H. P. Lovecraft

The Terrible Old Man

Listen later
Add to collection
The Terrible Old Man by H. P. Lovecraft is a short story of fewer than 1200 words by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was written on January 28, 1920, and first published in the Tryout, an amateur press publication, in July 1921. It is notable as the first story to make use of Lovecraft's imaginary New England setting, introducing the fictional town of Kingsport. The story, about the fate of three would-be robbers of the titular old man's house, has been criticized by Peter Cannon for being an openly xenophobic polemic against immigration. Plot: A strange old man, "so old that no one can remember when he was young, and so taciturn that few know his real name," lives alone in an ancient house on Water Street in the town of Kingsport. Even among the locals, few know the details of the old man's life, but it is believed that he once captained East Indian clipper ships in his youth and accumulated great riches throughout his life. Those who had visited the property had seen bizarre collections of stones in the front yard and observed the old man carrying on conversations with mysterious bottles on his table, which make "certain definite vibrations as if in answer." Most locals take care to avoid the man and his house. Angelo Ricci, Joe Czanek and Manuel Silva, three robbers, learn about the old man's supposed hoard of treasure and resolve to take it. Ricci and Silva go inside to "interview" the old man about the treasure, while Czanek waits outside in the getaway car. After waiting impatiently for a long time, Czanek is startled by an outburst of horrific screaming from the house but assumes that his colleagues have been too rough with the old man during their interrogation. However, the gate of the house opens, revealing the old man "smiling hideously" at him. For the first time, Czanek takes note of the man's unsettling yellow eyes.
Release date
Listen on
From the same publisher
Show publisher
From the same authors
Write a review

No reviews yet

Start by writing your own review.