Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rejected by Amazon...

For some strange reason--perhaps because I have quoted sections from the book in review--Amazon won't post my new review of MEDUSA'S COIL AND OTHERS. This is quite annoying, because I spent a nice wee while typing up that review. However, I was able to print out ye review, and so I am going to share it here, with ye. I think it requires a nice purple typeface.

Medusa's Coil and Others. Volume 2 of THE ANNOTATED REVISIONS AND COLLABORATIONS OF H. P. LOVECRAFT. Arcane Wisdom, 2012. Editing and Annotated by S. T. Joshi.
I keep returning to this wonderful tome, and to its companion volume, THE CRAWLING CHAOS AND OTHERS, for a number of reasons. I feel a close kinship with H. P. Lovecraft because I have been an obsess'd fan since ye early 1970s, at which time I also began my hobby of writing weird fiction that is heavily tainted by Lovecraft's oeuvre. I think my initial reading of many of these revisions fueled my desire to write Lovecraftian horror; I began to correspond with some few of these writers when I was young, and the idea that others had been inspir'd to write in ye "Lovecraft tradition" proved alluring. I kinda wanted to become a "member of ye club," so to speak. Reading Lovecraft's correspondence captivated me, especially when those selected letters spoke of Lovecraft's writing of his weird fiction, or had him encouraging others to write such stuff. This second volume of Grandpa's revisions & collaborations shews how intense his influence was while he lived. Most of these stories, published in pulp journals, did not wear Lovecraft's name in their byline; but some readers became suspicious about the authorship because of the writing style and mentions of Mythos elements in these yarns. 

As ye can see, I cannot write about Lovecraft or review his Work without repeated references to myself. Although my ego is enormous, that's not why it happens; rather, it is because reading Lovecraft's fiction has become so intimate a part of being an obsess'd Lovecraft fanboy. To write an "objective" review is impossible, and instead mine are rather bubbly and personal. However, I am also an author, and I take the creation of Literary Art very seriously. Those writers whom I most admire--Oscar Wilde and Henry James and H. P. Lovecraft &c &c--also consider'd ye writing of fiction an art form. So, fanboy that I am, I am also dedicated to striving for excellence in the fiction that I compose. Lovecraft did this as well, and from his correspondence we learn that he was determined to write fiction that was excellent. That he succeeded in this is evident in those editions of his Work publish'd by Penguin Classics, Liveright, and The Library of American.

ye Contents of ye Booke:
Introduction, by S. T. Joshi
Medusa's Coil, with Zealia Bishop
The Trap, with Henry S. Whitehead
The Man of Stone, with Hazel Heald
Winged Death, with Hazel Heald
The Horror in the Museum, with Hazel Heald
Out of the Aeons, with Hazel Heald
The Horror in the Burying-Ground, with Hazel Heald
The Slaying of the Monster, with R. H. Barlow
The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast, with R. H. Barlow
The Tree on the Hill, with Duane W. Rimel
The Battle That Ended the Century, with R. H. Barlow
"Till A' the Seas", with R. H. Barlow
Collapsing Cosmoses, with R. H. Barlow
The Challenge from Beyond, with C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long
The Disinterment, with Duane W. Rimel
The Diary of Alonzo Typer, with William Lumley
In the Walls of Eryx, with Kenneth Sterling
The Night Ocean, with R. H. Barlow
Notes to "Medusa's Coil"
Notes to "The Challenge from Beyond"
The Diary of Alonzo Typer, by William Lumley
The Sorcery of Aphlar, by Duane R. Rimel

I reread "Medusa's Coil" last week in this edition; and for ye first time, I came away feeling disappointed with this fun tale. There is a sentiment among critics that Lovecraft was less careful in his prose with these revisions than with stories that wore his byline. I don't think I agree with that, and one reason I love the stories in this book is that they read very much like work by HPL. "Medusa's Coil" may be said to be flaw'd by Lovecraft's racism, and Derleth seems to have been sensitive of this flaw when he included the story in The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions--for he actually changed the final sentence in the story, thus "editing" Lovecraft's bigotry!Here's Derleth's version of that final line in ye tale:
[spoiler's alert] "...for, though in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a loathsome, bestial thing, and he forebears had come from Africa." That sentence captivated my youthful imagination--ooo, whut kind of daemonic thing dwells within ye shadows of Dark Africa?! Here is Lovecraft's original sentence, now restor'd to ye text by S. T. Joshi: "--for, though in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a negress."

This anthology is a hefty book of 484 pages. It's fascinating to see how Lovecraft, in writing some of these tales, completely takes over the plots suggested by his "collaborators" and writes what is essential a new story by H. P. Lovecraft. The range of fiction is wide in regards to style and content, and some of this fiction is bloody awful. I mean, it's almost outrageously weird to see, with "The Horror in the Museum," Lovecraft writing a story that reads more like a Derleth pastiche than authentic H. P. Lovecraft! 

The Notes are fascinating and inform'd, and elucidate these entertaining horror tales--which are indeed the work of HPL, for Lovecraft wrote what is finest in them.

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