The Case of Mr. Lucraft

THE CASE OF MR. LUCRAFT by Sir Walter Besant and James Rice

“Then I became a cabin-boy, but only for a single voyage, on board a collier. The ship belonged to a philanthropist, who was too much occupied with the wrongs of the West Indian ni**ers to think about the rights of his own sailors;…”

The ship, the ‘Spanking Sally’, sank soon after the Narrator, LUCRAFT, had run away… but its West Indians may have evoked creation of the infernally CLUCK-CLUCKING Boule-de-Neige character later in his story! There are many other wildly and unforgivably impolitical references here, but no doubt the work’s overwhelming themes of overeating and overlarge meals influenced some of Aickman’s own fiction, as well as influencing the latter’s sporadically obsessional or long-covividly attritional strains of literary absurdism.
Ever food-hungry and penniless, Lucraft tells us a truly remarkable tale, stemming from his time as a strolling actor and his unrequited love affair with young Juliet. Then when, spurned by her father, Lucraft moves to London, he faces us with some of the most incredible descriptions of food and unappeased appetite events ever written in literature, as well as describing his Faustian pact with a larger than life man whose name is always just beyond the tip of Lucraft’s tongue, a Rabelaisian man whose speech is disruptively peppered with incessant GRUNTS — a pact of transferring to this man the gargantuan appetite of young Lucraft for food and drink. With all the repercussions that such a pact entails!!! Replete with “green fat”, underdone mutton, “calipash and calipee” and much much else — and “Like an ostrich, as you say. Ho ho! Ha! Ha! like an ostrich!”
I cannot stress enough how literally overwhelming this obsessional and attritional text is upon the reader. And I wonder if the two authors knew what LOO would mean later in linguistic history or simply prophesied its meaning through the magic of fiction. But the story reeks and tastes of LOOCRAFT to me!
Ebenezer GRUMBELOW, too, eventually the tantalising missing name regained as GRUNTS BELOW, I suggest!!
SPOILER — Luke Lucraft’s own new ship called LOVECRAFT, I infer, with Juliet aboard eventually comes to harbour, but I will not here give you all the twists and turns of plot leading to that finale of a romantic event.

“For, as I discovered, man is one and inseparable; you cannot split him up;…”

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Full context of the above is here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/28/the-3rd-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories-edited-by-robert-aickman/

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