

  3. For Page 27 of the commonplace book, poikilothermism as it relates to Lovecraft might also allude to some Deep One blood somewhere in his family? Or at the very least the coincidence of it to enhance Lovecraft’s mirroring of the events Black has processed?

    Liked by 1 person

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