Why do you re-read Lovecraft?

  1. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    In another thread, Nesacat asked:

    Speaking for myself, I find myself drawn back to Lovecraft's stories for many reasons: most of all to relive the pleasure they give me, also to clarify points of plot, to study his technique in more depth and to follow up thoughts I may have had about parallels of plot within his works or with stories by other authors; there are instances where Lovecraft has used themes that were common to writers of weird fiction and it is fascinating to compare and see what was unique to his own treatment of these themes.
     
    Mar 4, 2010
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  2. Nesacat

    Nesacat The Cat

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    And are there particular stories you keep re-reading? Are there any you don't re-read?

    I re-read for the most part for the joy they bring. To remember the pleasure and to see it all anew. I often find something new I'd not seen the time before. Sometimes I read them because I've read something else that seems familiar and then it's quite fascinating to go back and compare and see what the differences are. But most of all I re-read because they are old and loved friends.
     
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  3. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    A number of reasons -- even long before I started writing about HPL, that is. Many of them have already been addressed by J. P. and Nesa; but also, for me... there has always just been something in Lovecraft's work that "gets under the skin"... it haunts and continues to resurface from time to time. Most of his work I have read so many times I lost count years ago. (At one point, I would go through nearly the entirety of his fictional work and then simply begin again... sometimes three or four times over... before moving on to something else.)

    As for stories I don't reread... no, I can't honestly say there are any such; though I will say that a select few I reread only because of my work on HPL and their application to it. "Ashes", as duly noted by Lobo, is one such. It is simply an abominable story, in my opinion, with no redeeming value whatsoever. I'm not overly fond of "The Horror in the Museum", though it doesn't hold quite that level of my disdain... well, it doesn't even come close, really; but then, nothing else quite does; not even "The Street", which also has serious problems (though some of the writing in that tale is rather poetic). I also have to rather grit my teeth to get through sections of "The Last Test", while other parts I quite like. But among his original fiction rather than his revisions... the closest are probably "The Street" and his juvenile works (with the exception of "The Beast in the Cave" and "The Alchemist"). I still read all of these now and again, but less often than the others.

    And, as noted by those above, there are always new levels to discover in Lovecraft... even in his very minor work. Quite simply, he challenges me in various ways, and I always (with the sole exception of -- you guessed it -- "Ashes") come away from his work feeling enriched in some new way. Not many writers can give me that experience after as many readings as I have given Lovecraft....
     
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  4. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    I wish I had typed such eloquent answers!

    Indeed, Lovecraft's stories seem to be woven into my life at various points too, as I've noted before: from early, teasing glimpses in my boyhood reading when I would stumble across the occasional HPL tale in my father's assortment of horror anthologies, to my 'vegetative' state in my early 20s when his stories served as a sort of lifeline for me, to the ongoing interest in re-reading all his stories for all the reasons noted by Nesa and J.D.
     
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  5. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    I return for pleasure and because my full-time profession is the penning of Lovecraftian horror -- & I want my work absolutely linked to Lovecraft's. But it is mostly the ecstasy I feel when I return to him and find those new things that I never noticed. Many things return me to Lovecraft, especially good essays or intelligent remarks in forums concerning his fiction. People catch aspects of his Works that I am too blind or ignorant to see -- and thus my eyes are opened to new wonders in those tales that I have read time and time again, those eternal tales. It became my obsession, if I am going to insist on "taking from Lovecraft," that I am as true as possible to the original source. His weird fiction constantly inspires me, and it is now my full-time job to take that inspiration and turn it into new books. I want to be "true to Lovecraft" as much as possible, while trying to also do my own "thing" with Lovecraftian horror. So, I return to his fiction for the sheer pleasure it gives me, and I return to it as a student of Lovecraftian horror. For this reason I collect many editions of his Works, from the mammoth Centipede Press omnibus (which is wonderful yet incomplete -- no "The Hound"!!!!!!) to elder Arkham House editions with their corrupt texts, to the full-of-misprints Barnes & Noble edition to -- my favourite of all -- the magnificent three Penguin editions.
     
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  6. Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    If I hold the book in the wrong hand it doesn't work very well, but it can be comforting and damn interesting. They are complex plots. I tend to like horror and there is consent among translators that he was the primary writer of the 20th century. There would be nothing if not for his friends who put together his writings after his death and formed that company, Arkham House. I'm reading it to learn things. I wouldn't read his letters since he did not appear to believe in what he said based on his stories. I've been disappointed by a few of his stories while others are the penultimate writings, and what I liked to hear was that in the last ten years of his life he pored it on and completed most of his work. Since he accomplished nothing of note in life these books are perfect for me because I intend to follow in his footsteps. He was a barbarian and if he was not, than he would not be able to write this well because he would not have to write at all. I'm not opposed to slipping in some other authors or a history book from time to time but Lovecraft is the primary source of reading for me. Actually he is somewhat inspirational because now I want to do a bit of research into the ancients.

    There is worse things that a person can do than to read. Now I just need to set up a nice environment and I was thinking of a hammock and reading Lovecraft while lightly swaying back and forth or side to side and numerous other amenities.
     
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  7. Nesacat

    Nesacat The Cat

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    Yes the Old Gent's stories do have a way of creeping under one's skin and making a home for themselves. And as such, they do become entwined with one's days and life. Perhaps yet another reading for the 'need' to re-read the stories (not just Lovecraft) that we do.
     
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  8. Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    I think that I have to re-read this thread. This thread is about re-reading, not just reading. I can not actually get that much out of the first reading of anything.
     
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  9. Fried Egg

    Fried Egg Well-Known Member

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    The only tale of Lovecraft's that I have thus far re-read was "Rats in the Walls" although give me time, I only started reading his tales for the first time less than three years ago!

    I re-read "Rats in the Walls" because I wanted to deepen my understanding of the story which I felt was quite weak after my first reading.

    Generally though Lovecraft is high on my list of stories to re-read and my reasons are broadly the same as to why I re-read anything; that I feel I can get more out of the stories if I read them again.
     
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  10. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Just a brief note on that one. Robert Bloch once phrased it as "Lovecraft was my university", and I think that holds true for several people who began reading his work at a relatively early age. He himself was so well-read and quite knowledgeable (especially for a layman) about so many things, that he intrigues and interests and points the way -- vitalizes, if you like -- so many subjects, that readers of his work frequently go from there to learn about these things themselves. They may or may not agree with the Old Gent on them once they've done their research, but it was Lovecraft who make them yearn to educate themselves on topics they might well otherwise never have come to have any interest in. He was, in his own peculiar way, an educator as well as an entertainer and artist....
     
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  11. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    It was the reading of his letters, in those wonderful first three Arkham House editions, that turned me into an obsessed Lovecraft fanatic, really made me identify with Lovecraft on so many personal levels and made me want to be "adopted" into a new Lovecraft Circle of modern Mythos writers. His personality comes across so magnificently in those letters. I was a lonely kid who didn't fit in, and all of my best chums were my pen pals, and reading HPL's letters taught me how to fully express my personality in that form. I return to his letters just as often as I do his poetry and fiction.
     
    Mar 4, 2010
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  12. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    I tend to agree on this one. His letters are as rich and, if anything, even more multifaceted than his fiction, and reading them I find I almost feel as if I've been in the presence of the man himself; and even his detractors, such as Edmund Wilson and (at times at least) Colin Wilson, have admitted that he was at very least a fascinating person.

    But even for those primarily interested in his fiction, the letters are a mine of information... not to mention including his accounts of dreams which never made it into any sort of formal production, but which are nonetheless as curious and intriguing as his published literary works.

    So I, too, find myself going back again and again to his letters, and avidly looking for the publication of new letters from him as well. I don't know if Joshi's and Schultz's idea of publishing all the extant correspondence is actually feasible... but I certainly hope it works out. They've made a good start, with the collections of his letters to Kleiner and Galpin, as well as the collection Letters from New York and the joint correspondence of HPL and Wandrei, or Derleth, or Howard, and the delightful "autobiography in letters", Lord of a Visible World....
     
    Mar 4, 2010
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  13. Nesacat

    Nesacat The Cat

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    Lovecraft's tales do tend to send me along whole new paths and avenues. The man's works are like entire libraries in themselves. I remember having a conversation with JD, where I told him that it took quite some time to read Pickman's Model because I kept going to look up all the artists mentioned. I then went on to read about some of the artists named.

    It's the same with his letters and his essay on the Supernatural in Literature. He mentions just enough to get me curious and then I need to go find the rest of the book/story. These are books/stories I might not have sought out otherwise.

    And he pulled in strands from so many histories and myths. Sarnath, for instance is a place in India. Most of the ancient buildings and structures were destroyed though in rather different circumstances. It was the Turks that caused the damage here and there are ruins left that are very intriguing indeed. You can imagine what it must have been like before the destruction. But I went there you see, after I read the story to see what it was like. I might not have done otherwise.

    He was indeed a fine correspondent. Makes me sorry that not people write letters anymore. He wrote as if he were having real conversations. And yes, you did therefore feel as if you were there being talked to. He put in so much thought into his work and his world and shared it in his letters. It's as close to time travel as I'm likely to get i guess.
     
    Mar 5, 2010
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  14. Curt Chiarelli

    Curt Chiarelli Yog-Sothothery on the Fly

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    Yes, I think Nesa has hit the proverbial nail on the head with her last comment. Lovecraft had an uncanny ability to combine in his writing a sense of both an epic scope and depth of knowledge with a deeply personal touch. He was, quite simply, sui generis.
     
    Mar 5, 2010
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  15. Nesacat

    Nesacat The Cat

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    Thank you Sir ... and it's good to see you here again.
     
    Mar 5, 2010
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  16. Curt Chiarelli

    Curt Chiarelli Yog-Sothothery on the Fly

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    Yes, thank you! It's good to be back!
     
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  17. Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    Lovecraft can keep someone interested in learning and it would be a lot better if he was alive now. There doesn't seem to be anyone alive that writes this well or else is this interesting. It appears that his stories build on top of each other for example I can see how ideas in "Dagon" are used in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth".

    I don't like letters because it is just talk and those ideas change over time but a story is more permanent.

    The pauper had strength but not the type of strength that was valued, but yes I have read a few of his stories and I value them since they are cool since I must be backwards sometimes or something, besides if he was some successful person he would never write because he would be too busy chasing people around instead of minding his own business and writing.
     
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  18. imhotep

    imhotep Member

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    i find something new in his stories everytime i re-read them. Especially "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" and "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath".
     
    Mar 16, 2010
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  19. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    I've found 'The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath' to be a very rewarding re-reading experience. :)
     
    Mar 17, 2010
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  20. Wolf873

    Wolf873 Well-Known Member

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    Before I share my reasons for re-reading Lovecraft, let me just say that I am amazed at the level of superiority in some of the responses. The wording and structuring is quite eloquent which brings me to my first reason as to why I read or re-read Lovecraft. It is not only to improve my vocabulary, as English is not my first language, but also to adapt similar way of writing. I appreciate his writing style and techniques that he utilizes to have a certain impact on the reader's mind, and being a writer (beginner), this helps me a lot. Another reason is an obvious one, his stories are among the most stimulating ones, they allow me to reach new horizons in terms of true horror, not something that is the case with most modern novels which go for cheap shocks.
     
    Apr 4, 2010
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