"The Anti-Architecture of H.P. Lovecraft" is a post by Enrique Ramirez. HPL "successfully deploys architectonics and materiality in service of profoundly architectural observations."



     Grim Reviews has photographs of Donal Buckley's Lovecraft-inspired dioramas. Shops already sell something similar-miniature scenes based on the theme of Hallowe'en as well as related tableaus for The Munsters and Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas. Watch out Christmas villages. *** And the same site offers drawings by HPL, a concept worth deeper exploration in a critical article.



     HPL, Robert E. Howard, and Ambrose Bierce are among the select for The Good, the Bad and the Mad: Some Weird People in American History (Barnes & Noble Books, 2005) by E. Randall Floyd.

Book Reviews

     Nancy Barr Mavity, literary editor of the Oakland Tribune (in California), shows more knowledge of HPL than a number of critics of that time in her review of Best Supernatural Stories (17 June 1945).


      From 1961: old book authority Van Allen Bradley  states (The Daily Mail (Hagerstown, MD), 21 April 1961) that Arkham House's The Outsider and Others and Beyond the Wall of Sleep are worth about $35 each in fine condition with dust jacket.

Comic Books

     Locke & Key (#5) features a "Lovecraft, Massachusetts."


     "Paradoxical Narration in Modern Fantastic Literature - Edgar Allan Poe, Howard Phillips Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien" by A. Simonis appeared in Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift   (vol. 54, no. 2 (2004) p. 195-213). *** "H. P. Lovecraft and the Anatomy of the Nothingness: The Cthulhu Mythos" by erstwhile member Massimo Berruti was in Semiotica (vol. 150, no. 1-4 (2004), p. 363-418). *** "Problemas cientificos de Las Montanas de la Locura de Lovecraft" [i.e., "Scientific Problems of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness] by Carlos Bonet Betoret was in Bipedia (January 2001, p. 7-14). *** "Itinerary of Writer of Fantastic Literature - Lovecraft between the World Within and the Beyond" by Jacques Goimard was in Europe-Revue Litteraire Mensuelle (vol. 58, no. 611 (1980), p. 115-122). As stated in The Criticaster 38, Goimard authored Critique du Fantastique et de l'Insolite (Pocket Agora, 2003). *** In speaking with praise about macabre literature and HPL, Eugene Fallon (The Florence Morning News (S.C.), 12 April 1959) makes several blunders. "Horace" P. Lovecraft did not write for Black Mask nor a Flynn's Magazine, nor did he die around 1939, nor was he a Brown grad, und so weiter. *** In an editorial about the pleasures of fright, Newport Daily News (12 April 1957) referred to "the superlative and often-overlooked stories of a Providence man, H.P. Lovecraft." *** August Derleth reviews Exiles and Fabrications by Winfield Townley Scott (The Capital Times, 17 August 1961). In another issue (18 July 1963) Derleth also reviews HPL's Collected Poems.



     Some things are hard to make up. For example, there is a line of canvas shoes that go under the name of "H.P. Lovecraft." Bearing illustrations by creator Hayley Parker, the shoes are sold at boutiques around the world.



     In 2006 I reported on Timothy Evans' article about HPL and folklore (C'aster 47). Now "The Folklore of Horror" by Kimberly Shain Presley not only describes Evans interest in him, but informs us that he is writing a book, whose tentative title is H.P. Lovecraft's America. (Found via Chris Perridas blog.)


     According to Daily Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana; 7 June 1869) a McKendry & Lovecraft (stave manufacturers) had been burnt out about a year earlier and were again victims. *** Mr. and Mrs. J.F. Lovecraft and daughter Miss Edna Lovecraft of Rochester visit Olean, New York in 1894.


     "Dr. H.P. Lovecraft's Magical Medicine Show" was advertised in Oakland Tribune (24 November 1975). (In 'aster 29 I noted the appearance of this show in 1990 at Sea World of California.) Another newspaper (San Mateo Times, 17 December 1975) refers to "San Francisco's most famous magician, Mr. Lovecraft."


     Director Stuart Gordon states in an interview, "You can't top Lovecraft for imagination, what a mind! His ideas are still so far out there. We haven't even caught up with him yet, 70 years since he's left us." *** Artist and filmmaker Gris Grimly has scripted a favorite Lovecraft tale "The Picture in the House." *** Referred to as Dunwich in the article by drama writer Robert Taylor (Oakland Tribune (Calif.), 18 April 1969), the movie that was to be The Dunwich Horror had a script that its star Sandra Dee said "kept me interested until the end." Director Daniel Haller is quoted, "American-International owns the rights to all [Lovecraft's] stories," about which he was probably mis-informed.


     The photography book True Norwegian Black Metal (Vice, 20078) by Peter Beste has a quote by HPL. *** Horrors! There's a download for Britney Spears music apparently called "Gimme More: The Lovecraft Remixes." *** The 1900 operetta Foxy Quiller featured a character named "Lovecraft" as one of "six inferior intellects." *** A musical piece with ghosts reminded a reporter of the amiable ones of John Kendrick Bangs "rather than the terrifying ones of James or Lovecraft" (The Morning Herald (Hagerstown, MD), 1 February 1945). *** Dedicated to HPL, "Beyond the Ghost Spectrum" was a piece choreographed by Indian Hill faculty member James Waring, for who Lovecraft was a favorite author (Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA), 6 August 1969).



     In the opinion piece "Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi´s Somaliland and H. P. Lovecraft´s Cthulhu-land: Both Fictional" by Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis, an unflattering parallel is drawn between the government of Somaliland and Cthulhu's R'lyeh.


     Library of America's recent publication of a collection of Philip K. Dick novels has been their "fastest-selling title ever." The number sold, 23,750, is compared with the Lovecraft work, 11,860, in its first year (its total so far is over 26,000).


     In a substantial interview on Yog Radio-which can be downloaded--S.T. notes, among other things, that he is looking to release the complete version of his Lovecraft biography, to which he'll add some updates. Here's hoping. (via Grim Reviews)

Science Fiction

      How's this for a predictive authorial juxtaposition? In a discussion of fantastic stories on 25 October 1948 a reporter notes that successors of Wells and Verne "are writers like H.P. Lovecraft and L. Sprague de Camp, whose out-of-print books are amazingly expensive" (Evening Times; Cumberland, MD).


     Designed for young monster lovers, Encyclopedia Horrifica: The Terrifying Truth! about Vampires, Ghosts, Monsters, and More (Scholastic, 2007) by Joshua Gee has a two-page spread on HPL.


     "Herbert West, Reanimator" has been displayed as a "word cloud," which I think means that the most frequent words in the story are displayed most prominently as a jumble. Via Changetion.


     The Animanachronism discusses Lovecraftian elements in Demonbane. *** Lovecraft to be a series? The premiseconcerns a businesswoman who is involved with fashion and the actual Lovecraft Bio-Fuels.



     A drama class in Prague has put on plays based on "From Beyond," "The Temple," "Dagon," and "The Shadow over Innsmouth," with a linking story written by blogger Logan and set in Arkham Asylum. There are photographs and a synopsis of each adaptation. *** The 16th annual Shakespeare by the Sea (St. Johns, Newfoundland) offers again on one bill a dramatization of "The Rats in the Walls" and Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado." *** In Hoboken, N.J. there has been put on a 2008 adaptation of Ben Jonson's 1614 play Bartholomew Fair, which has changed character names-for example, Dame Purecraft is now Dame Lovecraft.



      Basil Copper: A Life in Books (PS Publishing, 2008) by Stephen Jones includes something about August Derleth.  Copper has been associated with several Arkham House titles. *** Mark Samuels' short "The Gentleman from Mexico" might have a touch of HPL. *** Vampire Hunter D's creator, Hideyuki Kikuchi, stated that "The Dunwich Horror" had a big influence on him.*** Author Laird Barron (The Imago Sequence & Other Stories) alludes to HPL in an interview. *** Sarah Monette's collection The Bone Key (Prime Books, 2007) has drawn comparisons with M.R. James, Blackwood, and HPL. *** And there is a comparison between HPL and J.G. Ballard (who never read him) in "Ballardcraft: Ballard/Lovecraft."

Influences on HPL

     A new biography is out entitled Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural (J. P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008) by Jim Steinmeyer. There is no reference to HPL.


     Amygdala has a look at Willis Conover and HPL.



     In my last issue I noted: "Apparently in Michel's Butor's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ape HPL was on a recommended reading list." Subsequently I've scanned through the fantasy memoir. HPL is mentioned but once in the text: "I had come by to return Algernon Blackwood, H.P. Lovecraft." (Dalkey Archive Press, 1995; p. 25). Maybe this accounts for that farrago of a blurb on the back cover which has it that "this is autobiography as if invented by H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, and Edgar Allan Poe, and then as reinvented by the French New Novelists" etc.



     Houdini: A Definitive Bibliography (1991) seems hardly that, if only because of its mere 37 page size. Its compiler, the late Manny Weltman, lists "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" and its various reprints, but omits the obscure "Cancer of Superstition," written for Houdini. Beyond "Pharaohs" two items are connected with Weird Tales: "The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstadt," (designated a "short story" but actually a two-part serial) in the March and April 1924 issues; and a circa 1924 article, "A Word about [picture of Houdini] by Himself."

Out of Mailing 141

     Ken: Thanks for reprinting the 1946 Providence Journal review of Marginalia; it was my first reading of it. *** I agree that the John Hay Library is a natural gathering point for Lovecraft correspondence; for copies if not originals. Yet what percentage of collectors is willing to make copies? There will inevitably be holdouts. *** Re the addition of the 1903 Whipple V. Phillips will to WikiSource-since this is a wiki, anyone should be able to post, so if you have access to a copy of the will, you can do it.

     Fred: How are the lines anti-Semitic: "A spider 'twas that rescu'd Islam's head/ When from the foe within a cave he fled"?  Lovecraft was right in his allusion. The story is that Mohammed fled from Mecca and hid in a cave from the Koreishites, who did not find him in part thanks to the spider that wove its web across the cave mouth. This is undoubtedly a multi-cultural folklore convention that should be in Stith Thompson's Motif‑Index of Folk‑Literature. I like spiders, the most effective form of insecticide. For a sympathetic poem about them, see Don Marquis' "pity the poor spiders."

     Ben: That's an eye-lovely cover of IBID, which reproduces in color the (counterfeit reproduction) dust jacket of your own The Outsider and Others. I wonder how exact it is in the area of, say, color registration. There are 22 parallel lines across the repro-is this picked up from a mylar covering? *** You speak of first reading virtually all of HPL in the army and of preferring his fantasies, such as "Celephais." Maybe your unfamiliar surroundings and circumstances caused you to invest personal and relevant meanings into this and related stories. *** The article comparing Merritt and Lovecraft was the first I've seen, and it prompts me to read more-or re-read-Merritt. The tracing of the name "Cthulhu" to Merritt's octopoid "Khalk'ru" is a bombshell, and one that needs wider knowledge. Too bad AM didn't live to complete those stories he mentions in that letter to you, sent four months before his unexpected death. *** My only dissatisfaction with the reprint of the postal card (HPL to REH) is that I can't read it. Had the image been expanded then maybe I could've done it. But thanks for making it available.

     T.R.: The change in constellations as a result of time's effect ("The Shadow out of Time") may be traceable back to H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine." How do you figure that "nebulously recombining" is part of an astronomical vocabulary? *** What an incredible amount of detail that you consistently bring to your research.

      Don and Mollie: Don, I joined the EOD in 1985, and for the first time I find that you are actually writing loc's. Congratulations. May it continue. *** Of things that you hate, might I recommend hating intolerance as well as ignorance, whether yours or theirs. And speaking of ignorance, how much do you know about the practitioners of Islam? I don't mean just the radicals (every belief-system has that, doesn't it?), but the common man and woman from many countries and cultures? So far as historian and philosophy maven Will Durant being (as you denominate him) an "idiot"-labels don't make arguments (to quote Mr. Spock), and I dare say that his view is shared by the majority of academic historians. So far as suggesting chimpanzees could just about do what many learned astronomers have done-locating and naming stars-I suspect that you would be opposed in this opinion by the overwhelming majority of credentialed astronomers. What constitutes real science is open to debate. Comparing Greeks and Arabs is comparing apples and oranges, and your generalizations come with little evidence. Your being a professional mathematician does not make you an expert on the history of mathematics, and your speaking ex cathedra hardly seems to suggest the propositions that inform science, which must be open to contradictory and other views.

     You refer to "Islamic culture." Yet you had asked in mailing 137, "What 'culture?' (Where is their Shakespeare? Their Bach?)" This is the remark that I chose to answer with the Durant quote. I could, on the other hand, have an appropriate Moslem state of Western culture: "What 'culture?' Where is their Firdausi? Their Arabian Nights?)" Or if you prefer someone from the Orient: "What 'culture?' Where is their Li Po? Their I Ching?)." And why did you single out Shakespeare and Bach, individuals from hundreds of years ago-hasn't Western culture produced anybody of that stature in recent times?  In sum, beware of being inebriated by your own culture. I don't see you particularly as a "cultural elitist" so much as a Western culture isolationist and ethnocentrist.

     You state "Some human cultures are demonstrably superior to others" (the italics are yours). This is involved with subjective criteria and who defines the criteria. To take one example, you imply that living in a cave proves inferiority-so does that mean that people living in shacks are inferior to those in houses; and those in houses are inferior to those in mansions? Superior culture (you state) is "more conducive to knowledge, beauty" etc. That "knowledge" might be connected with the Bible's Tree of Knowledge.

     I'll conclude with two quotes. The first I'll use to contrast with your remarks of Islam when you asked "What 'culture' and defined "beauty" as conducive to culture.  H.P. Lovecraft wrote appreciatively, "We concentrated on the mediaeval Saracenic glories of the Califs whose magnificent tomb‑mosques form a glittering faery necropolis on the edge of the Arabian Desert" (from "Under the Pyramids"). Concerning your stated enmity to ignorance, here's an internet-harvested quote attributed to Saul Bellow: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep."


     Sean: So far as I can discover, the earliest Spanish translation of a Lovecraft book in Spain may be a year or so earlier than your 1966 finding (though this is not the earliest translation into Spanish). I hope that you are able to do a further study on the history of Lovecraft translations in Spain. I wonder if the business correspondence of August Derleth could throw light on this. *** Re your comments on terrorism-if aliens judged the human race by the actions of extremists, they would (I imagine) consider its extermination desirable. Also, beware of ad hominem arguments as well as intolerant tones toward those you might think intolerant.


     Martin: The contumacy of your computer and its corruption of your W. H. Hodgson bibliography of translations into Swedish sounds like a horror story. My sympathy. 

     John H.: Your discussion of Derleth's mythos fiction was welcome, and showed me things I didn't know and found interesting, though it may not drive me to re-read it in toto. Of your style I will note that it suffers from italicitis, a superfluous use of italics; I'd prefer you to drop all italics, save those for titles or when they are already in quotes. Also, I continue to yearn to see endnote numbering. You observe that "The Shuttered Room" ended Derleth's use of terminal italics for CM stories-but he wrote few stories of this kind after this time, didn't he? *** As a kind of digression, I suggest that Derleth's good vs. evil concept and Christian myth is more related to the Arthur Machen Mythos than Lovecraft's. 


What about Me?

     Call this self-serving. In the 1980's I did an academic paper about HPL's Dunsanian fantasies. As I recall I was trying to identify characteristics of fantasy as it related to HPL's work. Doubtlessly I might make changes if I were doing it today, but who would not in a paper that came out more than a quarter of a century ago? Actually I had begun it in the 1970's.

     In S.T.'s EOD-circulated chapter from his bibliography that contains academic papers, I find that mine is absent. Reasoning from this omission, I suspect that in other bibliographic categories there will probably be missing the various EOD offerings, however significant they may be, even if they are difficult to access for a non-member. That a research article appears in EOD should not disqualify it any more than the fact that the appearance of an article of suspect workmanship in a professional publication qualifies it.


Algis Budrys RIP

      The late science fiction writer and reviewer wrote an entertaining and at times perceptive article (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1975) on L. Sprague de Camp's biography, Lovecraft. I hope it gets collected in a Lovecraft anthology.

Tales of Tomorrow and Stanley Weinbaum

     Available on DVD, this TV series began in the early 1950's, but I'm watching it for the first time. This is an interesting visit to the past. The endings are frequently apocalyptic, from an alien invasion to a scientist convinced his atomic experiment will be successful and not blow up the world (he's wrong). The ideas run from simple to a certain sophistication-for example, that the ability of people to figure out how to enter a cave sends a signal to aliens that Earth life has evolved enough to be dangerous. (This comes from a script and story by Theodore Sturgeon.) In another story ("All the Time in the World") a woman from the future gives a shady character a mechanism that slows time so that he can steal various artworks. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that she is aware the current world is ending and she is salvaging various masterpieces. She allows him to keep the time-retarding mechanism, telling him that though the world is ending in minutes from a bomb that is being tested, he can grow old simply by keeping time at its slow pace. Will he do it? The story wanders into philosophical territory, and I was keen to see who could've written this superior work. Alas, the credits were missing; but on I discovered the story was by a major talent, Arthur C. Clarke. Also, apparently he (and Jack Vance and other sf writers) was associated with another early series, Captain Video.

      But to return to Tales of Tomorrow. The adaptation of Henry's Kuttner's "What You Need" was alright. (I can't recall how it compares with its Twilight Zone version.)  Like other stories it appeared to be recorded live. As a result, there were some on-air gaffs-in "The Little Black Bag" (story by C.M. Kornbluth) an actor misread a date that was shown to the audience, then later announced that the bag (established as being from the 24th century) was from the 21st.

     "Test Flight" concerns a business man risking his millions to build a space rocket that he plans on riding. I quickly determined that this was Robert A. Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold the Moon," save for the twist at the end. Yet to my surprise Heinlein is not credited with the story, but Nelson S. Bond. What gives?

     An episode titled "The Miraculous Serum" begins with a scientist/doctor who has invented what he believes is a cure for various ailments, but he has to try it on a human. Next one sees a lovely woman dying in the hospital. At that instant I presciently decided that this was Stanley Weinbaum's "The Adaptive Ultimate," which term was later used in the dramatization. To get some background I re-read Sam Moskowitz's chapter on Weinbaum (Explorers of the Infinite), where he identifies Tales of Tomorrow as a radio series. Apparently it was a radio series, too. But was it dramatized on radio as well as television? Sturgeon wrote the teleplay, which in contrast to the story held out hope for the recovery of the ruthless heroine, who loses her adaptability and lies again on a hospital bed.

     The series had the cooperation of "The Science Fiction League of America."

The Mathematics of HPL

     A good Lovecraft horror story, if rendered in the mathematical proportions of aesthetics, should be about 45% terror, 40% wonder, and 15% beauty. However, if one is considering the Dunsany fantasies, the proportions change to what you will.

The Golden Army

     While I found no HPL references in the imaginative Hellboy II, I was intrigued to hear several references to "Bethmoora,." Whether this is a deliberate Dunsany plug or an unknowing appropriation, I cannot judge. What you have in the film is chiefly a fairy tale that is chockablock with visionary images that are at times poetic.

Poe Vs. the Critics

     I picked up a book about Edgar Allan Poe with a short introduction by Harold Bloom. If I say what I scanned in the introduction enraged me, I am overstating the case. However, Bloom doesn't have much respect for this artist-for example, he states that if he has to read him, it must be in a translation. Here is the problem with some media-darlinged critics. If they don't like something, they don't try to understand what is valuable about it, but try to convince you what is wrong with it by bringing in the high culture card. Since ours is a world that dotes on polarities, I'll say that there is low culture (e.g., the majority of currently popular writers) and high culture, the type that is taught with reverence in university courses.                             

      Arrogance or snobbery should not be part of the critic's perception, but a willingness to appreciate that which may not be easy to do from his or her perspective. Otherwise the mind is closed. If Bloom's feelings are honest about Poe, the allowed commercialization of his name for a product he finds fault with suggests an amount of unscrupulousness.



Thanks for reading the 57th issue of The Criticaster (July 2008, mailing 143) by S. R. Walker. Eventually published

on the Net as The Limbonaut (no 28).