Freitag, 18. Mai 2012

Images of the Mountains of Madness

OK, this post is quite different from the stuff I usually put here, but I was reading  The Mountains of Madness by HP Lovecraft and noticed that there recurring references to ancient ruins and stone formations. I was interested in how these sites where portrayed at the time the book was written. So I googled, and even though I know most of them before, looking at the old pictures somehow felt like I was getting closer to Lovecrafts original vision.

I figured it was well worth sharing...

Images taken from Library of congress website (,
except the imag of Monument Valley, which is from the library of the University of Utah ( and the images of Machu Picchu, which are random webfinds. (The first of these presumably from the original 1911 expedition, the latter one of unknown date, but due to the state of the ruins must also predate 1930.)

All images predate the writing of Mountains of Madness


As he had said, their edges were crumbled and rounded from untold aeons of savage weathering; but their preternatural solidity and tough material had saved them from obliteration. Many parts, especially those closest to the slopes, seemed identical in substance with the surrounding rock surface. The whole arrangement looked like the ruins of Macchu Picchu in the Andes,


 or the primal foundation walls of Kish as dug up by the Oxford Field Museum Expedition in 1929;

 and both Danforth and I obtained that occasional impression of separate Cyclopean blocks which Lake had attributed to his flight-companion Carroll. How to account for such things in this place was frankly beyond me, and I felt queerly humbled as a geologist. Igneous formations often have strange regularities - like the famous Giants’ Causeway in Ireland –

 but this stupendous range, despite Lake’s original suspicion of smoking cones, was above all else nonvolcanic in evident structure.


I think that both of us simultaneously cried out in mixed awe, wonder, terror, and disbelief in our own senses as we finally cleared the pass and saw what lay beyond. Of course, we must have had some natural theory in the back of our heads to steady our faculties for the moment. Probably we thought of such things as the grotesquely weathered stones of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado,

or the fantastically symmetrical wind-carved rocks of the Arizona desert.

Perhaps we even half thought the sight a mirage like that we had seen the morning before on first approaching those mountains of madness. We must have had some such normal notions to fall back upon as our eyes swept that limitless, tempest-scarred plateau and grasped the almost endless labyrinth of colossal, regular, and geometrically eurythmic stone masses which reared their crumbled and pitted crests above a glacial sheet not more than forty or fifty feet deep at its thickest, and in places obviously thinner.


We also came upon several star-shaped open spaces, evidently public squares, and noted various undulations in the terrain. Where a sharp hill rose, it was generally hollowed out into some sort of rambling-stone edifice; but there were at least two exceptions. Of these latter, one was too badly weathered to disclose what had been on the jutting eminence, while the other still bore a fantastic conical monument carved out of the solid rock and roughly resembling such things as the well-known Snake Tomb …

(here is a really nice photograph which shows it in context:

… in the ancient valley of Petra.


Here is a link to the original novel by Lovecraft:

I also created a .pdf of this post for other reasons, but in case you want it, here is the downlaod:

1 Kommentar:

  1. Nicely done. Or, in the words of the test to see whether I was a human or a robot, "eenpir gynxpe" (coincidentally the name of a Lovecraftian elder god).