John H.: Congratulation on the publications of your
bibliography. I’d recommend that you promote your booklet,
rather than taking
the opposite route. And congratulation on winning the Venarium Award
emerging scholar in Howard studies. *** Most Ofians “probably
very little left to say” about the Cthulhu Mythos? Holy moly,
untapped ocean of comment that will continue to be made on this
can’t even agree on what the CM is and what stories belong to
it. This has been
like trying to define “science fiction.” *** Re:
“any good vs. evil
conflict is philosophically akin to
Christianity”–different times have
different morals, so the meaning of good to one group may be anathema
Fred: What do you mean that HPL wrote “Anthropological Science Fiction”? This sounds something of a paradox, since anthropology is the study of man, who had relatively little value in Lovecraftian eyes. I’ll be interested to see what you say about the history of reading, should you pursue this. *** The neurotic does not require absolution from his neurosis. It may interrupt human fulfillment, but this condition may have given us any number of terrific artists. *** Re your “Blundering never implies power”–at least on this planet there are any number of people in high office who blunder, make mistakes. That one can blunder does in itself suggest power, though of course at different levels. *** “Madame Blavatski’s ashes filled three urns”–but you leave out the size of the urns.
Ben: Your phrase “deities are dieting” is close to an anagram. This leads me to think of a pun: What do you call the god of appetite? A “diety”. *** Poe’s work has been illustrated, as by Edmund Dulac and in The Annotated Edgar Allan Poe. *** Thanks for the Poe letters review– good, lucid, and useful. As you detail Poe’s request for money in his letters, I am reminded of the similar importunities from Arthur Machen, discussed by you in earlier Ibids. Here are two lives that were economic horror stories.
Thanks for your comments on the
Lovecraft auction, which was complete news to me. You note that some
and booksellers will make it impossible to bring everything under the
eye. In A Gentle Madness (about book collecting par
excellence) at least
one collector notes that when he passes on he wants his collection to
on the market to give other collectors the same pleasure he had in
T.R.: For some reason you use the word “inaccurate” to describe Stuart Gordon’s statement that he had to go to a rare book department to read “Herbert West–Reanimator,” presumably in its pulp appearance. Why he would go that route rather than use the available (as you note) Arkham House volume is a puzzle. Also, what time frame was it when the best of HPL was not available in paperback? I sort of thought that he has been continually in print since at least the 1970's.
C.D.: It was a pleasure to read of your touring enthusiasm
Poe and Lovecraft. I was particularly interested to read of your
Martin: I’m sorry to hear about your unemployment ups and downs (I mean I’m sorry about the down part, not the up). *** Congratulations on your appearance in Two-Gun Bob.
Don and Mollie: In your “Epithets” essay, Don, you show yourself as a good hater. So many of your statements ask for rebuttals, or at minimum buts. For example, in reference to Islamic culture you wonder “what ‘culture’? (Where is their Shakespeare? Their Bach?).” Discussing four centuries of Islamic civilization in close to two-hundred pages Will Durant summarizes “Only at the peaks of history has a society produced, in an equal period, so many illustrious men–in government education, literature, philology, geography, history, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, philosophy, and medicine–as Islam” (The Age of Faith (Simon and Schuster, 1950), p. 343).
Alan: Your story begins “I dreamed of you again last night. You were the daughter of a lighthouse keeper.” Believe it or not, Alan, that wasn’t me.
S.T.: Typo alert! Your bibliography states about Gatto (#42) “...whose value is almost nit.” (I’m such a nit-picker.)
David D: Contrary to your comment, Frank Belknap Long had not “ clearly ... always been something of a joke” to HPL and Wellman, at least so far as the former. Lovecraft and Long were friends.
R. Alain: Thanks for the information about another obscure writer (Georgia Pangborn).
John H.: Your reasons for rejecting the thesis about incest in HPL is level-headed and detailed. You note “that if Lovecraft had homosexual encounters ... there would be some hard evidence.” It’s fortunate that you didn’t move that second italics over by one word. *** With each photo of HPL I wish that you had given its source. If I wanted to see what some photo really looked like, I couldn’t, beyond randomly checking my books.
to Mailing 138
Fred: It is unlikely I’ll soon buy the book on Smith criticism from Hippocampus, though one of these days, in the Xicaarpian future, I might take a gander at it. The issue in part is my reading time budget; only so much can be squeezed into it. *** Thanks for the Ingoldsby poem. The legends need not be over anyone’s head, since they are explained in Wikipedia and available free online for anyone who wants to read them. *** In recognition of his centennial I’ve recently read a number of Robert A. Heinlein stories, and I believe if anything he was pro-Semitic, pro-black, etc. In this area he seems much more advanced than the majority of the population. I’d say there were no Jewish characters in Lovecraft, though there may have been stereotypical references to them. *** The line in your poem “Lest I be claimed by fires” brings in a theological element that I wonder if you intend, assuming that you were taking a Lovecraftian world view.
C.D.: I recommend that when you send in your contribution
name to it. I had to look in Nuclear Chaos to see
who the author was. Re
Lovecraft’s poetry as being similar to Thomas
Hardy’s–in The Criticaster 1
(back about 1986) I discussed a Hardy poem that had in it the word
“love-craft.” *** Thanks for the rundown of what The
Ancient Track: The
Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft contains.
I’ve had the book
several years, but haven’t yet got around to it. *** For
evidence of Stephen
King as a Lovecraftian you cite Salem’s Lot,
but it should be “
Ben: In your book review To the Edge of the World you write “It is impossible for any author to gainsay Charles Darwin.” Hah! Just to dispute you, I will ‘gain say it: “Charles Darwin.” There, see how I’ve shown you up. *** Virtually the first issue of a science fiction magazine I read was If (November, 1964), which had art by Ed Emshwiller. He illustrated a story by Keith Laumer, “The Hounds of Hell,” and I thought that his drawing of a hound fit the idea of one of Pickman’s ghouls. I’ve been spoiled ever since, despite the well-known portrait of Pickman’s model by Hannes Bok. *** Thanks for the sentimental “Caught Between,” but I wish you had included the year of the mailing.
Leigh: A convicted sceptic, I wonder about the authenticity of that Dutch article about August Derleth. Was it first published in 1957, or if it did first appear in the Dutch fanzine Cthulhu (1983), what prompted the author to recite his memories? There is a typo, I presume, and not some quaint Dutch phrase, when the author talks about “pinching” an HPL letter: “Derleth would after all not kiss it?” The “kiss” should be “miss,” unless Derleth really liked those letters. At any rate, thanks for making the translation available.
S.T.: While this is nothing against your HPL work, I hope you continue to write on subjects unrelated to this field, instead of getting typecast, as well as achieving a greater likelihood of success and recognition.
R.Alain: Oddly, you list Judy Garland’s daughter
as having met a tragic
death. As of this writing both are still alive.
Martin: I notice that the Swedish wiki article on Dunsany is very small. You’re just the person to elaborate it, if you have the interest.*** The book that you received as remuneration from Minotauren, Icons of Horror and the Supernatural, got a terrific review in the librarian journal of Choice, so your taste is validated. *** Your relation of a giant in Scandinavian mythology asking for the sun and the moon causes me to wonder if that is where the phrase(?) comes from, which goes approximately, “All you want is the sun and the moon.” *** Not without irony is “I was the only kid in class who knew what a semi-colon was and could us it correctly - something I deduced by myself...”; better would’ve been “...use it correctly; it was something...”; I trust you can see my point (or semi-colon). *** I think that I read Dunsany in part because of his publicizing by Lovecraft. However, the books of his that I got were due to their being made available in book stores through Lin Carter’s Adult Fantasy series; and since I also bought writers unrelated to Lovecraft, it is certainly possible Lovecraft was not the tipping point in my decision to read Dunsany. Rather, it was my interest in fantasy. However, Dunsany has not resonated with me as have a number of pulp writers. *** I did a re-read of “Herbert West–Reanimator,” starting with the revised Arkham House, found a typo in the first chapter, switched to the Dell annotated version and found a typo in the second chapter–so there is no unadulterated Lovecraft. I say a little more about this elsewhere.
One way to find an error-free version is to have, let’s say three people, view the original ms, transcribe it individually, then check the parts of the text where the three transcriptions differ. It’s complicated–and may be not particularly practical–but what other way is there, if a typo-proof copy is desired? *** Re the misleading “black magic” quote, you’re very persuasive with your suggestion that Derleth chose to champion his own vision over Lovecraft’s, as through ignoring Clark Ashton Smith’s remarks and suppressing the insignificance of good and evil. Later you note “that scholars outside the central field of Lovecraft studies still bring [the “black magic” quote] up”; but how scholarly are they if they make a factual mis-attribution? *** I wish you had given an introduction to Dan Clore (e.g., who is he, etc.). *** Re Poe’s neglect in Sweden–Poe is a double threat, so to speak, as both a horror writer and a classic writer. Am I to understand that looked at from the latter instance he is neglected in comparison with Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and other mainstreamers? In other words (pun unintended), is there relatively little translation of classic English-language writers into Swedish? *** The Essential Dracula is an updated edition of The Annotated Dracula, the one I read and reported upon (Cr’aster 51); we doubtless were enlightened by some of the same footnotes. *** I hoped that the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society also treats “The Whisperer in Darkness” as a silent, for their “The Call of Cthulhu” is the best adaptation yet of a Lovecraft work–I liked the film a lot. (But–see under “Movies.”) *** Maybe you should go on Mastermind, considering how successful you were as a vicarious answerer of the Lovecraft questions on “Youtube.”
John G.: Despite Borges’ dedication of a story
to HPL and imitation of
him once, he doesn’t appear to appreciate his work. *** You
wrote: “Nor do
Hemingway’s followers (as far as I know) pay specific homage
to their literary
mentor.” Look no further than Ray Bradbury, who pays such
homage in stories
with Hemingway-apparent titles, “Kilimanjaro
Machine” and “The Parrot Who Met
Papa,” “papa” being the nickname of EH.
*** Probably the most valuable part of The
H.P. Lovecraft Companion–the alphabetical list of
characters, monsters, and
stories–have been superceded by The H.P. Lovecraft
However, it was useful in its day.
In Ulysses the fictional
Leopold Bloom covers miles walking in a single day in the
On the other hand, several pages into Squiddy’s Ink you supply your own HPL mis-quote, which is humorous in the context, i.e., “an hospital whose grounds are contagious” when it should be (as it is in the Arkham House SL) “contiguous.” *** Thanks for highlighting Lovecraft’s sensitivity to nature, one of his personality’s most appealing aspects and one often overlooked, though not by me. *** Re your quotes on sunset vistas, you might check Peter Cannon’s “Sunset Terrace Imagery in Lovecraft” and Other Essays, which is useful for its corralling of the type of quotes that you use. However, the essays are generally shallow and of small value (I can’t speak for his humorous writing, which has received considerable praise). Peter was a former member of EOD. Sunset, I note, is the harbinger for night, the deepest of all shadows (“shadow” being an operative word for HPL). *** When you quote from Selected Letters, please give a date or volume number and page. *** There’s some irony when you note HPL wrote his last letter “in the twilight of his tragically short life” (but was having a short life tragic for him?). *** Lovecraft refers in a letter you quote to one of two kittens as “Little Tortoise-Shell Brother.” I suspect that it was female and not male, since this coloring is more likely to be in this sex.
Scott: Since I have most of the prose Arkham House Smith–that is not his nickname–plus the Lin Carter collections, why should I spring for The End of the Story and the subsequent volumes? What’s the value added? At any rate, congratulations on the fruition of your efforts.
John H.: You’ve been luckier than me in getting a response from the Library of America. They (it?) ignored my mailed request for information about the possibility of their (its?) fixing of typos in the Lovecraft volume.
Don: Since you seem obsessed with social issues, and considering your opinions, maybe you should go into talk radio. As a title–and I’ll paraphrase a label from one of your MRG covers–call it “The Donwich Horror Show.”
Known for citing the first use of a word, the OED (not to be confused with the EOD) has a number of entries related to Lovecraft. He is the subject of a quote—though not of the word illustrated (“corn-pone”)—by Stephen King: “It's hard to say what's wrong with Lovecraft's dialogue, other than the obvious; it's stilted and lifeless, brimming with country cornpone.” Elsewhere he is associated in a quote by someone from a Usenet group with the odd word “pluquam.” However, Lovecraft is the origin of quotes for his use of the word “nighted” (“The Festival”); “paleogean” and “polypous” (both “The Shadow out of Time”); “timbreless” (a first usage, from “Cool Air”); and “vigintillion” (“The Call of Cthulhu”). The word “Lovecraftian” appears in a heading before a quote illustrating the word “obliged.”
The equivalent of the OED that limits itself to science
fiction words is
Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction
University Press, 2007), edited by Jeff Prucher. The online "Science
Fiction Citations for the OED" must be the online counterpart.
HPL makes it to The Antarctic (Granta, 2007) edited by Francis Spufford.
“The Dulwich Horror - H.P. Lovecraft and the Crisis in British Housing” was a July-September exhibition by Dean Kenning. From what I can make out, across London signs that already had the words “To Let” (i.e., “For Rent”) formed the canvas for painted images of Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, etc. *** Two artists—New Yorker Maddy Rosenberg in collaboration with Austrian Hubert Sommerauer—have fashioned text from “Pickman’s Model” into a pop-up book. It sells for $500. *** There’s a few Lovecrafts featured in this collection of “Science Fiction Paperback Covers.”
Memories of Lovecraft’s
Crime Detector (Sept. 1954) has a Lovecraftian work that begins “If you value your sanity, DON’T read this story.” Called “Ultimate Destiny” it was written and drawn by Jayson “Jay” Disbrow, who (to quote Scott Shaw) “specialized in creating turgid horror and jungle stories with a twisted aspect that was highly reminiscent of pulp magazine author H. P. Lovecraft.” *** “The Festival” is the title of a 3-part Lovecraft story in a comic from Borderland Books; I suspect that any similarity with the HPL short is mostly coincidental. *** The Dark Goodbye (volume 1; TokyoPop, 2007) drawn by Drew Rausch and written Frank Marraffino belongs to that group of writing that puts together HPL with the hard-boiled (Chandlerian) detective genre.
“Baroque Intensity: Lovecraft, Le Fanu and the Fold” by Patricia MacCormack can be read online at The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies.
(see previous ‘asters) with a
title was The Nekromantikon by Manly Banister. Its
first of five issues
was dated 1950. Nor overlook The Lovecraftsman
(first issue 1963) by bnf
Japanese Cthulhu stories, Straight to Darkness: Lairs of the Hidden Gods (Kurodahan, 2007), receives a review in “Cthulhu Meets Godzilla,” the Sunday New York Times (15 April 2007).
In C’r 51 I spoke of the
Japanese movie Marebito, which
has references to HPL and “deros,” the invented
beings of Richard S. Shaver.
Thanks to the preliminary bibliography that S.T. circulated I found
had written an article, “Lovecraft and the Deros”
in Vampire (no. 6
(June 1946), p. 14–15). The article concerns Shaver's
beliefs. He maintained
that an actual artificial underworld existed. There's only one
paragraph (p. 15) re HPL. It concerned “The Mound,”
“as good a picture of the
underworld as I ever read. Take off about twenty per cent for
ideation and ornamentation--and you have an exact picture of the
underworld--except for the radioactive light.” He also states
“Our race was not
the only race on earth; there were greater races and greater
times.” *** In
another Japanese movie, the 2006 Otoshimono
(English title: Ghost
Train), a character is going to attend
The English group Axis of Perdition finds inspiration in HPL.
Harold Brainerd Hersey wrote in Pulpwood Editor (1937) of pulp readers, “People no longer rip off the covers, hide the contents and sneak off to some secluded spot [to read the magazines]” (p. 2). I wonder how much Winfield Townley Scott was influenced by this stereotype and applied it to his account of HPL, “His Own Most Fantastic Creation”? According to the essay, “When he bought pulps at Douglass Dana’s book shop he tore off the more lurid covers lest his friends misunderstood his interests” (Marginalia, p. 330) . *** News on pulps and the media they’ve influenced is at “Coming Attractions”
“The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.” Did HPL originate this, especially the last half? There’s a review in that darn New York Times (21 August 1960, just missing HPL’s birthday) of John Barth's The Sot-Weed Factor, the article titled “The Joke Is on Mankind.” Coincidence? The young Barth, be it noted, “had a special love for supernaturalists such as H. P. Lovecraft, John Collier and Abe Merritt” (Blair Mahoney in “The Scriptorium”).
A Shakespeare by the Sea festival in
Read “The Very Old Folk” in Basque.
A collection of different t-shirts, each with a portrait of Ambrose Bierce and a quote from The Devil’s Dictionary, is available (for $24.95 apiece!) from CafePress.
Influence and Associations
Back in ought six John Shirley did an interview with Weird Tales in which he mentions that he sometimes has references to HPL in his work. *** Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz notes in a September “Bookslut” interview that research for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao included the “nerdy reading” of Lovecraft (and “Doc” Smith Lensman) books. *** Borges and the Eternal Orangutans (New Directions, 2005) by Luis Fernando Verissimo has numerous allusions to HPL, the Necronomicon, and Hastur. *** By chance I discovered in Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1958 a poem, “Snow Song for Patti,” by Joseph Payne Brennan. It is not macabre, unlike some other verse by him. There are other familiar presences in the book: Leah Bodine Drake, Lilith Lorraine, George Sterling. *** Thomas Ligotti’s The Nightmare Factory has become a comic anthology (Fox Atomic Comics) that contains four of his stories. *** In his introduction to Harry Warner’s A Wealth of Fable: An Informal History of Science Fiction Fandom in the 1950s (SCIFI Press, 1992), Wilson Tucker wrote that Warner said “I am a miserable second-rate Lovecraft” (p. x). *** There's a list of Ray Bradbury short stories and where they first appeared–or haven’t yet. A related blog covers Bradbury adaptations.
Review of The Free-Lance
Henry S. Whitehead appears with the article “The Occult Story” in The Free-Lance Writer’s Handbook (Writer Publishing Company, 1926), edited by William Dorsey Kennedy. Whitehead wrote “At the present time, so far as the writer is aware, there is only one market in the English-speaking world for the occult short-story. That is Weird Tales” (p. 70).
While this may be a correct, a perusal through the book’s list of magazine markets shows Ghost Stories; Mystery Stories, which uses “half-page fillers having to do with mystery, such as superstitions, haunted houses, occultism, and fantasies of the unusual type” (p. 320); and Occult Digest, which notes that it “uses short-stories, novelettes, serials.” A title from another genre may also be remarked—Real Detective Tales & Mystery Stories—because the editor is Edwin Baird.
Several names appear in the Whitehead essay, among them M.R. James, Hodgson, Machen (“to my own mind the finest occult story writer who has ever lived”), and Blackwood, who receives the greatest attention. No WT writer is mentioned.
At the book’s end is “The Magazine Market” list. An entry for Amazing Stories states the magazine “desires romances of the future, based on exact scientific knowledge of the day, giving full rein to the author’s imagination” (p. 250). Handbook’s publication date was also the first year of AS.
As for Weird Tales I’ll quote the entry (p. 357) in full:
“WEIRD TALES (M), 450 E. Ohio st.,
Wants two types of stories—the weird-scientific (Jules Verne type) and the weird story (Edgar Allan Poe type)—stories of invention, science, and surgery, particularly stories that forecast the marvelous science of the future; tales of other planets, and voyages between the worlds; bizarre and unusual stories; occult and mystic tales, and tales of the supernatural, preferably with a logical explanation; tales of werewolves, vampires, witches, and devil-worship; ghost stories, and tales of spirit return; tales of strange monsters; tales of mystery and terror; and tales of horror, but nothing sickening or disgusting, no sex stories, no detective tales, and no crime tales, unless the weird element is so strong that the stories are really weird tales. Gruesomeness does not constitute weirdness. Uses short-stories, novelettes, serials, and poetry, not exceeding thirty lines, but no general articles, no humorous verse, and no jokes. Sets limit at 40,000 words[,] does not buy photographs, and pays, at a minimum rate of one-half cent a word, on publication.” As it applies to Jules Verne the “weird” part of the compound “weird-scientific” is used in the sense of fantastic and not supernatural, as it is for Poe.
Before HPL’s poem “The Ancient
Track” there was George Meredith’s
“Lucifer in Starlight” with the lines
“Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
/ The army of unalterable
law.” *** “
Being a celebrity is not synonymous with knowing your subject. Garrison Keillor in “The Writer’s Almanac” for 20 August 2007 states “It's the birthday of a man who would have shuddered at the thought of the Voyager missions into space [HPL].” As a lover of astronomic discoveries, Lovecraft would have been delighted with the Voyager spacecraft—launched that day in 1977—and what it found.
By the time you read this the 2007 H.P. Lovecraft Forum will be history. The program, which I recently discovered online, seems to have raided the ranks of the Ofians–the first panel alone consists of Joshi, Phillips, Indick, and Hussey. I’m going out on a limb and predict these lads are going to have a bright future in Lovecraft studies.
As for me–I have been pre-empted by the forum, discovering that one panel is dealing with a subject I am independently working on for a conference, while a paper appears to deal with another of my researches, even having the same title that I have given my project. Since they are the firstest, I’ll have to eventually contribute the mostest.
Martin has sent me via e-mail some mind-croglingly detailed lists of typos that he discovered in various professional editions of Lovecraft collections. I’d be neglectful not to ramble on in a few words about this.
I suppose that I should be something of an expert on typos, having supplied so many unintended examples in each issue of The Criticaster. Anyway, of typos there are at least two categories. The first are conspicuous errors–the wrong word or a grammatical mis-construction which leaps out at you.
In the second instance one must compare the authoritative text with a reprint to find where there’s a drift. This is a particular problem with Lovecraft’s work. There is no authoritative edition. This includes the corrected Arkham House volumes. For example, to quote a mistake in “Herbert West–Reanimator” (Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, p. 138), concerning the fate of West: “Now he had disappeared.” As other editions, and the context show, the correct reading should be “Now he has disappeared..” While the corrected Arkham House may be the least given to error, as Martin has told me, the edition does have at least one error. And what of the stuff that is not so obvious–or that has slipped by me?
A totally reliable edition of Lovecraft remains to be published.
Thanks for reading the 54th issue of The Criticaster (for Hallowe’en 2007, EOD mailing 140) by Steve Walker (that’s me). Eventually published on the Net as The Limbonaut (no 25).
 Whitehead’s “West India Lights” appeared in the April 1927 issue.