The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft (Annotated Books) Hardcover – October 13, 2014
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- 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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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.
Klinger does an excellent job of relating the classical studies of Lovecraft and the underlying threat of his parents' insanity to his work. As Klinger states HPL's earliest works such as "Dagon" already contain "...signature features: truly alien beings, experiences and sensations that cannot be processed by human brains, and a deep sense of doom." Lovecraft also steps off with something more than horror, his work is embedded like Verne and Wells with "...the juxtaposition of modern technology...and exploration." This anticipation of sci-fi in his works reaches its fruition in "The Colour Out of Space":
'...Lovecraft's favorite story, is the first major tale of his to combine classic science fiction (before the genre even existed) and horror...that terror could come from the stars....The banal descriptions of the fruitless scientific investigations contrast starkly with the inexplicable, gradual destruction....Preceding the famous Orson Welles broadcast of 'War of the Worlds' by more than ten years, the story brought the fear of alien invasion."
This concept of madness induced by alien intelligence and the fear of the universe wrapping around us still influences SF as the recent success of "Arrival" with its Lovecraftian hexapods illustrates. Fritz Leiber argues that Lovecraft reached his highest level of science fiction in "The Dreams of the Witch House" by - in Klinger's words - "...an effort to imagine the fourth dimension, or hyperspace....Lovecraft proffers a scientific explanation for seventeenth-century witchcraft as well, involving higher mathematics."
This book contains in total twenty-two short stories, novellas, and novels laid out in chronological order, thus, allowing the reader to follow the evolution of Lovecraft as a writer. It also has an introduction by Alan Moore and seven appendices on various aspects of the man and his legacy. It is a definitive collection of Lovecraft's best stories and their development. No fan should not own and read its updated texts.
Top international reviews
This would receive five stars except for one very annoying problem. Since the Apple IOS10 appeared, I have found that the navigation of footnotes and table of contents no longer functions on the Kindle app for my iPad Air. They do work on the iPhone 5S, my Amazon Fire, Kindle Paperwhite, and older iPad which still uses iOS 5. I hope this is fixed soon.
The difficulty mentioned above regarding footnote navigation has been remedied. Hence, I have upgraded the rating to five stars.
A fine, compelling collection of vintage horror/sci fi. The writing style, although from a very different era, does not detract from it at all. If anything, it adds a bit of spookiness.
Only downside was the Amazon packing. Not up to usual standard. It arrived on a very wet day and the packaging was soaked. It was only one layer of cardboeard folded around the book - no internal protection, the book's dust jacket was just barely damp and no harm done, but it could have been ruined. What's happende to the cling wrap we used to get?
I already own the 'Necronomicon' version of Lovecraft's tales but the annotations make an excellent and very interesting addition. I was initially tempted to get the Kindle version but I believe I made the correct choice as this is great to read and is a well-made volume.