"AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS." A complete set of tear sheets of the first appearance of this short novel; serialized in three issues of ASTOUNDING STORIES, February, March, and April 1936, pp. 24-32; 125-155; 131-150. A presentation copy with a signed inscription by Lovecraft to Duane W. Rimel, Jr., a young correspondent of HPL (1934-1937): "To Duane W. Rimel, Esq., who / appreciated this fictional attempt when / others dismissed it lightly -- / H. P. Lovecraft." This is one of three known sets of tear sheets which made their way to August Derleth at Arkham House. The other two, extensively corrected by Lovecraft (presumably supplied by HPL's literary executor, R. H. Barlow), provided the "revised" text for its appearance in THE OUTSIDER (1939). The story was written in 1931, submitted to and rejected by WEIRD TALES editor Farnsworth Wright for being "too long, not easily divisible into parts, not convincing -- & so on" (letter to S. Vernon Shea, 7 August 1931, Selected Letters, III, #487). In the same letter, Lovecraft goes on to remark, "Life has never interested me as much as the escape from life. However -- there is a region on the border betwixt weirdness & scientifiction in which I might conceivably experiment. Indeed, the Mountains of Madness belongs largely to this type." In several subsequent letters he referred to the novella as "my best story" or "my most ambitious story" and was considerably discouraged by its rejection. In writing to E. Hoffmann Price (9 April 1934, Selected Letters IV, #697) he referred to it as "a novelette representing my most serious endeavor -- Antarctic archaeology and polar mystery of a type that has haunted me since I was 11 years old. Its rejection by Wright in 1931 was a psychological setback doing much to freeze me into silence." In another letter written later that year to Price, however, he mused that this hiatus might have been beneficial in forcing him to detect and root out certain bad habits in his work. Lovecraft made no further efforts to sell the story but in 1935 Julius Schwartz, acting as his agent, took MOUNTAINS and THE SHADOW OUT OF TIME to ASTOUNDING's editor, Tremaine, who bought the pair, unread, for $595. The money came at a time when Lovecraft was perilously close to poverty but when he saw the tear sheets he was furious at the edits made by Tremaine. The damage to the text was not completely repaired until the discovery of a fair-copy typescript of the story years later. There is no known copy of a holograph version of this text, making the sets of hand-edited tear sheets the closest approximation to such a thing."At the Mountains of Madness" presents what is probably the most complete and compelling vision of Lovecraft's cosmology, encompassing the Old Ones (extraterrestrial aliens who arrived on Earth millions of years ago and built vast, but now ruined, cities), the shoggoths (hypnotically controlled protoplasmic blobs who served them as unwilling slaves), the fungi from Yuggoth and spawn of Cthulhu (other aliens who arrived later and battled the Old Ones, driving them back to their first settlement in the Antarctic). The cosmology gradually unfolds in the course of an adventure story about a team of explorers visiting the Antarctic and encountering a gigantic mountain, taller than Everest, in the interior of which they discover relics of the Old Ones's civilization -- and confront a thawed-out shoggoth, turned monstrous without the hypnotic control of the Old Ones, who are all dead. The Antarctic setting has prompted some critics to compare Lovecraft's novella to Poe's NARRATIVE OF A. GORDON PYM, but they share little except the overall setting: a blank white canvas onto which could be conveniently painted whatever horrors the author chose. This short novel is one of the twenty-two tales selected for the Library of America's 2005 edition of Lovecraft's fiction. The tear sheets are in fine condition and are accompanied by the front cover of the February 1936 issue of ASTOUNDING. The sheets have been de-acidified, preserved in an archival binding of black cloth, and enclosed in a custom cloth clamshell box. Provenance: The Derleth papers. (#160998).