Commonplace and Trivial

Most scholarship about Lovecraft's Commonplace Book focuses on what use he made of the various entries.  But others have used it as a source of inspiration, as well.

This began as a reply of mine to a request on a forum for a list of stories, by any author, inspired by Lovecraft's Commonplace Book. After updating it a couple of times, I decided to research the CB and its influence more thoroughly. 

To start, I was unaware of the true nature of a "commonplace book", thinking it simply a notebook.  But an article in the New York Review of Books ("Extraordinary Commonplaces", Robert Darnton, December 21, 2000) set me straight.

The practice spread everywhere in early modern England, among ordinary readers as well as famous writers like Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, John Milton, and John Locke. It involved a special way of taking in the printed word. Unlike modern readers, who follow the flow of a narrative from beginning to end, early modern Englishmen read in fits and starts and jumped from book to book. They broke texts into fragments and assembled them into new patterns by transcribing them in different sections of their notebooks. Then they reread the copies and rearranged the patterns while adding more excerpts. Reading and writing were therefore inseparable activities. They belonged to a continuous effort to make sense of things, for the world was full of signs: you could read your way through it; and by keeping an account of your readings, you made a book of your own, one stamped with your personality.

Of course HPL would have have had this 18th century sort of commonplace book in mind, although his was, as he states, explicitly for possible future story use. Here's another quote, from Swift:

A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories:” and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there. For, take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his.

This was cited in a blog entry about how blogs may often serve as modern commonplace books.  But I've gotten off the topic of HPL's CB and this version.

First, in 2007, a blogger transcribed the CB (the version from Miscellaneous Writings), making it readily available on the Internet, and it has since served as a springboard for stories, art, and even games. I've used that as the base text for this.  Following S. T. Joshi's conventions, HPL's original notes are in brackets immediately following an entry; all other commentators are also in brackets but indented on a new line. "[x]" means he had struck it out in the original, indicating it had been used.

Next, I've incorporated notes on the CB itself from other articles, with the commentator's initials. These are
Where later commentators have provided the same information, I use only the earlier note, unless the later one includes more information.

Finally are works which have used the CB as inspiration:
I'm still researching
Finally, there is at least one parody of the Commonplace Book: Tupac Shakur's Commonplace Book. I think the idea is better than the execution, but it deserves mention.

Commonplace Book

This book consists of ideas, images, & quotations hastily jotted down for possible future use in weird fiction. Very few are actually developed plots -- for the most part they are merely suggestions or random impressions designed to set the memory or imagination working. Their sources are various -- dreams, things read, casual incidents, idle conceptions, & so on.
-- H. P. Lovecraft
   [jmr: The first mention of the CB is found in a letter to Rheinhart Kleiner of Jan. 23, 1920 (Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner, 178, Selected Letters 1.106); another letter of Feb. 10 (Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner, 180-81, Selected Letters 1.107-8) cites three early entries (#21, 8, 13).]

Presented to R. H. Barlow, Esq., on May 7, 1934 -- in exchange for an admirably neat typed copy from his skilled hand.
Demophon shivered when the sun shone upon him. (Lover of darkness = ignorance.)
   [but: Caza (Philippe Cazaumayou), drawing; Randy DuBurke, drawing (illustration11.jpg)]
Inhabitants of Zinge, over whom the star Canopus rises every night, are always gay and without sorrow. [x]
   [but: Olivier Texier, drawing]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, photo collage]
The shores of Attica respond in song to the waves of the Aegean. [x]
Horror Story
Man dreams of falling -- found on floor mangled as tho from falling from a vast height. [x]
   [rdg: A similar plot is developed in a short story by Isaac Asimov, or one of the science fiction anthologies of the '50s, '60s and '70s. In that case, the dreamer discovers that one really "levitates" when one sleeps.]
Narrator walks along unfamiliar country road, -- comes to strange region of the unreal. 
   [rdg: Brian Lumley has one or more stories developed with this premise.]
   [cje: since Roberto mentions it, "No Way Home" comes to mind]
   [wp: part IV.]
   [cbw: Kyle Levenick, "                     "]
   [but: Régis Tosetti, drawing]
In Ld Dunsany's
"Idle Days on the Yann":
The inhabitants of the antient Astahan, on the Yann, do all things according to antient ceremony. Nothing new is found.
"Here we have fetter'd and manacled Time, who wou'd otherwise slay the Gods." [x]
   [stj: The story was first published in Dunsany's A Dreamer's Tales (1910) and also inclued in Tales of Three Hemispheres (1919), along with two sequels.]
   [rdg: Lord Dunsany and his stories about the kingdom of sleep is a must read for anyone who wants to know the influences of Lovecraft.]
   [jmr: derived from Dunsany’s "Idle Days on the Yann" -- probably read in a Dunsany collection in early 1920]
Horror Story
The sculptured hand -- or other artificial hand -- which strangles its creator. [x]
   [rdg: Perhaps one of the most common motifs of the horror genre. The hand that kills its creator, or tries to, appears in many movies such as the Hammer "Frankenstein", in "The Hand" by Michael Caine, and in many zombie movies.]
   [wp: part V (as per posting in]
   [yb: Possessed Hand]
   [but: Brendan Danielsson, drawing (lovecraft_girl)]
Hor. Sto.: Man makes appt. with old enemy. Dies -- body keeps appt.
   [ah: This is the genesis for "Wentworth's Day".]
Dr. Eben Spencer plot. [x]
   [stj: The reference is to a dream HPL had in early 1920 (see SL 1.100-102).]
   [jmr: cf. HPL to the Gallomo, c. April 1920 (Letters to Alfred Galpin, 71-73; Selected Letters 1.100-102), and HPL to Rheinhart Kleiner, January 23, 1920 (Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner, 180)]
   [rdg: Lovecraft refers to a dream in which he saw himself as Dr. Spencer, an army doctor who discovered strange organic remains of an unknown race home from a local healer.]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, photo collage]
Dream of flying over city. [Celephaïs]
Odd nocturnal ritual. Beasts dance and march to musick. [x]
   [cje: The song "The Teddy Bears' Picnic" immediately came to mind as a possible source! (Not impossible for a man who once played "Yes, We Have No Bananas" on a church organ.) Sadly, while the tune was written in 1907, the lyrics were only written in 1932.]
   [wp: part VII.]
   [but: Julien Noirel, drawing; Monsieur Mishimoto, drawing]
Happenings in interval between preliminary sound and striking of clock -- ending --
"it was the tones of the clock striking three." [x]
   [cje: same as Robert E. Howard, "The Striking of the Gong", independently written circa 1927.]
House and garden--old--associations. Scene takes on strange aspect.
   [rdg: Does the classic Lovecraft tale refer to the haunted house or the cursed garden? Impossible to know.]
   [but: H. H. Løyche, untitled ("... completely controlled by professor Burchardt.")
Hideous sound in the dark.
   [but: Tom Tirabosco, drawing; Patrick Saradar, drawing]
Bridge and slimy black waters. [Fungi--The Canal]
   [wp: part V (as per posting in]
The walking dead--seemingly alive, but -- . [x]
   [wp: part V (as per posting in]
Doors found mysteriously open and shut etc. -- excite terror.
Calamander-wood -- a very valuable cabinet wood of Ceylon and S. India, resembling rosewood.
   [cje: J. P. Brennan wrote "The Calamander Chest" (Weird Tales, January 1954), but there's nothing to suggest he got the idea from the CB.]
   [rdg: Here Lovecraft seems to refer to the strange properties of objects that may have been built with this wood, for example, a cursed desk.]
   [wp: part VIII.]
Revise 1907 tale -- painting of ultimate horror.
   [ah: Possibly "Pickman's Model". The "1907 tale" does not survive. However, other early tales do -- pieces not destroyed, like the juvenile venture, "The Little Glass Bottle", predating 1897, despite Lovecraft's writing in "The Brief Autobiography of an Inconsequential Scribbler" for The Silver Clarion of April 1919, "In 1897 I composed my earliest surviving attempt at authorship, a 'poem' in forty-four lines of internally rhyming iambic heptameter, entitled 'The Poem of Ulysses; or The New Odyssey'." He would have been 17 at the time of the writing of the tale mentioned in this note.]
   [stj: HPL describes this story, "The Picture", in a letter to Robert Bloch (1 June 1933); see Letters to Robert Bloch (West Warwick, RI: Necronomicon Press, 1993), p. 15.]
   [jmr: i.e. the non-extant juvenile story “The Picture”]
   [wp: part IX.]
Man journeys into the past -- or imaginative realm -- leaving bodily shell behind.
   [ah: A favorite Lovecraft gambit, perhaps most effectively used in a variant in "The Whisperer in Darkness".]
   [cje: "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"]
A very ancient colossus in a very ancient desert. Face gone -- no man hath seen it.
   [rdg: Perhaps inspired by the Sphinx, which lost its nose.]
   [cje: Bloch, "The Faceless God"?; also, Campbell, "The Face in the Desert" (introduction to Cold Print)]
   [wp: part V as per posting in]
   [cbw: Kurt Chiang, "Tape"]
   [yb: Faceless Colossus]
   [eut: Rick Sardinha, H.P. Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book Entry No. 21, painting]
Mermaid Legend--Encyc. Britt. XVI--40.
   [yb: Mermaid]
The man who would not sleep -- dares not sleep -- takes drugs to keep himself awake. Finally falls asleep -- and something happens -- Motto from Baudelaire p. 214. [Hypnos]
   [ah: The relationship of the note to both "Hypnos" and "Cool Air" is patent.]
   [stj: HPL refers to Baudelaire: His Prose and Poetry, ed. T. R. Smith (New York: Boni & Liveright/Modern Library, [1919]; S. T. Joshi, Lovecraft's Library: A Catalogue, 2nd ed. (Hippocampus Press, 2002), #69).]
   [but: Jose Antonio Bautista, drawing]
Dunsany -- "Go-By Street". Man stumbles on dream world -- returns to earth -- seeks to go back -- succeeds, but finds dream world ancient and decayed as though by thousands of years.
   [stj: Go-By Street is cited in Dunsany's "A Shop in Go-By Street", one of the sequels to "Idle Days on the Yann" in Tales of Three Hemispheres.]
   [cje: similar passing of time used in Brian Lumley, "Dylath-Leen"]

Man visits museum of antiquities -- asks that it accept a bas-relief he has just made -- old and learned curator laughs and says he cannot accept anything so modern. Man says that 'dreams are older than brooding Egypt or the contemplative Sphinx or garden-girdled Babylonia' and that he had fashioned the sculpture in his dreams. Curator bids him shew his product, and when he does so curator shews horror, asks who the man may be. He tells modern name. "No -- before that" says curator. Man does not remember except in dreams. Then curator offers high price, but man fears he means to destroy sculpture. Asks fabulous price -- curator will consult directors.
Add good development and describe nature of bas-relief. [Cthulhu]
   [ah: The bas-reielf makes several appearances in the tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, most frequently as a suggestive representation of Cthulhu himself.]
   [stj: For the dream that inspired this entry (later used in "The Call of Cthulhu"), see SL 1.114-15.]
   [jmr: the Cthulhu bas-relief dream, cf. HPL to the Gallomo, c. April 1920 (Letters to Alfred Galpin, 87-88) and HPL to Rheinhart Kleiner, May 21, 1920 (Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner, 188-89, Selected Letters 1.114-15)]

Dream of ancient castle stairs -- sleeping guards -- narrow window -- battle on plain between men of England and men of yellow tabards with red dragons. Leader of English challenges leader of foe to single combat. They fight. Foe unhelmeted, but there is no head revealed. Whole army of foe fades into mist, and watcher finds himself to be the English knight on the plain, mounted. Looks at castle, and sees a peculiar concentration of fantastic clouds over the highest battlements.
   [stj: For the dream that inspired this entry, see SL 1.114.]
   [jmr: the dream of ancient castle and foe with no head, cf. HPL to the Gallomo, c. April 1920 (Letters to Alfred Galpin, 86-87) and HPL to Rheinhart Kleiner, May 21, 1920 (Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner, 188, Selected Letters 1.114)]
Life and Death
Death -- its desolation and horror -- bleak spaces -- sea-bottom -- dead cities. But Life -- the greater horror! Vast unheard-of reptiles and leviathans -- hideous beasts of prehistoric jungle -- rank slimy vegetation -- evil instincts of primal man -- Life is more horrible than death.
   [stj: "Life and Death" is purportedly a "lost" story by HPL. George T. Wetzel claimed to have seen a published version of it in an amateur journal, but he subsequently lost the citation and was unable to find it again. There is, however, some doubt as to whether HPL ever wrote such a story, This entry has not been crossed off or otherwise indicated a "used", and the imagery bears some resemblance to the existing prose-poem, "Ex Oblivione".]
   [yb: Unheard-of Reptile; Unheard-of Leviathan; Hideous Prehistoric Beast]
   [but: Paul Carrick, painting; Jason Thompson, drawing]
The Cats of Ulthar
The cat is the soul of antique AEgyptus and bearer of tales from forgotten cities in Meroë and Ophir. He is the kin of the jungle's lords, and heir to the secrets of hoary and sinister Africa. The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath forgotten.
   [ah: The Cats of Ulthar]
   [stj: See SL 1.116-17.]
   [jmr: written June 15, 1920 (date on autograph manuscript  fair copy given to Rheinhart Kleiner > Grill-Binkin collection > Book Sail (?) > L.W.Currey > ?), cf. HPL to Rheinhart Kleiner, May 21, 1920 (Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner, 190-91, Selected Letters 1.116-17)]
Dream of Seekonk -- ebbing tide -- bolt from sky -- exodus from Providence -- fall of Congregational dome.
   [stj: For the dream that inspired this entry, see SL 1.113-14.]
   [cje: used in the story "Nyarlathotep"]
   [cbw: Jeffrey Cranor, "The Man from Providence"]
Strange visit to a place at night--moonlight--castle of great magnificence etc. Daylight shews either abandonment or unrecognisable ruins--perhaps of vast antiquity.
Prehistoric man preserved in Siberian ice. (See Winchell--Walks and Talks in the Geological Field--p. 156 et seq.)
   [stj: Alexander Winchell, Walks and Talks in the Geological Field (1886; LL 964).]
   [rdg: This argument has been developed in stories, novels and movies often. It is likely that when Lovecraft wrote it was not already old ... or at least was not as trite as now.]
As dinosaurs were once surpassed by mammals, so will man-mammal be surpassed by insect or bird -- fall of man before the new race. [x]
   [cje: "The Shadow out of Time"]
   [yb: Humanoid Bird]
   [but: Plonk et Replonk, photo collage]
   [eut: Rick Sardinha, H.P. Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book Entry No. 32, painting; Monsieur Michimoto, photo collage]
Determinism and prophecy. [x]
   [rdg: The author probably refers to another familiar argument: if the future is written, it inevitably takes on whatever we do to change it. The most recent example is seen the movie "Deja Vu" with Denzel Washington.]
Moving away from earth more swiftly than light--past gradually unfolded--horrible revelation.
   [ah: "The Shadow out of Time"?]
Special beings with special senses from remote universes. Advent of an external universe to view.
   [rdg: The translation does not make much sense, but I guess it is a story of "contact" of creatures from other worlds who come to Earth to witness something.]
   [jmr: #35 incorporated into “From Beyond” (written Nov. 16, 1920)]
   [yb: Being from Remote Universe]
Disintegration of all matter to electrons and finally empty space assured, just as devolution of energy to radiant heat is known. Case of acceleration--man passes into space.
   [stj: Entries 34-36 may have been inspired by HPL's reading of Hugh Elliot’s Modern Science and Materialism (1919). See SL, 1.134 and S. T. Joshi, "The Sources for 'From Beyond'", in Primal Sources: Essays on H. P. Lovecraft (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2003), p. 168.]
   [cbw: Mark Farr, "Levittown (36. Disintegration)"]
   [but: Gilles Christinat, drawing]
Peculiar odour of a book of childhood induces repetition of childhood fancy.
   [but: François Rouiller, drawing]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

Drowning sensations--undersea--cities--ships--souls of the dead. Drowning is a horrible death.
   [wp: part II.]
   [but: Albertine, drawing]
Sounds -- possibly musical -- heard in the night from other worlds or realms of being.
   [ah: This is an extremely familiar theme which makes its appearance in several of Lovecraft's stories, and had cropped up also in a respectable number of the tales by those of his friends whom he urged to adopt the Cthulhu Mythos and add to it in works of their own.]
   [cje: Campbell, "The Plain of Sound"?]
Warning that certain ground is sacred or accursed; that a house or city must not be built upon it--or must be abandoned or destroyed if built, under penalty of catastrophe.
   [rdg: One argument that has its greatest exponent in Poltergeist, the movie.]
   [cbw: Hannah Lott-Schwartz, "Exorcise Love: A Memoir"]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

The Italians call Fear La figlia della Morte--the daughter of Death. [x]
   [rdg: The interesting thing here is the personification, like Death is a reaper with black cloak ... What if you find yourself with Fear and it is a beautiful girl?]
   [wp: part XII.]
   [but: Jacques Finné, "Paula and Morthilla"; Nadia Raviscioni, drawing]
   [eut: Rick Sardinha, H.P. Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book Entry No. 41, painting]
Fear of mirrors -- memory of dream in which scene is altered and climax is hideous surprise at seeing oneself in the water or a mirror. (Identity?) [Outsider?]
   [ah: This certainly suggests "The Outsider". Barlow dates this note to 1919, and "The Outsider" was written two years later, though not published until 1926.]
   [rdg: With an air of "The Mirror of Nitocris", Brian Lumley, again. A checkered author who tries to follow the trail of Lovecraft.]
   [wp: part IX.]
   [but: David Paleo, drawing; Deak Ferrand, painting; Sylvain Amacher, drawing]
   [eut: Laurence Suhner, drawing]
Monsters born living -- burrow underground and multiply, forming race of unsuspected daemons.
   [cje: "The Lurking Fear"]
   [rdg: Reminds me of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (or should I say, the other way around).]
Castle by pool or river--reflection fixed thro' centuries--castle destroyed, reflection lives to avenge destroyers weirdly.
   [but: Terry Bisson, untitled ("...muddied by my long tramp"); Cosey, drawing]
Race of immortal Pharaohs dwelling beneath pyramids in vast subterranean halls down black staircases.
   [ah: Also to 1919. Perhaps something of this made its way into Lovecraft's ghost-writing of Houdini's "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs".]
   [cbw: Zack Parsons, "The Horror on the Ebon Stair"]
Hawthorne--unwritten plot
Visitor from tomb--stranger at some publick concourse followed at midnight to graveyard where he descends into the earth.
   [stj: The plot can be found in Hawthorne's The American Notebooks (entry for 6 December 1837).]
   [wp: part XVI.]

From Arabia Encyc. Britan. II--255
Prehistoric fabulous tribes of Ad in the south, Thamood in the north, and Tasm and Jadis in the centre of the peninsula. "Very gorgeous are the descriptions given of Irem, the City of Pillars (as the Koran styles it) supposed to have been erected by Shedad, the latest despot of Ad, in the regions of Hadramaut, and which yet, after the annihilation of its tenants, remains entire, so Arabs say, invisible to ordinary eyes, but occasionally and at rare intervals, revealed to some heaven-favoured traveller."
Rock excavations in N.W. Hejaz ascribed to Thamood tribe.
   [ah: Lovecraft unquestionably bore this information in mind when he wrote "The Nameless City".]
   [stj: The entry was incorporated into "The Nameless City" (1921).]
   [rdg: Lost cities are always a good resource, from Petra in Jordan to Hamunaptra in "The Mummy" or his own Nameless City of the Mythos. Looking for one is an adventure by itself, apart from what you find inside.]
   [jmr: description of Irem from Enc. Britannica, incorporated into “The Nameless City” (written late Jan. 1921, cf. Selected Letters 1.122)]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, photo collage]

Cities wiped out by supernatural wrath.
   [cje: "The Doom That Came to Sarnath"]
   [wp: part X?]
   [but: Krum, drawing]
AZATHOTH -- hideous name. [x]
   [cje: "Azathoth" fragment?]
   [jmr: c. early 1921, cf. #47 -- Barlow claimed to be a dream-name, like Nyarlathotep, cf. his "Memories of HPL (1934)"]
a river of liquid fire in Hades. [x]
Enchanted garden where moon casts shadow of object or ghost invisible to the human eye.
   [rdg: I guess Lovecraft refers to something "not there" as a dead person.]
   [but: Paul Di Filippo, untitled ("Martha Stewart's Handbook of Phantom Gardening"); Bénédicte, drawing]
Calling on the dead--voice or familiar sound in adjacent room.
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]
Hand of dead man writes.
   [cje: from W. F. Harvey, "The Beast with Five Fingers"?]
   [but: James Morrow, untitled ("Once again, you ask yourself"); Giacomo Carmangola, drawing; Stéphane Pichot, drawing; Fernando Pascual, drawing]
Transposition of identity.
   [cje: a common theme: "The Shadow out of Time", "The Thing on the Doorstep", "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward"]
Man followed by invisible thing.
   [cje: from Bierce, "The Damned Thing"?]
   [yb: Invisible Thing]
Book or MS. too horrible to read--warned against reading it--someone reads and is found dead. Haverhill incident.
   [jmr: evidently derived from Bierce’s “Suitable Surroundings” (In the Midst of Life) / probably c. August 1921, i.e., the time of the second Haverhill visit -- something told by C. W. "Tryout" Smith (cf. Letters to Alfred Galpin, 100)]
Sailing or rowing on lake in moonlight--sailing into invisibility.
   [but: Nicolas Pitz, drawing; Mix & Remix (Philippe Becquelin), drawing]
A queer village -- in a valley, reached by a long road and visible from the crest of the hill from which that road descends -- or close to a dense and antique forest.
   [cje: "The Festival"?]
   [rdg: The 'dense and antique forest' suggests the novel Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock.]
   [wp: part XIV.]
Man in strange subterranean chamber--seeks to force door of bronze--overwhelmed by influx of waters.
   [cje: Campbell, "The Room in the Castle" (introduction to Cold Print)]
Fisherman casts his net into the sea by moonlight -- what he finds.
   [ah: This is the germ of the posthumous collaboration, "The Fisherman of Falcon Point".]
   [but: Richard Raaphorst, painting]
A terrible pilgrimage to seek the nighted throne of the far daemon-sultan Azathoth.
   [cje: "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"]
   [jmr: perhaps c. October 1921? (the novel fragment written in early June, 1922)]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

Live man buried in bridge masonry according to superstition -- or black cat.
   [cje: "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; also Campbell, "The Return of the Witch" (introduction to Cold Print)]
Sinister names -- Nasht -- Kaman-Thah. [x]
   [ah: Kaman-thoh del.] [cje: The "thoh" typo is [sic] from the AH piece. "Nasht" is not mentioned there.]
   [stj: The names are used in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926-1927).]
   [rdg: Eventually became two priests of the dreamlands which Randolph Carter visited in one trip.]
Identity -- reconstruction of personality -- man makes duplicate of himself.
   [cje: Derleth, "The Dark Brotherhood"]
   [rdg: Lovecraft was already thinking about cloning, but probably magical and unscientific. Now is a recurring theme, not so much in his time. The loss or identity theft (the sinister sorcerer who takes over the body of another) would use it in several of his stories.]
Riley's fear of undertakers--door locked on inside after death.
   [stj: Evidently used in "In the Vault" (1925), although HPL acknowledged C. W. ("Tryout") Smith had supplied the plot of that tale.]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

Catacombs discovered beneath a city (in America?). 
   [rdg: Another interesting point for an adventure. Who or what has built the passageways? Are they simple gigantic tunnels or works, or for a race of giants? And also something that can be disturbing when?]
An impression--city in peril--dead city--equestrian statue--men in closed room--clattering of hooves heard from outside--marvel disclosed on looking out--doubtful ending.
   [cbw: Dan McCoy, "DISSIPATION?"]
Murder discovered--body located--by psychological detective who pretends he has made walls of room transparent. Works on fear of murderer.
   [rdg: It is unclear whether or not the detective actually has paranormal abilities. The second part suggests not.]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

Man with unnatural face -- oddity of speaking -- found to be a mask -- Revelation.
   [ah: Lovecraft's most effective mask motif occurs in "The Whisperer in Darkness".]
   [cje: also "The Festival", "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"]
   [wp: part XV.]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, photo collage]
Tone of extreme phantasy
Man transformed to island or mountain. [x]
   [yb: Human Mountain]
   [but: Aeron Alfrey, drawing; Jason Murphy, drawing; Eric Braün, drawing]
Man has sold his soul to devil--returns to family from trip--life afterward--fear--culminating horror--novel length.
   [cbw: Joseph Fink, "Relative Damnation: A Very Short Novel"]
   [but: Antoine Déprez, drawing]
Hallowe'en incident--mirror in cellar--face seen therein--death (claw-mark?).
   [wp: part IX.]
Rats multiply and exterminate first a single city and then all mankind. Increased size and intelligence.
   [cje: to some degree, "The Rats in the Walls"?]
   [yb: Giant Rat]
   [but: Stephan Bersier, drawing]
Italian revenge -- killing self in cell with enemy -- under castle. [Used by FBL, Jr.]
   [stj: HPL thought that Frank Belknap Long used this plot-germ for "The Black Druid" (Weird Tales, June, 1930), but that story bears little resemblance to the entry, and HPL later crossed out the notation "used by FBL, Jr."]
Black Mass under antique church.
   [cje: "The Festival"? Campbell, "The Church in High Street"]
Ancient cathedral--hideous gargoyle--man seeks to rob--found dead--gargoyle's jaw bloody.
   [yb: Gargoyle I]
Unspeakable dance of the gargoyles--in morning several gargoyles on old cathedral found transposed.
   [stj: George T. Wetzel conjectured that entries 76-77 were inspired by George Macdonald's Phantastes (1868).]
   [yb: Gargoyle II]
   [but: Laurence Suhner, drawing]
Wandering thro' labyrinth of narrow slum streets--come on distant light--unheard-of rites of swarming beggars--like Court of Miracles in Notre Dame de Paris.
   [stj: HPL refers to Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), more commonly known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. See SL 1.270.]
Horrible secret in crypt of ancient castle--discovered by dweller.
   [cje: "The Rats in the Walls", as per S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia.]
Shapeless living thing forming nucleus of ancient building.
   [jmr: “The House of the Worm” / “The Shunned House”?]
   [yb: Shapeless Living Thing]
   [but: Daniel Ceni, drawing; Guillaume Long, drawing]
Marblehead -- dream -- burying hill -- evening -- unreality. [x] [Festival?]
   [jmr: HPL’s first Marblehead visit was on Dec. 17, 1922]
Power of wizard to influence dreams of others.
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

". . . a defunct nightmare, which had perished in the midst of its wickedness, and left its flabby corpse on the breast of the tormented one, to be gotten rid of as it might."--Hawthorne
   [ah: It is noteworthy that Lovecraft frequently found arresting weird concepts in Hawthorne, more than once set down story ideas from Hawthorne.]
   [stj: The quotation is from The House of the Seven Gables (1851), ch. 16.]
Hideous cracked discords of bass musick from (ruin'd) organ in (abandon'd) abbey or cathedral. [Red Hook]
"For has not Nature, too, her grotesques--the rent rock, the distorting lights of evening on lonely roads, the unveiled structure of man in the embryo, or the skeleton?"
Pater--Renaissance (da Vinci).
   [stj: From Walter Pater's chapter on Leonardo da Vinci in The Renaissance (1873).]
To find something horrible in a (perhaps familiar) book, and not to be able to find it again.
[cje: something like this in M. R. James, "Mr. Humphries and His Inheritance".]
Borellus says, "that the Essential Salts of animals may be so prepared and preserved, that an ingenious man may have the whole ark of Noah in his own Study, and raise the fine shape of an animal out of its ashes at his pleasure; and that by the like method from the Essential Salts of humane dust, a Philosopher may, without any criminal necromancy, call up the shape of any dead ancestor from the dust whereinto his body has been incinerated."  [Charles Dexter Ward]
   [stj: HPL found this quotation from Borellus (actually, a very loose paraphrase) in Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana (1702; LL 598).]
Lonely philosopher fond of cat. Hypnotises it -- as it were -- by repeatedly talking to it and looking at it. After his death the cat evinces signs of possessing his personality. N. B. He has trained cat, and leaves it to a friend, with instructions as to fitting a pen to its right fore paw by means of a harness. Later it writes with deceased's own handwriting.
   [ma: "From the Papers of Helmut Hecker" by Chet Williamson, in Lovecraft's Legacy]
   [jmr: transference of personality to a cat; contemplated for use by Whitehead, cf. O Fortunate Floridian, 65]
   [but: Anne Wilsdorf, drawing]
Lone lagoons and swamps of Louisiana--death daemon--ancient house and gardens--moss-grown trees--festoons of Spanish moss.


Anencephalous or brainless monster who survives and attains prodigious size.
   [yb: Brainless Monster]
   [but: Pierre-Yves Lador, ("Back Cover Summary by Pierre-Yves Lador"); Erwann Surcouf, drawing (3rd image); Gnot Guedin, drawing; René Donais, drawing]
Lost winter day--slept over--20 yrs. later. Sleep in chair on summer night--false dawn--old scenery and sensations--cold--old persons now dead--horror--frozen?

Man's body dies -- but corpse retains life. Stalks about -- tries to conceal odour of decay -- detained somewhere -- hideous climax. [Cool Air]
   [ah: Quite possibly the beginning of "Cool Air", which dates to 1926, whereas this note dates to 1921.]
A place one has been--a beautiful view of a village or farm-dotted valley in the sunset--which one cannot find again or locate in memory.
   [cje: "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"?]
Change comes over the sun--shews objects in strange form, perhaps restoring landscape of the past.
Horrible colonial farmhouse and overgrown garden on city hillside -- overtaken by growth. Verse "The House" as basis of story. [Shunned House]
   [stj: HPL refers to the fact that his poem "The House" (1919; The Ancient Track, 45-46) was inspired by a house at 135 Benefit Street in Providence, which also inspired (in part) "The Shunned House" (1924).]
Unknown fires seen across the hills at night.
   [cje: "The Dunwich Horror"]
   [but: Yann Perrelet, drawing]
Blind fear of a certain woodland hollow where streams writhe among crooked roots, and where on a buried altar terrible sacrifices have occur'd--Phosphorescence of dead trees. Ground bubbles.
   [but: Sebastián Mulero, drawing]
Hideous old house on steep city hillside--Bowen St.--beckons in the night--black windows--horror unnam'd--cold touch and voice--the welcome of the dead.
   [wp: part XV.]
   [but: Paul Di Filippo, untitled ("Selling Your Shunned House: A Realtor's Guide")]

Salem story -- the cottage of an aged witch -- wherein after her death are found sundry terrible things.
   [ah: Surely the basis of "The Dreams in the Witch-House".]
   [jmr: perhaps derived from the Rebekah Nurse house seen on the April (13) 1923 visit to Salem (cf. Letters to Alfred Galpin, 141ff, Selected Letters 1, 221)—earlier trips to Salem in December 1922 (Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner, 226, Selected Letters 1, 203-204) and February 1923 (Letters to Alfred Galpin, 128, Selected Letters 1, 213)]
   [cje: Campbell, "The Return of the Witch" (introduction to Cold Print)]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

Subterranean region beneath placid New England village, inhabited by (living or extinct) creatures of prehistoric antiquity and strangeness.
   [cje: to varying degrees, "The Lurking Fear", "The Festival", and "The Mound"]
   [rdg: "The Lost World" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" as seen through the eyes of Lovecraft. No doubt his creatures would be much more terrible than just dinosaurs.]
   [yb: Strange Prehistoric Creature]
   [but: Johan Nowasad, drawing; Nancy Peña, drawing]
Hideous secret society -- widespread -- horrible rites in caverns under familiar scenes -- one's own neighbour may belong. [x]
   [cje: "The Festival"]
   [jmr: #100-101: probably incorporated into “The Festival”]
   [cbw: Rob Neill, "KPZ STRAZ HYPHEN STARS"]
Corpse in room performs some act--prompted by discussion in its presence. Tears up or hides will, etc.
   [rdg: You mean to Lovecraft ripping his shroud?]
Sealed room--or at least no lamp allowed there. Shadow on wall. [x]
Old sea tavern now far inland from made land. Strange occurrences--sound of lapping of waves--
   [cbw: F. Omar Telan, "Vacancy at the Fenrick Inn"]
Vampire visits man in ancestral abode--is his own father.
   [yb: Vampire]
   [but: Ian Watson, untitled ("The compulsion that drove Lovecraft")]
A thing that sat on a sleeper's chest. Gone in morning, but something left behind.
   [cje: from Fuseli's The Nightmare?]
   [yb: Sitter]

Wall paper cracks off in sinister shape -- man dies of fright. [x] [Rats in Walls]
   [stj: HPL later admitted that this image inspired "The Rats in the Walls" (1923); see SL 5.181.]
   [cje: Campbell, "The Franklyn Papers"]
   [jmr: according to HPL, lead into “The Rats in the Walls” (written c. August 1923)]
Educated mulatto seeks to displace personality of white man and occupy his body.
   [cje: "The Thing at the Doorstep"?]
Ancient negro voodoo wizard in cabin in swamp--possesses white man.
Antediluvian -- Cyclopean ruins on lonely Pacific island. Centre of earthwide subterranean witch cult.
   [ah: The development of this initial idea into the R'lyeh sequence of the Cthulhu Mythos is quite apparent. The Pacific island actually emerges here and there, as the place known as R'lyeh, vying with Devil Reef and the surrounding subterranean depths off Innsmouth, Massachusetts as the site.]
   [cje: "The Call of Cthulhu"]
   [rdg: This idea can be combined with other previous cities found beneath the catacombs of North America or the tunnels where demonic creatures dwell. Most dramatically affect their extension: underground tunnels that cross entire oceans between continents.]
Ancient ruin in Alabama swamp -- voodoo.
   [cje: "The Call of Cthulhu"]
Man lives near graveyard--how does he live? Eats no food. [x]
   [wp: "'Uncommon Places' ... turned out to be a short story inspir'd by J. Vernon Shea's 'The Haunter of the Graveyard.' I used the Commonplace Book to inspire the plot, and one entry (#112, "Man lives hear graveyard--how does he live? Eats no food.") give me almoft ye entire plot." (as per posting in]
Biological -- hereditary memories of other worlds and universes. Butler -- God Known and Unk. p. 59.  [Belknap]
   [stj: Samuel Butler (1835-1902), God the Known and God the Unknown (1917). ]
   [rdg: Frank Belknap Long was one of Lovecraft's closest friends, in this case probably the annotation in parentheses refers to who suggested the idea.]
   [cje: Joshi doesn't state so explicitly, but I assume the crossed-out "Belknap" means FBL did not actually use the idea, as HPL first thought.]
Death lights dancing over a salt marsh.
   [eut: Rick Sardinha, H.P. Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book Entry No. 114, painting]
Ancient castle within sound of weird waterfall--sound ceases for a time under strange conditions.
   [but: David Collin, untitled ("It's starting again.")]
Prowling at night around an unlighted castle amidst strange scenery.
   [jmr: #115-116: apparently derived from Shiel’s "Pale Ape", cf. HPL to FBL, October 7, 1923 (Selected Letters 1, 255) & "Eyrie", Weird Tales (Jan. 1924)]
   [but: Alban Guillemois, drawing]
A secret living thing kept and fed in an old house.
   [cje: "The Dunwich Horror"]
   [jmr: derived from Stoker’s The Lair of the White Worm? (cf. Selected Letters 1, 255); “The House of the Worm” / “The Shunned House”?]
   [but: Jean-Philippe Kalonji, drawing]

Something seen at oriel window of forbidden room in ancient manor house.
   [cje: Derleth, "The Gable Window"?]
   [but: Walder, drawing]
Art note -- fantastick daemons of Salvator Rosa or Fuseli (trunk-proboscis).
   [ah: The trunk-proboscis image occurs fairly frequently in Lovecraft's fiction, particularly in descriptive passages--such as there are--of the Ancient Ones, Old Ones, etc., and quite possibly this was the basis of the description of tentacle-like growths associated with Cthulhu.]
   [stj: HPL refers to the painters Salvator Rosa (1615-1673) and Henry Fuseli (Heinrich Füssli, 1741-1825). Both are mentioned in HPL's stories.]
   [rdg: Fuseli is the author of the famous painting "The Nightmare". Rosa is a painter and writer seventeenth century Baroque, known for their unique landscapes.]
   [yb: Fantastick Daemon (Rosa) and Fantastick Daemon (Fuseli)]
Talking bird of great longevity--tells secret long afterward.
   [yb: Strange and Immortal Bird]
   [but: Antoine Guex, drawing]
Photius tells of a (lost) writer named Damascius, who wrote
"Incredible Fictions"
"Tales of Daemons"
"Marvellous Stories of Appearances from the Dead".
   [stj: St. Photius was a Byzantine scholar of the 9th century C. E. and patriarch of Constantinople. It is not clear where HPL came upon this mention of Photius, as his Bibliotheca has only been published in Greek.]
   [cje: Damascius mentioned in "The Nameless City".]
   [rdg: Damascius there is real, although the mentioned works do not speak theirs [?]. Lovecraft speaks of him in "The Nameless City" and its apocryphal texts such as ... [sic] surely another of his creations.]
Horrible things whispered in the lines of Gauthier de Metz (13th cen.) "Image du Monde".
   [stj: Gauthier de Metz, L'Image du Monde (c. 1246), translated into English by William Caxton as The Mirrour of the World (1481). HPL found a mention of it in S. Baring-Gould's Curious Myths of the Middle Ages (1866; LL 66).]
   [cje: used in "The Nameless City".]
   [wp: part XIV.]
Dried-up man living for centuries in cataleptic state in ancient tomb.
   [ah: Another line to "The Outsider"? This bears a certain relationship, too, to Lovecraft's account of "The Alchemist".]
   [rdg: A good starting point for a story, like "The Mummy".]
   [jmr: “The Survivor”?]
   [cje: Robert E. Howard's "Kathulos" used this independently.]
Hideous secret assemblage at night in antique alley--disperse furtively one by one--one seen to drop something--a human hand--
   [cje: Chaosium game scenario "Mr. Corbett" based on this?]
   [rdg: The author left here for us to complete, you are joining, maybe something like Frankenstein's monster, and who is doing it. Another question would be why in an alley?]
Man abandon'd by ship--swimming in sea--pickt up hours later with strange story of undersea region he has visited--mad??
   [ah: This bears a relationship to "The Temple", but the note is dated 1924 by Barlow, and the story is dated 1920 by Lovecraft.]
   [but: Thomas Gilbert, drawing]
Castaways on island eat unknown vegetation and become strangely transformed.
   [cje: from Hodgson, "The Voice in the Night"?]
   [rdg: Again, if I remember correctly Lumley has a similar story about a young man coming down to a pit where he finds a strange pond and plants. He tastes them and back home begins to transform into ... something.] [cje: "The Statement of Henry Worthy"]
   [yb: Fungus Human]
   [but: Karen Ichters, drawing; Körner Union, drawing; Albin Christen, drawing]
Ancient and unknown ruins--strange and immortal bird who speaks in a language horrifying and revelatory to the explorers.
   [yb: Strange and Immortal Bird]
   [but: Léonard Felix, drawing; Antoine Duplan, drawing]
Individual, by some strange process, retraces the path of evolution and becomes amphibious.
∴ Dr. insists that the particular amphibian from which man descends is not like any known to palaeontology. To prove it, indulges in (or relates) strange experiment.
   [cje: Derleth, "The Survivor"]
   [cbw: Brock Savage, "Finis Origine Pendet (A Villanelle in iambic tetrameter, with apologies to Elizabeth Bishop)"]
   [but: Mark Prent, photo collage]

Marble Faun p. 346--strange and prehistorick Italian city of stone.
   [stj: HPL refers to Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun (1860), in the Houghton Mifflin reprint of 1890, Vol. 2, p. 346.]
N. E. region call'd "Witches' Hollow"-- along course of a river. Rumours of witches' sabbaths and Indian powwows on a broad mound rising out of the level where some old hemlocks and beeches formed a dark grove or daemon-temple. Legends hard to account for. Holmes -- Guardian Angel.
   [stj: Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Guardian Angel (1867). The following entry is also derived from this novel.]
   [cje: Derleth, "Witches' Hollow"]
   [jmr: derived from Oliver Wendell Holmes’s "The Guardian Angel"?—read by HPL on March 28, 1926 (cf. Letters from New York, 287)]
Phosphorescence of decaying wood--called in New England "fox-fire".
   [cje: "The Colour out of Space"?]
Mad artist in ancient sinister house draws things. What were his models? Glimpse. [Pickman's Model]
   [wp: part XVI.]
   [but: Fred Bastide, photo collage; Fritz & Ángel Olivera]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

Man has miniature shapeless Siamese twin -- exhib. in circus -- twin surgically detached -- disappears -- does hideous things with life of its own. [HSW---Cassius]
   [stj: For HPL's discussion of this plot idea and its use in Henry S. Whitehead's "Cassius" (Strange Tales, November 1931), see SL 5.33-34.]
   [rdg: Fans of "The X Files" will recognize this argument, used in the episode 'Humbug', second season.]
   [yb: Deformed Twin]
   [but: Marc da Cunha Lopes, photo collage]
Witches' Hollow novel? Man hired as teacher in private school road on first trip -- encounters dark hollow with unnaturally swollen trees and small cottage (light in window?). Reaches school and hears that boys are forbidden to visit hollow. One boy is strange -- teacher sees him visit hollow -- odd doings -- mysterious disappearance or hideous fate.
   [cje: Derleth, "Witches' Hollow"]
Hideous world superimposed on visible world--gate through--power guides narrator to ancient and forbidden book with directions for access.
A secret language spoken by a very few old men in a wild country leads to hidden marvels and terrors still surviving.
Strange man seen in lonely mountain place talking with great winged thing which flies away as others approach.
   [cje: Fungi from Yuggoth -- "The Familiars"]
   [but: Mathias Forbach, drawing; Stephan Gaudin, drawing]
Someone or something cries in fright at sight of the rising moon, as if it were something strange. [x]
DELRIO asks "An sint unquam daemones incubi et succubae, et an ex tali congressu proles nasci queat?" [Red Hook]
   [rdg: Del Rio was a sixteenth century Jesuit specialist in demonology. The question that comes to latin itself could have offspring between humans and incubi and succubi, demons traditional seductive.]
   [jmr: the Delrio quotation used in “The Horror in the Red Hook” (Aug. 1-2, 1925), hence July 1925 at the latest]
Explorer enters strange land where some atmospheric quality darkens the sky to virtual blackness--marvels therein.

   [jmr: gap in use? date 1926 after #140]

Footnote by Haggard or Lang in "The World's Desire"
"Probably the mysterious and indecipherable ancient books, which were occasionally excavated in old Egypt, were written in this dead language of a more ancient and now forgotten people. Such was the book discovered at Coptos, in the ancient sanctuary there, by a priest of the Goddess. 'The whole earth was dark, but the moon shone all about the Book.' A scribe of the period of the Ramessids mentions another in indecipherable ancient writing. 'Thou tellest me thou understandest no word of it, good or bad. There is, as it were, a wall about it that none may climb. Thou art instructed, yet thou knowest it not; this makes me afraid.' -- "Birch Zeitschrift 1871 pp. 61-64 Papyrus Anastasi I pl. X, l.8, pl. X l.4. Maspero, Hist. Anc. pp. 66-67."
   [ah: This note is especially interesting because of Lovecraft's addiction to ancient volumes--an addiction to which other contributors to the Cthulhu Mythos readily lent themselves.]
   [stj: H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang, The World's Desire (1890). The previous entry may also have been inspired by this novel.]
   [jmr: #(140)-141: extract from H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang’s The World’s Desire; cf. HPL to AWDerleth, October 1, 1927 (Essential Solitude, 106)]
Members of witch-cult were buried face downward. Man investigates ancestor in family tomb and finds disquieting condition.
   [ah: Out of this brief jotting grew "The Peabody Heritage".]
   [wp: part XVII.]
Strange well in Arkham country -- water gives out (or was never struck -- hole kept tightly covered by a stone ever since dug) -- no bottom -- shunned and feared -- what lay beneath (either unholy temple or other very ancient thing, or great cave-world). [Fungi---The Well]
   [ah: This would seem to be the genesis not only of "The Well" in the "Fungi from Yuggoth", but also of one of Lovecraft's most powerful tales, "The Colour out of Space".]
Hideous book glimpsed in ancient shop--never seen again.
   [jmr: “The Book”?]
   [but: H. R. Giger, painting; Laurent Mettraux, drawing]
Horrible boarding house--closed door never opened.
Ancient lamp found in tomb -- when filled and used, its light reveals strange world. [Fungi]
   [stj: HPL used this image in sonnet VI ("The Lamp") of Fungi from Yuggoth.]
   [cje: Derleth, "The Lamp of Alhazred"]
Any very ancient, unknown, or prehistoric object--its power of suggestion--forbidden memories.
   [but: Julian Käser, drawing]
Vampire dog.
   [cbw: Meg Bashwiner, "Vampire Dogs (or What Came Out)"]
   [yb: Vampire Dog]
   [but: Norman Spinrad, untitled ("'This is a terrible situation,'"); Alexandre Pointet, drawing; Irene Schoch, drawing]
Evil alley or enclosed court in ancient city -- Union or Milligan Pl. [Fungi]
   [ah: "The Courtyard" in the "Fungi from Yuggoth".]
   [rdg: The idea of a street, square or entire neighborhood banned or closed for "normal" people in a current city is very interesting as a starting point for a story, or as a place to visit recurring protagonists.]
   [cbw: Gary Belsky, "Tea and Pie, Don’t Pass Me By"]
Visit to someone in wild and remote house -- ride from station through the night -- into the haunted hills -- house by forest or water -- terrible things live there.
   [cje: "The Whisperer in Darkness"; also Campbell, "The Inhabitant of the Lake" (introduction to Cold Print).]
   [rdg: A similar house can be seen in the Hellboy graphic novel "Seed of Destruction".]
Man forced to take shelter in strange house. Host has thick beard and dark glasses. Retires. In night guest rises and sees host's clothes about -- also mask which was the apparent face of whatever the host was. Flight.
   [ah: A recurrence of this theme in the notes--the idea used so effectively in "The Whisperer in Darkness".]
   [stj: HPL clearly used this image at the conclusion of "The Whisperer in Darkness".]
   [rdg: This idea is reminiscent of a traditional tale, the host as the monstrous murderer, reproduced in many cultures. Dracula has a variation on this theme.]
   [jmr: incorporated into “The Whisperer in Darkness” (started Feb. 24, 1930)]
   [wp: part XV.]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]
Autonomic nervous system and subconscious mind do not reside in the head. Have mad physician decapitate a man but keep him alive and subconsciously controlled. Avoid copying tale by W. C. Morrow.
   [stj: HPL refers to "The Monster Maker" in The Ape, the Idiot, and Other People (1897).]
   [cje: revisiting idea from "Herbert West--Reanimator"?]
   [but: Denis Martin, drawing]

Black cat on a hill near dark gulf of ancient inn yard. Mews hoarsely -- invites artist to nighted mysteries beyond. Finally dies at advanced age. Haunts dreams of artist -- lures him to follow -- strange outcome (never wakes up? or makes bizarre discovery of an elder world outside 3 -- dimensioned space?). [Used by Dwyer]
   [stj: The entry refers to an aged cat in Providence whom HPL named Old Man (see SL 5.92). HPL wrote "used by Dwyer" in the belief that his correspondent Bernard Austin Dwyer would use the entry in a story; but Dwyer never wrote the story, so HPL crossed out the notation.]
   [jmr: “Old Man” cat in Providence, c. September 1928? (cf. Selected Letters 5, 81-83); shades of hyperspace in “The Dreams in the Witch House” (Jan./Feb. 1932)?]
Trophonius--cave of. Vide Class. Dict. and Atlantic article.
   [stj: It is not clear which article in the Atlantic Monthly HPL is referring to here.]
   [rdg: Lovecraft refers to Cave of Trophonius, a Greek mythological character. 'Descend the Cave of Trophonius' is synonymous with having a great horror. The cave itself is an oracle (hence the interest for this).]
Steepled town seen from afar at sunset -- does not light up at night. Sail has been seen putting out to sea. [Fungi]
   [ah: "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath".]
   [stj: HPL used this image in sonnet VIII ("The Port") of Fungi from Yuggoth.]
Adventures of a disembodied spirit--thro' dim, half-familiar cities and over strange moors--thro' space and time--other planets and universes in the end.
   [wp: part X.]
Vague lights, geometrical figures, etc., seen on retina when eyes are closed. Caus'd by rays from other dimensions acting on optick nerve? From other planets? Connected with a life or phase of being in which person could live if he only knew how to get there? Man afraid to shut eyes--he has been somewhere on a terrible pilgrimage and this fearsome seeing faculty remains.
   [ah: Patently this is the beginning of the story told under title of "The Shadow out of Space".]
   [but: Eugène, untitled ("Three attacks of psoriasis"); Jean-Michel Cholette, painting]
Man has terrible wizard friend who gains influence over him. Kills him in defence of his soul -- walls body up in ancient cellar -- BUT -- the dead wizard (who has said strange things about soul lingering in body) changes bodies with him . . . leaving him a conscious corpse in cellar.
   [ah: A motif which occurs in "The Thing on the Doorstep".]
   [stj: The entry was inspired by H. B. Drake’s The Shadowy Thing (1928; first published as The Remedy, 1925).]
   [jmr: plot derived from H. B. Drake’s The Shadowy Thing (1928) read c. early 1929? (cf. Essential Solitude, 173); later developed as “The Thing on the Doorstep” (Aug. 21-24, 1933)]
Certain kind of deep-toned stately music of the style of the 1870's or 1880's recalls certain visions of that period--gas-litten parlours of the dead, moonlight on old floors, decaying business streets with gas lamps, etc.--under terrible circumstances.
Book which induces sleep on reading -- cannot be read -- determined man reads it -- goes mad -- precautions taken by aged initiate who knows -- protection (as of author and translator) by incantation.
   [cje: James Blish, "More Light!"]
Time and space--past event--150 yrs ago--unexplained. Modern period--person intensely homesick for past says or does something which is psychically transmitted back and actually causes the past event.
Ultimate horror--grandfather returns from strange trip--mystery in house--wind and darkness--grandf. and mother engulfed--questions forbidden--somnolence--investigation--cataclysm--screams overheard--
Man whose money was obscurely made loses it. Tells his family he must go again to THE PLACE (horrible & sinister & extra-dimensional) where he got his gold. Hints of possible pursuers--or of his possible non-return. He goes--record of what happens to him--or what happens at his home when he returns. Perhaps connect with preceding topic. Give fantastic, quasi-Dunsanian treatment.
Man observed in a publick place with features (or ring or jewel) identified with those of man long (perhaps generations) buried.
   [cje: previously used in "The Festival"]
   [cbw: Brian James Polak, "The Story of the Faceless Man"]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]

Terrible trip to an ancient and forgotten tomb.
   [cje: A common theme, previously used in both "The Tomb" and "The Nameless City", could be said to apply to "The Call of Cthulhu", "At the Mountains of Madness", and "The Shadow out of Time", as well as "The Mound".]

Hideous family living in shadow in ancient castle by edge of wood near black cliffs and monstrous waterfall.
Boy rear'd in atmosphere of considerable mystery. Believes father dead. Suddenly is told that father is about to return. Strange preparations--consequences.
   [rdg: "The Dunwich Horror" but with a different approach, the "son" instead of the researchers.]
   [cbw: Marcus Goodyear, "Dead Beat Dad"]
Lonely bleak islands off N.E. coast. Horrors they harbour--outpost of cosmic influences.
   [cje: "The Shadow over Innsmouth"]
What hatches from primordial egg.
   [jmr: perhaps incorporated into "At the Mountains of Madness"]
   [yb: Primordial Thing]
   [but: Hugues Lapaire, drawing; Kevin Evans, drawing]
Strange man in shadowy quarter of ancient city possesses something of immemorial archaic horror.
Hideous old book discovered--directions for shocking evocation.
   [ah: This is another theme which crops up not only in Lovecraft.]
   [jmr: “The Book”?]

Pre-human idol found in desert.
   [rdg: This idea works well as a starter in all kinds of seasons. The anachronistic archaeological discovery is very practical (remember "Stargate")]
   [cje: Bloch, "The Faceless God"?; also, "The Horror in the Hills", FBL]
   [but: Gess, drawing]
Idol in museum moves in a certain way.
   [cje: "Out of the Aeons", "The Horror in the Museum"; also, "The Horror in the Hills", FBL]
   [rdg: Maybe always look in one direction or not to strive to remain upright.]
Migration of Lemmings--Atlantis.
   [rdg: It is hard to imagine a connection between the two events, but you could say, for example, that the racial memory of creatures tells of the time when the city sank, a cataclysm that each year causes them to commit suicide en masse.] [cje: Not to be snide, but it seems obvious that is exactly what HPL had in mind.]
   [cbw: Justin Marquis, "Notes on Lemmings"]
Little green Celtic figures dug up in an ancient Irish bog.
Man blindfolded and taken in closed cab or car to some very ancient and secret place.
   [rdg: Lovecraft left it more interesting to say, where and why.]
   [wp: part XXIV.]
The dreams of one man actually create a strange half-mad world of quasi-material substance in another dimension. Another man, also a dreamer, blunders into this world in a dream. What he finds. Intelligence of denizens. Their dependence on the first dreamer. What happens at his death.
   [cje: something like this previously used in "Dream-Quest": Randolph Carter enters Kuranes's own corner of the dreamlands]
   [yb: Denizen of Another Dimension]
A very ancient tomb in the deep woods near where a 17th century Virginia manor-house used to be. The undecayed, bloated thing found within.
   [jmr: plot for a "Randolph Carterish" story, cf. undated postcard to CAS quoted in the notes to Smith, The Door to Saturn]
   [yb: Undecayed Thing]
Appearance of an ancient god in a lonely and archaic place--prob. temple ruin. Atmosphere of beauty rather than horror. Subtle handling--presence revealed by faint sound or shadow. Landscape changes? Seen by child? Impossible to reach or identify locale again?
   [eut: Laurence Suhner, drawing]
A general house of horror--nameless crime--sounds--later tenants--(Flammarion) (novel length?).
   [stj: Camille Flammarion, Haunted Houses (1924; LL 319).]
   [cje: previously used in "The Shunned House"]
Inhabitant of another world--face masked, perhaps with human skin or surgically alter'd human shape, but body alien beneath robes. Having reached earth, tries to mix with mankind. Hideous revelation. [Suggested by CAS.]
   [ah: Here once more is the mask motif, which evidently had a strong hold on Lovecraft's imagination.]
   [stj: The plot-germ was suggested by Clark Ashton Smith in a reply (n.d.; JHL) to HPL's letter to Smith of 17 October 1930.]
   [cje: "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", "The Whisperer in Darkness".]
   [rdg: The initials correspond to Clark Ashton Smith. It shows the difference in treatment style, more science fiction, against the "antique horror" of Lovecraft.]
   [jmr: plot suggested by CAS in a letter of c. October 24, 1930 (Selected Letters 3.128)]
   [cbw: Jonathan Herzog, "Devotion"]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]
In an ancient buried city a man finds a mouldering prehistoric document in English and in his own handwriting, telling an incredible tale. Voyage from present into past implied. Possible actualisation of this.
   [ah: It is not often in these notes that Lovecraft himself indicated their use. This one, however, was deleted and marked: "used 1935--Shadow out of Time".]
   [stj: Manifestly the nucleus of "The Shadow out of Time" (1934-35).]
   [rdg: This idea was developed by Lovecraft, combined with other notebook, in the story of a man who sounds living in the body of one of the beings of the Great Race, prehistoric settlers from Earth. Search of the newspaper becomes the test of whether it is really a strange dream or reality.]
   [jmr: the kernel of “The Shadow Out of Time”; cf. HPL to CAS, November 11, 1930 (Selected Letters 3, 217)]
Reference in Egyptian papyrus to a secret of secrets under tomb of high-priest Ka-Nefer. Tomb finally found and identified--trap door in stone floor--staircase, and the illimitable black abyss. [x]
   [stj: The name Ka-Nefer is used in HPL's revision of Duane W. Rimel's "The Tree on the Hill" (1934).]
   [cje: "Ka-Nefer" a variant of "Nephren-Ka" ("Charles Dexter Ward")?; similar idea in Bloch's "The Fane of Nephren-Ka"]
Expedition lost in Antarctic or other weird place. Skeletons and effects found years later. Camera films used but undeveloped. Finders develop--and find strange horror.
   [ah: This is very likely the beginning of "At the Mountains of Madness".]
   [rdg: Another argument often used today, since "Blair Witch Project" to "Event Horizon". Resources to create suspense keeps running.]
   [jmr: perhaps incorporated into "At the Mountains of Madness"; thus no later than January 1931]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing]
Scene of an urban horror--Sous le Cap or Champlain Sts.--Quebec--rugged cliff-face--moss, mildew, dampness--houses half-burrowing into cliff. 
   [jmr: Quebec first visited in August 1930]
Thing from sea--in dark house, man finds doorknobs etc. wet as from touch of something. He has been a sea-captain, and once found a strange temple on a volcanically risen island.
   [ah: The strangely wet doorknob has been a favorite device of writers using the Cthulhu Mythos backgrounds, and, of course, the island as perhaps R'lyeh recurs frequently.] [cje: I can't think of an occurrence of a wet doorknob in any Mythos fiction published before 1959, when the above comment was written, except in Derleth's own "The Seal of R'lyeh", 1957.]

Dream of awaking in vast hall of strange architecture, with sheetcovered forms on slabs -- in positions similar to one's own. Suggestions of disturbingly non-human outlines under sheets. One of the objects moves and throws off sheet -- non-terrestrial being revealed. Sugg. that oneself is also such a being -- mind has become transferred to body on other planet.
   [cje: "The Shadow out of Time"]
   [jmr: evidently incorporated into “The Shadow Out of Time”; cf. HPL to CAS, November 29, 1930 (Selected Letters 3, 238); also HPL to CAS, October 22,1933: ‘about a year ago’ (Dream Book #14])]
   [cbw: Kathleen Akerley, "The Opposite Door"]
   [yb: Non-Terrestrial Being]
Desert of rock--prehistoric door in cliff, in the valley around which lie the bones of uncounted billions of animals both modern and prehistoric--some of them puzzlingly gnawed.
Ancient necropolis--bronze door in hillside which opens as the moonlight strikes it--focussed by ancient lens in pylon opposite?
   [cje: Campbell, "The Moon-Lens"]

Primal mummy in museum--awakes and changes place with visitor.
   [but: David Saavadra, painting]
 An odd wound appears on a man's hand suddenly and without apparent cause. Spreads. Consequences.

Thibetan ROLANG--Sorcerer (or NGAGSPA) reanimates a corpse by holding it in a dark room--lying on it mouth to mouth and repeating a magic formula with all else banished from his mind. Corpse slowly comes to life and stands up. Tries to escape--leaps, bounds, and struggles--but sorcerer holds it. Continues with magic formula. Corpse sticks out tongue and sorcerer bites it off. Corpse then collapses. Tongue become a valuable magic talisman. If corpse escapes--hideous results and death to sorcerer. 
   [stj: The entry was inspired by HPL's reading of Alexander David-Neel’s Magic and Mystery in Tibet (1932).]
   [rdg: Lovecraft will refer here to what happens if the wizard fails to hold the body after revive. Something that can happen to someone who does not understand the entire process or is a mere apprentice. Another hook to start an adventure.]
   [yb: Rolang]
Strange book of horror discovered in ancient library. Paragraphs of terrible significance copies. Later unable to find and verify text. Perhaps discover body or image or charm under floor, in secret cupboard, or elsewhere. Idea that book was merely hypnotic delusion induced by dead brain or ancient magic.
   [rdg: It's a good way to make the characters, who are often on the lookout for strange tomes, "release" something without knowing it. For example, to break the seals that keep a creature or a sorcerer chained outside this dimension.]
Man enters (supposedly) own house in pitch dark. Feels way to room and shuts door behind him. Strange horrors--or turns on lights and finds alien place or presence. Or finds past restored or future indicated.
   [rdg: This idea is a mixture of several that may be of interest separately. Reaching a familiar place in a walk through the darkness, or you can "travel" in time in the same way, to alter this a posteriori. In a way "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens exploits this idea.]
Pane of peculiar-looking glass from a ruined monastery reputed to have harboured devil-worship set up in modern house at edge of wild country. Landscape looks vaguely and unplaceably wrong through it. It has some unknown time-distorting quality, and comes from a primal, lost civilisation. Finally, hideous things in other world seen through it.
   [ah: The genesis of "The Gable Window".] 
   [jmr: “The Rose Window”?]
   [but: Lucius Shepard, untitled ("Above the plain oak desk"); Goomi, drawing]
Daemons, when desiring an human form for evil purposes, take to themselves the bodies of hanged men.
   [yb: Demon-Possessed Corpse]
   [but: Gwabriel, drawing]
   [eut: Rick Sardinha, H.P. Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book Entry No. 196, painting]
Loss of memory and entry into a cloudy world of strange sights and experiences after shock, accident, reading of strange book, participation in strange rite, draught of strange brew, etc. Things seen have vague and disquieting familiarity. Emergence. Inability to retrace course.

Distant tower visible from hillside window. Bats cluster thickly around it at night. Observer fascinated. One night wakes to find self on unknown black circular staircase. In tower? Hideous goal.
   [jmr: evidently incorporated into “The Haunter of the Dark”]
Black winged thing flies into one's house at night. Cannot be found or identified--but subtle developments ensue.
   [yb: Black Winged Thing]
Invisible Thing felt--or seen to make prints--on mountain top or other height, inaccessible place.
   [ah: Lovecraft's familiarity with the Abominable Snowman may have inspired this.]
   [cje: "The Whisperer in Darkness"]
Planets form'd of invisible matter.
   [jmr: autograph manuscript  with entries up to #201 presented to R. H. Barlow on May 7, 1934; #202ff. in the typescript folder]
A monstrous derelict--found and boarded by a castaway or shipwreck survivor. 
   [rdg: "Alien, The Eighth Passenger" takes this idea and makes players explore an alien spaceship "shipwrecked" on a planet. Discovering what we all know.] [cje: "Alien, The Eighth Passenger" is the European name for Ridley Scott's film Alien.]
   [but: Jérémie Royer, drawing; Guy Davis, drawing; Émile Roduit, drawing]
A return to a place under dreamlike, horrible, and only dimly comprehended circumstances. Death and decay reigning--town fails to light up at night--Revelation.
   [rdg: The writer usually ends his stories with a punch line, it works very well for reading but not so well for the sessions. In many cases, the punch line is half the adventure, when moving from discovery to action (or attempted survival).]
   [but: Philippe Forêt, "The Books of the Black City"]
Disturbing conviction that all life is only a deceptive dream with some dismal or sinister horror lurking behind.
   [rdg: "The Matrix" is an adapted version of this idea in science fiction.]
   [cje: "The Render of the Veils". From Ramsey Campbell's introduction to Cold Print (Tor, 1987): "What released me [from writer's block] weeks later was writing "The Render of the Veils" in the garden on a summer morning. It's based on a Lovecraft note [quotes above], but it began my liberation from Lovecraft's style, in the sense that it's told largely through dialogue."]
   [but: Jeffrey Ford, untitled ("Nov. 8th, 1936"); Noyau, painting; Christian Bili, drawing]
Person gazes out window and finds city and world dark and dead (or oddly changed) outside.
   [but: Anna-Maria Jung, drawing]
Trying to identify and visit the distant scenes dimly seen from one's window--bizarre consequences.
   [rdg: Can interact with above without problems.]
Something snatched away from one in the dark--in a lonely, ancient, and generally shunned place.
   [but: Björn Quiring, drawing]
(Dream of) some vehicle--railway train, coach, etc.--which is boarded in a stupor or fever, and which is a fragment of some past or ultra-dimensional world--taking the passenger out of reality--into vague, age-crumbled regions or unbelievable gulfs of marvel.
   [cbw: Christopher Scheer and Will Hartwell, "The Impossible"]
   [but: Gabriel Br., drawing]

Special Correspondence of NY Times--March 3, 1935
"Halifax, N.S.--Etched deeply into the face of an island which rises from the Atlantic surges off the S. coast of Nova Scotia 20 m. from Halifax is the strangest rock phenomenon which Canada boasts. Storm, sea, and frost have graven into the solid cliff of what has come to be known as Virgin's Island an almost perfect outline of the Madonna with the Christ Child in her arms.
The island has sheer and wave-bound sides, is a danger to ships, and is absolutely uninhabited. So far as is known, no human being has ever set foot on its shores."
   [jmr: derived from an article in the NY Times of March 3, 1935]
   [but: Valerio Evangelisti, "Review of 'The Island of the Virgin' by H. P. Lovecraft"]
An ancient house with blackened pictures on the walls--so obscured that their subjects cannot be deciphered. Cleaning--and revelation. Cf. Hawthorne--Edw. Rand. Port.
   [stj: HPL refers to Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Edward Randolph's Portrait" (1838).]
Begin story with presence of narrator--inexplicable to himself--in utterly alien and terrifying scenes (dream?).
   [wp: part II.]
   [but: Fufu Frauenwahl, drawing]
Strange human being (or beings) living in some ancient house or ruins far from populous district (either old N.E. or far exotic land). Suspicion (based on shape and habits) that it is not all human.
   [but: Jeff Remmer, drawing]
Ancient winter woods--moss--great boles--twisted branches--dark--ribbed roots--always dripping. . . .
Talking rock of Africa--immemorially ancient oracle in desolate jungle ruins that speaks with a voice out of the aeons.
   [cbw: Marta Rainer, "Meaning You are Beautiful or You are Wonderful"]
   [yb: Sentient Rock]
   [but: Rick Sardinha, H.P. Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book Entry No. 214, painting]
   [eut: Monsieur Michimoto, drawing; Laurence Suhner, drawing]
Man with lost memory in strange, imperfectly comprehended environment. Fears to regain memory--a glimpse. . . .
   [cje: "The Shadow out of Time"]
   [rdg: At first glance this idea reminds me of the movie 'Memento' and the novel 'Soldier of the Mist' by Gene Wolfe.]
Man idly shapes a queer image--some power impels him to make it queerer than he understands. Throws it away in disgust--but something is abroad in the night.
   [cje: Derleth, "Innsmouth Clay"]
Ancient (Roman? prehistoric?) stone bridge washed away by a (sudden and curious?) storm. Something liberated which had been sealed up in the masonry of years ago. Things happen.
   [cje: Derleth, "The Horror from the Middle Span"; Campbell, "The Horror from the Bridge"; also Campbell, "The Room in the Castle" (introduction to Cold Print)]
   [yb: Bridge Creature]
Mirage in time--image of long-vanish'd pre-human city.
   [but: John Coulthart, drawing]
Fog or smoke--assumes shapes under incantations.
   [yb: Fog Creature]
   [but: Christopher Priest, "The Trace of Him"]
Bell of some ancient church or castle rung by some unknown hand--a thing . . . or an invisible Presence.
   [cje: the fragment "The Descendant"?]
Insects or other entities from space attack and penetrate a man's head and cause him to remember alien and exotic things -- possible displacement of personality.
   [ah: This note, the last in the "Commonplace Book", dates to May 11, 1935, for on that date Lovecraft wrote to Barlow: 'I had a very vivid dream fragment only last night--perhaps in part derived from that extremely clever plot idea outlined toward the end of your letter. You speak of a cranium containing, in place of a brain, a curious metal device--implying that the latter is either an alien and conscious entity itself, or else a sort of receiving set by which remote outside entities can control the body in which it is planted. Well--in my dream I was, while walking in a familiar rural region, suddenly attacked by a swarm of swift-darting insects from the sky. They were tiny and streamlined, and seemed to be able to pierce my cranium and enter my brain as if their substance were not strictly material. No sooner had they entered my head, than my identity and position seemed to become very doubtful. I remembered alien and incredible scenes"]
   [cje: Campbell, "The Insects from Shaggai". From his introduction to Cold Print : "The Insects from Shaggai" is based on another entry in the Commonplace Book, or rather on my misreading of it. Lovecraft wrote: [quotes above], a superb idea I rushed at so hastily that I failed to notice he hadn't meant giant insects at all. (An account of the dream which gave him the idea can be found in the Selected Letters, volume V, page 159.) Of all my stories this is probably the pulpiest. As such it has some energy, I think, but I wish I'd left the note alone until I was equipped to do it justice."]
   [jmr: the last entry, derived from a dream; cf. HPL to R. H. Barlow, (May 11?) 1935 (O Fortunate Floridian, 261)]
   [yb: Insects from Shaggai]
   [but: Noah Berlatsky, drawing; Andrés Soria, drawing; Tito, drawing; Bertschy, drawing]
Quoted as motto by John Buchan
"The effect of night, of any flowing water, of the peep of day, of ships, of the open ocean, calls up in the mind an army of anonymous desires and pleasures. Something, we feel, should happen; we know not what, yet we proceed in quest of it."
-- R. L. Stevenson.
   [ah: Curiously, this sense of adventurous expectancy was with Lovecraft personally all his life; in a very real sense, he lived for it and by it, and his letters abound with emphasis of this note and its importance in his existence.]
   [stj: The motto is quoted as the epigraph to John Buchan's "Sing a Song of Sixpence" in The Runagates Club (1928).]
   [cje: The 1959 AH version has this entry after [76].]

Updated: April 27, 2013
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