Re-reading Barlow’s memoir of Lovecraft, in O Fortunate Floridian, I was struck by the implication of the comment by Barlow that…
Of “The Strange High House in the Mist” (1926) I have a much-interlined and revised typescript; the rhythms (he said) became too obvious in his story and had to be toned down.
Barlow’s reference to “rhythms” is ambiguous. Does it refer to the poetic play of words in lines, or to the larger structure which repeatedly pounds like ocean waves through the last part of the story?
But the clear implication here is that Lovecraft once made a heavily revised version of this typed story. Did Barlow have the early typescript of a revised version, which had then been cleanly re-typed and submitted to Weird Tales in summer 1931? It would seem a natural moment to make some changes. If so, then the further implication of Barlow’s comment is that the November 1926 original (rejected by Weird Tales and due to appear in The Recluse, but never printed there) was markedly different from the 1931 version?
The Lovecraft Encyclopedia makes no mention of any revision in either 1931 or 1934, or of a lost 1926 original which had been typed but then heavily revised. Nor, so far as I can see, is there mention of such on the survey of Lovecraft’s ‘lost’ material in “Locked Dimension Out of Reach” (Lovecraft Annual 2011), or in Joshi’s I Am Providence or his notes for Penguin Modern Classics.
But we can assume Barlow is accurate, and that there was a detailed revision. One then wonders when this was done. If in Florida in 1934 during his visit with Barlow, then the following item from Barlow’s memoir of Lovecraft may have some bearing, perhaps arising from the work in the revision…
At breakfast he told us his dreams; once of how he was a magician standing on a cliff over the ocean sending balls out into space and guiding them back, some of them returning with the scars and mosses of seas and spaces unknown.
A slightly different version of the dream is given on page 402 of O Fortunate Floridian, adding winds and wetness… a “high cliff by the ocean, where winds were blowing” and the balls “would have encrustations of odd growths, or be slimy wet.”
Readers will remember that the setting of “The Strange High House in the Mist” is a tall sea-cliff above the ocean, the original 1926 story being most likely written for a boy who lived on a sea-cliff at the ocean’s edge near Marblehead. Thus this dream, and Barlow’s comment, might hint that Lovecraft revised the story while staying with Barlow in Florida?
The Brown Repository has the story as scans, presumably deposited there by Barlow, and the notes on the record-page suggests a solution to the mystery. Although the item is…
Dated at the end: “Novr. 9, 1926.” This combination of manuscript (pages 1-7 and 10) and typescript (pages 8 and 9) was heavily revised by HPL. He apparently continued to make revisions even after the story was first published in Weird Tales, 18, No. 3 (Oct 1931).
Thus, by the look of it, it seems there was indeed some sort of composite assemblage and accretion on top of the original handwritten story of 1926, consisting of many inserted typed pages among the handwritten leaves and very heavy revision throughout. I imagine that access to Joshi’s Collected Fiction, A Variorum Edition, Volume 2: 1926–1930 would help further unlock the sequencing of this item, since the book has “High House” and it offers…
“all the textual variants in all relevant appearances of a story — manuscript, first publication in magazines, and first book publications.”
Though I’m unsure if it also pares back to what sits underneath all Lovecraft’s crossings out, and attempts a forensic reconstruction of the 1926 original. Unfortunately this book is too expensive for me, even at its current reduction from $180 to $99.