Another day and another day without a new review.
However, I’ll continue the Lovecraft series.
We’re done with Lovecraft’s fiction and moving into books about Lovecraft.
Raw Feed (2005): H. P. Lovecraft, S. T. Joshi, 1982.
I paged through this book for 21 years without actually reading it, before this, cover to cover (as well as looking through other Joshi writings on Lovecraft), so there wasn’t a lot here that I found new.
Still, I found some stuff new and interesting.
Concerning particular stories, Joshi makes the intriguing claim that Rome-loving Lovecraft was inspired by Constantine taking the treasures of the Western Empire to Constantinople when he had the Old Ones of “At the Mountains of Madness” stock, in their declining phase, their capital city in the Antarctic with treasures from their other cities. Furthermore, Joshi makes the claim (and I shall have to pay attention next time I read it) that “The Haunter of the Dark” is, like “The Thing on the Doorstep“, a tale of psychic possession.
Joshi makes the plausible observation that Lovecraft’s style is unique because it combines “the classic essay-form” (presumbably he means the 18th century masters of the English essay that Lovecraft admired so much — though he was fond of Latin writers as well) with a concern for sound and rhythmn gained by his years of largely unsuccessful poetry composition.
I did not know — but it’s hardly surprising given his aristocratic nature, support for amateur writing (though he did take ghostwriting jobs), and willingness to live on $2 a week — that one of the reasons none of Lovecraft’s works was published in book form in his lifetime was that he himself refused to prepare either The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward for book publication even though several publishers asked him to do so.
I’m wondering how much talent or interest Lovecraft had in mathematics given that the mathematical notions of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” come from Lovecraft’s collaborator E. Hoffmann Price.
Lovecraft kept a Commonplace Book.
This book predates the edition of The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions which I read so Joshi, at this point in time, thinks Lovecraft had more to do with the Barlow-Lovecraft story “The Night Ocean” than he did.
Joshi also has an interesting chapter on Lovecraft’s poetry and essays.
This book admirably fulfills the purpose of the Starmont Reader’s Guide series, of which it is a part, in being a good introductory monograph to its subject author.
The book ends with a good annotated biography which shows that Joshi, born in 1958, has been writing about Lovecraft since 1977 as well as an interesting sounding article by George Wetzel about Lovecraft and Charles Fort.
More Lovecraft related entries are indexed on the Lovecraft page.