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How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2019 02:25PM
I thought it would be interesting to hear from anyone who can remember his or her age when first reading Smith, Lovecraft, Howard, and/or other favorite authors? These should be authors whom you still like. I mean to start a separate thread for citing authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more.

The following ages are, for me, approximate.

Tolkien: 11
Lewis: 12
M. R. James: 12 (one story, "Casting the Runes," in More Tales to Tremble By
Lovecraft and Machen: 14
Charles Williams: 17

I hesitate to list Smith and Howard as favorite authors. Probably the first time I read either was at age 14, in Lin Carter's anthology The Young Magicians, with "The Maze of Maal Dweb" and "The Valley of the Worm." Certainly I went on to read numerous books by them.

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2019 03:51PM
I have never heard of Charles Williams. Did he write some horror stuff worth reading?

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2019 04:20PM
This is the first of Charles Williams I've ever heard, too. Could be worth investigating if you list him among those authors.

Lovecraft and Howard were the first two writers of fiction I ever enjoyed, making them a sort of gateway to higher literature, and I began reading them when I was 19, deeply impressed by their passion for ancient, distant, and grand things. But I'm no longer interested in their work these days; I find them both a little too repetitive and over-dramatic. If anything, I like their ideas and certain moments of poetic prose more than their general bodies of work.

Smith is among the few authors I still enjoy today, from the age of 20, and it began with his "Tale of Satampra Zeiros" and "The Last Incantation." Smith wasn't such a melodramatic scaredy-cat like Lovecraft nor was he obsessed with masculine ideals like Howard, and I was enchanted by his wild, weird, dynamic, and totally passionate descriptions of creatures, places, phenomena, and people.

Now that I think of it, the rest of my favorite authors are just a small handful of people I used to enjoy out of many authors I tried when I was 19-21. These include Dunsany (beyond his Pegana stories), Lafcadio Hearn, Gustav Meyrink, and at various points Arthur Machen.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 4 Dec 19 | 04:22PM by kojootti.

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2019 04:21PM
Minicthulhu, that's something people differ about. Lovecraft read some of Williams's novels:

[sacnoths.blogspot.com]


Lovecraft didn't live long enough to read Williams's major late novels Descent into Hell and All Hallows' Eve.

Williams, especially in those later two books, is in the tradition of the British literary ghost story-horror story, as discussed by Glen Cavaliero in his book on Williams and in his study The Supernatural in English Literature. If you are an admirer of Onions's "The Beckoning Fair One," I'd say Descent into Hell could be a good Williams novel to try first. The succubus there is exceptionally convincing, in my opinion. Someone could write a comparison-contrast of Onions's author-protagonist and the historian in the Williams novel who evokes the succubus when his attentions to her human counterpart are not satisfactory. This Dantean novel, however, is fairly demanding. If you admire Lovecraft's romance of sorcery Case of Charles Dexter Ward, you might try All Hallows' Eve, which is also concerned with the activities of an ambitious black magician who is known to the public as a healer. Williams evokes the whole world of the recently dead in a way that is a bit akin to some of the better Twilight Zone teleplays.

If you want just a fast-moving thriller with explicit black magic elements, you could try the earlier novel, titled War in Heaven, I'm not sure why. I enjoy it, but Williams is trying a little too hard to be entertaining at times, perhaps imitating John Buchan. But for me the horror element can be intense: I'm thinking of the part of the story in which a young woman is "accidentally" cut by an avuncular black magician who then "treats" her with an ointment that opens her to harmful spiritual forces, such that this intelligent and modest woman strips herself and falls into a sort of frenzied dance, to the horror of her husband and the magician's secret satisfaction. He is after her little boy for the purposes of a sacrifice to Satan. The novel concerns the Holy Graal. Williams had been initiated into an occult society by the friend of Arthur Machen, A. E. Waite. Williams knew quite a bit about the historical background of some things drawn upon by some horror writers, being author of a history, Witchcraft.

You can read Williams's one short story, a weird tale, here:

[ebooks.adelaide.edu.au]

Minicthulhu, did you want to comment on when you first read....?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 4 Dec 19 | 04:23PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 12:30AM
Lewis: 9
Moldvay, Tolkien: 11
Donaldson: 14
Lovecraft: 19
Howard: 21
Poe, Byron: 22
Smith: 24 [here! it was that hard to find him up to the late 1990s]
Dunsany: 25



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 Dec 19 | 12:31AM by zimriel.

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 01:50AM
Thanks. I will give Mr. Williams a try.

I cannot remember how old I was when I read Lovecraft, Poe and the other authors for the first time but I started read the genre when I was cca. 11-12 years of age.

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 10:15AM
Minicthulhu, I hope you like Williams. At any rate, on the authority of T. S. Eliot (in his introduction to All Hallows' Eve) Williams's affinity is "with writers as different as Poe, Walter de la Mare, Montague James, Le Fanu and Arthur Machen."

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 01:06PM
Oh -- and as I recall, my favorite prof, when I was an undergrad at Southern Oregon State College, mentioned Meyrink's Golem as like Williams's novels. I haven't read the Meyrink, but some people here probably have, so I mention this in case it's helpful.

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 01:49PM
I was already intrigued when you included him among authors I still enjoy or used to enjoy (though still appreciate for their own merits), but to hear that his work has even some comparison to "The Golem" is even more enticing! I'll give that short story a whirl this weekend, and search out his novels!

I forgot to add that M. R. James is still my favorite writer of ghost stories, and I devoured a collection of his entire fiction at 20 years old. Seems I was a late bloomer here, but better late than never.

On a separate note: I see that Lovecraft was discussing Williams with CAS in that passage you shared. I wonder what were Smith's thoughts on those novels. I know Lovecraft and Smith were both impressed by Meyrink's Golem, which was also a highly symbolic and mystical novel.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 5 Dec 19 | 02:04PM by kojootti.

Re: How old were you when you first read CAS, HPL, &c?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 02:28PM
Well, again, that Meyrink remark is a very old memory, but I'm pretty sure that's what Brian Bond said.

It was fantastic having a prof like that when I was an undergrad. I wrote him up here:

[fancyclopedia.org]

I'm with you 100% about M. R. James.

I don't know if CAS ever read Williams. Did Smith have the money to buy books very often? I wouldn't think the Auburn public library would have them, though maybe Lovecraft's friend Koenig would've been willing to loan them to Smith.



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