H. P. Lovecraft, the classic horror writer, or so I had always heard.
I knew that I had read a couple of comic books based on Lovecraft stories many years ago, and I thought that there was a TV show or maybe a movie called The Dunwich Horror. But I didn’t really think that I had read any stories by H. P. Lovecraft. So here was my chance.
First off, let me say that the introduction by Roger Luckhurst is excellent. He suggests that you might want to save it until after you have read the stories, but I was glad that I had read it first. He gives you a lot of very interesting and valuable insight into the mind of H. P. Lovecraft. I didn’t feel that there were any spoilers, so that wasn’t a concern. Mr. Luckhurst chose a fine selection of stories for this volume and also included a short article from H. P. Lovecraft that explains his idea of “weirdly horrible tales”. Mr. Luckhurst concludes this book with an extensive section, entitled Explanatory Notes.
There are a total of 9 tales included in “The Classic Horror Tales”, but not a one of them would be considered a horror story today. In fact H. P. Lovecraft didn’t call them horror stories. He called them weird tales. Every science fiction, fantasy, or horror fan should read these stories, just so that you understand where H. P. was coming from.
Most of his tales are from a first person point of view. He will tell you that he has found something that is too horrible to describe, then go on spending a couple hundred words describing it. And speaking of descriptions, try to get this book as an ebook, so that you can use the built-in dictionary on your ebook reader, because H. P. uses a lot of words that you will have to look up. Mr. Luckhust has a note for many of them, but even those will be easier to use with an ebook.
H. P. Lovecraft had a whole made up universe. He referenced a bunch of nonexistent books by nonexistent authors such as “the Necronomicon by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred”. Many of his experts came from Miskatonic University, a fictional college in Arkham, Massachusetts, a fictional town.
Many of his stories have an alien race that landed on earth long before there were any humans. Using various devices, he will let you know about these horrible creatures, but always is of the opinion that they are too terrible to be talked about, that people would go mad if they knew that such a thing had happened in the far distant past. H. P. Lovecraft is very wordy, but that isn’t always a bad thing, sometimes you can get into the flow of his many adjectives and adverbs and it is nearly poetic. Other times, not so much. These are good weird tales, just don’t expect to have the sh-t scared out of you, because these aren’t horror stories.
I give this book 4 stars out of 5 and a Thumbs Up! Read this if you have never tracked down any H. P. Lovecraft stories and always thought “I have to read H. P. Lovecraft sometime”. The introduction and notes from Roger Luckhurst make this volume the one to read.
I received this book for free from NetGalley.com.
Publication Date: July 1, 2013
H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was a reclusive scribbler of horror stories for the American pulp magazines that specialized in Gothic and science fiction in the interwar years. He often published in Weird Tales and has since become the key figure in the slippery genre of “weird fiction.” Lovecraft developed an extraordinary vision of feeble men driven to the edge of sanity by glimpses of malign beings that have survived from human prehistory or by malevolent extra-terrestrial visitations. The ornate language of his stories builds towards grotesque moments of revelation, quite unlike any other writer.
This new selection brings together nine of his classic tales, focusing on the “Cthulhu Mythos,” a cycle of stories that develops the mythology of the Old Ones, the monstrous creatures who predate human life on earth. The stories collected here include some of Lovecraft’s finest, including “The Call of Cthulhu,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” “The Dunwich Horror,” “The Colour Out of Space,” “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” and “The Shadow out of Time.” The volume also includes vital extracts from Lovecraft’s critical essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” in which he gave his own important definition of “weird fiction.” In a fascinating introduction, Roger Luckhurst gives Lovecraft the attention he deserves as a writer who used pulp fiction to explore a remarkable philosophy that shockingly dethrones the mastery of man.
Featuring a chronology, bibliography, and informative notes, this is a must-have critical edition for Lovecraft aficionados, and the best introduction to his work for first-time visitors to his strange fictional world.
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (July 1, 2013)
Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1.4 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
About the Authors
Roger Luckhurst is Professor of Modern Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London. An expert on science fiction and Gothic literature, he is the author of The Invention of Telepathy, Science Fiction, The Trauma Question, and The Mummy’s Curse: The True History of a Dark Fantasy.
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.
The book description is from Amazon. The Classic Horror Stories