Lovecraft's prosperity; texts of stories

Extollager

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#1
A couple of questions.

1.About when was Lovecraft most comfortable financially?

2.I suppose that the most "reliable texts" of Lovecraft's stories are in the three Penguin paperbacks. When I want to read HPL's stories, I go to this online source. Are there any stories here -- does anyone know -- whose texts are particularly unreliable? Conversely, for most reading purposes won't this source do?

This is the Project Gutenberg of Australia "Collected Stories."

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600031.txt
 

Ningauble

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#2
A couple of questions.

1.About when was Lovecraft most comfortable financially?
Probably right after his marriage in March 1924.

2.I suppose that the most "reliable texts" of Lovecraft's stories are in the three Penguin paperbacks.
Well, those have their problems too (such as "know in their heads" instead of "know in their hearts" in "The Festival".)

When I want to read HPL's stories, I go to this online source. Are there any stories here -- does anyone know -- whose texts are particularly unreliable? Conversely, for most reading purposes won't this source do?

This is the Project Gutenberg of Australia "Collected Stories."

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600031.txt
Not a good source. For example, where is "Sweet Ermengarde"? Where is "Ibid"? "The Call of Cthulhu" is missing its very important subtitle. There are "dholes" instead of the correct "bholes" in "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath". In "The Other gods" there are "seven cryptical books of earth" instead of the correct "seven cryptical books of Hsan".

Why not use the H. P. Lovecraft Archive instead?
http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/#fiction
 

nerd literature

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#3
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1435122968/?tag=brite-21

This is the one that as far I can tell is the most complete collection of stories. There are still some corrections to be made to the text but for the most part it is the best book to get for Lovecraft stories. Make sure it has the silver page ends, the purple ribbon bookmark and it is the 2011 edition, which I believe this one is

Best, Rob
 
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#4
A couple of questions.

1.About when was Lovecraft most comfortable financially?

2.I suppose that the most "reliable texts" of Lovecraft's stories are in the three Penguin paperbacks. When I want to read HPL's stories, I go to this online source. Are there any stories here -- does anyone know -- whose texts are particularly unreliable? Conversely, for most reading purposes won't this source do?

This is the Project Gutenberg of Australia "Collected Stories."

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600031.txt
I think I might disagree with Martin somewhat on the first, as it was probably before his fourteenth year. However, if we are talking about his adulthood.... (All right, so I'm being both pedantic and tongue-in-cheek....:rolleyes:)

As for the latter: Rob has it right; and this is so due largely to the herculean efforts of Martin... and herculean is exactly right, as I have the first B&N edition as well as this one, and the number of errors in the first makes the Augean stable look like a picnic.....

On the other hand, online sources; definitely go for the HPL archive. Things such as the Gutenberg site would be using earlier texts, which are often quite corrupt. Take a look at the two versions of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, for example (in at least some editions of which a fair chunk of a paragraph is repeated from one chapter to another in place of the legitimate text); or worse yet, At the Mountains of Madness, which in some earlier editions contained as many as 1500 textual errors (Starmont Reader's Guide: H. P. Lovecraft, p. 65), at least two of which were sizeable chunks of text*, while others were alterations in phrasing which quite frequently seriously distort the significance of what is being said. Even such a simple one as the long-standing "inhuman" for "unhuman" makes a huge difference in how the reader perceives the Old Ones in that novel, as the latter eschews the moral censure and, therefore, the view of these beings as inherently evil, rather than alien. Other works also contain numerous errors and editorial alterations which give a false impression of what Lovecraft is saying.

*The following is a quotation of a note in Donald R. Burleson's early but still very illuminating H. P. Lovecraft: A Critical Study (1983). Speaking of how incensed HPL was at the alterations and abridgements done on the text by Astounding, Burleson goes on to note:

Lovecraft would scarcely be happier with the Arkham House editions, in which there are still numerous textual errors. Most notably, two large sections of text are missing entirely. On page 34 of that edition, line 24, at the end of the paragraph (ending "... say") should be the following: "Those specimens, of course, had been covered with a tent-cloth; yet the low antarctic sun had beat steadily upon that cloth, and Lake had mentioned that solar heat tended to make the strangely sound and tough tissues of the things relax and expand. Perhaps the wind had whipped the cloth from over them, and jostled them about in such a way that their more pungent olfactory qualities became manifest despite their unbelievable antiquity." On p. 36, line 26, at the end of the paragraph (reading "... party") should be added the following: "Our own first sight of the actual buried entities formed a horrible moment, and sent the imaginations of Pabodie and myself back to some of the shocking primal myths we had read and heard. We all agreed that the mere sight and continued presence of the things must have coöperated with the oppressive polar solitude and daemon mountain wind in driving Lake's party mad."
 

Ningauble

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#5
I think I might disagree with Martin somewhat on the first, as it was probably before his fourteenth year. However, if we are talking about his adulthood.... (All right, so I'm being both pedantic and tongue-in-cheek....:rolleyes:)
You're right, j. d. Before March 1904, HPL had a wealthy and doting grandfather.

As for the latter: Rob has it right; and this is so due largely to the herculean efforts of Martin... and herculean is exactly right, as I have the first B&N edition as well as this one, and the number of errors in the first makes the Augean stable look like a picnic.....
*blushmumble* No biggie -- I had texts to compare against, which made the job comparatively easy. I am at the moment reading a recently published book -- and compulsively proofing it as I go along -- and this time I have no established text to compare against.

That said -- the correction of The Complete Fiction is still a work in progress, and if anyone finds anything I've missed, please post it in the relevant thread in this forum. I'll make sure that it reaches the right person.
 

Extollager

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#6
Thanks, everyone. I was interested in Lovecraft's most prosperous period without respect to age -- so if he was most financially comfortable in adolescence, that is interesting... and suggests he might have had emotional complications as his comforts declined thereafter.

Thanks also for the thoughts on texts of HPL's stories. Of course I realize that for scholarly purposes one would want the best texts available. Almost always, however, when I read HPL it's for relaxation, but even so I would rather read a reasonably reliable text, so thanks for the tip. I agree that differences such as JD mentions (unhuman vs. inhuman) may indeed make a difference, especially to reasonably alert readers. The absence of "Fair Ermengarde" wouldn't make much of a difference to me, though. I suppose J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are the only authors about whom I could see myself as a true completist, although there are others whom I want in depth!
 
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#7
Thanks, everyone. I was interested in Lovecraft's most prosperous period without respect to age -- so if he was most financially comfortable in adolescence, that is interesting... and suggests he might have had emotional complications as his comforts declined thereafter.
This is, to some degree, true; though to be honest, he tended to blame himself for his ineptitude when it came to this matter, more often than not. The main time when he did not do this consistently was during that "New York exile", as things began to fall apart (Sonia losing her job; no prospects of work for HP; constant jogs downward financially; being surrounded more and more by people with a vastly different set of values and motivations, as well as "alien" backgrounds, etc.).

Thanks also for the thoughts on texts of HPL's stories. Of course I realize that for scholarly purposes one would want the best texts available. Almost always, however, when I read HPL it's for relaxation, but even so I would rather read a reasonably reliable text, so thanks for the tip.
I realize this is not what you were saying, but your comment does remind me of other comments by many who don't see the difference. My question tends to be, even if you (general, not specific) are reading a writer's work just for entertainment, don't you want to read what they wrote, rather than what they didn't? (I'm reminded of a comment I saw some years ago about Bradbury looking through a more recent edition of some of his classic works, and being astounded at how different editorial alterations and various errors had changed them, commenting with some asperity, "I didn't write this!")

At any rate, the B&N volume is quite inexpensive, and rather an attractive book as well, and a convenient way to have all the original fiction written by HPL himself (as well as his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature") at your fingertips....
 

Extollager

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#8
My question tends to be, even if you (general, not specific) are reading a writer's work just for entertainment, don't you want to read what they wrote, rather than what they didn't?
Well, I would say that the degree to which this matters to me depends on my purposes in reading and my estimate of the importance to me of the author. But once a story is published, well, there it is, it exists in that form.

So let's say I felt like reading space opera. Let's say that I had on hand an issue of some pulp mag with a novelette by Edmond Hamilton, and that I knew the editor of said pulp was famous for tinkering with the texts of stories. It wouldn't matter to me to know that when I read the story, I might be reading a version that disappointed or even exasperated Hamilton. (If I read it and it seemed really botched, I might wonder if what Hamilton wrote was appreciably better.) Of course, if I could get the author's preferred text for free at the library, I'd probably go with that.

OK, so far I'll bet that many Chronsfolk would pretty much agree with me. Now let's suppose we're talking about a magazine version of a Dashiell Hammett story. Here I am in the mood for a detective story. I might well suspect that Black Mask had tinkered with what Hammett wrote, but it wouldn't bother me unless I were looking to study Hammett. Hammett is not an important author to me although I have read most of his fiction. How about others? Would you feel uneasy reading a version of a Hammett story available for free online, when you could buy a Library of America volume with (I presume) a text closer to what DH wrote? I believe that Hammett wrote with some care and I'm glad that you can get good texts of his writings. But just because they are out there, doesn't mean I feel obliged to read them if it's less expensive and more convenient to read some other version that still basically gives me what he wrote. I'm assuming something other than a farcically bad editing job.

Well, Lovecraft is one of my "favorite" authors in the sense that I have an affection for the man and a somewhat nostalgic fondness for his stories, which I began to read at that Golden Age of about 14. On the other hand, no offense, but I don't think he is a great author; I think his philosophy is defective (as JD knows from some emails we exchanged a couple or so years ago), and that most of his best stories are outstanding performances in a limited genre (weird fiction) in the way that M. R. James's best stories are outstanding performances in a genre (ghost story). I am constantly rereading genuinely great literature (e.g. Shakespeare, Dostoevsky [in translation!]); if the great works and great authors set the bar for what great literature is, then Lovecraft is not a great author as such.

I am considering the HPL book that JD recommends, but I'm not sure I'll buy it as I am seriously trying to reduce my book buying. I am a slow reader but have been buying about 100 books a year, and so have accumulated many books I have never read, and a great many I want to reread. I would have to think carefully about whether the HPL volume was worth buying given that I would like to keep to no more than 30 books or so this year (aside from odds and ends I might buy in part because they were cheap).

http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/537022-from-way-way-back-in-your-book-backlog.html

However, I certainly would want to use the best feasible text if I were going to try to establish more exactly in my own mind the achievement of Lovecraft, or to write about his work. I don't think my present estimation of Lovecraft's achievement would be greatly affected by reading him is the best possible text. For purposes of conversation at Chrons, if I were discussing Lovecraft's work and a point hinged on a particular passage, I would hope that, if I were using a defective text that made a difference, someone would point that out.

I think that my distinction between great literature and outstanding genre performances is becoming a less popular stance, by the way, as popular culture (not just movies and popular books, but schools of education) becomes constructivist rather than essentialist. I believe there really are great truths to which a person and a community can and should be aligned, but I understand that the prevalent skepticism about, and suspicion of, the "hegemony of the privileged" (plus more vulgar consideration) oppose this.
 
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#9
OK, so far I'll bet that many Chronsfolk would pretty much agree with me. Now let's suppose we're talking about a magazine version of a Dashiell Hammett story. Here I am in the mood for a detective story. I might well suspect that Black Mask had tinkered with what Hammett wrote, but it wouldn't bother me unless I were looking to study Hammett. Hammett is not an important author to me although I have read most of his fiction. How about others? Would you feel uneasy reading a version of a Hammett story available for free online, when you could buy a Library of America volume with (I presume) a text closer to what DH wrote? I believe that Hammett wrote with some care and I'm glad that you can get good texts of his writings. But just because they are out there, doesn't mean I feel obliged to read them if it's less expensive and more convenient to read some other version that still basically gives me what he wrote. I'm assuming something other than a farcically bad editing job.
I'm not sure I'd say "obliged to"... but (and I may well be in the minority here) if I am aware that a work has been tinkered with (beyond the normal sort of thing which goes on when an editor oversees a work getting into print), I tend to shy away from it until I can get my hands on what the writer wrote. I am interested in what that person had to say; how he or she conveyed what they had to convey; the worldview that is a part of the work (whether it was the author's actual worldview, or one assumed for the work itself; etc. I may, if I am particularly interested in that writer, read both versions for comparison, but as a reader, I want what the writer wrote, as near as humanly possible. Of course, if I am not aware of such tinkering, then the rules of the game are quite different. Hence, the version of Ulysses I read, though a standard edition, was not what Joyce wrote; something I only found out after I had read the novel and enjoyed it. I would very much like, if I can ever find the time, to read an authoritative text, and see how I react to that as well.

There is an exception to this, though... works in translation, where I am also interested in the work of the translator. There, of course, it is a case of attempting, as best I may, to judge both the original writer's achievement and appreciate the work of the translator. In this context, I think of the translations by Lafcadio Hearn of so many of the French writers such as Maupassant, Gautier, etc., some of which are still very highly regarded (his translation of Flaubert's The Temptation of Saint Anthony, for example) in part due to Hearn's own abilities with the English language.

On the point of whether HPL was a "great" writer or not... I suppose that depends entirely on one's frame of reference for comparison. Is he a flawed writer? Most definitely. But I do think he did accomplish something with the weird tale which no one has ever done before or since, and did it so well that it continues to resonate with an increasing number of readers of a really surprising range of generations and types. Nor do I think this is simply his ideas and his "weirdness" factor, but the combination of the very colorfulness and subtlety of his use of the language to achieve very particular things. To me, and to many others, it makes him an almost infinitely rereadable writer; which, I suppose, is one of my major criteria for whether a writer is "great" (rather than simply being canonical) in any larger sense.

His philosophy, such as it was, however, is surprisingly durable in light of our increased knowledge. Much of what he speculated about has been proven to be really amazingly close to the mark when it comes to the nature of the cosmos, the foundations of personality and the idea of the "soul", immortality, and the like. Going through his In Defense of Dagon essays again lately, I was once again taken aback by how modern, even advanced, much of what he has to say there is, and how much it is being backed by the studies in neurology, genetics, evolutionary biology, and the like. Of course, some things require modification, such as his continuing to struggle (at that point) with the "distinction" between energy and matter; but overall, what he has to say remains, so far as even current evidence goes, quite sound, albeit phrased in a rather hyperbolic, poetic sort of prose which sometimes does stretch the language....
 

Extollager

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#10
Thanks for those thoughts, JD. Perhaps a difference between us is indicated by the use or non-use of quotation marks with reference to great authors. Shakespeare and Dostoevsky really are great authors, both masterful with words and of great intelligence and insight into being human. We are told this again and again, and sometimes we are told this by people who are simply passing on what they have heard; but I trust that, in other cases, people are saying Shakespeare and Dostoevsky are great because they themselves have inklings of this truth. These authors are forces for life against death.

Lovecraft, it seems to me, has little to say about the great issues other than variations on a simple romantic futilitarianism. As one reads his writings there is a parade of charm, of learning, etc. but (as I remember it), it resolves into little more than the theme of futility. One is not compelled (as Lovecraft would have it) to such a persuasion as the only possible one when one listens to what science is saying, nor are all scientists adherents of futilitarianism. But then nor would I grant that science is the sole source of all sound human values, which is a doctrine widely called "scientism" today. (For example, most people will grant that we need ethics of some sort; but we cannot arrive at a should by derivation from any number of observations or descriptions of what is or appears to be the case.) Lovecraft made up the difference with affirmation of a personal code of behavior that "worked" for him, and was content to leave the matter at that, or so I understand it. Others are not persuaded as he was that no personal code can have a more than personal validity.

Well, one never seems to come to the last word if such conversations become debates, so perhaps I'll leave the matter here for now. I was saying why, as I tighten my book-buying belt, I am not compelled to buy the best possible Lovecraft text. On the other hand, I would urge anyone thinking of getting started with Dostoevsky to get a good translation with helpful notes -- e.g. the Pevear-Volokhonsky ones. I always like to say how, the first time I read The Brothers Karamazov (I think it was in Constance Garnett's* translation), it was a bit of a plod perhaps, but when I read it, and now when I reread it, in the P-V, it is a book just central to my life.

Interesting to think of what Dostoevsky might have done with a character based on H. P. Lovecraft the man .... I definitely could imagine that; HPL really was like a Dostoevsky character: not one of the primary ones like Raskolnikov, but a secondary one like, oh I don't know, Lebedyve in The Idiot (not that he and HPL are much alike): a Dostoevskian Lovecraft-type character being a fascinating combination of charm, affectation, threadbare dignity, intelligence, ineptness, reserve and geniality; I can easily imagine a Lovecraftian St. Petersburger. Dostoevsky would relish describing this character's outward appearance and letting him talk. Just thinking of how Dostoevsky might have written about HPL makes me love HPL the more.

I don't think Lovecraft could give us a Dostoevskian New Englander, though! ;-)

*Not that I want to disparage the astonishingly productive CG. My understanding is that her translations were generally the best in English for much Russian writing for many years. You get a glimpse of what her translations could mean for English-readers in a chapter of Hemingway's A Movable Feast, in which he talks about his excitement over these books, which were stocked at Sylvia Beach's bookstore in Paris. Garnett is kind of a heroine of mine; but I've probably read my last Garnett translation. We seem to be in kind of a new Golden Age of translation of Russian literary classics -- notably the P-V ones, but also Boris Jakim's translation of Notes from Underground, etc.

http://books.google.com/books?id=KedaAAAAMAAJ&q=garnett#search_anchor

On P-V:

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/11/07/051107fa_fact_remnick

This is the HPL to buy?

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bar...ft-h-p-lovecraft/1106658815?ean=9781435122963
 
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Ningauble

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#11
To me there can be no such thing as "good enough" when it comes to textual reliability. If it is not good, then it is bad.

Yes. Just make sure that you buy it straight from B&N, or can actually see the physical copy before paying (the corrected book has silvered page edges and a purple ribbon). It is my understanding that people are unloading their used copies of the old printing with all the errors).
 

Extollager

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#12
To me there can be no such thing as "good enough" when it comes to textual reliability. If it is not good, then it is bad.

Yes. Just make sure that you buy it straight from B&N, or can actually see the physical copy before paying (the corrected book has silvered page edges and a purple ribbon). It is my understanding that people are unloading their used copies of the old printing with all the errors).
All right; I'll buy it straight from B & N as you suggest.

"Threadbare dignity" may have sounded patronizing to the shade of HPL. Allow me to retract it.
 

Extollager

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#13
...I should have said: If I get HPL stories, this B&N edition is obviously the one to get. Thanks for the tips on this.

By the way, I'm curious -- who benefits from royalties, if any, for HPL texts that are not in the public domain?
 
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#15
I may be misremembering, but as I recall, proceeds from these would go to the estate, and in turn would pay for preservation of Lovecraft materials and expansion of available resources. I think Robert C. Harrell is still in charge of the estate. However, I'm going on very patchy memory here, so take it for what it's worth....
 

Extollager

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#16
It's mostly idle curiosity on my part, but I do wonder. Suppose someone makes a $150m movie from At the Mountains of Madness using the text of the story as published in Astounding, say. Does the movie company have to pay anything?
 
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#18
It's mostly idle curiosity on my part, but I do wonder. Suppose someone makes a $150m movie from At the Mountains of Madness using the text of the story as published in Astounding, say. Does the movie company have to pay anything?
As far as I know, if something is in public domain... no. However, I do know Guillermo del Toro is aware of the controversy on this issue, and given some of the things I've heard from various sources, I'm also pretty darned sure he's familiar with the revised text.

At any rate, he has written his own screenplay (with Matthew Robbins) from it, which differs quite a lot from either text. For those interested, it has been posted (with del Toro's blessing, from my understanding) on the 'net, and can be accessed here:

Read Guillermo del Toro’s “At the Mountains of Madness” screenplay | Lovecraft eZine
 

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