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.
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” (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.
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
His "Commonplace Book" is the subject of “An
Exhibition of Unspeakable Things” at
“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
“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
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 blog.wired.com 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
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 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,
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
In 1972 a
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
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.
On the 70th anniversary of his
death, he was the topic by a tourism manager from the Rhode Island Historical
A Spanish version of “The Statement of Randolf Carter” was
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
In a travel article on
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 Dumas–The 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
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.
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
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. Hyde¼” Behold, 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
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
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).
This was dramatized in 1991 by the tv series Monsters. (The title should not be confused with “space heaters,” used to heat the home.)