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The most remarkable thing about THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD is that Lovecraft thought so poorly of it that he never prepared a polished draft of the novel and sent it to prospective publishers; even though some few publishers, to whom HPL submitted collections of his short stories, told him they would prefer to see a novel. Happily, the manuscript was found (by August Derleth, I think) and finally published in a highly edited and incomplete version in Weird Tales. The first full version was printed in the second Arkham House H. P. Lovecraft omnibus, BEYOND THE WALL OF SLEEP. The first corrected text version, edited by S. T. Joshi, was published by Arkham House in the Corrected Text edition of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS (1985), and was then reprinted in the Penguin Classics edition, THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES (2001) where it was fully annotated by editor Joshi. Those annotations added up to 170. In this new edition of the novel from University of Tampa Press ye annotations number 203. There is no Introduction, as falsely stated here at Amazon; but there is a fascinating twenty-five page Afterword by S. T., and at the end of the book we find a number of wonderful photos of Lovecraft's Providence by Donovan K. Loucks.
THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD is my personal favourite of Lovecraft's fictions, and it is wonderful to have the corrected text in this magnificent single annotated edition. The book is beautifully designed and the text easy to read. Joshi, in his Afterword, points out places in the book that Lovecraft might have removed or improved upon had he prepared a polished MS for publication; but considering that this is a first draft, the novel reads smoothly and is utterly fascinating.Read more ›
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is the latest magisterial Lovecraftian publication from the University of Tampa Press. What connection could a Florida university have with a staunch Rhode Islander like HPL? Interestingly, RH Barlow of De Land, FL was a correspondent and friend of HPL who served as his literary executor. UT Press has made a small industry of publishing Lovecraftiana, including A Comprehensive Bibliography and Oh, Fortunate Floridian (the letters of HPL to RH Barlow). A major player in these publications has been ST Joshi, the eminent Lovecraft scholar, who edits these books. As you might guess, the content has been more of interest to readers fascinated with HPL's life, with scholars and with collectors, rather than to general readers. Well, it is a university press!
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is their latest foray into Lovecraftian publishing. TCOCDW was written very quickly in 1927 and HPL never really made efforts to have it published during his lifetime. There are several reasons why it now merits an urgent recommendation. The production is simply wonderful. I have the hardcover and it is simply a beautiful book to behold. The editing is by ST Joshi and we may safely consider this to be a definitive edition, superseding all others. There are copious notes on the text by Mr. Joshi which do a wonderful job of keeping everything in its proper context. You can read the novel through but it helped me immensely to stop and refer to the notes. We then have a marvelous afterward by Mr. Joshi. Not only is it very scholarly but it is also quite readable, as interesting it its own right as the text itself. Finally we have the crowning glory of the book, a series of photographs of buildings from Lovecraft's Providence by Donovan K. Loucks.Read more ›
Lovecraft was described by Lin Carter as a, "recluse," who missed the pleasures of life, while living with his aunts, essentially alone, and wandering the byways of Providence, studying the past of his city in libraries, and somehow trans- forming all into weird fiction, for which he is remembered by August Derleth as, "a master of the macabre who had no peer".
"The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," at least at the outset, relies on Lovecraftian autobiograhical sources, with mentions of genuine history, references to Kingston, Newport, Providence, architectural structures, views of Providence....and how all of these influences made Ward and Lovecraft susceptible to ultimately adopt a personality alienating them from the common flow of life. What is the influence of living a large portion of one's life studying moldering volumes in the isolation of libraries, rather than sharing the noisy exuberance of people on the street? In Eastern Massachusetts, abundant is the history and ambiance of Plymouth, especially North Plymouth, with its essence determined by The Cordage Company, imprinting the nature of the lives of immigrants who lived out their histories isolated there. Those who walk the streets now, other than through ancestry, have little to do with, and have little knowledge of, the influence of the Cordage Factory, now occupied largely by medical offices. But, what were the "original people" like? One said, "I gave my life to that factory! " What do the current inhabitants, "give their lives to?Read more ›
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H. P. Lovecraft was born in 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island, where he lived most of his life. He wrote many essays and poems early in his career, but gradually focused on the writing of horror stories, after the advent in 1923 of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, to which he contributed most of his fiction. His relatively small corpus of fiction--three short novels and about sixty short stories--has nevertheless exercised a wide influence on subsequent work in the field, and he is regarded as the leading twentieth-century American author of supernatural fiction. H. P. Lovecraft died in Providence in 1937.