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H.P. Lovecraft: A Life Paperback – October, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0940884885 ISBN-10: 0940884887

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 708 pages
  • Publisher: Necronomicon Press (October 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940884887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940884885
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,802,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The basic facts of H.P. Lovecraft's life have long been known, but before this book the only account of his life worth having was L. Sprague de Camp's 1975 biography, which was lively but sketchy, giving a fragmented view of Lovecraft's life and work. S.T. Joshi has delivered the goods. This is not only the finest and most definitive biography of Lovecraft, it is likely to remain so for many decades into the future. While at nearly 700 pages, it's not necessarily a book every Lovecraft fan will sit down and read cover to cover, it's almost as compulsively readable as it is compulsively detailed. Joshi is sympathetic toward his subject but doesn't pull any punches: he includes Lovecraft's less flattering qualities, such as his "contemptible" racism and his "shabby" treatment of his wife. Best of all, perhaps, for fans of Lovecraft's fiction, are the accounts of how the stories came to be written, concise plot summaries, and well-chosen historical-critical remarks.

As Necrofile: The Review of Horror Fiction writes, "H.P. Lovecraft: A Life represents the crowning achievement of Joshi's distinguished career. It offers a concise and eminently readable summary of everything he has learned about Lovecraft, in one fat volume.... Joshi has accomplished no mean feat: writing a biography almost as fascinating as his subject's best fiction." --Fiona Webster


More About the Author

S. T. Joshi (Seattle, WA) is a freelance writer, scholar, and editor whose previous books include Documents of American Prejudice; In Her Place: A Documentary History of Prejudice against Women; God's Defenders: What They Believe and Why They Are Wrong; Atheism: A Reader; H. L. Mencken on Religion; The Agnostic Reader; and What Is Man? And Other Irreverent Essays by Mark Twain.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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There is something very relaxing about the way Lovecraft did things-- relaxing to read about.
dcc@acsu.buffalo.edu
Probably the finest biography I have ever read, S. T. Joshi's *H.P. Lovecraft: A Life* is a stupendous achievement in literary research and analysis.
florey@ibm.net
Buy it, read it, and join me in hoping that one day S.T. Joshi will find a publisher for the complete and unabridged version.
Marc Laidlaw

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Tevis Fen-Kortiay on March 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
The good: Until S.T. Joshi's book, the only serious, widely-available biographical information on HPL apart from his letters was 'H.P. Lovecraft; A Biography' (1975) by L. Sprague de Camp, which left many gaps and open questions. Joshi's book fills in the gaps and then some. It is the closest thing we have to a definitive Lovecraft bio, and if you're a Lovecraft scholar of any seriousness, you'll eventually need to read it.

The not-so-good: While Joshi's book reads like a rigorously well-researched first draft, I wish he'd consulted a manuscript editor before publication. This massive, expensive and ponderous 708-page book could perhaps be edited into a more readable and reasonably-priced 300-page book, with another 100 pages of small print endnotes, merely by removing Joshi and his scholarship from the foreground and replacing them with Lovecraft. For example:

- Joshi includes himself in the story, using the first person pronoun on nearly every page. "I..." this and "I..." that. While Joshi is likely the world's foremost Lovecraft scholar, and I appreciate his excellent and exhaustive efforts as a researcher, I did not plunk down such a hefty cover price to read about his adventures in scholarship. Easily 200 pages of this 708 page book are about the adventures of Joshi, Lovecraft scholar. That information belongs either in a short appendix or separate article. He'll print a quotation and then add, "To this analysis there is really very little to add...," or "I don't think I can add much to this," or "That last remark may be a little sanguine, but let it pass," seemingly for no other purpose than to firmly return the spotlight, which had momentarily alighted on Lovecraft, to himself.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
There is little I can add to the kudos already present on this page in reference to "H.P. Lovecraft: A Life." It is every bit as good as the previous readers have said it is: magnificently detailed, critical yet sympathethic, and, yes, "compulsively readable." The point I wish to add is this. The folks who have already reviewed this book here all seem to be inveterate Lovecraftians; in contrast, I am not. While I am slowly warming to Lovecraft as I read more of his fiction, I really ordered this book simply to obtain some background on the writer for a class I teach which will touch briefly on his work. I never had any intention of actually reading all 600 pages---there was some specific information I was looking for, and really only planned to skim the volume. Well! Five days later I staggered away from this magnificent book, dizzy from reading, exhilarated, moved, overwhelmed. The point is: if you have any interest in literary biography, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It is one of the finest examples of the genre published in the past 30 years, and even if you do not much care about Lovecraft the writer, S.T. Joshi will make you care about Lovecraft the man. It should be required reading for anyone planning to write a biography.
"H.P. Lovecraft: A Life" is a great achievement.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Marc Laidlaw on December 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Joshi's work is not only thorough and scholarly, creating a well-rounded and moving impression of Lovecraft and his own interests (as opposed to the interests of his biographers), it is also thoroughly entertaining and compulsively readable. More importantly, it is now back in print for the price of $30. Buy it, read it, and join me in hoping that one day S.T. Joshi will find a publisher for the complete and unabridged version. Yes, even this massive volume is abridged.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Marc A. Michaud on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Despite it's "out of print" listing above, this book is again available in a new paperback edition from us, the original publisher, Necronomicon Press ... please urge Amazon.com to begin offering it again ...
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. D. Kelly on October 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Clocking in at 654 pages, this sprawling biography will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about the horror scribe -- along with some things you'll wish you hadn't discovered, like how Lovecraft was a more zealous racist than was the norm in his day. Joshi is long-winded, for sure, like the grandfather who, when you ask him how the light switch turns the lamp on, proceeds to tell you the history of electricity, starting with two sticks being rubbed together. You'll be hard-pressed to remember all the details afterward, but the story of Lovecraft's life is smartly woven, divulging the world as viewed through the writer's eyes and those around him. Like a criminologist apt at identifying with a killer, Joshi truly seems to understand his subject down to the crumbs on his coat.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By PJ on September 23, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first discovered Lovecraft quite by accident in a small NJ library over 15 years ago. I saw a book on the rack called The Lurking Fear and Other Stories and was impressed by the cover. Needless to say I've read everything by Lovecraft and am an ardent fan. This book is packed w/ information on everything from Lovecraft's political views to his belief of man's meaningless place in the universe. The biography is chock full of HP's letters and offers great insight into his approach to weird fiction and the necessary ingredients of a well-crafted horror tale. Riddled throughout the account of HP's life is Joshi's own criticisms of Lovecraft's stories. Most of the time I agree although he seems to enjoy Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (which I never really liked) and down-plays The Lurking Fear (one of my favorites). Nevertheless this is a creditable work and certainly one of the best, albeit few, biographies I've ever read.
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