Lovecraft's Themes

Extollager

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#41
Thanks for those links...

I hope no one will think I am disparaging the Hubble images. When I referred to the gorgeous pictures that leave me fairly unmoved, I had pictures such as this in mind:
'
I'm so conscious that this is a highly manipulated artifact, etc. that has little to do with what you'd see if you looked out the window of your star ship, that it doesn't do much for me, personally. The Hubble images that seem to appeal most to me are those of our solar system's planets.

Pardon the digression from the topic of this thread.
 

Extollager

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#42
I'd like to add another theme, or maybe it and antiquarianism already mentioned should be considered together. The additional theme is the topographic, which some readers might like to merge as the landscape or, maybe better, the sense of place theme. However, keeping the distinction could promote clear discussion.

Anyway, as I have no doubt that Tolkien's dipping landscape into the waters of fantasy helped me to see landscape better -- to this day -- so several other authors I first read around 12-14 helped make me more appreciative of place. I found this element very strongly in some of Machen's writings (e.g. "Black Seal") and Alan Garner's Weirdstone, Owl Service, etc. And it's there in Lovecraft. For me almost the best things in, say, "Dunwich Horror" are the evocations of an "enchanted" landscape, the rounded hills and all; this sort of thing goes on in "The Whisperer in Darkness," too.

I'm encouraging use of the term topographic romance (and cf. cartographic romance). Would people checking this thread think that HPL wrote sometimes along these (topographic romance) lines? The existence of books such as Lovecraft's Providence and Adjacent Parts would seem to support the possibility.

I'm thinking of two things, really: (1) an author's use of, even inspiration by, particular real places and (2) the imaginative effect on readers of writing that emphasizes landscape, such that the reader becomes more responsive to real landscapes. That (2) has really been important to me ever since adolescence 40-odd years ago.

Just imagine being a Tolkien fan and growing up, as I did, near scenes like this:

(Above: Mt. McLoughlin in western Oregon.)

If he'd ever seen it, perhaps Lovecraft would've liked working one of the Table Rocks into a story:
 
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#43
Dale, I think that's a very good topic for the thread. Lovecraft had an intense "sense of place" and appreciation for both natural beauty and the influence of a place (landscape, cityscape, what-have-you) on the psyche of those in and around it. I think it is one of the major elements of much of his writing, particularly from about 1924 on (beginning, perhaps, with "The Shunned House", with its intense evocation of Providence and its history, though this actually began much earlier, if less successfully, in some of his poetry; say from 1912 onward).

And yes, I think this element has a strong appeal for many of his readers, as it brings both the place and the past alive for them. Certainly it has done so for me, since I first discovered his work back as an early adolescent; and, in fact, this helped to foster my just budding interest in history as a human experience rather than a dry scholastic subject. It should also be noted that his reading (or, rather, re-reading) of Hawthorne had quite an influence in turning him in this direction, as well, resulting in some of the best "haunted regionalism" since Nat's day....
 

Extollager

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#44
Your mention of Hawthorne prompts me once again to urge interested Chronsfolk to get hold of his American Notebooks, a delightful part of his legacy and something that will challenge the notion some people have of the author as excessively buttoned-up. Look for Randall Stewart's edition (Yale), not the older version issued by Hawthorne's widow, who took editorial liberties to make the work presentable, in her own eyes. -- If the Notebooks have been issued in the noble Centenary edition from Ohio State, that should be even better; but I'd recommend avoiding the old Houghton Mifflin one. Having said that -- if Lovecraft read the HM edition, he would, I'm sure, have found much to enjoy there! But he wouldn't have been reading only the words NH wrote, and not all that he wrote...
 
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#45
Your mention of Hawthorne prompts me once again to urge interested Chronsfolk to get hold of his American Notebooks, a delightful part of his legacy and something that will challenge the notion some people have of the author as excessively buttoned-up. Look for Randall Stewart's edition (Yale), not the older version issued by Hawthorne's widow, who took editorial liberties to make the work presentable, in her own eyes. -- If the Notebooks have been issued in the noble Centenary edition from Ohio State, that should be even better; but I'd recommend avoiding the old Houghton Mifflin one. Having said that -- if Lovecraft read the HM edition, he would, I'm sure, have found much to enjoy there! But he wouldn't have been reading only the words NH wrote, and not all that he wrote...

I would have to look up my copy of Lovecraft's Library to see if it lists which edition he had (if any); I don't recall him having one in his own library; but I do know he read Hawthorne's notebooks and cites them in Supernatural Horror in Literature and his Commonplace Book (if memory serves) as well; and of course it would have been the edition edited by Sophia.

Yes, the Notebooks have been issued in the Centenary edition; I've not been able to find a copy I can afford (yet, though I periodically still try); but I know they are part of the series....
 

Extollager

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#47
Your mention of Hawthorne prompts me once again to urge interested Chronsfolk to get hold of his American Notebooks, a delightful part of his legacy and something that will challenge the notion some people have of the author as excessively buttoned-up. Look for Randall Stewart's edition (Yale), not the older version issued by Hawthorne's widow, who took editorial liberties to make the work presentable, in her own eyes. -- If the Notebooks have been issued in the noble Centenary edition from Ohio State, that should be even better; but I'd recommend avoiding the old Houghton Mifflin one. Having said that -- if Lovecraft read the HM edition, he would, I'm sure, have found much to enjoy there! But he wouldn't have been reading only the words NH wrote, and not all that he wrote...
I learned that Hawthorne's American Notebooks were issued in hardcover and paperback by Ohio State, ed. by Claude Simpson -- this edition should be even better than the Stewart edition I recommended above. Right now I am reading the French and Italian Notebooks still, but I wish more people would try the American book, which seems to me a little-known treasure of American letters, loaded with literary and antiquarian interest. It may well be that reading the novels/romances with one's sense of NH informed by the notebooks, rather than vice-versa, would be a great way to experience this author. Wjat a pity that some people's notion of Hawthorne isn't even based on firsthand acquaintance with his tales and romances -- and yet, if you have readthose but never his notebooks, what a pleasure may be in store for you.

abebooks.com has a couple of copies of the hardcover edition on offer... not cheap, but I'd snap one up if I didn't already have two copies of the Notebooks (one of the Stewart and one of the Simpson editions).....
 
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#48
Thanks for the notice. I'll see what I can do, though to be frank, I rather blew my book-buying allowance for a goodly while by investing in the forthcoming edition of the complete prose poems and art of CAS, which is supposed to be quite a beauty. Been waiting for this for a very long time.....

I think I would agree with you about your statement concerning an approach to Hawthorne from a knowledge of the notebooks; it adds quite a bit to the layers on which to read his other works; and yes, I would also agree that the American Notebooks are indeed a little-known treasure of American letters; highly enjoyable, too....
 

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