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The Horror in the Museum Paperback – September 25, 2007
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About the Author
Almost completely ignored by the mainstream press during his lifetime, H. P. Lovecraft has since come to be recognized as one of the greatest writers of classic horror, on a par with Edgar Allan Poe, Lovecraft's mentor. H. P. Lovecraft's work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, his tales adapted for film, television, and comic books, and he has been the subject of more scholarly study than any other writer of horror fiction save Poe.
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Some of these stories nearly approach the best of Lovecraft's personal work. The Mound is one such though others such as The Winged Death and The Horror in the Museum are fine as well. Even the lesser stories here hold something of interest to the connoisseur of weird fiction.
Unfortunately the collection is not complete. At least nine stories Lovecraft collaborated on in one form or another are missing. They are as follows:
Through the Gates of the Silver Key (with E. Hoffmann Price)
Under the Pyramids (aka, Imprisoned with the Pharaohs, with Harry Houdini)
Poetry and the Gods (with Anna Helen Crofts)
In the Walls of Eryx (with Kenneth Sterling )
The Challenge from Beyond (with C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long)
The Slaying of the Monster
The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast
The Battle The Ended the Century
These last four are all with Lovecraft's friend and literary executor, R. H. Barlow, making their exclusion curious, especially since S. T. Joshi includes two other Barlow collaborations, Till A' the Seas and The Night Ocean.
Three other stories--Four O'Clock (Sonia Greene), The Sorcery of Aphlar (Duane W. Rimel), and The Thing in the Moonlight (J. Chapman Miske)--Lovecraft had a tangential hand in are not present either, though the reasons for each are sound:
Lovecraft merely suggested Greene write Four O'clock but seems to have contributed nothing to the story beyond the suggestion.
Lovecraft changed a couple of words in Sorcery of Aphlar but made no substantial additions or revisions to it.
Although based on one of the Old Man of Providence's dreams, The Thing in the Moonlight actually has opening and closing passages by Miske and is not a genuine story per se, being primarily a transcription of the letter detailing the dream.
Overall, despite its lack of completion, The Horror in the Museum is a good collection of work associated with one of the preeminent authors of Weird Tales. Although I would hardly recommend it as the entry point into the HPL canon, it's definitely worthwhile for one intrigued by his canonical work and wanting to read more. Lovecraft was one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century, and this collection will be pleasing to anyone wanting to experience all facets of his writing.
Here is S. T. Joshi's "A Note on the Texts," first published in his Corrected Text edition for Arkham House and included in the superb Del Rey trade pd edition:
In this corrected edition of H. P. Lovecraft's revisions and collaborations, we have attempted not merely to restore the texts but to arrange the tales in accordance with the presumed degree of Lovecraft's involvement with them. What we have called "primary" revisions are those that were wholly or almost wholly written by Lovecraft (although a plot-germ or occasionally an actual draft was supplied by the revision client); the "secondary" revisions are those in which Lovecraft merely touched up--albiet sometimes extensively--a preexisting draft.
The two collaborations with Winifred Virginia Jackson, "The Green Meadow" and "The Crawling Chaos," are interesting in that they are among the few works (the others are "Poetry and the Gods," "Through the Gates of the Silver Key," and "In the Walls of Eryx") where Lovecraft affixed his name along with that of his collaborator, even though here both were pseudonyms. Nevertheless, there is little evidence to suggest that Jackson contributed any prose to either tale.
For the two tales revised for Adolphe de Castro, "The Last Test" and "The Electric Executioner," we have de Castro's original versions: they were published in his collection IN THE CONFESSIONAL (1893), under the titles "A Sacrifice to Science" and "The Automatic Executioner." Lovecraft has rewritten both stories completely, preserving only the skeleton of each work. It should be noted that in Lovecraft's only reference to the first tale he calls it "Clarendon's Last Test"; it is not certain whether he or someone else made the change. Lovecraft also speaks in letters of a third story revised for Castro, but this has evidently been lost.
All three stories revised for Zelia Bishop--"The Curse of Yig," "The Mound," and "Medusa's Coil"--were, as Lovecraft notes, based on the scantiest of plot-germs and are accordingly close to original works by Lovecraft. The persistent rumor that Frank Belknap Long assisted in the writing of "The Mound" is false; Long, as Zelia Bishop's agent, merely abridged the story in a vain attempt to place it with a pulp magazine; after these efforts failed, the original version of the story as written by Lovecraft was restored, remaining in manuscript until Lovecraft's death. August Derleth then radically revised and abridged both "The Mound" and "Medusa's Coil" and marketed them to WEIRD TALES. This edition represents the first unadulterated publication of both works.
There is abundant evidence that Lovecraft wrote nearly the entirety of all five stories revised for Hazel Heald; Heald's contention that Lovecraft's role in "The Man of Stone" was somewhat less extensive than in the others does not seem to be borne out by the text.
For "The Diary of Alonzo Typer" we have both a draft by William Lumley (the title is his) and Lovecraft's rewriting. Again Lovecraft has preserved only the nucleus of the plot, and all the prose is his. Lumley's draft was first published (along with the original versions of the two Adolphe de Castro tales) in a special edition of CRYPT OF CTHULHU, ASHES AND OTHERS (1982).
Of the secondary revisions, Sonia H. Greene (Davis) reports that Lovecraft "revised and edited" "The Horror at Martin's Beach" (the title "The Invisible Monster" was supplied by WEIRD TALES), hence we can assume a preexisting draft. The other tale by Greene thought to be revised by Lovecraft, "Four O'Clock," was written, as Grenne tell sus, only at Lovecraft's suggestion and does not seem to bear any Lovecraftian prose or content; it has accordingly been omitted from this edition.
In recent years Lovecraft's revisory hand has been detected in a number of tales by his friends and colleagues, and five stories have been added to this edition. Kenneth W. Faig, Jr., first observed that Lovecraft in letters refers to four tales revised for C. M. Eddy, Jr.; all were probably based on existing drafts by Eddy, who wrote many tales in his own right. "Ashes" appears to be the earliest of these stories, and Lovecraft's hand in it is probably very light. In the other three--"The Ghost-Eater," "The Loved Dead," and "Deaf, Dumb, and Blind"--the two authors probably contributed equally.
It is difficult to ascertain how much of Lovecraft remains in William Blanch Talman's "Two Black Bottles," as Lovecraft's letters suggest that Talman was annoyed at Lovecraft's extensive revisions in the story and may perhaps have reinstated his own prose in the final draft.
I discovered Lovecraft's role in Henry S. Whitehead's "The Trap"; in a letter to R. H. Barlow (25 February 1932) he reports writing the entire central section of the story. In letters Lovecraft refers to another story by Whitehead, "The Bruise," for which he supplied a synopsis; and although William Fulwiler, who brought this matter to our attention, believes that Lovecraft may have actually written the story (published as "Bothon" in WEST INDIA LIGHTS), I am not convinced that Lovecraft contributed any prose to this work.
Lovecraft's letters to Duane W. Rimel indicate that he was reading and reviewing many of Rimel's tales during the 1930s, and in two of them he seems to have had a hand. Scott Connors noted Lovecraft's involvement in "The Tree on the Hill," and Robert M. Price and I confirmed it. Rimel has stated that Lovecraft wrote the entire third section of the tale, as well as the citation from the mythical CHRONICLE OF NATH in the second section. Will Murray first suspected, on internal evidence, Lovecraft's role in "The Disinterment." Rimel maintains that Lovecraft's revisions in the story were very light, and letters by Lovecraft unearthed by Murray and myself appear to confirm that claim.
For R. H. Barlow's "'Till A' the Seas'" we have a typescript by Barlow (apparently a second draft) with exhaustive revisions by Lovecraft in pen. Dirk W. Mosig discovered Lovecraft's hand in Barlow's "The Night Ocean," as cited in a letter to Hyman Bradofsky (4 November 1936). Mosig believed the tale to be nearly entirely written by Lovecraft; but documents subsequently consulted by me suggest that he played a much smaller role in the genesis and writing of the tale. The work was probably largely Barlow's, although with heavy revisions and additions by Lovecraft at random points.
For a more detailed discussion of the degree of Lovecraft's involvement in these stories, see my article "Lovecraft's Revisions: How Much of Them Did He Write?" CRYPT OF CTHULHU 2, (Candlemas 1983): 3-14.
Our editorial practice for this disparate body of work must of necessity be cautious. Autograph manuscripts (or Lovecraft's autograph corrections) exist for only two tales in this volume--"'Till A' the Seas'" and "The Diary of Alonzo Typer." Typescripts exist only for "The Mound" and "Medusa's Coil," although both were prepared by Frank Belknap Long and contain several errors and incoherencies, the apparent result of Long's inability to read Lovecraft's handwriting. The texts for all other works must be based upon publications in amateur journals or pulp magazines. For the primary revisions we have reinstated Lovecraft's normal punctuational, stylistic, and syntactic usages, on the principle that nearly all the prose in these tales is his; for the secondary revisions we have only corrected obvious misprints or internal inconsistencies of usage in the original publications.
[Note from ye Reviewer: S. T. Joshi has edited, in two volumes, annotated editions of these tales for Arcane Wisdom Press. The books are available in trade paperback here at Amazon. The first volume is THE CRAWLING CHAOS AND OTHERS; the second volume is MEDUSA'S COIL AND OTHERS.]