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August Derleth
Posted by: rutledge_442 (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2006 04:34PM
I am looking for the complete works from August Derleth in pdf format, can anyone help me?

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2006 07:59PM
That would be a huge series of files - the man's output was immense. George Vanderburgh of Battered Silicon Dispatch Box or April Derleth of Arkham House might be able to help you.

Jim

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: garymorris (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2006 02:30AM
The complete Derleth? This has to be a joke. His bibliography is huge, spans many decades and many publishers besides Arkham and its subsidiaries. The man was inhumanly productive, banging out novels, nonfiction, endless magazine articles and stories and poems at an alarming rate. Every time I turn around I seem to see a new, hitherto unnoticed Derleth! Anyone read, for example, "The Wind Leans West" or "Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus"?

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: rutledge_442 (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2006 05:34PM
o0oh i did find a site that had lovecraft's complete works, poems, articles, and stories he wrote as a little kid in pdf format. it also had a great selection of peices he did with other writers and i didn't know if derleth's fans might have put up a site like that for him.

excuse the ignorance of mine i am 15 and only been reading and studying the mythos for 8months or so

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 28 September, 2006 06:35PM
to Rutledge:

My dear young friend, congratulations on finding this site, and delving into this amazing literature - you are just the kind of presence that makes us older devotees
willing to keep at it; and speaking in Cleark's stead, welcome!
One of Derleth's last works was "The Dark of the Moon" and the dust jacket has
a photo with him in Black cape - He actually looked a lot like Virgil Fox (famous organist, now deceased, friend of mine, with similar pretensions to being a mysterious entity. Used to do POP concerts called "Heavy Organ" - goes well with arcane literature.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 29 September, 2006 11:44AM
Derleth's still copyrighted (while the status of HPL's stories is perhaps sketchy at best -- though I think Arkham House did force that "Lovecraft Library" site out of the web, did it not? Certain HPL stories, though, are without a doubt in public domain. But who wants to read etexts when printed versions are available so cheap?).

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: garymorris (IP Logged)
Date: 29 September, 2006 11:58PM
Hey Rutledge,

Here's another hearty welcome to the wonderful world of CA Smith, Derleth, HPL, and the other Weird Tales/Arkham luminaries! It's reassuring to know there are kids out there interested in this stuff. Good luck on your search for the complete Derleth! (should take at least a decade or so...)

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Radovarl (IP Logged)
Date: 1 October, 2006 09:08AM
Perhaps this is a silly question, but why would you want the complete works of August Derleth? Maybe what little I've read of his (the "Quest for Cthulhu" trade paperback) is not his best work, but it was so terrible (in the sense of "bad") that I just gave up. Seems to me Derleth completely missed the mark; he takes Lovecraft's cosmic entities and turns them into mere monsters.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: garymorris (IP Logged)
Date: 1 October, 2006 04:57PM
I don't agree that everything Derleth wrote was bad, though I'm not crazy about his HPL pastiches (a few stories in his first collection, the 1941 Someone in the Dark, resonate in a forlorn, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman or Stanley McNail kind of way). I've got his Collected Poems and he was a fine nature poet, very persuasive. I also liked Evening in Spring, which I read some years ago. Haven't checked out the Solar Pons stories. Does everybody here think Derleth is a bad writer?

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Glyptodont (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2006 12:48PM
A few comments.

Last I checked, a few weeks ago, the etext library of Lovecraft is still out there.

As for Derleth as a writer, some remarks are appropriate. For one thing, he got dunked for supposedly "Christianizing" the mythos. A couple of well known critics really went after him about 20 years ago, and some of the hostile comments about Derleth today still go back to this negative criticism.

Actually, this is not entirely fair. Lovecraft himself used "evil" and "wickedness" to turn the screw in a number of his tales. "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," for example, has an evil necromancer who is involved in black witchcraft and is -- plain out -- evil. Ditto for old Whateley in "Dunwich Horror." In TCOCDW there's even an old fashioned Salem style witch burning, firewood and all. Demons galore, you name it. The idea that Lovecraft projected "scientific detachment" and eschewed all these superstitious tonalities is a fond belief of some, but doesn't stand up. Lovecraft was not very internally consistent. And like many writers, he would throw in everything but the kitchen sink if it could intensify the atmosphere of his stories.

Also, Derleth's weird tales have seldom been selectively edited. Everything is lumped together in the existing editions, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. If one selects carefully, a short story collection of Derleth's could be assembled that would really stand up. Part of the problem is that Derleth cranked out lots of material for the commercial market, so there's some shallow or sloppy work out there.

For a sample of the better Derleth weird tales, try "The Trail of Cthulhu," which is a collection of short stories that link into one long narrative. Almost like an episodic novel.

Derleth's writing style is certainly more readable than Lovecraft's, who wrote an old-fashioned very dense style choked with latinate words and 85-word sentences.

For a good defense of Derleth, check out the lengthy intro to "Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos" by Robert M. Price.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: garymorris (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2006 09:29PM
That's an interesting point about the Derleth collections, one I hadn't thought of.

It's true that there's been no particular scholarship/annotations or even really thoughtful anthologizing of his work, the way we've seen (or will see) for HPL, Smith, Howard, etc. I can't imagine, for example, Joshi putting out an annotated edition of, say, Someone in the Dark. On the other hand, Derleth assembled most of the collections himself. I think he was more careful with his poetry, which ultimately probably meant more to him than the stories. (He's a fine poet to my mind.)

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Glyptodont (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2006 08:17AM
garymorris --

Some of his collections of stories Derleth may have edited himself, but the collections that get the most bitter criticism were assembled after his death.

These are the so-called "posthumous collaborations" with Lovecraft. Well, Lovecraft had been dead a good while, but Derleth had access to Lovecraft's literary papers. He took snippets of material out of Lovecraft and used these segments as a basis for short stories. So these so-called collaborations -- while they may have varied a little -- were generally about 90 percent Derleth.

Three collections of these stories came out -- The Lurker at the Threshhold, The Watchers Out of Time, and The Survivor. Unfortunately, it turns out that all three collections were assembled after Derleth's death by the managers of Arkham House press. While there are a few exceptions, these stories were mostly cranked out in a hurry for the commercial market. They were also attributed on the cover to Lovecraft, when Lovecraft's contribution was minimal. (They are all copyright August Derleth.)

I would have been more critical if Derleth himself had put these out, but I believe it was his heirs hoping to make a few $$$$. And of course, when they were collected and published, Derleth was in the cemetery.

But this debate has been going on for a long time, and we will not resolve it here. I would say that Derleth could use a really rigorous editor that would put together a collection of his best stories, not just his total Cthulhu output, good or bad, which is pretty much what has been done up until now. Derleth wrote more than 1000 pages of Cthulhu type fiction, so even an edit would still result in a pretty decent-sized book.

Best--

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: garymorris (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2006 11:29AM
Glyptodont,

Not sure what you're saying here. Derleth died in 1971, and his major HPL "collaborations" (not, of course!) were certainly published during his lifetime, first in Weird Tales Magazine and then by Arkham: The Lurker at the Threshold in 1945 and The Survivor and Others in 1957. (His other "non-collaboration" Mythos collections like Mask of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu also appeared while he was alive, respectively in 1958 and 1962.)

Undoubtedly AD assembled his own books while alive (and, given his superhuman energy, probably set the contents for Watchers Out of Time, which appeared in 1974). So I think it's reasonable to some extent to credit or discredit him, according to your view of Derleth, in terms of the way his work's been received and parsed.

Regards, Gary Morris

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Glyptodont (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2006 07:13PM
Good point. But even so, I believe I can add a little clarification.

First, Derleth wrote all these bogus "collaborations." It was probably questionable that he tried to let on that any collaboration had taken place, since you cannot really "collaborate" with a dead person. So there was a taste of the bogus to this.

However, what really infuriates Lovecraft fans is to buy these books thinking they are buying Lovecraft's own writing, because the only author's name on the cover is "H.P. Lovecraft."

If Derleth had been alive when these books were arranged for the press with the sole author's name on the cover being "H.P. Lovecraft" it would be very questionable. But let's take one of these books, Watchers Out of Time.

Derleth died in 1971. In 1974, Watchers Out of Time appears, surely assembled by the then managing editor of the press. The sole author on the cover is H.P. Lovecraft. This "false advertising" of Lovecraft's sole name on the cover of the book is what infuriates "cheated" Lovecraft patrons, who only realize after buying the book that they are getting pastiches. The copyright page shows that every single story in the book is copyright Derleth, contradicting the cover. These readers are not fools. They know they've been had.

I do not own copies of the Lurker On the Threshold and Survivor, so I am not sure what the story is with them.

To help clarify, here's just one Amazon review of The Watchers Out of Time --

Until the publisher puts August Derleth's name on the cover of this book, I'm gonna give it one star. This is just ridiculous. Imagine, if you will, Stephen King's publisher writing a book after King dies, then publishing it under King's name. That's basically what August Derleth and the publishing company have done here.

I think Derleth is dead, so this isn't really his fault. Still, I wasted five bucks thinking I was buying a book of H.P. Lovecraft stories.

Stick to the Del Rey or Arkham House published Lovecraft books. At least those ones were written by Lovecraft himself.


Unfortunately, by and large these are not even very good. At least some of Lovecraft's "revisions" were darn good.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 4 Oct 06 | 07:26PM by Glyptodont.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2006 07:33PM
My own point of view is that The Survivor and Others, by Derleth, is a really fine Lovecraft tribute, and is well put together. If you check the contents, you can see that Derleth has carefully managed to include at least one story from every important Lovecraft period: "Wentworth’s Day" is basically a traditional colloquial New Englander-type horror, a la HPL's "In the Vault"; "The Lamp of Alhazred" is basically an exercise in boring Lovecraftian nostaligia, a la "The Silver Key"; "The Shadow Out of Space" is basically a tale in the mould of Lovecraft's later science-fiction-type horrors; "The Gable Window" is a rehash of HPL's Cthulhu-universe fiction; and "The Survivor" is basically an exercise in HPL's trademark fiction dealing with hybrids/decay .

Derleth's The Trail of Cthulu and The Lurker at the Threshold, however, are absolutely horrendous. I read them as a child and liked them, but going back over them recently I could see how poorly-constructed they were. Derleth does manage to insert some interesting personal touches in these stories; he mentions Charles Fort occassionally; he inserts a portrait/homage to HPL in the appearance of one his characters; and he manages even to extrapolate a little on the repressed homoerotic tenor of some of HPL's fiction, when he has two of his (male) characters sleep together in The Trail of Cthulhu, with one of the characters watching the other longingly while they sleep. But these entertaining bits are too few and far between.

I still have yet to read any examples written in Derleth's own personal style....



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 4 Oct 06 | 07:35PM by Gavin Callaghan.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Glyptodont (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2006 09:27PM
Well, having read the Trail of Cthulhu quite recently -- within recent months, I would have to respectfully disagree.

I found the book a real waker-upper. Compared to Lovecraft himself, the characters seem more human and more real. For all Lovecraft's originality in setting horror scenarios, his narrators and other characters are little better than pasteboard cut-outs.

I enjoyed Prof. Shrewsbury. I thought the way the various short stories interlocked into a longer narrative was fresh, and beyond anything Lovecraft himself attempted.

There's no way to argue with taste. You don't care for the Trail of Cthulhu. What can anyone say? Are you sure you haven't developed a "lock," where loyalty to Lovecraft as a writer does not blindly compel that you pan his imitators?

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2006 01:34PM
Glyptodont Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Derleth died in 1971. In 1974, Watchers Out of
> Time appears, surely assembled by the then
> managing editor of the press. The sole author on
> the cover is H.P. Lovecraft.

Actually the Arkham House pressing is credited "H. P. Lovecraft & August Derleth" (as are the Lurker and the Survivor) -- not that this isn't false and unethical.

It's the paperback publisher that's using HPL as the sole credit. They can get away with this because Derleth's estate doesn't seem to care and there's no one to sue them on Lovecraft's behalf.

Juha-Matti Rajala

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2006 03:14PM
The present discussion of "posthumous collaborations" reminds me of something Jack Williamson (? I think) once said:

"A posthumous collaboration is a collaboration between two authors who should change places with each other."

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 6 October, 2006 09:12PM
>>"Compared to Lovecraft himself, the characters seem more human and more real. For all Lovecraft's originality in setting horror scenarios, his narrators and other characters are little better than pasteboard cut-outs.

I enjoyed Prof. Shrewsbury. I thought the way the various short stories interlocked into a longer narrative was fresh, and beyond anything Lovecraft himself attempted."


I like Shewsbury too. But you one can easily see that for the rest of the narrative ---except for a few bright spots here and there-- that Derleth was just "going through the motions" in terms of plot and style.

It is strange that Lovecraft never attempted something similar, however, seeing as how easily Derleth was able to make HPL's trademark style a marketable commodity. I think the main reason is dejection; if HPL had simply gotten more of a response from publishers, he would have been more "enthusiastic" and able to do more.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 6 Oct 06 | 09:13PM by Gavin Callaghan.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Glyptodont (IP Logged)
Date: 8 October, 2006 09:59AM
A friend just sent me two scans of the covers of Watchers Out of Time and Lurker at the Threshold. The original Arkham House editions.

Both co-feature the names of Lovecraft and Derleth. It is only in the paperback editions -- published by Carroll & Graf, I believe, where only Lovecraft's name appears (Watchers), or Lovecraft's name is is giant type and Derleth's is in very small italics type (Lurker).

One interesting aspect of Derleth's and also Brian Lumley's "take" on the Cthulhu mythos is that in these writers people fight back. Lumley has mankind killing the minions of the Old Ones, and in Derleth Dr. Shrewsbury is busy dynamiting the gates to slow Cthulhu's return.

In Lovecraft's own writing, it appears that people are just helpless pawns.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 8 October, 2006 05:45PM
I haven't yet read Lumley, but in Derleth's Lovecraft collaborations one can discern the merging of two separate traditions: Lovecraft's weird-fiction genre, which is more atmosphere-oriented, merging with more the action-oriented pulp fiction genre, in which, yes, the characters do fight back, but they do so within the context of a mechanical formula whose sole intention is to drive the plot forward to a formulaic and conventional conclusion.

Interestingly, Lovecraft's own attempts to adhere to a pulp-action formula produced two of his best stories: "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and the brilliant "The Loved Dead".

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 9 October, 2006 02:10AM
Gavin Callaghan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Interestingly, Lovecraft's own attempts to adhere
> to a pulp-action formula produced two of his best
> stories: "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and the
> brilliant "The Loved Dead".

Lovecraft didn't write "The Loved Dead", as far as is known; he only revised it for C. M. Eddy, Jr. Unlike the cases of Zealia Bishop and Hazel Heald, he actually had manuscripts to revise for the Eddy stories.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 9 October, 2006 02:13AM
Glyptodont Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> One interesting aspect of Derleth's and also Brian
> Lumley's "take" on the Cthulhu mythos is that in
> these writers people fight back. Lumley has
> mankind killing the minions of the Old Ones, and
> in Derleth Dr. Shrewsbury is busy dynamiting the
> gates to slow Cthulhu's return.
>
>
In my opinion, the Shrewsbury tales and the Crow tales take away all the fun of the Mythos and turns it into yet another "let's nuke the extraterrestrials" story. Lumley even has a factory turning out mass-produced Elder Signs. But I think his short stories are usually better than his novels.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Glyptodont (IP Logged)
Date: 9 October, 2006 07:27PM
Martinus wrote: "In my opinion, the Shrewsbury tales and the Crow tales take away all the fun of the Mythos and turns it into yet another "let's nuke the extraterrestrials" story. Lumley even has a factory turning out mass-produced Elder Signs. But I think his short stories are usually better than his novels."

Alas, this is too categorical and neat. For one thing, it blithely lumps Derleth and Lumley as the same, and fiction is too complicated to do that.

If I may, let me qualify a little. When Lumley's "good guys" use a nuke on Shudde M'ell, do you know what happens? This colossal worm begins boring straight up, comes out at the drilling site, kills and destroys everything, then turns downward and disappears into the mantle. Yup. Crosses out of the crust and disappears down into the molten magma of the mantle. Lumley's characters say with dismay, "it appears Shudde M'ell is immortal." They DO say that the nuke did some damage, but apparently not enough to slow him down much. In fairness, they HAVE succeeded in killing quite a few of Shudde M'ell's minions, the cthonians.

As for Derleth in the "Trail of Cthulhu" stories, Dr. Shrewsbury attacks Cthulhu by finding and dynamiting his gates to Earth. His goal is to prevent or delay Cthulhu's return. No one even imagines that Shrewsbury can actually kill Cthulhu. Apparently Cthulhu can be damaged at least, because the steamship in the Lovecraft story "The Call of Cthulhu" RAMS our beloved octopoid, and seemingly does at least some damage.

Lovecraft does not get off scot free here. Talk about formulas! Lovecraft's protagonists tend to be little better than bait or toast for the Great Old Ones. We get tired of seeing them led like lambs to the slaughter, and killed off for sport.

As for the idea of battling back against the Great Old Ones, perhaps Lumley DOES take this a bit too far. In the novel Spawn of the Winds, they almost kill Ithaqua, and are almost unbelievably effective in fighting these godlike aliens. BTW, Derleth created Ithaqua, and to some extent in his early writing Lumley was a protege of Derleth's. But in Derleth, the Great Old Ones are not such easy adversaries as sometimes Lumley would make them out to be.

Best to all--

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 9 October, 2006 09:35PM
>>"Lovecraft didn't write "The Loved Dead", as far as is known; he only revised it for C. M. Eddy, Jr. Unlike the cases of Zealia Bishop and Hazel Heald, he actually had manuscripts to revise for the Eddy stories."

I think "The Loved Dead" has far more in it of HPL than of Eddy. Stylistically, too, it is far more HPL than Eddy. I think the plot of this story, too, seems to rather explode Joshi's notion of HPL as a sort of prudish innocent as far as sex is concerned, particularly since its plot seems to presuppose an intimate acuaintance, on at least a theoretical level, with the sort of sexual abnormalities which one would find in the pages of Krafft-Ebbing.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Oct 06 | 09:38PM by Gavin Callaghan.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: rutledge_442 (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2006 04:10PM
anywhere i can find "The Lurker in the Threshold"
and i've been wanting to read "The Inhabitant of the Lake" but i assume it is not a short storie...if it is i am trying to find a link to it.also, again excuse my ignorance, but has anyone read anything from Ambrose Beirce? i have read "An Inhabitant of Carcoasa" and "Haita The Shepered" but i was wondering if any of his other stuff was good.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2006 02:11AM
rutledge_442 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> anywhere i can find "The Lurker in the Threshold"
>

It's currently OOP, but IIRC, it will be reprinted this spring by Del Rey, as a trade paperback.

> and i've been wanting to read "The Inhabitant of
> the Lake" but i assume it is not a short
> storie...if it is i am trying to find a link to
> it.

It's a short story by Ramsey Campbell. I doubt you'll find it online, since it's not PD. It is in the British collection COLD PRINT, if that is still in print.

> also, again excuse my ignorance, but has anyone
> read anything from Ambrose Beirce? i have read "An
> Inhabitant of Carcoasa" and "Haita The Shepered"
> but i was wondering if any of his other stuff was
> good.

Yes, what little I've read is pretty good. There's a Collected Fiction coming out this fall, but that edition will be quite expensive.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2006 09:26AM
Yes, my young friend - everyone has read Bierce - he actually spent a good deal of time with his acerbic wit regaling and generally holding in aloof contempt the citizenry of Auburn, Calif. where Clark lived. He stayed in the famous Auburn Hotel, now, regrettably, a collection of yuppie boutiques, alas.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2006 03:24PM
Martinus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes, what little I've read is pretty good. There's
> a Collected Fiction coming out this fall, but that
> edition will be quite expensive.

I have this edition of Bierce: [unp.unl.edu]

Quite affordable and complete enough. Bierce is probably best known for his masterful civil war short story classic "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" -- and perhaps for his mysterious disappearance in Mexico. The stories can be more or less divided to those of horror ("The Damned Thing" and "The Death of Halpin Frayser" are the best known), the civil war stories, and "tall tales" (of the latter, personal favourites of mine being "An Imperfect Conflagration" and "Oil of a Dog").

You also don't want to miss Bierce's delightful "Devil's Dictionary": [en.wikipedia.org]

Juha-Matti Rajala

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Glyptodont (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2006 09:54AM
The title is actually "Lurker At the Threshold." It is a novel by Derleth, as you probably know.

Be sure to try Amazon used books. They have lots of titles that are out of print and often at a cheap price.

Perhaps LatT is out of print, but I believe I just brought it up on Amazon quite recently. I mean in the "new books' area.

I read recently that Lurker At the Threshold has sold 50,000 copies and is the most successful of the Derleth "posthumous collaboration" books.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: voleboy (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2006 06:06PM
It may surprise some to hear that Bierce was also a very accomplished poet. He had a very strong sense of the satirical in verse, and his best is still as pungent as ever. The Devil's Dictionary includes some of his poems, and there may still be Black Beetles in Amber at Project Gutenberg.

I had, on one occasion, chance to confirm the pagination of one occurrence of a Bierce story, for S. T. Joshi, when he was working on his Bierce bibliography.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 9 May, 2009 08:13PM
Welcome, Rutledge -- it's refreshing to see young people who actually want to buy the books rather than read the Works online! One great place to find a wide variety of Mythos fiction (fannish and professional, extremely good and rather not-so-good) are the Cycle Books edited by Robert M. Price for CHAOSIUM.

I've just started re-reading all of the Arkham House edition of THE WATCHERS OUT OF TIME & OTHERS so as to discuss each and every tale in a thread at alt.horror.cthulhu. I've read THE LURKER AT THE THRESHOLD many times and have always enjoyed it -- and I'm enjoying this new reading of it. It has atmosphere, good plotting and interesting characters, and it is absolutely Lovecraftian. I think the collaborations are often dismissed as weird fiction because we all realise that Lovecraft had absolutely nothing to do with their creation; but that does not say anything about their worth as weird fiction. The only one I remember actually hating -- yes, HATING -- is "The Shuttered Room," as it seemed such a complete and obvious rip-off of "The Dunwich Horror." Derleth had talent, imagination and dedication. Writing weird fiction was something he did to pay the bills -- he certainly wasn't trying to create literary art as was Lovecraft.

S. T. muses, in THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS, that Derleth couldn't sell most of these posthumous collaborations to professional magazines, noting that only two of them were so placed. S. T.'s opinion is that Augie couldn't place them because the tales were awful. Yet Derleth placed almost all of the tales published in the handsome volume, IN LOVECRAFT'S SHADOW (Mycroft and Moran, 1998) to WEIRD TALES, and they seem to me considerably weaker than the collaborations. I think, but do not know, that most of these fake collaborations were written specifically for Arkham House books. "The Dark Brotherhood" was probably written for the AH book for which it serves as title, as does "The Shuttered Room." Such is my supposition.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 04:44PM
I read The Lurker at the Threshold back in the mid-1970s and am reading it again, but -- uff da, as people in my part of the country used to say -- it sure is vulnerable to criticism.

It's really repetitive. I'm halfway through, which puts me in the second section, in which the "Manuscript of Stephen Bates" recycles material we were already given from the omniscient narrator of the first part. I keep deciding that I'll go on for a bit.

Derleth's own Arkham House originally published this, which, I suppose, means there was no editor to work with him on improving the novel. There are annoying little things like the use of "might well" in two consecutive sentences (I didn't note the place, but I'm pretty sure of that). Derleth seems to have been writing by eye, not by ear (as well). So you get "....my preoccupation with the circle of stones in the vicinity of the round tower -- for my proposed 'walk' was nothing more or less than a round-about way of getting myself to the tower," etc.

The accumulation of obvious "hints" is annoying, as it sometimes is in Lovecraft's own stories. Ideally, "hints" should really make the reader wonder what is really happening, as perhaps they do in Phyllis Paul's novels; instead, the "hints" make the reader feel that the characters are being set up too obviously by the author, or are not very bright, and so on.

I think Derleth took a passage of 17th-century pastiche by Lovecraft and uses it as a passage from the following century or even later. I have been immersing myself in 17th-century prose over the past year and a half and more, and would say that Lovecraft's 17th-century passage is a pretty good imitation' which means among other things that it doesn't sound like something written a lot later.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 09:03PM
"...his feet pained him. Since he was not given to trouble in his pedal extremities, he bent curiously...."

Of course, the bizarre construction "pedal extremities" draws more attention to the diction than a mere repetition of "feet" would have. Uff da!

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 10:24PM
Bluntly, I feel that Derleth is tone-deaf as an author.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 6 December, 2019 12:29AM
Judging by the five or six stories I have read by Derleth, he must be one of the worst contributors to the genre ...

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 December, 2019 11:12AM
The Lurker at the Threshold has some historical interest.

It was, to date, the longest Mythos story, surpassing At the Mountains of Madness by ten thousand words if the statements about the lengths of the two works I've seen are correct.

It confirmed the template of the typical Mythos story:

An independent scholar(s) finds evidence of the manifestation, as threat in the present, of a being(s) worshiped in the past as a horrible god(s). The scholar eventually catches up with the reader in putting 2+2 together, working with "hints" whose significance is not ambiguous or doubtful. There is some elaboration of the Mythos added to references to properties (locations, books, entities) familiar to readers of other such stories. A problem is that one or other of such stories, if encountered as someone's first Mythos story, might be pretty creepy, but, conversely, the later-read stories may feel like watering the soup when read by someone familiar with the Mythos.

To a considerable degree, Lurker was written in conformity with Lovecraft's serious notions and his playful guidelines. As a serious effort to write a weird story, it does the things Lovecraft recommended in his various remarks on the composition of such stories, e.g. the gradual disclosure of the horror, the attempt to work up atmosphere, the evocation of "cosmicism" with the corollary of human littleness, and so on. But also Lovecraft encouraged his friends to write these things as a game. And I imagine he felt some gratification in seeing other writers keep rolling a ball he started in motion. I do think that, if someone dislikes Lurker, he or she has to parcel out some of the blame to Lovecraft.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 6 Dec 19 | 11:15AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 December, 2019 02:02PM
P. S. I wasn't thinking of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward; if it's a Mythos novel, then, no, Lurker wouldn't be the longest Mythos story to date. Here is not, perhaps, the place for discussion of whether the HPL novel is or isn't Mythos -- or, for that matter, about what makes something "Mythos" or not, perhaps not a worthwhile discussion.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 December, 2019 03:11PM
Just a personal aside, if I may indulge myself: I read Lurker in 1975. That was also the year I read the first volume of Lovecraft's Selected Letters, the de Camp biography of HPL, and Lumley's Transition of Titus Crow. In the second half of the previous year I'd read Lumley's Burrowers Beneath and the entirety of the HPL revisions, The Horror in the Museum. In this period I also read "Supernatural Horror in Literature" for the first time, and, probably, much of the Frierson booklet HPL, borrowed from one of my professors. My attempt at a Mythos-type story, "The Intruder," was published in APA-5, in, as I recall, a 'zine edited by Terry Lee Dale and/or Loay Hall.

1974-1975 seems to be the watershed period for my interest in Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, though I have continued to reread a few HPL favorites such as "The Whisperer in Darkness." But I don't suppose I ever again read so much Lovecraft-related material in a comparable period, much of it for the first (and perhaps only) time. About ten years later, in the mid-1980s, I got the other three volumes of Selected Letters but by then my interest level was such that I never did more than dip into them. While studying library science around 1985 I wrote a term paper on Arkham House for a course on publishing.

That 1974-1975 period was not just evidently the culminating time of my interest in Lovecraft and the Mythos, but also a time of discovery of a number of authors such as Chesterton who quickly became favorites, at least for a time (Mervyn Peake), or of going more deeply into some other authors I already liked.

So revisiting The Lurker at the Threshold provides occasion for me to reflect on some of my reading shortly before I entered my twenties. But it's been in recent years that I've gone back to Lovecraft enough to write a lot of list postings and a few articles about his work, to evaluate his achievement and to get a better grip on the appeal some of his stories have had on me and perhaps other readers.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 December, 2019 04:30PM
That previous message is misleading -- actually, my time of most intense interest in Lovecraft, that time of first discovery and collecting his books, was more a few years earlier. Whatever.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 6 December, 2019 07:48PM
This is very interesting and brings to mind when I first discovered this sub-genre (if it's even correct to use this descriptor) and it began with Tolkien, but I needed something more--a more compelling connection to life as I saw it, or life's possibilities. On recommendation I may have read a few Howard stories. These were too obviously a form of macho worship and hence were sort of debasing, in a sense.

That's when I came across CAS; the Ballentine Zothique volume.

While almost all, or maybe even *all* of the stories resonated with me, but some came at me from my blind side--really threw me a curve. These especially:

The Witchcraft of Ulua
The Death of Ilalotha
Morthylla

This is not to say that these are my favorites, even from that volume, but they really upended at a young reader of fantastic fiction that, to that point, had a read only adult fantasy that very large element of hero worship or at least hero adulation.

Witchcraft seems a simple morality tale (and is, in fact), but Smith's succinct way of describing a great sage of former times:


"...Yos Ebni, sage and archimage, who won supremacy over men and demons in elder years by defying all mortal temptation and putting down the insubordination of the flesh."


YEOW! "putting down the insubordination of the flesh"! Is there a finer way of describing a mastery of carnal desire or even any sensory pleasure? I thought not, and still do!

Sometimes, when I try to diet for a while, or I need to get myself to the gym, I wryly tell myself that I'm "putting down the insubordination of the flesh".

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 December, 2019 11:11AM
"The Maze of Maal Dweb" in Carter's anthology The Young Magicians (1969) must have been the first story by Smith that I read. I bought the Ballantine Hyperborea when it was new and owned the BAF Smith titles in the early or mid-1970s. But what with the morbidity of his fantasy, he was not an author much to my taste.

Your comment about the absence of hero worship in Smith's stories as compared to Howard's is thought-provoking. The thing with Howard's best-known hero is that he's not all that heroic. He's heroic in the sense of being expert in the arts of war and in being courageous, certainly. But according to hsitrocially-informed ideas of heroism, Conan falls short. His skills, strength, and courage are in the service of no one and nothing but himself as a rule. He's the sort of warrior a hero might hire as a mercenary when war looms. But the kind of hero worship Conan is likely to evoke comes from the relatively small number of people whom he has personally defended or rescued. One might also imagine a youngster who is learning the arts of war feeling adulation for Conan because he is so good at them. Eventually Conan will die by treachery, or because he has at last been outmatched in battle, or perhaps because he's just old, but Conan's death will simply turn off the tap of his adventures. Howard's worldview seems to be one without tragedy.

It seems to me that Smith's stories lack even this kind of appreciation. Aren't they basically stories of antiheroes? But this might not be something for discussion on an August Derleth thread. Maybe someone would like to start a thread on the theme of heroism / antiheroism in Smith.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 December, 2019 12:40PM
Very briefly, and for immediate clarificaton as regards Conan as a hero...

He is a hero in the same sense that Phillip Marlowe is a hero in Chandler's works. In spite of many traditionally negative attributes this sort of character is written with such appeal that it's impossible to imagine that there is not a substantial portion of readers who identifies positively with the character. Perhaps with reservation, but still...

So I would accept that perhaps Conan (and Kull, etc.) are closer to flawed heroes, and hence anti-heroes.

But for Smith's central characters, there seems to me to be no actual intent to create a persona that is much more that a vehicle for the narrative point of view. I would use as a handy example the aboriginal young man in the Maze of Maal Dweb. He evokes sympathy, perhaps, and a degree of fleeting admiration for his attempt to rescue his lover, but he's neither a traditional hero nor an anti-hero.

I'll try to start a new thread on these topics later today, Dale. I realize just how far off topic this is, but I needed to jot something down before I forgot it... :^(

BTW, far off topic: have you read any Michel Houellebecq? I started "Submission" yesterday and I'm quite impressed with at least the translation, which I'd like to think is accurately inspired by the original.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 December, 2019 01:00PM
I recognize Houellebecq's name and I think I even know how to pronounce it (wellbeck?), but haven't read him.

Your phrase "no actual intent to create a persona that is much more that a vehicle for the narrative point of view" sounds right. A topic for discussion would be: what legitimate artistic effects are attainable, not only by use of this method, but only by use of this method, of writing?

Because my view is that one incontestably outstanding use of a given form or genre shows that the form is legitimate, even if almost all of the actual works in the form or genre are garbage. For example, suppose for the sake of argument that we saw one could go to the movies weekly for ten years and in that whole time see nothing but garbage. Yet if there is just one movie that surely does achieve great and worthy artistic effects, and these are ones that could be attained only in a movie, then the legitimacy of the cinema is proven. Throne of Blood. QED

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 December, 2019 01:08PM
I've already drifted well off topic, Dale, and am reluctant to go further, but I'm intrigued by this new direction you've taken, and if you either a) start a new thread under this topic, or b) want to continue to grow this thread organically, following it where it goes. I'm willing.

To me, this site is purely recreational, and hence I feel no necessity to be overly fastidious about staying on topic. :^)

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 December, 2019 01:33PM
OK, I'll start a thread on the theme of the artistic legitimacy of weird fiction.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 December, 2019 04:10PM
I wanted to say that I did notice & think about the comment on Chandler's Marlowe and Conan. Would a difference be that Marlowe is a disillusioned hero, a "tarnished knight" as I think maybe somebody called him, who does still want to live ethically, where Conan never aspired to ideals at some point in his life?

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 December, 2019 04:34PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I wanted to say that I did notice & think about
> the comment on Chandler's Marlowe and Conan.
> Would a difference be that Marlowe is a
> disillusioned hero, a "tarnished knight" as I
> think maybe somebody called him, who does still
> want to live ethically, where Conan never aspired
> to ideals at some point in his life?

As to specific character attributes this is correct: Marlowe did indeed have a core of traditionalist integrity and decency, whereas Conan had no conception of them as human values, and if introduced to them, would laugh them off as ridiculously weak.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 10 January, 2020 10:23PM
"The Trail of Cthulhu" is the nadir of Derleth's Lovecraftian fiction. It's juvenile, episodic "novel" or not. As a historical and regionalist, journalist, he was a great writer. I attended one of the annual Derleth Society meetings in Sac Prairie. An actor portrayed Derleth reading his poetry and so forth. As a weird fantaisist he is a bit underrated due to the relative mediocrity of the Lovecraftian pastiche.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2020 04:28AM
Is there a difference in quality, or in separate subject category, between the stories found in the early collection The Mask of Cthulhu and the later omnibus collection The Watchers Out of Time? There is no overlap.
Neither did the story "The Trail of Cthulhu" (or any of its sequels) find its way into The Watchers Out of Time. I wonder why.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2020 09:32AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Is there a difference in quality, or in separate
> subject category, between the stories found in the
> early collection The Mask of Cthulhu and the later
> omnibus collection The Watchers Out of Time? There
> is no overlap.
> Neither did the story "The Trail of Cthulhu" (or
> any of its sequels) find its way into The Watchers
> Out of Time. I wonder why.

The Watchers out of Time is limited to "posthumous collaborations" with Lovecraft.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2020 01:02PM
Martinus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Watchers out of Time is limited to "posthumous
> collaborations" with Lovecraft.

I thought all of the Cthulhu mythos collaborations were in fact made after Lovecraft's death.

Also, by the way, most of the stories in The Watchers Out of Time had been printed earlier in other collections.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 October, 2020 01:10AM
Martinus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> The Watchers out of Time is limited to "posthumous
> collaborations" with Lovecraft.


Ah, now I see - unless I am mistaken again - the stories in The Mask of Cthulhu and The Trail of Cthulhu were not collaborations, but all of them Derleth's own. I hadn't made that distinction before, but thought of everything touching on the Cthulhu mythos as borrowings from Lovecraft.

Perhaps I should also admit that I am not really much interested in Derleth's work, except from fan boy nostalgia concerning anything touching on Cthulhu mythos, having owned a Panther edition of The Mask of Cthulhu in my youth, but getting rid of it for some unremembered reason. It may also be interesting comparing what it is that makes one writer great, and the imitator not so great; from a writing course perspective.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 October, 2020 07:31AM
"The Return of Hastur" actually got several suggestions from Lovecraft, which were incorporated, so it may qualify among the revisions.

Re: August Derleth
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 17 October, 2020 01:08PM
I wouldn't go quite that far. Lovecraft didn't exactly rewrite entire paragraphs as he did for other revisions.



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