“Arthur Jermyn” or “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family” contains one of the best opening paragraphs that I’ve come across. The opening accomplishes everything that a good opening should. It is a teaser for the rest of the story. Yes, it might give away the ending, but it does so in such a way that you are intrigued, no too passive, you are sucked into the train wreck that follows. My favorite line from the opening is: “Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous” (59). Lovecraft was always such an optimist.
Just like in “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” the main character is on a journey to discover his genealogical roots. There is some mystery concerning Arthur Jermyn’s distant relatives, and there has always been something uneasy and grotesque in the physical appearance of the Jermyns. Also, a certain odd slowness has plagued them since Arthur’s great-great-great-grandfather, Sir Wade Jermyn. You can see good depiction of Arthur’s Family Tree following that link.
The Jermyn family has had a strange relationship to an old and forgotten section of the African Congo that started with Sir Wade Jermyn, an early explorer of that area, dating back to the late 1700s. Ever since Sir Wade Jermyn’s explorations, each of the male descendants has gone in search of the strange ruins of a mythological race of white apes that stand tall with little fur. These white apes were said to worship the great white good that miraculously appeared one day and took for his wife the most beautiful of their kind. This white god was said to have stayed with them for sometime before departing; also, he was said to make infrequent return visits, but did return on occasion.
Each of the Jermyn sons has felt drawn to the
While in the
Arthur Jermyn quickly requested that the ape-goddess forwarded to his home. It was the content of this package, once arrived and opened, that caused him to run scream from his house, douse himself in gas, and set himself a blaze. His fragile artist’s mind could not reconcile the contents of the box with the details of his family’s genealogical tree.
Great story! Read it here: Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
Lovecraft, H. P., “Arthur Jermyn.” The Transition of H. P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness.