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The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft (Annotated Books) Hardcover – October 13, 2014
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H(oward) P(hillips) Lovecraft (1890–1937) posthumously earned a reputation for outstanding short story writing in the horror genre. The irony is that, during his lifetime, he appeared in print only in the so-called pulp magazines and appreciation for his work was modest. But as expressed in Alan Moore’s on-target introduction here, in the years following Lovecraft’s death, the “mesmerizing power of his language and imagination” gained him a wider and more enthusiastic readership than he would have ever imagined for himself. The foreword by Leslie S. Klinger is a highly informative history of the horror genre and a trenchant summary of Lovecraft’s life, all of which preface the primary section of this giant book, a presentation of 22 of Lovecraft’s most significant stories, each fully annotated with identifications of people and places, definitions of unfamiliar vocabulary, and background explanations of mentioned literary works. This impressive book can be used two ways, either for checkout in circulating horror collections or for in-house-only reference. --Brad Hooper
“The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft is a towering intellectual feast for devotees of Lovecraft and weird fiction. Hugely informative as well as entertaining, this book is both visually beautiful and academically rigorous. It provides more information on the great New England supernaturalist than almost any other book ever published.”
“Annotator Les Klinger is the man you want to have by your side, as you explore the Lovecraftian Darkness.” (Neil Gaiman)
“The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, with its astonishingly informed and detailed notes and photographs, edited by Leslie S. Klinger, is a treasure trove for Lovecraft readers, for whom it will be an essential purchase. A pleasure to peruse, encyclopediac in its information, and deeply sympathetic with its subject.” (Joyce Carol Oates)
“I am utterly gobsmacked. The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft is a work of such readability, easy access, precision, and joy that its publication by Liveright is an Olympian landmark of modern gothic literature.” (Harlan Ellison)
“A book I have profoundly hoped to see for ages, which gave me many very happy hours―thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Klinger and Liveright!” (Gahan Wilson, author of Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons)
“Lovecraft is intriguing for not only the rich substrate of astonishing and sometimes prescient ideas that is the bedrock of his work, but for the sheer unlikelihood of his ascent into the ranks of the respected U.S. literary canon…He is today revered to a degree comparable with that of his formative idol Edgar Allan Poe, a posthumous trajectory from pulp to academia that is perhaps unique in modern letters.” (Alan Moore, from the introduction)
“[W]here does a reader longing to know more about Lovecraft’s fiction and philosophy begin when faced with the dozens of critical and interpretative studies and biographies? Thanks to the devoted work of Leslie S. Klinger, an excellent starting point is his The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft…Klinger has again created a serious work of research and scholarship that is shamelessly intended for fans―and is a joy to read… [A]n absolute essential addition to all horror fiction collections.” (Alan Cranis - Bookgasm.com)
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Top Customer Reviews
1. The book is oversized but it's gorgeous. The inclusion of numerous maps, photographs and reproductions of letters is one of the greatest attractions. For example, there are photos of Sonja Green that I had never seen before, including some of her years after HPL had died. I wish Donovon Loucks could get a similarly sized book for his collection of photos of Lovecraftian geography. In the meantime I was very happy to see a generous number of his pictures of sites in Providence here.
2. Another major attraction is that it is not by ST Joshi. While I very much respect Mr.Joshi, Lovecraft scholarship has advanced considerably since the 1990s and it is good to have a different voice. Everyone is a person of their times, and the historical context given in the author's lengthy introduction was quite valuable, often skipped over in collections of Lovecraft's stories. There is no apology for Lovecraft's racism here; in fact, it is painstakingly shown how HPL's personal views may have ruined any hope of his marriage succeeding, and how they informed a great deal of his fiction.
3. Having said that, I am glad that, for the most part, this volume uses Joshi's corrected text for the stories, so that some egregious errors are not perpetuated. On the other hand, Mr. Klinger is his own person so he sometimes uses a slightly different version, while providing justification for it.
4. The price of the book is a bit high, but with the current discounts it's not that high. In fact I think it was priced to be able to sell, perhaps cashing in on the current wave of attention Lovecraft is now receiving.
5. This brings me to my major criticism, which is the story selection. Mr. Klinger has his reasons of course, but for pity's sake, why include the entire text of "Herbert West, Reanimator?" This is just a pulp story. HPL himself did not think highly of it. Why not include "The Terrible Old Man" or "The Strange High House on the Mist" or "The Cats of Ulthar?" Surely "Pickman's Model," "The Music of Erich Zann" and "The Outsider" merited inclusion. This latter title perhaps represents how HPL thought of himself in modern America.
So in summary, this volume is a brilliant triumph. My regret is that it could have been the one definitive copy of Lovecraft's work, the only one anyone would ever need. Instead even if you get this book, you still need to get at least one more with the inevitable duplication that entails. If you want other options, you can get Joshi's annotations in issues from Dell. Kenneth Hite has given his thoughts on the stories in the altogether delightful Tour de Lovecraft. You don't get any of the stories, just some ruminations on them by a thoughtful reader. It's a different sort of work then biography/annotated text but it is also a bargain price and just plain fun. Finally Dan Clore's masterpiece Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon explores in depth the vocabulary of weird fiction, providing numerous examples of usage from the works of HPL.
H. P. Lovecraft's brilliant weird fiction is now presented in its finest format, in this stunning and beautiful hardcover edition, THE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT, superbly and intelligently edited by Mr Leslie S. Klinger. It is a hefty tome, difficult to hold for one such as I, now in her twilight years and lacking strength. Mr Klinger had to be selective in his choice of stories, but his choices are spot on--with one exception. The stories are:
The Statement of Randolph Carter
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
The Picture in the House
Herbert West: Reanimator
The Nameless City
The Call of Cthulhu
The Silver Key
THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD
The Colour Out of Space
The Dunwich Horror
The Whisperer in Darkness
AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS
The Shadow over Innsmouth
The Dreams in the Witch House
The Thing on the Doorstep
The Shadow Out of Time
The Haunter of the Dark
The serious omission, to my mind, is "The Outsider," a story that should have been included, rather than something as poor and uninteresting as "Beyond the Wall of Sleep".
Following an excellent Introduction by Alan Moore, we are treated with a fascinating foreword of over fifty pages and profusely illustrated. Mr Klinger, with his annotations, plays what he calls "the Sherlockian game," in which we pretend that Lovecraft's tales are not fiction but rather factual records of real-life events. Such an approach strikes one as unintelligent and certainly non-scholarly; but in fact it results in some intriguing notes that shine new light on Lovecraft's texts. The one place where the notes left me confused is on page 12, where we find this: "More of Carter's history is given in 'Through the Gates of the Silver Key,' written by Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price between October 1932 and April 1933 and first published in July 1934 in WEIRD TALES 24, no. 1, 60-85. However, this tale is thought to be largely the work of Price and must be regarded as an unreliable source of information." This is nonsense, as the story is almost entirely the writing of H. P. Lovecraft. Other annotations have proved not only fascinating and informative, but hugely entertaining. The format of the book is brilliant, with Lovecraft's text in black, and Mr Klinger's notes in red.
The book is crammed with wonderful photos and illustrations and artwork, much of it in full color. Included are examples of Lovecraft's handwritten manuscripts, a full two-page reproduction of his "History of the Necronomicon," color stills of the places where Lovecraft lived, or of places that are mentioned in his stories, and numerous illustrations from WEIRD TALES. Layout is extremely handsome. I have qualms about the jacket art, as I grow weary of Lovecraft's fabulous weird fiction being represented by tentacles--even if they are embossed as they are on the front jacket for this edition.
This book will bring the outstanding classic tales of Lovecraft to new readers, and will hopefully lead to more intelligent and thoughtful critiques of the author's art. Mr Klinger will be going on an extended book tour, reading from the book and answering questions, and some of these sessions will feature guests such as Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, and the luscious S. T. Joshi. I am captivated by this mesmerizing book, and it brings again that wonderful experience of being utterly entranced and enchanted by the resplendent art of this magnificent writer, Howard Phillips Lovecraft.