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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H. P. Lovecraft

  • Broadcast in Spirituality
The Hermetic Hour

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On Thursday May 26th, 2022 The Hermetic Hour with host Poke Runyon and guest Maximilian Paul will review and discuss Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s tour-d-force horror novel “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” written in 1927 and published posthumously in 1941. This macabre epic has influenced the works of Stephen King and Clive Barker and has inspired two film versions, which we will also review and discuss. The Charles Dexter Ward story deals primarily with traditional supernatural themes: Alchemy, Necromancy, Medieval black magic, vampirism and demonic possession. The central character Charles Dexter Ward is a young scholar in Providence Rhode Island in the 1920s who becomes fascinated with the history of his notorious 17th century ancestor Joseph Curwen. The wizard Curwen had moved from Salem to Providence to avoid the witchcraft trails in 1699. He was an alchemist fascinated with a necromantic version of palinogenesis; raising the dead from their cremated remains. He with two equally sinister European sorcerers began grave robbing; collecting the remains of dead sages and scientists to learn their secrets. They also discovered secrets of immortality. This worked against Curwen in Providence where he showed no signs of age for forty years. He did manage to marry so as to leave a bloodline so that he could return – which he did in1928 when he possessed his great-great grandson Charles Dexter Ward through a strange portrait in his old house which young Ward had moved into. Young Ward is possessed by Curwen and eventually finds his grave and brings him back to life. But Old Curwen then murders young Charles and usurps his modern identity. However the Ward family physician Dr. Willet, and Ward’s father have Curwen (believing him to be Ward) committed to an Insane asylum. And that is where the story begins. So stay with us for all the inner secrets of what many consider to have been Lovecraft’s best horror novel.

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