Collected Essays series

Curt Chiarelli

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#21
So true! After reading his letters I perceived a very different man than what the other fans of HPL were seeing. They viewed HPL as this cold, pompous, neurotic and reclusive Pontifex Maximus - which is so far from the reality of the man that it becomes a huge obstacle and disservice to not only understanding him as a person, but also to our appreciation of his contributions to literature.

Afterwards I read E. Hoffman Price's blunt, but perceptive anecdotal memoir of his fictioneering days, The Book of the Dead wherin he confirmed my belief that HPL was a man of not only great charisma, but also something of an engaging, self-deprecating raconteur! Certainly he had a warm and devoted following amongst his contemporaries and that should speak volumes for the man's character (of course, nowadays in our current mileau, no one would see any value in him at all). He was very deeply human, even though I suspect he would have preferred being a brain in a bottle!

As for Hodgson's The House on the Borderlands, I recall the first time I heard mention of it in Lovecraft's essay Supernatural Horror in Literature late in my senior year of high school. Long out of print, I searched for the book everywhere without luck and then completely forgot about it as my attentions were now focused on college. Years later a friend revived my interest in it by lending me a paperback copy (the one with the excellent cover art by Ron Courtenay). I loved it! Equally unsuccessful were my subsequent search for it's sequel. What a talent and what a tragedy that Hodgson's life, so full of promise, should be cut short by World War I.
 
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#22
So true! After reading his letters I perceived a very different man than what the other fans of HPL were seeing. They viewed HPL as this cold, pompous, neurotic and reclusive Pontifex Maximus - which is so far from the reality of the man that it becomes a huge obstacle and disservice to not only understanding him as a person, but also to our appreciation of his contributions to literature.

Afterwards I read E. Hoffman Price's blunt, but perceptive anecdotal memoir of his fictioneering days, The Book of the Dead wherin he confirmed my belief that HPL was a man of not only great charisma, but also something of an engaging, self-deprecating raconteur! Certainly he had a warm and devoted following amongst his contemporaries and that should speak volumes for the man's character (of course, nowadays in our current mileau, no one would see any value in him at all). He was very deeply human, even though I suspect he would have preferred being a brain in a bottle!

As for Hodgson's The House on the Borderlands, I recall the first time I heard mention of it in Lovecraft's esay Supernatural Fiction late in my senoir year of high school. Long out of print, I searched for the book everywhere without luck and then completely forgot about it as my attentions were now focused on college. Years later a friend revived my interest in it by lending me a paperback copy (the one with the excellent cover art by Ron Courtenay). I loved it! Equally unsuccessful were my subsequent search for it's sequel. What a talent and what a tragedy that Hodgson's life, so full of promise, should be cut short by World War I.
Unfortunately, there were no few like that, though; another being Fitz-James O'Brien, killed in the Civil War. Anyone who could write "What Was It?" or "The Wondersmith" was a major talent... and one can only imagine what he might have been had he lived.......

On the likelihood of HPL being considered of little value today... I'm not so sure about that one, Curt. The mere fact that such a series as this has become viable is an indication otherwise... and the books do get mentioned in different places, so people are buying, reading, and commenting on them. I think that the image of HPL is gradually shifting to a more rounded view -- which is all for the better, I think, as he has an enormous amount to offer above and beyond his fiction, yet so much of that ties back into his fiction that it adds layer after layer to appreciate there, as well. Even the Science volume, though the bulk of it is made up of his astronomical articles for the newspapers (and therfore rather dry and ephemeral through much of it) nonetheless does have points of interest even in those articles, for someone interested... and some of the other articles are themselves fascinating and thought-provoking, such as the "Some Backgrounds on Fairy-Land" ... or rather hilarious, such as his vicious satires of the astrologer J. F. Hartmann. And the volume includes Hartmann's articles, too, for context.

But the other volumes give much more of the flavor of Lovecraft, with his penchant for witticisms, word-play, and truly atrocious puns (which he seemed to love -- the worse the pun, the better). Yes, he had a twinkle in his eye more often than not, I'd say.

For that matter, that volume Lovecraft Remembered is a wonderful addition for anyone interested in who or what the man was. That brings together the best of the memoirs by friends, fellow amateurs, neighbors, critics, and fans, and is a sizeable tome full of delightful tales (such as HPL's foray into an amusement park with the amateur society he was with... and his enjoyment of some of the sheer silliness -- not to mention roller-coasters!) (He loved speed in vehicles, and also very hot spicy foods....) For a look at the contents of that one:

Lovecraft Remembered - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And these new volumes of his letters are to be commended, too; not only for bringing in hundreds of letters not published before (or only published in severely truncated form) but for publishing them largely uncut... thus showing him as he was, the good and the bad; and I'd say he still comes out looking, in most areas, very good indeed.

Also, I can't recommend highly enough the Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature. Not only does it provide a critical text -- it has the original version and inserts, with proper indicators, the additions or revisions of the later version of the essay -- but Joshi has done a wonderful job in providing extensive bibliographic information to aid those interested in locating all of the items mentioned, including, in most cases, most recent publications (as of the date of the book's publication), as well as frequently providing citations of critical articles on each of these, for those interested, and a very informative introduction to boot. This one is a joy not only for the Lovecraft fan, but for anyone who enjoys great weird literature, and provides more aid for finding things than anything else I've ever come across.
 

Curt Chiarelli

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#23
Hi J.D.:

Well, I was speaking of Lovecraft had he been our contemporary. I still believe a man of Lovecraft's aesthetic sensibilities would have been utterly (as opposed to largely) neglected by his own generation had he been born in 1990, rather than 1890. He would have been so completely out of step with today's cultural mileau as to render him a nullity. I mean, could you imagine him attempting to even break into, let alone maintain, a foothold in today's marketplace without unspooling viscera by the yardage and exposing pudenda by the square hectare? He'd would go unpublished, have no exposure and without public exposure he would have no audience. As you're well aware, this problem concerning the discernment of the general readership in this country is by no means a recent development, but rather one that's become increasingly worse as the years advance and our educational standards do a backslide. Back then they wanted mindless space operas with shoot-em-ups and a gorgeous bikini-clad damsel menaced by B.E.M.s. Today they demand mindless space operas engorged with endless high-speed chases and firefights as well as naked girls being raped and eviscerated by B.E.M.s. This isn't exactly what I would call an improvement. I'll leave it to others to comment upon the import of what this says about our society's trend in contemporary values.

I still believe that in many ways a sophisticated cognoscenti with distinguished tastes will always be extant (best exemplified by some of our members here at the Chronic). The problem arises when you consider the increasingly little influence we bear upon today's market. If one wishes to put this statement to the acid test, ask yourself why Lovecraft still remains something of a background figure (up from utter obscurity only four decades ago) in American publishing while for over three decades Stephen King has bestrode it like a colossus?

And yes, you're absolutely correct about Lovecraft Remembered. It's quite possibly the best collection of essays on Lovecraft the man, rather than Lovecraft the icon.
 
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#24
Ah... I'd misunderstood your original meaning there, Curt. I was thinking more in connection with what was being said of him as a person, and the fact he had a tendency, as has been noted, even with people who were prepared to intensely dislike him, when they met him they ended up being very taken with the man, and became friends for life... that sort of thing. And on that, I think that might well still be the case today, just because of the sort of person he was.

On the points you raise in the above post... On that, I'm in agreement with you; though I will admit that I find it heartening that not only is Lovecraft's reputation growing abroad, but that he's being accepted as enough of a major American literary figure to be published by the Library of America in a quite large tome... although I also must admit to being dismayed that they got Peter Straub to do the introduction. They'd also apparently approached Harlan Ellison, from what I understand and, much as I am an admirer of Ellison's work, I do not think he'd have been the proper one for such a task... certainly not in line with the majority of introductions in that series, which are on a more scholarly level. So that is a mark against that particular volume; they went for the popular storyteller rather than a Lovecraftian scholar like Joshi, Burleson, St. Armand, Mariconda, etc.; unlike what they've done for Poe, Hawthorne, Crane, London.... So there's still a long way to go, you're correct.

The silver lining (not to sound Pollyannish here but...) is that, when I was growing up, such a concept would have been laughed out of court without a hearing. Now, at least, his reputation is something to contend with. And, after all, Poe has had much the same sort of vicissitudes in his critical acceptance, even to this day. It's largely because of America's reluctance to accept any sort of fantastic literature as literature; and someone like King is often considered because of his minute examinations of the contemporary American scene rather than the type of stories he writes, when it comes to critical acceptance. And there, again, Lovecraft's themes are against him because his fiction is based upon a very bleak premise (from the human point of view), and not at all supportive of the optimists or "pragmatists" (à la William James, for instance).

So... with that clarification, I withdraw my disagreement. No; if he were beginning today, he'd have nearly no chance in the market... and without him having come before, I doubt someone like Ligotti would today, either (more's the pity)....
 

ghyle

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#25
Just a quick note: according to rumour, the volumes of letters to Derleth and to Barlow are in the works.
 
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#26
Just a quick note: according to rumour, the volumes of letters to Derleth and to Barlow are in the works.
Ah, now, that is good news! From what I understand, the letters to Derleth give a lot more of informational minutiae concerning his efforts to get published, as well as revisions on stories, while the letters to Barlow are also very informative about his personal life, philosophy, and views on writing. These -- along with the letters to Howard -- should be a real treasure-trove! Thank you much, ghyle, and welcome to the Chronicles!:)
 

ghyle

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#27
You're welcome.

There is another point: one of the essays that appeared in a British apazine, and which had been thought to have been lost is supposedly in the final volume as well. It was found by the same EODer that found the missing poem.
 

Ningauble

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#28
Just a quick note: according to rumour, the volumes of letters to Derleth and to Barlow are in the works.
I'm sorry to say that the letters to Derleth (2 vols.) have been dropped by the publisher. :(

But the letters to Barlow will, Cthulhu willing, appear from University of Tampa Press in August.
 
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Ningauble

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#29
Indeed. If one simply looks at the number of his letters (not all of which were massive epistles, but many were), the estimate is that he wrote between 60,000 to 100,000 letters, of which about 40,000 survive.
In H. P. Lovecraft: A Life (p. ix), Joshi says that "it is likely that no more than a tenth [of all the letters] now survive". :( And while Joshi does quote the higher end as 100,000, he has since revised this number down to 80,000. Still, that's one awful lot of letters!

I don't think it's impossible to imagine a Collected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft in 20 volumes or so eventually. Time will tell...
 

Ningauble

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#30
As for the Smith/Howard correspondence ... seems to me that I've heard the possibility mentioned here, as well. I know that Arkham has published a volume of Smith's Selected Letters, which includes many of his letters to Howard, Lovecraft, Derleth, etc., and they've done one of the Smith/Sterling correspondence; also that the old Ace paperback selection from Glenn Lord's The Howard Collector has a selection of his letters to various writers including Smith. I believe the legal tangles in publishing Howard's correspondence have finally been put to rest, so that's no longer an issue, as it was for several decades (just as the question who owned the rights to unpublished works by HPL had been in limbo since the 1940s). But if I hear anything more, I'll let you know.
The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard (3 vols.) are available for pre-order from the Robert E. Howard Foundation. However, it may be wise to wait for the later POD editions (according to the grapevine, both tp and hc) that will appear eventually.

BTW, speaking of Smith letters: I know that work has been done on the correspondence between Samuel Loveman and Smith. However, the Loveman letters are difficult to arrange because Loveman seldom dated his letters, so this book probably won't appear for some time.
 

Ningauble

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#31
the Smith correspondence was partially lost when vandals set fire to CAS's home a few years before his death, as well ... several of his manuscripts were either lost or partially burnt in that conflagration.
I haven't heard anything about some of HPL's letters to CAS being lost, even though many of CAS's manuscripts certainly were (but it's not impossible). I HOPE that since Derleth & Wandrei were fishing far and wide for HPL letters at that time, they may actually have been in the hands of Arkham House at the time.
The letters were of course scattered after Smith's death, but before that Roy Squires made a photocopy of all of them, which is now at the John Hay Library. The latest I heard is that they will be published as a joint correspondence, since HPL retained many (but not all) of the letters that CAS sent to him.
 

Ningauble

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#32
Well, having had a chance to see the table of contents for this final volume, there may be some things some of you here might be interested in looking at, as this contains:

4 pieces of autobiography by HPL
tributes to colleagues Robert E. Howard and Henry S. Whitehead
a raft of several unfinished pieces, such as the fragments Derleth used for The Lurker at the Threshold, his notes to At the Mountains of Madness, "The Shadow Out of Time", "The Challenge from Beyond", "The Shadow over Innsmouth" and the revision story "Medusa's Coil"
his "Commonplace Book", where he wrote down his story ideas and germs -- a fascinating document that has been out of print for far too long... very suggestive stuff in there....
and a complete chronology of his works (22 pages in length)

not to mention a plethora of other things (the volume is something like 380 pages in length)

Anyone curious about origins of Lovecraft's work, or seeing how he used some of the materials surrounding him, will find plenty of food for thought here....

Oh, how cool!! :) I haven't seen the volume yet since I'm waiting for the hc. Thanks a lot!

However, I must point one thing out:

his "Commonplace Book", where he wrote down his story ideas and germs -- a fascinating document that has been out of print for far too long... very suggestive stuff in there....
No, it hasn't been out of print since 1995, when it was included in Miscellaneous Writings.
 
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#33
Ach! Ningauble... you are, of course, quite correct. How I made such a gaffe... must have been asleep at the wheel!:eek: The only thing I can think of is that I must have meant to say "in an annotated edition" -- which this is, albeit not, from what I understand, nearly so much so as Schultz's 2-volume 1987 edition through Necronomicon Press (which I somehow missed out on and haven't been able to track down...:( )
 

Ningauble

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#34
The only thing I can think of is that I must have meant to say "in an annotated edition" -- which this is, albeit not, from what I understand, nearly so much so as Schultz's 2-volume 1987 edition through Necronomicon Press (which I somehow missed out on and haven't been able to track down...:( )

Hippocampus Press announced an expanded reprint of that (with rare essays by HPL, fragments, etc.) titled Out of the Ordinary in 2001 (?). I even pre-ordered it, but then it was put on hold and now I don't see it on the website.
But the last I heard was that it would be even more heavily annotated than the version in CE5 anyway.
 
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#35
Hippocampus Press announced an expanded reprint of that (with rare essays by HPL, fragments, etc.) titled Out of the Ordinary in 2001 (?). I even pre-ordered it, but then it was put on hold and now I don't see it on the website.
But the last I heard was that it would be even more heavily annotated than the version in CE5 anyway.
Ah... I hadn't known about Hippocampus that far back -- was going through some serious life-changes then that had me out of the loop on quite a lot; and I've not seen anything about it since I became aware of the site, so it may have been put on hold indefinitely. I know Schultz's edition of Fungi from Yuggoth has been hanging fire for a very long time... but it'll be worth it once it's out, considering his work so far....

And I'm not surprised that it's more heavily annotated. From what I hear about the Necronomicon Press edition, it had quite extensive notes and commentary... the best edition of the Commonplace Book so far, from what I understand; while Joshi's notes here are (by his own account) limited to specific uses in the stories and such....
 

Ningauble

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#36
Now I've got volume 5!

A magnificent volume -- easily the best in the series, judging from the table of contents. It's even got some illustrations, such as Lovecraft's own rendering of a member of the Great Race.

At the same time, I got the third volume of Clark Ashton Smith's poetry. It's just his translations from Spanish and French, but it's still a very lovely book.
 

ghyle

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#39
It has yet to be released, but I am unaware if mention has been made of all the goodies on it. It may not help to repeat the information here.
 

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