There are a number of simplified H.P. Lovecrafts portrayed in the media. It depends on the beholder. Take your pick from these selections.

      a) The Average Man. HPL is expected to conform as a typical husband (to Sonia) and a breadwinner, and is berated when he does not. The Professional Writer Manque (promoted by L. Sprague de Camp and E. Hoffman Price to impugn Lovecraft’s art-for-art’s sake stance) is more closely related to this type than to The Writer (see section “h” below). 

      b) The Eccentric. Here is the recluse, the believer that the wrong side won in the American Revolution, the eighteenth-century poseur, the obsessive letter-writer, the asexual. A subset is the Psychopath, wherein the reader weathers the comments of analysts who believe only heads other than their’s are subject to examination.

       c) The Emotionalist. A clumsy term, but by which I mean how HPL filtered his environment, often aesthetically, and reflected this in his subjective feelings. His readers individualize Lovecraft in terms of the sentiment and nostalgia that is strongly present.

      d) The Martyr. Here is the mis-understood artist, the guy who starved rather than change a word, the art-for-art’s sake proponent, the outcast from the world of mainstream literature. Writers, in and out of the closet, and those with artistic sensibility are likely to champion this aspect.

      e) The Occultist. His writings are revelations of inhuman truths, perceptions of transmundane dimensions, and validations of magic formulas. Many believers associate him with Aleister Crowley and his crowd.       

     f) The Racist. His horror springs from his aversion to immigrants and foreign races. Persons who see him excessively in this way are strident in condemnation and run the risk of virulent political correctness.

     g) The Weirdist. Particularly people such as rock and rollers are attracted by the transgressions of his imagination and gamers by his creation of a consistent horror world. For the first group an equally strong pull may be Lovecraft’s poetic language that prompts song lyrics. 

     h) The Writer. This is my favorite interpretation of him. He is regarded in terms of his writing fiction, poetry, correspondence, essays. A pesky subset is supplied by those reviewers hung up on him as an Atrocious Stylist.      

     Other or variant aspects are the Philosopher, the Outsider, the Amateur, the Scholar.


“The Man with a Thousand Legs”

     The title is irresistible. I re-read the story (originally published in Weird Tales, August 1927) by Frank Belknap Long in the first issue of my The Magazine of Horror, a publication more to be cherished as the years go. Told from the testimony of various characters, the solution of the story is somewhat unsatisfactory, but it is an enjoyable read, a pulp pleasure. 

     Here are two points. In a climactic scene appears from the sea an “obscenity”that a fisherman witness calls a Jormungandar, which I later found was a monster serpent in Scandinavian mythology. With over a thousand writhing tentacles (“legs”) the being raises up to a height of thirty feet and attacks a cutter, killing a hundred men.

     This echoes “The Call of Cthulhu,” written in the fall of 1926 and published in Weird Tales in February 1928. Here the giant Cthulhu that has a “squid‑head with writhing feelers” goes after the “heavily armed steam yacht Alert.” Both monstrosities are tentacular, colossal, and attack a ship at sea, killing sailors.

     The second similarity is in presentation. Nine separate sections that comprise “Man’s” narrative are either witness statements (“Statement of Henry Greb, Prescription Druggist”), diary entries (“Diary of Thomas Shiel, Novelist and Short-Story Writer”), news articles (“News Item in the Long Island Gazette”), or manuscripts (“Curious Manuscript Found in a Bottle”). It’s a gathering of documents, the correlation of contents (to paraphrase “Cthulhu”).

     Lin Carter states that the “drama and impact” of “The Call of Cthulhu” comes in part from its “peculiar, almost documentary, technique used in telling it” (Lovecraft: A Look Behind the “Cthulhu Mythos” (Ballantine Books, 1972; p. 53). Carter italicizes “documentary.” He further states how the story is presented in “jigsaw fragments” which the reader must put together. There are press clippings, the manuscript on H. A. Wilcox, “Narrative of Inspector John R. Legrasse,” the account from the Sydney Bulletin, etc. In Long’s story there is no narrator to thread the information, so the “facts” build up the “truth.” Maybe Long had an effect on showing HPL the advantage of narrating a story through documentary fragments, or perhaps the latter led the former to this path. Even if I knew the date of composition of the Long tale, it is possible that it is the outcome of a discussion with HPL.

    In another story Long presents a character named Howard discoursing on what makes for horror in a tale. With a publishing symmetry, Long’s short “The Space-Eaters”[1] (Weird Tales, July, 1928) appeared almost the same number of months after “Cthulhu” that “Man” appeared before it. While his character doesn’t allude to documentation, one may conclude that Lovecraft would hold forth on how to create horror (as “Howard” does to “Frank,” the narrator, which names manipulate verisimilitude), and Long applied it.


Samuel Loveman

     When I was looking at a bibliography of William Godwin I came across Samuel Loveman’s name. He had a letter published in the Times Literary Supplement (23 March 951; p. 181) in which he stated that a letter to poet Shelley from Godwin showed that the latter was a scoundrel, a position subsequently disputed by another TLS letter-writer. (Godwin, you might remember, was mentioned in Supernatural Horror in Literature as “the Utopian economic theorist ¼ who followed his famous but non-supernatural Caleb Williams (1794) with the intendedly weird St. Leon (1799)”).

      I don’t know if this small publishing piece has before been recognized. It may be in Out of the Immortal Night: Selected Works of Samuel Loveman (Hippocampus Press, 2004), though not revealed in the table of contents. At any rate, this discovery set me off on a search for Lovemanana. He certainly knew more famous or noteworthy people than HPL. For example, there is a letter he received in the 1930’s from Rudyard Kipling. And there is his close association with Hart Crane.

     Loveman is mentioned in “New York City Bookshops in the 1930s and 1940s: The Recollections of Walter Goldwater”  Known for having discovered a copy of Poe’s Tamburlane and acquiring it for one dollar, the booksellers Dauber and Pine hired him as a cataloger. According to Goldwater, “He had a flair for description and for exaggeration and for inserting erotic overtones into almost any book, which was very, very successful. And their catalogues were notorious for this kind of description. Everybody would say, ‘Oh, that’s a Dauber and Pine catalogue’ or ‘That’s Sam Loveman’s descriptions.’”

     A more disturbing portrait of Loveman appears on the blog “Library Collections & Acquisitions” for 16 February 2006  “He was fond of signing famous authors' names into worthless books, and offering them in his catalogues as having come from the famous authors' own libraries.” The blogger adds Loveman also pasted bookplates of Hart Crane’s into worthless books in order to make them valuable. I have no way of knowing how valid these charges are. They are attributed by a third party to Rolland Comstock, who I elsewhere discovered is a book collector who lives in my home state.

     There are two stockpiles of Loveman correspondence. The Special Collections Department at the University of Delaware has it from 1911 to 1976 (the year of his death).  Yet another collection is at Columbia University Libraries. Perhaps showing his alienation from Lovecraft, the latter’s name does not come up for mention in the collections as presented online.



     His "Commonplace Book" is the subject of “An Exhibition of Unspeakable Things” at Switzerland’s Maison d’Ailleurs, a museum of science fiction. It’s to run from October 2007 to April 2008. There will also be hand-written documents linked to Lovecraft. *** Artists Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft (Centipede Press) is forthcoming at a mind-numbing $395, though some of the work is beautiful.  Among the 40-plus artists are Virgil Finlay and Lee Brown Coye. *** Here are large posters of Poe and HPL hung in an office.  *** From painting thoroughbred horse bloodlines an artist named Nicolas Rule has gone to painting “ghostly words” from Lovecraft’s stories in “After Lovecraft.”  *** A leather Cthulhu “doll,” child-sized, appears to be a suit. 



     The Zombie Astronaut” has links to dramatizations of several stories, including At the Mountains of Madness  


     S.T. take note. In Time Out London (1 Nov 2006, p. 51) Adam Lee Davies remarks in his review of monsieur Houellebecq’s Against the World, Against Life: “Houellebecq presents the scant biographical information available on Lovecraft's life.”



     If you’ve wanted to know what bookplates Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, and others use, look at “Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie.”  There’s also a warning about copies of Lovecraft bookplates.



     The tiled bathroom needs some defenders. In a 1929 letter Lovecraft wrote of our culture, “It is wholly a material body-culture, and its symbol is the tiled bathroom and steam radiator.” Compare this view with Raymond Chandler’s, who wrote in the novel The Little Sister (first published 1949) “It is a reasonably shabby door at the end of a reasonably shabby corridor in the sort of building that was new about the year the all-tile bathroom became the basis of civilization.”



     “The Dreams in the Witch-House [sic]” and other works is available in an anthology from Graphic Classics. *** “Aún Indefinido, el Lector de Historieta” appears to be an intellectual talk about Lovecraft, readers, and the comic strip by Sergio Raúl López (in El Financiero (25 Sep 2006)). In turn it must be a reaction to the essay “La Imagen Reptante: H.P. Lovecraft y el Cómic Mundial” by Mauricio Matamoros Durán.


Conferences and Festivals

     Pulp Uncovered began on the centennial of Lovecraft’s death at Brown University. *** Organizer of the recent Lovecraft festival in Vermont, Alan Eames has died. A cultural anthropologist who wrote four books on beer, he said he was raised on a diet of Lovecraft. (It is interesting that there is (or was, since the link no longer connects) a line of Lovecraft alcoholic drinks.)



     Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Theory” is a one-day symposium held on 26 April in England that will discuss five stories: “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” “The Dunwich Horror,” “The Shadow out of Time,” and “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” whose canonicity is questionable. *** Written in French, “Fiction in the Desert of the Real: Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos” by Wouter J. Hanegraaff appears in Aries (v. 7, no. 1 (2007), p. 85-109). *** Several people writing in the Spanish language El Mercurio (11 Feb 2007) make him the object of discussion in “Lovecraft, la Herencia de un Misántropo.” And Mexico is also the source for the article “Fue H.P. Lovecraft Maestro de la Literatura de Terror”(Agencia Mexicana de Noticias, NOTIMEX) that appeared on 19 Aug 2006, so presumably it was prompted by his birthday.



     A non-credit course was offered in 1977 on Poe, Lovecraft, and the Mythos at a Pennsylvanian community college.



     Who amongst our boys made it in The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (2005)? HPL and Arthur Machen are there. So is Poe (!), and there’s Harlan Ellison, Anne Rice, and several other science fiction or fantasy writers. But no Robert E. Howard or Clark Ashton Smith. Sorry, guys.


“In the Walls of Eryx”

     Dan Clore has suggestions about the etymologies of Akman, Daroh, Efjeh-Weed, Farnoth-Fly, Sificligh, Skorah, Tukah, and Ugrat mentioned in this story (e.g., the Venusian “akman” is Forest J Ackerman, the farnoth-flies are from Farnsworth Wright). 



     A regular feature for was “Cthulhu Cthursday.” RIP



     A blog on Asian American poetry and popular culture by Bryan Thao Worra notes that at Marscon he will discuss Lovecraftian horror from Japan as well as be on a panel discussing favorite HPL stories. 



     Its account now suspended :(  “The Crypt of Cthulhu Archive” had tables of contents and links to some articles from that publication.  



     Monstropedia is a source for all things monstrous, including a few creations by HPL. 



      In an interview concerning the fantasy Lady in the Water in which he starred, actor Paul Giamatti noted that he is a fantasy fan and an admirer of Lovecraft’s writings.(“El Rey del Suspenso Ataca de Nuevo,” El Mercurio (18 Aug 2006)). Further evidence of his interest is that he is helping to bankroll a biopic of Philip K. Dick. *** The H.P. Lovecraft Collection: Cool Air (volume 1) is reviewed at “DVD Verdict Review.” 



     Vernon Reid—black artist, guitarist, and composer—speaks with enthusiasm about Lovecraft and states that the name of his band Living Colour was partly influenced by “The Colour out of Space” (Rip It Up: The Black Experience in Rock and Roll, p. 141).



     “The Return of the Old Ones: H.P. Lovecraft & the Crisis of Modernity” (Strange Attractor Journal One (Winter 2003/4)) by Justin Woodman discusses the influence of the Mythos on occultists.


“The Outsider”

     The essay “Existential Sadness in H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Outsider’” by Louise Norlie is available online.



     “‘At the Mountains of Madness’: The Demonology of the New Earth

and the Politics of Becoming” by Iain Hamilton Grant is a chapter title in Deleuze and Philosophy: The Difference Engineer (Routledge, 1997), edited by Keith Ansell-Pearson. *** In Probability Theory: The Logic of Science (Cambridge University Press, 2003) E.T. Janynes quotes HPL’s definition of common sense (p. 197).



     S.T.’s “Reflections on H.P. Lovecraft” given at SUNY has been saved as a podcast.  The lecture is chiefly Lovecraft 101. During it S.T. fudges when he says Lovecraft has found acceptance by such mainstream media as the New York Times. Unfortunately, it sounded from the applause at the end that only about eight people attended, which would be typical for free academic talks.



     “Among the pulps of the 1920s and 1930s, Weird Tales had the most frequent, however oblique, anti-capitalist writing, including that of late-life socialist convert H. P. Lovecraft” (Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002, p. 70).



      With eight Lovecraft tales, The Book (volume 1) deals with the Necronomicon. It is the second title to be published by Leanta Books of Lee, New Hampshire. It began with Burroughs’A Princess of Mars*** Inventory of the Arkham House Collection: 1930-1953” is at the University of Texas, Cushing Memorial. Also it has the “Inventory of the Sam Moskowitz Collection: 1940-1993.” *** Hippocampus Press has announced the appearance of Lovecraft Annual *** For $325 (Canadian, maybe) you could be the owner of the three-volume The Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin. This as well as other titles by Quinn, Derleth, Vincent Starrett, etc. is available from The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, a Sherlockian publisher that, though headquartered in Canada, has a physical American address in Sauk City, Wisconsin, showing that the town is big enough to accommodate two genre publishers.  *** The science fiction and fantasy publisher Night Shade Books, which was responsible for Lovecraft’s The Ancient Track, is profiled by Publishers Weekly.   



     Now available is Pulp Magazine Holdings Directory: Library Collections in North America and Europe (McFarland and Company, 2007) by Jess Nevins.  



     A.M. Kuchling collects quotations (excuse the alliteration). The Lovecraft ones, harvested from stories and letters, evidence how quotable he was. We all knew that, already.  *** There’s a curious collection of Lovecraft quotes at Wikiquote. 



     I can’t tell if this was a reading or production in German of “The Colour Out of Space” (“Die Farbe aus dem All”) with actor Thomas Franke, but it took place in Bonn, Germany in February. *** More of my confused German. In a Berlin planetarium there appeared to have been a reading, with musical background, of “The Picture in the House” and “Colour.” *** Last year in Berlin there was a reading (presumably in German) of “The Dreams in the Witch House” by actress Sophie Rois. *** On the 14-15 March some Italian writers will participate in a reading of Lovecraft’s stories on RAI Radio3. That is what I think the Italian language site says.  On a message from the EOD list Massimo—the translator of the book used for the reading—notes that the audio file can be found through EMule by typing in “Notte Lovecraft.” (Incidentally, Malpertuis (i.e., mal-pertuis, part of the web URL) is the name of a Jean Ray novel, which was made into a movie that starred Orson Welles.) *** A series of recitations from the prose and poetry of Poe and Lovecraft was to be held 1 April at Ladd Observatory in Providence



     In 1972 a Valparaiso, Ind. newspaper had a crossword puzzle with the clue: “‘The ___’ Lovecraft classic.” There are thirteen spaces, so I’ll guess “Dunwich Horror.”


Science Fiction

     Covering 1939 to 2005 (with some years missing) WorldCon Guest of Honor Speeches (ISFiC Press, 2006) is a book whose speechifiers include Robert Bloch (twice), Fritz Leiber, and Richard Matheson; and has several references to Lovecraft. 


     He has an entry in Encyclopedia of American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes (Jill B. Gidmark, editor; Greenwood Press, 2000), with several stories mentioned (p. 256-257).



     Wired’s erstwhile “Table of Malcontents” showed a squid as part of the logo.  I’m tempted to say this is the Cthulhuoid influence, not just because one of the items concerns Cthulhu for President with its notorious slogan “Why choose the lesser evil?” Rather of late there have been several references to HPL, the most notable of which dealt with the Wikipedia de-entry-izing of Sonia Lovecraft, who now must be content with being part of Lovecraft’s entry. This brought forth numerous comments from readers. Some accused Lovecraft of being a poor husband, others maintained that Sonia was important enough in her own right to regain her entry.



     The name “Lovecraft” is on a large list (published by a Newport, RI newspaper) of those thanked by a softball team in 1971.


Swan Point Cemetery

     In 2006 a storm killed the tree by HPL’s grave. A new one has replaced it, with the old one crafted—I mean grafted—onto it. 


Talks                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              On the 70th anniversary of his death, he was the topic by a tourism manager from the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence.



     Fans of Babylon 5 may already be familiar with Andy Sawyer’s “The Shadows out of Time: Lovecraftian Echoes in Babylon 5” in Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (eds), The Parliament of Dreams: Conferring on “Babylon 5” (Science Fiction Foundation, 1998). *** The Australian television anthology Two Twisted had an episode titled “Arkham's Curios and Wonders,” a reference to a mail order catalog. *** “The Collect Call of Cathulhu” episode from The Real Ghostbusters is available on



     A Spanish version of  “The Statement of Randolf Carter” was presented in Monterey, Mexico (“Asusta Camacho con su ‘Teatro’” (El Norte, 8 Oct 2006)).



     Providence: Following the Footsteps of a Horror Icon” is an article from CNN (6 March 2007) that covers some of HPL’s haunts. The author shows he has no familiarity with Henry L.P. Beckwith’s Lovecraft's Providence and Adjacent Parts (Donald M. Grant, 1986).


“Under the Pyramids”

     In his journal, Kenneth Hite lists the connections of HPL with Houdini in discussing “Under the Pyramids.” Hite has been writing brief but perceptive comments about Lovecraft’s various titles.


Influence and Post-Lovecraft Writers

     A reviewer of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day finds imitations and caricatures of Verne, Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack Williamson, Asimov, and Heinlein.  Apparently in previous novels Pynchon has also alluded to Lovecraft. *** Another work by poet Robert Kelly (see ‘ritic’ 48) is the prose poem “Lovecraft,” which suggests that HPL over-wrote for the “readerly reader,” with the result of “death by prose.” *** From what I can make of the article (in German) a young author named Ljubko Deresch has written a novel which bears some influence of HPL. *** A Sombra sobre Lisboa (Shadow over Lisbon) is a Portuguese language collection of Lovecraft-inspired stories that have Lisbon, Portugal as their locale. *** Among the stories in Night Visions 12 are three by Simon Clark: “My God, My God,” called a homage to William Hope Hodgson; “Poe, Lovecraft, Jackson”; and “Frankenstein, Victor.” *** The Lovecraftian world is one of those visited in the novel Ink by Hal Duncan. *** John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick has a character bearing the name “Lovecraft.” *** In Cities of the Red Night William S. Burroughs dedicates the work to “the Ancient Ones, to the Lord of Abominations, Humwawa¼” *** Peter Straub has sold his papers to New York University.



      In a travel article on Auvergne, France, writer Steve Bergsman thinks of Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne (Peoria Journal Star, 29 Oct 2006, p. F8). *** Smith also has a laudatory article about him in The Washington Post (18 Feb 2007) by Michael Dirda. *** In a 1997 article Sam Gafford discusses the order in which the novels of William Hope Hodgson were written, and I think he has something. *** Visit Friends of Arthur Machen. The author is the subject of an academic article in the journal Aries (v. 7, no. 1; p. 63-83) : “Arthur Machen's Panic Fears: Western Esotericism and the Irruption of Negative Epistemology” by Marco Pasi; if you can read Italian, you can read it. *** Machen and M.P. Shiel are among the authors discussed in Fictions of British Decadence: High Art, Popular Writing and the Fin De Siecle (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) by Kirsten MacLeod. *** Centipede Press (mentioned under “Art”) is bringing out a series Masters of the Weird Tale, beginning with Algernon Blackwood.  *** Harry Houdini is to be dug up so that an autopsy can be performed, since it has been alledged that he was murdered. *** The classic “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” by Lewis Padgett (i.e., Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore) is the movie The Last Mimzy. *** The idea that a serpent race of aliens existed under the ground stemmed from “an obscure pulp fiction author, Robert E. Howard” (Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America, p. 121). *** The 2006 movie Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories has Campbell Scott as Bierce as well as other actors portraying Gertrude Atherton and William Randolph Hearst. According to three Bierce stories are dramatized: “One Kind Of Officer,” “Story Of A Conscience,” and (what else) “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge.” The writer is also a character in From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, which subtitle shows somebody knows about AB’s work. Bierce is so interesting of a character it is surprising he is played infrequently. The only other time I know is the title presence in Old Gringo.


The 135

     Massimo: It is unfortunate that you didn’t get accepted in an American studies program, despite your qualifications, but it is a single battle in a war, and with enough attempts you will succeed. *** Thanks for pointing me to an essay about Brown Jenkin (which apparently first appeared in Crypt of Cthulhu and was then reprinted or supplemented in Dagon). Since I have no ready access to the majority of fanzine and Lovecraft Studies stuff written on HPL, I may occasionally reproduce what is out there. As a result my merit is that I independently confirm what others have observed. *** There may already be an answer to this, but in reading your article on Robert Barlow I wonder why Lovecraft visited him in lieu of visiting some of his other correspondents, say Derleth, who I imagine would equally be glad to have had him as a guest. Perhaps the cities along the way or warm weather was the deciding pull. *** Your quoting of Lovecraft through Barlow (“actual dreams are the bases”) sounds like an uncorrected typo (i.e., should be “basis”). *** As a suggestion, I recommend that there are too many footnotes in your article, and for many it might have been better to incorporate them into the text, while others you could have cumulated together. *** HPL’s literary judgments on Barlow have not been borne out. Those who adulate Smith and Howard, for example, shrug at RHB. *** To risk a kind of blasphemy through speculation, I think Derleth would have been a better choice of literary executor than Barlow, who was certainly a good choice. But Derleth had both practicality and energy that might have put HPL on the literary map sooner, though it is possible that there would’ve been no Arkham House as a result. *** Though you’ve not brought it up in your article, there’s a parallel between Lovecraft and another prodigy, Alfred Galpin. *** The claims about Barlow’s lasting importance to Mexican archaeology and Nahuatl should be substantiated by authoritative history books on the subject, but have not been. As always, I remain a skeptic till I see the evidence.

     Ben: What are blogs? (he asks). Think of it as a personal website that is updated regularly, like an online journal. Personal information and observations are shared. Anybody can (and does) start one. More technically, a blog is powered by a different kind of software than is a website. *** You state that “Jules Verne did not consider his books science fiction.” I see his point, though the term was not yet in use and the conventions that defined it were inchoate. *** Dickens was not anti-Semitic, as Edgar Johnson’s biography makes clear. I think a Jewish friend of Dickens called him a righteous gentile, or a similar compliment. While Lovecraft was anti-Semitic, the label has a number of degrees of meaning.

     Ken: Whence came the journal name Epgephi, which a sofa was also dubbed? It doesn’t appear to be an anagram, and though it looks Greek, I see no Greek word for which it is a ringer. *** The politics of amateur journalism as detailed by you are juvenile and seem such a burlesque as to have been the product of a modern-day Jonathan Swift. *** I’ve never come across the phrase “cat-fur off Nellie’s hat.”

     Martin: Yes, you made a mistake in not giving a bibliography for your Dunsany article. Based on that, it wouldn’t pass scholarly muster–though here I must admit I have seen non-fiction books that infuriatingly lack bibliographies and notes, though from recognized publishers and academics. You quote Dunsany on seeing a hare: “[I]f ever I have written of Pan, out in the evening, as though I had really seen him, it is mostly a memory of that hare,” which echoes Lovecraft’s recollection of childhood, when he “watched for dryads and satrys [sic] in the woods and fields at dusk” and “seen the hoofed Pan” (Selected Letters, 1911-1924 , p. 300). *** I saw the movie version of The Club DumasThe Ninth Gate–and found that it had Lovecraftian flourishes (e.g., the forbidden book). *** No, I wasn’t aware of a reference to HPL in the book Expiration Date, but your description of it reminded me of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward in its consumption of the dead.

     Linda: The 100,000 letter estimate has been realistically scaled back by ST himself. In my review of his H.P. Lovecraft I questioned what I consider to be an exaggerated number. *** The Selected Letters set does have an index, created by ST and produced by Necronomicon Press, and though very modest in size is one of his three most valuable contribution to Lovecraft studies–up there with his bibliography and bio. I frequently use it to find a topic in the letters.

     Phillip: The appearance of some Lovecraft poetry already available online benefits your proposed concordance, since digitized text is word-searchable.

     Henrik: Re your essay on Lieber, I suggest one definition of “Lovecraftian” is: I know it when I see it. :) *** Concerning what you call Lovecraft’s “deficiency” in characterization, I must ask, would his stories have been more effective if he devoted space to character development? It may very well be the relentlessness with which he pruned out certain elements–such as characterization–that lent forcefulness and single-mindedness to his creation of horror. In a way you argue for Leiber’s definition of a weird story over Lovecraft’s, as though there was one column that said “right” and another that said “wrong.” There are degrees of weirdness in a tale (if I may so put it), and HPL is interested in a higher degree than Leiber. *** Yes, I’m saying that the difference between a monster and an alien–using Lovecraft’s creations as examples–is that the former is chiefly irrational to us, whilst an alien is a thing we process with our intelligence and undoubtedly recognize that it is a thing with a mind. An alien may have attributes of a monster and vice versa, but it is the proportion in either that determines which category. Many of HPL’s creations are aliens in monster guise. For example, Wilbur Whateley; and though through much of his appearance the twin is a monster, when given the power of speech (“HELP! HELP! ...ff ‑ ff ‑ ff ‑ FATHER! FATHER! YOG‑SOTHOTH!”), he or it is humanized (so to speak). *** I can understand why the music to the film The Call of Cthulhu didn’t play on your friend’s machine: it was a silent film. *** I noticed that you did find Oliver Holm’s Skygger over Tiden, for you have a link to it on your website; but when I tried it in March 2007, it led to nothing. *** In “The Bibliophile” I wish you supplied more local color, a sense of place a la HPL. To most of us Denmark’s cities are a fantasy. Typo warning: “costumers” should be “customers.” Also, by looking at a clock how can you tell that more than 24 hours have passed, for if the last occasion you looked at a clock and it said seven, and now it says ten, only three hours may have passed, rather than 27.

     A. Langley: Re the Hearn essay–that Ann Radcliffe was still read by the young in Hearn’s day (circa 1900) shows how remote that reading period was.

     David: In your discussion of editing Robert E. Howard, the word you use, “package,” is operative. As editor you’ve presented the “best” of Howard. Another package presents all the Conan stories in the order of Conan’s own chronological experience. Then there is the “definitive” version that relies on Howard’s typescripts. Wanna buy some Howard? Take your pick. *** In your informative memorial to Jim Baen, you note a title that was rejected, “The God of Baendom.” If there was a pun here, it must depend on the pronunciation of “Baen,” which is not apparent, since it is a diphthong, one of life’s annoyances. The name could be pronounced with a short “a” (“ban”), a short “e” (“ben”), or a long “a” or “e.”

     T.R: Re your article suggesting HPL suffered childhood sexual abuse: It would help if you showed you were credentialed to speak about such a provocative subject, which you present with a lot of interesting and attested background. But as you say, proving your claim is probably futile. It seems to me you put undue emphasis on some of Lovecraft’s comments, words (e.g., “tickle”), and incidents to make your case. *** You state “One wonders how topics of sexual deviancy could be overtly explored in a medium such as Weird Tales.” How about the appearance of necrophilia, voyeurism, and sadism, found in various issues? *** There are numerous points where your interpretation and mine are at odds, but I thankfully won’t indulge them. However, I will offer an alternative explanation. The complex of behaviors that you reckon do not have to be caused by an objective experience. All that is required is an interpretive perception that carries conviction. A child who has difficulty separating fancy from reality may receive a trauma that only he can recognize.

     John G.: Thanks for the recommendation about the three Derleth essays. I’ve read only one, I think. *** A blog (e.g., “The Cimmerian”) cannot be fairly compared with the EOD message board (to which I wish you’d contribute, since you know it’s there). *** At the risk of a faulty and certainly depressing conjecture as to the reason that Arkham House books are going down in price–it may be the result of a surplus in the market due to the timely death of collectors, who began as youngsters when Arkham House started out. *** As I’ve said before, in your loc’s I wish you’d include a bit more context about to what you’re responding–it’s like listening to one-half of an interesting phone conversation.

     S.T.: I recall reading a criticism aimed at the structure of your 1981 bibliography, and here I find that it was something forced on you. While it could have been differently organized, I am thankful that it exists at all. *** Your new driver’s license may be, as you say, “genuwine”–but remember that there are rules against imbibing gin and wine at the wheel. *** Re your Cthulhu Mythos essay: I don’t find Derleth so blameworthy in his take on the Mythos–and less so than those who “blandly [blindly?] accepted his disfigurement of the Mythos.” The quote from “The Return of Hastur” about the banishment and imprisoning of Evil Ones reminds me of something from the comic books as well as the theology wherein Satan is cast out of Heaven. *** It seems that you are saying Edmund Wilson and Damon Knight condemned Lovecraft because of Derleth and his followers. If true, this speaks poorly of these critics, using the rule of guilt by association. *** In your summary of “Spawn of the Green Abyss” you have the male protagonist bearing a child–or is this a grammatical blunder?

     Alan: You title your essay “Standing on the Toes of Giants.” It is certainly better to call it that than “Standing on the Corns of Giants,” in which case the reaction of the giants might be to stand on you.

“Beyond the Wall of Sleep”

     The figurative phrase “wall of sleep” was probably popularized, if not originated, by HPL. Decades earlier, Ralph Waldo Emerson states (if the internet source is credible) “Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two” (the attribution may be ben trovato, if not Ben Indick). But I think that it is to Lovecraft one looks as the establisher of this phrase. Thus, Wall of Sleep is a music group. Black Sabbath has a song “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” which title is around three times as numerous on the web as that of “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” according to a Google search. For other music groups related to this title see the Wikipedia entry. Also, in the opening narration of an Outer Limits episode (“The Mice”) by Joseph Stefano there is, “In dreams, some of us walk the stars¼Some of us, in dreams, cannot reach beyond the walls of our own little sleep." Since the images of stars, walls, and sleep are so primal, the juxtaposition of them could be coincidental with the story elements of BTWOS.


Orson Welles

     Mollie’s repetition—which I have previously looked askance upon—that Orson Welles read on television “The Rats in the Walls” (early 1950’s?) let me to do more research, and what I’ve found hasn’t changed my mind. I’ve looked through Orson Welles: A Bio-Bibliography (1990), and that contains nothing of support. Welles did dabble in the fantastic, but not a lot. Thus, he participated in radio broadcasts not only of the notorious “War of the Worlds,” but also “Dracula” and “Donovan’s Brain,” and he appeared in the movie Malpertius, based on a Jean Ray novel.  As a result of his Martian broadcast he edited Invasion from Mars (Dell, 1949), a collection of stories written by Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and other science fictionists. Yet his involvement with the fantasy, horror, and science fiction was small when contrasted with all of his work. (This is not to overlook his consistent association with the Gothic and sinister—his interest in shooting Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” or roles such as Rochester in Jane Eyre and Cagliostro in Black Magic.)

     His appearances on television were few, and if he did do a reading it would most likely have been on the radio.

     I think memory has played a trick on Mollie, and that she is recalling another distinctive voice, Ronald Colman, who appeared in 1945, on the series Suspense, in a dramatization of “The Dunwich Horror.” Welles appeared close to a year before in the same series in a two-part “Donovan’s Brain,” where a brain without a body starts taking control of the Welles character, who conveys madness. Sounds a bit like the end of de la Poer.


More Bradbury Addendum: “The Mad Wizards of Mars”

      In the original 1949 appearance of Ray Bradbury’s short story that came to be titled “The Exiles” there is an interesting change with regards to HPL.

     As you may recall, my thesis is that in the mid to late forties Bradbury was somewhat under the sway of Lovecraft. He mentioned Lovecraft in several stories. “The Exiles” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Winter/Spring 1950) has a substantial section with Lovecraft as a character, missing in its book appearance in The Illustrated Man (Doubleday, 1951). I surmised that the earliest version, “The Mad Wizards of Mars” (Maclean’s, 15 September 1949) might have even more. But I find that it is actually a shorter work, with the Lovecraft segment as missing as it is in its book version. That thumps my thesis about Bradbury’s infatuation. Now the possibilities are that Bradbury added the Lovecraft bit to please MFSF editor, Anthony Boucher (who seemed to like Lovecraft); or to add wordage, either for more pay or because the editor wanted a longer story; or for artistic purposes; or—you can make up your own reason. 

     One difference between chronological appearances one, two, and three of the story is the evolving mention of a Lovecraft work. As I previously stated, in the MFSF form a spaceship crewman looks at “The Shadow Over Innsmouth, by H.P. Lovecraft” (italicized as if it were a book), and in The Illustrated Man it is “The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth, by H.P. Lovecraft,” the actual name of a Lovecraft collection from the 1940’s. However, in its Maclean’s appearance the title is ““The Horror at Innsmouth,” by H.P. Lovecraft,” which suggests Bradbury wasn’t familiar enough with HPL to remember a work correctly. And so a second weakening for my thesis.

     (While I’m on this kick I might say that, besides botching the Lovecraft title, Bradbury made another mistake in his list of books that are in his story. They run in part “The Outsider, Behold, The Dreamer, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde¼Behold, The Dreamer I’ve assumed to be the single title of a work by Walter de la Mare; but I’ve discovered that the actual title by de la Mare is Behold, This Dreamer, which was first published in 1939.)

     Lovecraft was not the only author to be juggled about. Nathaniel Hawthorne has a speaking role in version one, but not in two and three. Charles Dickens has a speaking role in two and three—inheriting some of Hawthorne’s attitudes—but only has an off-screen presence in the first.  L. Frank Baum makes an appearance, though it is also off-screen, and only in the story’s MFSF publication. As Dorothy says in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie, “My! People come and go so quickly here!”

     Baum’s creation fares better. Near the end of “Mad Wizards” a House of Usher castle falls in the lake (Maclean’s), replaced by the Emerald City of Oz falling (MFSF and The Illustrated Man). While the Usher castle fits in with the presence of Edgar Allan Poe, the chief authorial character in the story, still Bradbury may have already had the Emerald City replacement in mind, with “The Mad Wizards of Mars” title a possible nod to The Wizard of Oz. 

     Against this context I must wonder if the insertion and removal of the Lovecraft character had any personal significance for Bradbury.


     Thanks for reading the 52nd issue of The Criticaster (April 2007, mailing 138) by He Spent War Elk (to put it anagramatically). Eventually published on the Net as The Limbonaut (no 23).




[1]This was dramatized in 1991 by the tv series Monsters. (The title should not be confused with “space heaters,” used to heat the home.)