The theme of Lovecraft’s New York story “Cool Air” was strong prompted by his own fear of cold and need for heat, and by his friend Leeds’s precursor story. But I wonder if the following historical snippet might be relevant to the slight stress that Lovecraft places on the increasing demands of Dr. Munoz for more cold and ever more ice…

At the peak of the trade in the 1870s, cargoes of New England ice worth hundreds of thousands of dollars went south annually from Charleston to Calcutta … ice was cut in winter [for export around the world] on every pond and river in the region” (from Reflections in Bullough’s Pond: Economy and Ecosystem in New England, University Press of New England, 2000)

So could there be a slight touch of historical satire in “Cool Air”, only to be picked up on by those aware of the role of the ice trade in New England history? I hasten to add that I’m not the first to make a suggestion along these lines, as S.T. Joshi has pointed to the possibility of a few deftly humorous touches in the story…

“There is, to be sure, a perhaps deliberate undercurrent of the comic in the whole story, especially when Munoz, now holed up in a bathtub full of ice, cries through his bathroom door, “More—more!” (A Subtler Magick: The Writings and Philosophy of H.P. Lovecraft)

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