Lovecraft's letters

Discussion in 'H P Lovecraft' started by pablo, Oct 20, 2008.

  1.  
    pablo

    pablo Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    104
    This was touched upon briefly in another thread, with valuable replies I won't reproduce here. I only wanted to raise the issue again, separately. I've been reading the excellent Collected Essays volumes, and Joshi's constant references to Lovecraft's letters make one want to find out more. Now, Ningauble, when replying in that previous thread mentioned that "Hippocampus Press has plans for a complete series of HPL's letters, in 20-25 volumes" - although I can't find anything regarding this anywhere else. This would indeed be quite a mammoth undertaking. One wonders how long such a project would take to completion.

    So, my question from that old thread still stands: how feasible is it to collect all of Lovecraft's extant letters? It would be quite wonderful, should Hippocampus Press go through with this series to the end, because there are so many different volumes of letters already released by various publishes, and abridges, as has been stated.
  2.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,601
    How feasible? Difficult to say. It would be a massive undertaking, as what still exists would fill close to 100 volumes (unless I'm badly mistaken). There's also the fact of the legal questions about publishing some of this material, as the Lovecraft estate has been a tangled legal question for a very long time. Though finally settled some years ago, getting the rights to publish all of these might also be a massive (not to say expensive) undertaking, as well. However, a goodly percentage might still make it into print during my (or your) lifetime....

    In the meantime, it seems that a fairly large-sized collection of such is published at least once a year, sometimes more (O, Fortunate Floridian and the Lovecraft/Derleth correspondence came out, iirc, within a year of each other, for instance, and both of those contain quite respectable amounts -- between the three volumes, they are almost as long again as the Selected Letters series....)
  3.  
    Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    621
    It has been announced only in the EODapa. That's the plan or wish, anyway -- we shall have to wait and see whether it is doable.

    Quite some time, I guess. If the CAS/HPL correspondence is published when planned, six volumes will have been released by 2010. But I'm a patient man. I've been waiting for Tierney's Drums of Chaos since 1994.
  4.  
    Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    621
    In Yog Radio #29, STJ says that the total of the extant letters is about 4,000,000 words, so 20-25 volumes isn't impossible (it's probably "25" rather than "20", since the projected Hippocampus Press series includes replies wherever those are available).

    Since this is previously unpublished material, I think other rules apply.

    The REH/HPL correspondence is slated for next year, and Messrs. Joshi & Schultz are hoping to have the CAS/HPL correspondence ready for 2010.
  5.  
    pablo

    pablo Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    104
    What gives me pause is lack of any volume designation on these books, like for the essays. So, in my understanding, there are only three principal publications, right?

    Essential Solitude: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth
    The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard (forthcoming)
    O Fortunate Floridian: H.P. Lovecraft’s Letters to R.H. Barlow
  6.  
    Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    621
    As I said, it's a wish -- we'll have to see if it materialises.

    Night Shade Books has Mysteries of Time and Spirit: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei and Letters from New York too. Hippocampus Press already has Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner and Letters to Alfred Galpin from a few years back. Ohio State University released a very nice "autobiography" of Lovecraft consisting of bits and pieces of letters pasted together, called Lord of a Visible World. And Wildside Press has Fritz Leiber and H. P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Dark, which among other things contains Lovecraft's letters to Leiber.

    Those are the ones I think are in print.
  7.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,601
    It would be a bit difficult to divide these up with the same sort of system you have with the Collected Essays, as those are done thematically; whereas most of the volumes of letters will be to individual correspondents and span several years to as much as two decades or more. Therefore, they couldn't be published chronologically nor thematically, and giving a numerical title to collections of letters to a particular correspondent is more likely to cause confusion than simply mentioning the particular correspondent in the title (or subtitle).
  8.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,601
    Another that you may not have noticed, and may be interested in, Pablo, is this:

    Lovecraft's New York Circle: The Kalem Club, 1924-1927 - Hippocampus Press

    While this does not hold HPL's letters, it does contain those of another member of the Kalems, and makes a very good companion piece to HPL's Letters from New York....

    And, if you're interested in further seeing the workings of this and the Weird Tales circle, you might also look into the Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith and the Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard (3 volumes)....
  9.  
    Lobolover

    Lobolover New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,173
    Well-just think what HPL would think about us,trying to publish his private corrspondence.
  10.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,601
    Considering he also read several collections of correspondence by people he admired, I doubt he'd have too much trouble with it (though he might want some particular personal things edited a bit). His few comments (that I can recall) on what posterity might make of him -- if it considered him at all -- was more one of amusement than anything else... though he did express dismay at what an ass (he felt) he made of himself in his early letter to Farnsworth Wright....:rolleyes:
  11.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,335
    My gosh I only came across this thread now. Just thinking of the task of putting all of Lovecraft's correspondence into a single collection makes my head reel. That would be some kind of achievement.
  12.  
    Lobolover

    Lobolover New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,173
    and didnt he make himself said animal in said lettr?Ive never read it/heard of it,so I dont know.
  13.  
    pablo

    pablo Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    104
    What did he write about that?
  14.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,601
    I wouldn't quite say that. It was a bit stiff and formal, and a bit pompous and callow; but it also had quite a bit of interest to it. The entire text (plus his reaction to seeing it again after so many years) can be found in Lovecraft at Last, by HPL and Willis Connover.

    I don't recall the exact quotes at the moment, and am going into work shortly (so don't have the time to look them up), but there were only one or two comments which might apply here, and in general it seemed more a doubt that anyone would ever consider him worth the bother and a somewhat amused speculation as to what they might make of it all if they did. Nothing particularly specific, just vague wondering with a tone of amusement at the prospect....
  15.  
    Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    621
    ... Edwin Baird. :)
  16.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,601
    *sigh* Correct. I don't know whether to claim lapsus calumi or senior moment, there....:eek:
  17.  
    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,190
    Is it worth acquiring the Selected letters collections edited by Derleth and others at all?
  18.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,601
    If you refer to the Arkham House Selected Letters, and you can afford to do so... most definitely! Though they definitely have flaws (peculiar editing at times, in one case resulting in inclusion only the greeting and closing of the letter, with none of the text; quirky excisions or inclusions, such as printing two letters which are virtually identical with one immediately following the other; and occasional misreadings of Lovecrat's handwriting, resulting in some rather peculiar constructions and words), nonetheless they are a major milestone when it comes to studying Lovecraft, and present close to 2000 pages of his correspondence, covering nearly every subject imaginable; they are a wonderful look inside the man with all his complexities, strengths, and foibles.

    As for the more recent letters volumes -- those put out by Hippocampus Press, Night Shade Books, Wildside Press, University of Tampa Press, and the like -- again, definitely. These volumes are much more lightly edited, presenting nearly the entirety of his letters intact, which provides even more rich information on how closely interconnected his life, thought, and writings were -- amazingly so, as a matter of fact. Joshi is planning to put out a complete edition of all of his surviving correspondence (which he estimates will take up 25 volumes or more), but this is a long-term project, and the vicissitudes of fortune being what they are, I do not hesitate in again recommending the Arkham House volumes if you can afford them.

    In addition to the letters themselves (including, occasionally, facsimiles of the letters) they also include numerous photographs of HPL, his colleagues, his wife, reproductions of various pieces of his artwork, etc. And Lovecraft at Last, by HPL and Willis Conover, is a genuine gem. Though Conover edited the letters in such a way that the book is presented as a series of conversations between the two of them, Joshi has included an appendix at the back identifying exactly what letters each bit of text is from; and this book, even more than the Arkham volumes, is rich with reproductions of the letters, artwork, photographs, HPL's work in fanzines of the day, and numerous other items of interest. It is also perhaps the most intensely personal of the letters volumes, and a deeply moving memoir of a young man's mentor in the final months of his life.

    HPLA - Lovecraft at Last

    I would also highly recommend Lovecraft Remembered, edited by Peter Cannon, as it is the best single collection of reminiscences, memoirs, estimates, and the like, ever assembled:

    HPLA - Lovecraft Remembered
  19.  
    w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    331
    I believe the complete Letters is supposed to be released on cd, as they did with the Complete Essays. That is something I would love to own, so that I could do a search on every mention Lovecraft made concerning his tales. I love the volumes that are publishing both sides of the correspondence. I believe they are now working on the complete extant correspondence of Lovecraft and Smith. Other fascinating correspondences would be with J. Vernon Shea and Frank Belknap Long. The work that is going into this staggers my imagination! Little wonder Schultz has had time or energy to complete the Annotated Fungi!
  20.  
    Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    621
    I think that the HPL/CAS correspondence required too much work, so that its appearance this year is unlikely (if I remember S. T.'s blog correctly). But the JFM letters may appear. :) (JFM = James Ferdinand Morton)

Share This Page