Saturday, April 28, 2007

Brian Keene's The Conqueror Worms

Just read this book which has been out quite some time. I won't spoil the read, but I will say that there are some very interesting Lovecraft allusions and references by the middle of the book. Mr. Keene has shown many times that he is a Lovecraft fan and incorporates Lovecraftian and King in Yellow Mythos frequently into his short and long stories.

This was a nice, fast paced read. Mr. Keene has strong and interesting characters.

Brian Keene, The Conqueror Worms, Leisure Books, 2006.

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's not Lovecraft, but it is a great comic.

Chrispy is still tied up writing stories and other things. I do have new things in store for you, soon!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: 2003

Here is a neat book, but one I have not read. For a McLaughlin review I did see here.

Refence Here.

Hastur Pussycat, Kill!…Kill! edited anonymously, Vox 13, $35, no ISBN

Lovecraft fans, particularly that subset which has no sense of humor, are probably not going to like this at all. This is a collection of satires of the Cthulhu Mythos, including stories by Mark McLaughlin, John Urbancik, Whitt Pond, and others. A few of the titles should give you a good idea what to expect – "Mork Shaggoth and the Death of Love", "Law West of the Miskatonic", "Gumshoe Cthulhu", and "Crispy Dagon and a Side of Fries", for example. Most of them are quite funny, some very clever. The illustrations are barely adequate and the typeface varies from story to story, but the book is otherwise handsomely produced. The perfect gift to inflame readers who believe Lovecraft stands at the pinnacle of horror fiction.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1975 (The Hounds of Hell)

This is an interesting UK anthology representing some of the Mythos group - old and new.

The Hounds Of Hell, ed. Michel Parry. (Arrow, London UK, 1975)

The Hound by H. P. Lovecraft;
Staley Fleming's Hallucination by Ambrose Bierce;
The Dog by Ivan Turgenev;
The Hound of Death by Agatha Christie;
Dead Dog by Manly Wade Wellman;
The Dutch Officer's Story by Catherine Crowe;
Vendetta by Guy de Maupassant;
Dog or Demon by Theo Gift;
Louis by Saki;
The Howling Tower by Fritz Leiber;
The White Dog by Feodor Sologub;
The Hound by William Faulkner;
The Emissary by Ray Bradbury;
The Hound of Pedro by Robert Bloch;
The Whining by Ramsey Campbell;
The Death Hound by Dion Fortune.

Happy Eastertide !

In 1895 at the age of 5, Lovecraft declared to his Grandmother Rhoby that he did not believe in the Easter story, Sunday School, or God. He never looked back. She would have been devastated, no doubt. The grandparents were Baptist and attended the classic Roger Williams First Baptist Church.

This image is from an 1895 Easter card. It appears to be a tree sparow on a dogwood, something I can see today outside my Kentucky window.

1936 copy of The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The Seller States:

H. P. Lovecraft: Shadow Over Innsmouth. (Everett: Visionary Publishing Company, 1936), first edition, 158 pages, four illustrations by Frank A. Utpatel, original black cloth with silver titles, 12mo (5.25" x 7.25"), with rare dust jacket variant on white paper with silver lettering on the front panel and spine matching that from the cloth binding, with no illustration. The second variant dust jacket with illustration is also included. The copy at hand has the lettering on the cover in upper and lower case letters, one of two known bindings with no priority established. According to publisher William H. Crawford, of the approximately 400 copies printed, about 200 copies were bound with the rest destroyed at a later date. Also according to the publisher, the printed dust jacket and errata slip were prepared after publication both of which are present with this copy. A few small areas of cloth slightly soiled, else a fine, bright copy with two crisp, bright dust jackets. This copy comes housed in an attractive black leather slipcase with gilt lettering on the banded-leather spine. A key title to any collection of fantasy, horror, and supernatural fiction. From the Ventura Collection.

Rare Arkham House/Recluse Press Book

The seller states:

H.P. Lovecraft: The Shunned House Extremely Rare Arkham House Bound Edition. (Athol, Massachusetts: The Recluse Press, 1928; bound by Arkham House in 1961), first edition, first Arkham House state (copyright cancel on verso of title page has titles of magazines and books in bold face), 59 pages, black cloth with faint blind-stamping on the spine reading "Lovecraft The Shunned House Arkham House", 12mo (5.25" x 7.5"), no dust jacket as issued, "Canterbury Laid" watermark present in paper, consistent with the original 1928 printing. Preface by Frank Belknap Long. This small volume constitutes the rarest book in the Arkham House canon, though one can argue that this is not a true Arkham House title at all. In 1928, W. Paul Cook printed approximately 300 unbound sets of The Shunned House for The Recluse Press. At the time, Lovecraft's reputation as a writer of weird fiction did not translate into book sales; he barely stamped out a living publishing in the pulp magazines of the time period. The unbound copies of this very book sat largely unsold until Arkham House began moving them in the early 1950s. Arkham bound the final 100 sets in black cloth in 1961. This present copy is one of those lonely 100, and the jewel in the crown for Arkham House collectors. It is believed that there are only a handful of this binding of this printing of The Shunned House left in existence. For serious Arkham House collectors, this may be your only chance to acquire this magnificent book, which is in fine condition. Besides trivial edge and corner wear and mild foxing to a few pages, this copy is as good as it gets. From the Ventura Collection.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Lovecraft's Legacy: 1990 & Les Daniels

It was hard on the old eyes, but here is the text as I could recover from the Les* Daniels text of the Providence memorial paper.

(* Corrected 13 April 2007 - Thanks for the correction!)

Although Horror is Sometimes Despised …
By Lex Daniels

On his death in 1937, H.P. Lovecraft … has achieved a level of fame for espousing the sound recognition he experienced during his lifetime. He is now a legendary figure, familiar to readers all … and known to many who have never read his stories. The growth of Lovecraft’s reputation varies, of course to the qualities on … work, but also to the several … of writers who have acknowledged him in their own work.

…wrote fantasy, science fiction, and … that had not achieved their … popularity – Lovecraft’s stories … published in comparatively obscure … they might have languished after his death, two of his fellow … August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, … money to publish a collection of … The Outsider and Others, in … the beginning of Lovecraft.

… Lovecraft encouraged others in this field, sometimes in person … through his letters. Among … were Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, and Robert Bloch … In addition to the advice … themes he explored in the … inspiration for many of his …

…a fusion of horror and science-fiction …. The monsters of ancient …. As entities from different universes. At his most radical … of Einstein into fantasy … obvious in such films as …

Ramsey Campbell, perhaps the dean of modern British supernatural writers, began his career with frank imitations of Lovecraft’s subjects and style. Campbell in his turn had a significant affect on the best selling English author Clive Barker. The American Stephen King, whose phenomenally successful novels have no precedent in the field of popular fiction, discovered Lovecraft when he was a boy, and has stated that “Lovecraft opened the way for me.”

Even more than Edgar Allan Poe, who has become the mascot of mystery writers, H. P. Lovecraft is the symbol of speculative fiction. It is his likeness that adorns the World Fantasy Award presented annually to writers as diverse as Stephen King and Jorge Luis Borges.

As a writer of supernatural fiction, I can testify to Lovecraft’s continuing significance. Although my work is as different from his as it could be within the confines of a comparatively narrow field, I owe him a great deal. Beyond his fiction, his letters and essays constitute a strong endorsement of the idea that such stories, often dismissed as entertainment of dubious morality, are in fact flexible enough to encompass serious observation on the human condition.

Although horror is sometimes despised, at its best it is one of the few popular genres that deals with serious philosophical issues, ranging from the danger of ambition to the meaning of mortality. More than just good guys fighting bad guys, at its most sophisticated it approaches classical tragedy. Lovecraft … was presenting human endeavors against a … background of time and space which … the monumental pettiness of our struggles … and glory. His high-minded approach has provided an inspiration for the best writers in the game and a reproach to those who are … very mere melodrama.

Lovecraft was never in it for the money which is just as well, since he made very little. … now a commercial property regularly … adopted by Hollywood … Ironically, the commercial value … work now possesses derives from his … was worth doing for next to nothing. Despite the cynicism he was known for, he will be remembered for his conviction that visions and dreams are more worthwhile than politics or …

The current popularity of fantastic … the arts owes more to H. P. Lovecraft than can ever be repaid, but he asked for nothing but the chance to work in his chosen field. “… though essential branch of human expression:, he wrote, “ and will chiefly appeal to a limited audience with keen special …”. By concentrating on what he … esoteric, Lovecraft has touched the world.

Les Daniels, a Providence-based writer of horror fiction, is writing a history of Marvel Comics and he recently wrote the introduction to the illustrated edition of Lovecraft’s novella At The Mountains of Madness.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Nyarlathotep: Paragraph 2: Part 3

"To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous and physical danger ..."

Here we have a concrete historical situation of Rhode Island politics. Just before December 14, 1920 (when he wrote Kleiner) Samuel Loveman was hot on his mind. The fact that Lovecraft frequently dreamed of this man he had not yet met lends some to suspect Lovecraft of homoeroticism. This is probably preposterous, but he was definitely under the spell of Loveman.

The 19th ammendment had passed in 1920. Despite the independence of the Phillips women, Lovecraft would have been appalled. The era began slowly by democrats overthrowing the Republican status quo. We read, In addition, By 1920 the senate -- the possessor of state appointive and budgetary power -- was more malapportioned than ever. For example, West Greenwich, population 367, had the same voice as Providence, population 237.595; the twenty smallest towns, with an aggregate population of 41,660, outvoted Providence twenty to one, although the capital city had over 39 percent of Rhode Island's total population. The senate, said Democratic Congressman George F. O'Shaunessy (1911-1919), was "a strong power exercised by the abandoned farms of Rhode Island."

Lovecraft was feeling very isolated from his roots.

"strange and brooding apprehension of hideous and physical danger..."

Lovecraft again uses adjectivitis to broaden the apocalypticism. {Strange} {Brooding} {Apprehension) {Hideous} and {Physical} all aggregate to send goseflesh. Yet {danger} is the opperative. Lovecraft might have had the pervasive sense of communism on his mind, since 1920 was a strong watershed year.

Nyarlathotep: Paragraph 2: Part 2

"The general tension was horrible."

Herer we have a classic horror scenario. {tension} {horrible}. This probably indicated that he awoke from his dream with a headache. He often did. Sleep paralysis works like this, sometimes. Many of HPL's dreams seem like sexually devoid sleep paralysis. However, he would purposely sanitize sexuality from his nightmares, wouldn't he?

Lovecraft used words precisely, so one suspects he did not mean "the atmosphere was of horror" but that {horrible} > Old French >Latin horribilis = to tremble.

{Tension} > Latin = a stretching out a past participle of tendere.

Anno Horriblis was a reference (among others) of a Lindheim witchtrial of 1664.

In any event, {general} is another means by which Lovecraft makes the pallor of the apocalypse diffuse. A modern writer might simply use "The tension was terrific" and go for the alliteration. More of a vulgar refrain, one might say "all hell broke out". Not HPL.

In the black counter culture that mixed blues, apocalypse, and jazz the movie Hellzapoppin of 1941 (a generation removed from Nyarlathotep) a "Lindy Hop" dance by the Harlem Congaroos. Lovecraft's New England pose did not keep him from reacting to the jazz age. He would have retched at Gershwin, but he often punned the phrases of the time.

For instance, he never missed an opportunity to say things like, "Yes there are no bonanzas today" when he missed out on a piece of revisionism. His New York pals were very Fitzgeraldian, and he parodied them mercilessly - usually behind their backs.

Nyarlathotep: Paragraph 2: Part 1

A little rhmobic deconstruction.

"I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago."

Lovecraft frequently advocated that a weird tale be ill defined in time and space. It was supposed to be atmospheric, a mood, and a little out of phase. He advocated a mythical base rather than a concrete basis. So, he starts out quickly with, "I do not recall distinctly...".

He is often criticized for adjectivitis. This is certainly compounded with a jumpled series of unusual words. I suppose, semiotically, one could diagram this:

{i} {recall} [do not = negative]

[distinctly] is an adverb. A writer would normally say "I have a distinct recollection." Or "I don't have a distinct recollection." Lovecraft spins this about to emphasize the weirdness of the situation, and makes it subliminal.

The next segment {it} {began}. The connective is when. This is a time metaphor choice. He does not say "where" or "why" and so it is placed in a time sequence. In a dream, one can't tell time, or read a clock, usually. Since this was a dream, Lovecraft reproduces that sense of timelessness.

{it} {was} {months} [ago] makes it an extended period of time. Lovecraft could have chosen "moments" to make it ill defined but sudden. He could have chosen "years" or even "aeons" as he sometimes did. "Weeks" or "days" would have been other choices. He might have pulled in astronomical metaphors such as "it was many moons ago" but that would not be his style or usage. However, since "months" is based on lunations, or cycles of the moon, it does pull in a sense of astronomy. The astronomical universe is never far from Lovecraft's vocabulary.

That HPL chose a type of passive sentence to introduce the phenomenon of Nyarlathotep, here, means he is sidling up to the subject.

I suggest that this is an apocalyptic circumlocution. American apocalyptic has always been about the end time. A popular recent {REM} song states, "It's the end of the world as we know it ... but I feel fine." Lovecraft's personal apocalyptic was the abhorent population growth of Providence which erased treasured landmarks of antiquarianism. The fact it was southern European immigrants, Jews, and blacks scared him greatly. He was not the only WASP to have this angst, but his words are rife with symbolism of his paranoia.

No one has ever defined where the surreal Nyarlathotep came from other than some Dunsanian derivative. I often wonder if it is not a merger of Egyptian and a "New York and Atlantic RailRoad" anagram.

1 April 1907

Lovecraft was still sweet 16, and he might have sent this to his French Scholar Mom, Susan! This is HPLblog's April Fool Card to you my dear, wonderful readers.

Pretty fairy with wand and string wrapped around her other hand with end tied to back leg of pig as she kisses boy in red cap who herds and cares for the swine, all inside heart frame, "1st Avril", with fish below

1 April 1907

Lovecraft was still sweet 16, and he might have sent this to his French Scholar Mom, Susan! This is HPLblog's April Fool Card to you my dear, wonderful readers.

Pretty fairy with wand and string wrapped around her other hand with end tied to back leg of pig as she kisses boy in red cap who herds and cares for the swine, all inside heart frame, "1st Avril", with fish below


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