Reading E'ch-Pi-El

Discussion in 'H P Lovecraft' started by w h pugmire esq, Jun 1, 2016.

  1. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    I linger within ye shadows of Sesqua Valley, dream
    Just wrote a wee review of this new hardcover Barnes & Noble edition, THE COMPLETE CTHULHU MYTHOS TALES, & the book's effect on my mental state--e.i., a renew'd enthusiasm for ye reading of Lovecraft's fiction--made me curious about y'all & your relationship with HPL's Work. You can tell I hold that fiction in high esteem because I refer to it as Work--whereas if I was starting a thread on Brian Lumley or August Derleth. I wou'd refer to their work--no capitalization.

    My curiosity is arous'd, my darlings. How often do any of you return to read Lovecraft's fiction? What compels you to do so, and how much of Lovecraft's complete fictive oeuvre have ye actually read? I ask because, in many forums, I have read comments from people who really dislike the tales and consider Lovecraft an awful writer--and yet from reading their comments I get this feeling that they haven't read very much of the fiction at all, that indeed they may be responding to their attempt to read a single or just a few tales; and I also get a feeling that they haven't read Lovecraft recently but are remembering a reading experience from their past.

    I read Lovecraft always, returning to ye editions at least three times a month. But I'm an obsess'd fan-boy. What is ye Lovecraft reading experience for the more common individual? Thanj ye for any response.
     
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  2. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    I guess I'll jump in, Wilum.

    I began reading HPL in 1969 with the two fantasies in Lin Carter's Young Magicians anthology. I was 14 years old. The bibliography at the back of the book put me on to looking for more by him. In the years between now and then, few indeed must have been the years--if any--in which I didn't read or reread something by him. I've read all of the stories, some of them many times, and the first Arkham letters volume and various nonfiction pieces by Lovecraft. When I was getting to know the woman I married, I soon learned that she had read HPL with enjoyment too. There were the usual reasons for falling in love -- and I didn't have to explain what a shoggoth was. Truly, it was Providence.

    Although I have written critically about him, he's been virtually a lifelong favorite.
    .
     
  3. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    Hmm -- I see I responded around the question of what reading HPL was like but didn't respond directly to the question.

    I thought about this and decided that reading Lovecraft's fiction is, for me, kind of an immersion in a boyish sensibility, similar to what I experience when I reread Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories or the first two or three Professor Challenger stories. Lovecraft used the phrase "adventurous expectancy" and there is that plentifully. The stories often seem to be set in a world as boys used to imagine adult life would be like: no worries about money, but plenty of independence, and freedom in which one can live in an interesting, mysterious old house filled with one's Collections, and just set off and solve mysteries, carry a flashlight and a revolver, and have adventures. (I don't know if that's how boys today imagine the world of adulthood is like.) The horrors are typically outlandish monsters, and most boys like monsters, or used to. Many boys like science, and there's that sensibility in many of Lovecraft's stories: note that one of the sciences most likely to be mentioned is astronomy, with all the appeal of using a personal telescope (but not the dreary rigors of mathematics that go along with astronomy). It's a boyish world without the complications of love, sexuality, marriage, childrearing, etc. The element of beauty is often present in the stories in the form of sunsets, which I suppose are among the first manifestations of nature to come home to a youngster and be experienced consciously as experiences of beauty.

    Personally, I enjoy an element of renewal of boyhood from time to time.

    Of course that's not the only thing in Lovecraft's fiction, but I think it must be one of the key things that I experience as I read him.
     
  4. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    Where is everyone?


    Another thing that brings me back to Lovecraft is his evocation of the sublime, in the sense discussed by Edmund Burke.

    On the Sublime and Beautiful, by Edmund Burke : PART II.

    I don't think there is firm evidence that Lovecraft had read this treatise, but he surely would have appreciated much that the great conservative had to say.
     
  5. lynnfredricks

    lynnfredricks Well-Known Member

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    My first HPL story was The Rats in the Walls in the mid 70s. HPL is my 'home' author - meaning, if I am on a kick for another writer, Ill read that, but I always have a volume nearby in case I need a break from what I am reading, or if I finish whatever else I was reading. I started reading "The Coming of Conan" collection recently, but about half way through I needed an HPL break.
     
  6. Melmoth the Wanderer

    Melmoth the Wanderer New Member

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    Discovered HPL quite by accident at the age of 12, and I still re-read him semi-regularly today at age 57. He's never been completely off my radar screen for 45 years now. HPL stories, for me, are like a comfort food - he's basically been a lifelong friend and companion, whose company I always enjoy. And I think that, at his best, he's the greatest horror writer who ever lived, bar none (and I've pretty much read 'em all, except for some of the real newbies). HPL's best stories still inspire genuine awe in me - awe at their overwhelming power, and the sheer witchery and majesty of the language. Also, one of my pet peeves when reading horror is when my own imagination outstrips in weirdness and terror whatever the author has actually come up with. HPL is the one horror writer who NEVER let me down in this way. When I was a kid and reading him for the first time, I was impressed that HPL's horrors always turned out to be VASTLY WORSE that anything I had dreamed of in my wildest nightmares! One of the most incredible imaginations of all time.
     
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