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"I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2009 04:31PM
S.T. Joshi's excellent "abridged" H.P. Lovecraft biography, "Lovecraft: A Life", will be expanded/unabridged in two volumes as "I Am Providence"! This version will be published by Hippocampus Press in 2010!

Quote:
Hippocampus Press
2010
-I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft (2 vols)

[www.hippocampuspress.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2009 05:52AM
Hmmm... HPL: A Life is amazing, but is this just a case of milking the cthuloid-cow to death? How much of the new unabridged edition will really be new or just reformatted old stuff?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2009 06:40AM
Quote:
How much of the new unabridged edition will really be new or just reformatted old stuff?

An excellent question, especially with regard to that inveterate re-packager, Joshi. Two volumes to cover the life of a forty-six-year-old man who spent most of his time indoors, writing? I have my doubts about this project, as well.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2009 09:57AM
It will be much larger than the original. About a 3rd of the original book was cut. Now it will all be restored.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2009 10:45AM
STJ once told me that he cut most of the info on Lovecraft's apa activities for the Necronomicon Press editions. There have also been many new discoveries in Lovecraft research in the past ten years, some of which are covered in the afterword to the 2004 edition of the Necronomicon Press text, to the extent that he will need to rewrite certain parts of the biography.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2009 01:20PM
Thanks for the additional information. I had no idea that the original mid-90's version had to be abridged for publication. I can't say that I am salivating over the prospect of more information about Lovecraft's APA activities, as I found that part of the one-volume edition to be a snore, myself--by far the dullest section of the volume--but, of course, others may differ.

As an addendum, let's hope that Joshi re-writes his absurd and ignorant comments on CAS's fiction, while he's at it!

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2009 01:51PM
Finally, the sordid details of Lovecraft's sex life! At least that is what I am expecting.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2009 05:46AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Finally, the sordid details of Lovecraft's sex
> life! At least that is what I am expecting.


Squid-sex, maybe?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2009 02:21PM
You do understand what Lovecraft's fear of "fish" really signifies, do you not?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2009 01:33PM
Bad title change-- the equivalent of Thoreau: The Bluebird Carries the Sun on His Back (a biography)

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2009 01:35PM
make that the SKY on his back... tsk-tsk.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2009 07:32AM
Actually looking at the last mail from Hippocampus I'm more interested in 'The Conspiracy Against the Human Race' by Thomas Ligotti (2010) and the Lovecraftian Lexicon (Nov) of course.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2009 04:47PM
"The Magnificent Ambersons" of biographies, apparently. The "wise" edition is best except for Arthur Leeds fanatics.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Roger (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 10:35AM
Well, if they meant to reprint this anyway, I guess they might as well add all the extra stuff and do it "right". I can't imagine many people who already own the biography will buy the expanded edition, though. THAT would be a hardcore HPL/Joshi fan!

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 12:45PM
What recommends Joshi's biography "H.P. Lovecraft: A Life" in the first place? Besides being full of details from Lovecraft's life?

The book has received some hard criticism. As I understand it, Joshi has difficulty holding an objective perspective, adding his own very personal opinions, and moralizing over Lovecraft. And lacking respect towards Lovecraft's person, in telling of private and personal things in a detached and degrading way that a friend never would have done, and which certainly would have offended Lovecraft had he been alive (compare this to the way Dr. Farmer tells of Smith's life; even if he reveals some weakness of Smith's, it is still told from a perspective of genuine respect and integrity).


For example, the review "Difficult mixed bag - comprehensive but needs editing" at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/H-P-Lovecraft-S-T-Joshi/dp/0940884887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252079007&sr=1-1


This certainly repels me. For the time being, for biographical details, I am content with reading Lovecraft's own letters and the book "Lovecraft Remembered".

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 12:57PM
Quote:
As I understand it, Joshi has difficulty holding an objective perspective, adding his own very personal opinions, and moralizing over Lovecraft.

If you feel or suspect that Joshi is bad in this regard, then you ought to read L. Sprague de Camp's earlier travesty of Lovecraftian biography. Joshi's book had to be written, if for no other reason than to correct de Camp's dreck. The Joshi biography has its flaws, to be sure, but it remains indispensable for those who wish better to understand Lovecraft, his work, and his times.

I would add parenthetically that CAS loathed biographies and biographers, calling the latter, I believe, "hyenas" and "ghouls". Also, Lovecraft, in particular, seems to loom as a threatening figure to certain individuals, who then feel compelled, Oedipus-like, to "cut him down to size". This phenomenon occurs on many levels, from the macro (de Camp) to the micro (this forum's own Gavin C.).

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 02:02PM
My negative impression of Joshi as self-centered opinionated grew when I first bought the corrected Arkham House books of Lovecraft in the 1980's. While I appreciate Joshi correcting the texts, I did not like the way he put himself in the forefront on the first pages of those books, shoving his own efforts up in the face of every reader. Such editorial details should have been left for a separate publication, or possibly as an appendix at far back of the books. I think this was the start of a tendency in "serious fantasy" book publishing, where the magical aura and atmosphere (which is what Lovecraft aimed for) of a book is dispelled and the aim is instead turned into highbrow scholary academics, and eventually, the final slaying of fantasy, that of "mature" psychoanalysis of what the author "really" tries to say. I regret that I got rid of my 1960's editions of those Arkham House Books, because they had that magic aura.


Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Joshi
> biography has its flaws, to be sure, but it
> remains indispensable for those who wish better to
> understand Lovecraft, his work, and his times.


But I have not read Joshi's biography, and am open to suggestion. Is it your judgment that the book gives a objective and sympathetic, and untainted portrait of Lovecraft and his times?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 4 Sep 09 | 02:11PM by Knygatin.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 02:48PM
Quote:
Is it your judgment that the book gives a objective and sympathetic, and untainted portrait of Lovecraft and his times?

In part--although objectivity and sympathy might also be mutually exclusive, at times. Joshi's book is better than nothing, and it is better by far than the work that preceded it.

I well understand your feelings about Joshi's work. He is a self-promoting independent scholar who does not have the force or the security of an academic institution or tenure behind him, and who therefore has to trumpet his own importance and correctness very loudly. I find his occasional arrogance amusing when I contrast it with the very basic mistakes he often makes in his rush to publish as much as possible. That said, however, I think that Joshi's work and legacy for the field of the weird tale are more positive than negative. Those who dislike critical analysis or scholarly apparatus can always skip them.

Both in general and in the Lovecraft biography, Joshi's opinions are indeed intrusive, at times. Most often, however, he at least gives reasons for his opinions. Also, I think that his opinions are clearly signaled as such, and therefore stand separately from the majority of the book. My view is that Joshi's biography of Lovecraft is as objective and accurate a portrait as we can expect of a man, such as Lovecraft, who excites such wildly varying reactions, and even provokes insecurities, among so many of those who read him.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 02:49PM
Hilarious! All that needs to be said right there...
-----------------------------
Knygatin Wrote:
> But I have not read Joshi's biography, and am open
> to suggestion. Is it your judgment that the book
> gives a objective and sympathetic, and untainted
> portrait of Lovecraft and his times?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 02:52PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> highbrow scholary academics

Yet Joshi is not an academic, he is an amateur scholar, which makes it all the more alarming that he seems now to be considered the general go-to guy for anything "weird," as witness the Penguin M R James volumes, etc.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 03:31PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > highbrow scholary academics
>
> Yet Joshi is not an academic, he is an amateur
> scholar, which makes it all the more alarming that
> he seems now to be considered the general go-to
> guy for anything "weird," as witness the Penguin M
> R James volumes, etc.


And you are a scholar? Widely published?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 04:20PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And you are a scholar? Widely published?

Not in this field, certainly! But, to use an analogy, this does not stop me from wanting somebody with a medical degree when I go see a doctor.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 05:52PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What recommends Joshi's biography "H.P. Lovecraft:
> A Life" in the first place? Besides being full of
> details from Lovecraft's life?
>
> The book has received some hard criticism.

From Amazon reviewers? Joyce Carol Oates certainly seemed to like it.

> As I
> understand it, Joshi has difficulty holding an
> objective perspective, adding his own very
> personal opinions, and moralizing over Lovecraft.

He explains very clearly in the introduction why he uses the word "I" and puts his own opinions into the book.

> And lacking respect towards Lovecraft's person, in
> telling of private and personal things in a
> detached and degrading way that a friend never
> would have done, and which certainly would have
> offended Lovecraft had he been alive (compare this
> to the way Dr. Farmer tells of Smith's life; even
> if he reveals some weakness of Smith's, it is
> still told from a perspective of genuine respect
> and integrity).

Based on Amazon reviews? He is certainly a hell of a lot more respectful than De Camp ever was.

> This certainly repels me.

Sour grapes?

> For the time being, for
> biographical details, I am content with reading
> Lovecraft's own letters and the book "Lovecraft
> Remembered".

Which have quite a few errors of their own, such as Lovecraft's paternal ancestry (Selected Letters) and the funny claim that Lovecraft knew Bantu (Lovecraft Remembered). And the latter is full of the sort of subjective opinion that you didn't like in A Life.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 06:06PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Eldritch Frog Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > And you are a scholar? Widely published?
>
> Not in this field, certainly! But, to use an
> analogy, this does not stop me from wanting
> somebody with a medical degree when I go see a
> doctor.

J. R. R. Tolkien held more than one professorship and was widely considered an authority in his chosen field of study. In spite of this, his highest academic degree was MA -- he never got a PhD, even though he received several honorary doctorates late in life. Obviously that didn't disqualify him from the professorships he held.

If a degree makes all the difference between a "real" and an "amateur" Lovecraft scholar, then I guess that the only "real" Lovecraft scholars out there are Donald Burleson and Dirk Mosig.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 06:15PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My negative impression of Joshi as self-centered
> opinionated grew when I first bought the corrected
> Arkham House books of Lovecraft in the 1980's.
> While I appreciate Joshi correcting the texts, I
> did not like the way he put himself in the
> forefront on the first pages of those books,
> shoving his own efforts up in the face of every
> reader.

Unlike the self-effacing August Derleth?

> Such editorial details should have been
> left for a separate publication, or possibly as an
> appendix at far back of the books.

I see no problem with it. It is useful to tell upp front in what way this umpteenth printing differs from what went before; besides, reading editorial matter in a book is the reader's own choice.

> I think this
> was the start of a tendency in "serious fantasy"
> book publishing, where the magical aura and
> atmosphere (which is what Lovecraft aimed for) of
> a book is dispelled and the aim is instead turned
> into highbrow scholary academics, and eventually,
> the final slaying of fantasy, that of "mature"
> psychoanalysis of what the author "really" tries
> to say. I regret that I got rid of my 1960's
> editions of those Arkham House Books, because they
> had that magic aura.

They also had "dholes", "Inquanok", "seven cryptical books of earth", and no subtitle for "The Call of Cthulhu".

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2009 06:23PM
Martinus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If a degree makes all the difference between a
> "real" and an "amateur" Lovecraft scholar, then I
> guess that the only "real" Lovecraft scholars out
> there are Donald Burleson and Dirk Mosig.

And Mosig's Ph.D. is in psychology, so I guess that just leaves Burleson, though he appears to be rather busy chasing UFOs these days.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 07:37AM
Martinus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If a degree makes all the difference between a
> "real" and an "amateur" Lovecraft scholar, then I
> guess that the only "real" Lovecraft scholars out
> there are Donald Burleson and Dirk Mosig.

I got carried away by my own analogy! It happens sometimes. What I meant to say was that an academic is somebody who is affiliated with a university. Whether that makes you "real" or not seems to me a metaphysical issue.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 08:13AM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If you feel or suspect that Joshi is bad in this
> regard, then you ought to read L. Sprague de
> Camp's earlier travesty of Lovecraftian biography.

Say what you will about de Camp's book, but at least it is entertaining (or at least it was to me when I read it, which was when it had just been published). The man was a very slick writer of nonfiction. Joshi's writing is just dreary.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 09:31AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
>
> Say what you will about de Camp's book, but at
> least it is entertaining (or at least it was to me
> when I read it, which was when it had just been
> published). The man was a very slick writer of
> nonfiction. Joshi's writing is just dreary.

To me De Camp's writing was annoying and superficial.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 09:53AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> I got carried away by my own analogy! It happens
> sometimes. What I meant to say was that an
> academic is somebody who is affiliated with a
> university. Whether that makes you "real" or not
> seems to me a metaphysical issue.

Still, being affiliated with a university does not necessarily mean that your research is better than anybody else's. Professor David Punter is guilty of quoting a second-hand source when he discusses Lovecraft in The Literature of Terror (the spurious "Black Magic" quotation), hence I had to take what little he wrote on the subject with a huge grain of salt. Whether it was due to laziness or anything else is open to speculation, but I won't be using that book again.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 09:57AM
I can get Joshi's book anytime I'd like. But for the reasons I have stated I am reluctant about this one, and it is a thick book, and I am very careful in choosing what I read. Partly because the limited span of a lifetime only allows for a certain amount of reading. And also because all that you read will shape your mind and perspective, and at worst taint it. For the same reason, I am selective with the sounds I allow to pass in through my ears, and what visuals to pass through my eyes. Because this is the building material one will have to work from when creating. I prefer staying away from environments with negative or ugly or false energies.

Joshi has also written a book called "In Her Place: A Documentary History of Prejudice Against Women". I think it's just fine defending equal civilian rights for women. But it is also curious that Joshi chooses this subject for a book. Is Joshi left-wing? Is he a feminist (in the sense of denying biological behavioral differences between men and women)? Is he generally a liberal, supporting the decadent times we live in with its disintegration of all traditional values rooted in Nature? Because if he is, it explains why I have found his voice dry and dreary, stuck in materialistic behaviour, lacking imagination, humour, sensitivity, and integrity when undressing people who are dead now.


The design of a book is important (unless one reads only for scholary reasons), for setting the right mood, and carefully leading the reader by degrees into that other World. To use an analogy, the several pages of editorials at the beginning of the Arkham House volumes, can be compared to having composed, prepared, and cooked an exquisite romantic dinner... everything is set, the candles are lit, the wine has been poured, plates on the table, the dish is served... but then the host decides to do the dishes first... "I just want to get this out of the way before we eat." *SLAM.. CRASH... BAM..* "Oh, this is a new very good washing-detergent you see, leaves no spots. And it really gets all the mess off. Next time I cook, I will be all set and go with the pan.. *HARSH GRATING... CRASH, BOM* "Just a few minutes more, and we'll have a wonderful dinner, you'll see.." "I bought this whisk. Very good for the sauce... damit, get clean now! Off with the grease..." *SPLASH, SPLASH... SLAM* "There now!...... I am sorry, dinner is a bit cold, but the taste is still the same, and I used all the right tools to make it perfect.. Enjoy.... Please relax, please."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 Sep 09 | 10:08AM by Knygatin.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 10:14AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> the several pages of editorials at the beginning
> of the Arkham House volumes

I am all in favor of Joshi-bashing, have even indulged in it myself on occasion, but those forewords were not written by Joshi, of course.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 11:02AM
JoJo Lapin X:

Quote:
Say what you will about de Camp's book, but at least it is entertaining

If you find reading half-truths, moronic judgments, and tabloid-style prose entertaining, then more power to you. I think that Lovecraft deserves better, myself, and, for all Joshi's faults, he at least succeeds in offering something better.

Quote:
I got carried away by my own analogy!

An even better way of making the point, I think, is along the lines of, "One does not need to be a carpenter to recognize a three-legged chair".


Martinus:


Quote:
Still, being affiliated with a university does not necessarily mean that your research is better than anybody else's.

No, it doesn't, but it does means that one has better resources at one's disposal to help in avoiding stupid mistakes. People such as Punter have fewer excuses than does someone such as Joshi. If, however, Joshi wants to "play in the big leagues"--and it seems that he does--then his work should be held to the same standards as those governing university-supported academics.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 11:08AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> those forewords were not written by Joshi, of course.

I meant the first pages by Joshi. I don't mind an introduction as long as it's not written in a dull way. I have mixed emotions about the new introductions in Arkham volumes. Remember T. E. D. Klein's as impressive, although perhaps too long. Derleth's introductions in the old editions set the right mood, even if he may have been naive in the eyes of scholars.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 11:12AM
Quote:
Is Joshi left-wing? Is he a feminist

Joshi is a mechanistic materialist and a dogmatic atheist, which is one reason why he likes Lovecraft so much. He's the sort who gets all excited when he reads poems such as Sterling's "To Science". What Joshi finds most admirable in Lovecraft's world-view, I find least admirable. For Joshi and Lovecraft, philosophy effectively ended by the 18th Century. "Isaac Newton said it, I believe it, and that settles it!"

By contrast, CAS's open-mindedness on the subject of the "nature of reality" is far more mature and philosophically sophisticated than Lovecraft's (and Joshi's). I only wish that, when the subject occasionally raised its head in the correspondence with Lovecraft, CAS had been more willing to debate.

On the other hand, I do not blame anyone who preferred to decline to debate with Lovecraft! In fact, I wish Lovecraft were around to debate and defend himself against the likes of old Gavin C., here. It would be amusing to see Lovecraft rip such types to shreds!

As for Joshi's political perspective, I imagine that Joshi is mildly liberal, like so many science-worshippers, and he likely sees liberal social causes as being consonant with a modern and "progressive" perspective.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 5 Sep 09 | 12:13PM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 11:53AM
Thanks.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> By contrast, CAS's open-mindedness on the subject
> of the "nature of reality" is far more mature and
> philosophically sophisticated than Lovecraft's
> (and Joshi's).

I only wish that, when the subject
> occasionally raised its head in the correspondence
> with Lovecraft, CAS had been more willing to
> debate.

I don't think CAS was made up in that way. He focused all his thoughts into creativity instead of debate. I find his occasional debates and essays easy-going and detached. It is in art that he burned.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 12:11PM
Quote:
I don't think CAS was made up in that way. He focused all his thoughts into creativity instead of debate.

In general, that's very true, although CAS defends his views rather sharply at times in some of the letters to fanzines that are reprinted in Planets and Dimensions.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 02:43PM
My only problem about Joshi is the sheer amount of stuff he is writing/publishing/milking out of HPL and how often he repeats himself, but not necessarily the quality of Joshi's work per se, which I think is generally excellent. Perhaps his prose is a bit dry at times, but its scholarly qualities can't be denied in my opinion (especially if you've never read HPL: A Life but are instead relying upon shitty amazon reviews) and it feels in keeping with Lovecraft the man who I'm sure would appreciate the scholarly quality of A Life.

Is he objective or not? Well, yes and no. Yes, regarding saying things without backing it up with a logical chain of thought and other sources (indeed I'd say he debunks far more myths than he creates), but no, re: praise for HPL's writing and philosophy, but then why should he? He obviously loves Lovecraft's writing and agrees with this perspective. HPL: A Life is primarily a biography, rather than a critical study. Indeed I'd say that Joshi doesn't entirely shy away from criticising Lovecraft and his writing at times too, when appropriate. Let's face it the only people who are going to read a biography on HPL are going to be fans of him anyway and when it comes to assessing the quality of a writer, I'm quite capable of making up my own mind anyway.

My main scepticism regarding this new edition is: do I need it if I've already got A Life? My feeling is nope, especially as it's likely to be fairly expensive. My other problem is how often he repeats vast sections of work between books, which I feel is a rip off. And, while I'm here, my other issue is by publishing many tens of volumes of bio/critical material on HPL is he not just making a fast buck and a reputation by exploiting Lovecrafts name and the interest in him, much in the same way that he accuses Derleth of doing and in doing so is he damaging Lovecraft's name? Also isn't it about time he cease putting the boot into Derleth by now.... Hmmm... sounds like I hate him too... :)

As for this anti-liberalism/science guff... well, I'm with Joshi and Lovecraft on this one, I'm afraid. Reading Lovecraft I have no doubt that conceptually and intellectually he is vastly superior to the rest Lovecraft circle.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 03:26PM
Joshi's mistakes as a scholar are myriad and well documented. That said, I agree that, unlike, say, Derleth's, Joshi's legacy vis-a-vis Lovecraft is more positive than negative.

Quote:
As for this anti-liberalism/science guff

News flash: Critiquing aspects of science (or, more accurately, scientism, i.e. the substitution of science for religion), liberalism, etc., is not tantamount to being anti-liberal or anti-science, in general. If you want to portray yourself as the voice of reason, by contrast, then I would respectfully suggest that using sneer words, such as "guff", is not the best way to achieve your aim.

For the rest, you are entitled to consider Lovecraft intellectually superior to CAS, but I disagree, and I dare say I am not the only one--not that that matters, of course.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 03:42PM
Neither Lovecraft nor Smith was much of a philosopher, to be honest. I think Lovecraft's fiction is entirely overshadowed in importance by his letters, but I read them not for any profound insights to be found in them, but simply because they paint such a charming picture of how a life can be spent almost entirely indoors, in semi-poverty, inside one's head, end at age 46, and nevertheless be rich and fulfilling---completely contrary to standard expectations. We can all learn something from the surprising fact that Lovecraft, overall, seems to have been such a happy person.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 07:02PM
The English Assassin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Perhaps his prose is a bit dry at times, but its scholarly
> qualities can't be denied in my opinion
> ... HPL: A Life... it feels in keeping with Lovecraft...

Thanks for your effort to describe the book. I don't rule out that I may eventually read HPL: A Life.


Jojo Lapin X, that's a great perspective on Lovecraft's letters. Personally I enjoy his profound thoughts. Though I am not sure "happy" is the right word. "Glad" or "content", from time to time, seems more right to me. What do you other posters say, was Lovecraft a happy man, or person?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2009 09:24PM
Quote:
Neither Lovecraft nor Smith was much of a philosopher, to be honest.

That, of course, depends upon your standards and upon your definition of philosophy. I suspect that you make far more obeisance to specialists and specialization than I do. To state that neither CAS nor Lovecraft is "much of a philosopher" by the standards of what passes for philosophy today is to pay these men an unintentional compliment.

I would add that, as a philosophical statement, CAS's observation that all science, religion, and philosophy are the holding of a candle to the night of the universe is worth more than the pretentious prattling of every system-builder or analytical "language philosopher" that ever fouled the air. We've come a long way since the Ancient Greeks--in the wrong direction.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 Sep 09 | 09:29PM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: J. F. Uccello (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2009 04:00AM
The biggest problem I have with "H. P. Lovecraft: A Life" is the cover art. And I have to agree strongly with a previous poster who mentioned Joshi's nonsensical panning of CAS's story writing. Though Joshi does give extremely high praise for CAS's poetry. Not sure why Joshi has such contrasting opinions, he doesn't go into enough detail to really make sense on this issue. That said, I feel that this is one of the best literary biographies out there, and I have ready many. I read it straight through when first acquiring it, and often reread passages. Though I enjoyed Lovecraft's work immensely for years with minimal biographical input on the man himself, this biography brought me an elevated level of respect for Lovecraft and what he was able to accomplish in his short life. Joshi overwhelming deserves respect for accomplishing such a masterful and heartfelt study.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2009 07:01AM
Indeed the cover art to HPL: A Life is truly terrible. The other main problem with it is its lack of general availability making it something of a niche item. A fact that I don't see the new version curing, although saying that isn't their a real abridged version available somewhere as well?

I don't have a problem with Joshi's criticism of CAS's writing. He's free to his opinion and that's all it is. Nor do I think Joshi nor anybody else needs to justify every opinion they hold. No one needs to say why they like/dislike something - sometimes there is no reason, just a gut reaction. Saying that, he can't hate CAS's fiction that much as he's edited/published two vols of his juvenile work.

As for CAS and HPL's relative strength and weaknesses as philosophers, well I'm sure neither hold water against most actual philosophers (classical or modern) and I doubt that either would make any great claims for them self as such either. I've not read all their respective non-fiction/letters, so maybe I'm wrong, but, despite the strength of said writing, neither seem to have any truly original ideas as such and neither would I expect them to: both being autodidactic and both primarily being artists rather than great thinkers of their time. However, I think the main difference between the two is that HLP has a philosophy, while CAS just has an open mind, although I'm not saying that he doesn't have strong opinions too. Maybe I'm wrong. I've only read CAS's letters to George Sterling and to HPL, but no where in them did I see anything I'd call a distinct philosophical perspective nor an strong synthesis of pre-existing philosophies (as I think can be seen in Lovecraft) as such, just a willingness to discuss philosophy as you might expect in a conversation between any two intellectual friends. Nor do I see any underlying conceit to CAS's fiction either like I do in Lovecraft. And I see that as no slight on CAS's name. While I love HPL's writing, I'd probably concede that CAS is the more naturally gifted writer of the two, but conceptually he seems a little naive in comparison, which might be part of his charm. Of course its all just personal opinion and I'm more than willing to bow to someone with greater knowledge of CAS: his life and writings.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2009 12:47PM
Quote:
Not sure why Joshi has such contrasting opinions [regarding CAS's poetry and his fiction]

I believe that it's because, as of the early '90's, when Joshi finished writing his biography of Lovecraft, what little of CAS's fiction he'd read consisted largely of CAS's small body of science fiction pulp work. CAS himself admitted that much of this was hack work, but it constitutes only a small portion of his fictional oeuvre, and to generalize from these tales to CAS's fiction as a whole, as Joshi does, is indeed absurd.

Philosophy: I think that English Assassin severely underestimates CAS and his philosophical abilities, but I see little point in debating the matter further. English Assassin and I have a different definition of philosopher, it seems. To me, a philosopher is simply someone who thinks philosophically and who seriously considers philosophical problems. One does not need to have a Ph.D. in the subject, or to found a philosophical school, in order to be a philosopher. The Ancient Greeks wisely considered philosophizing to be the province of every thinking subject.

As for CAS's personal philosophy, his cosmicism and his ability to escape the conditioning of the "human aquarium" are profoundly original. I know of few Western philosophers, apart from the Stoics, who were able to de-center human perspectives and view reality from non-human viewpoints without bringing "God" into the equation--and a highly anthropomorphic god, at that! Planets and Dimensions is a far better source for CAS's philosophical opinions than his letters to friends.

As for allegations of philosophical naivete, I'd say that true naivete lies in an uncritical worship of science and materialism. In that respect, Lovecraft is by far the more naive of the two authors. That anyone could mislabel such an extreme epistemological skeptic as CAS "naive" simply boggles the mind.

Quote:
I don't have a problem with Joshi's criticism of CAS's writing. He's free to his opinion and that's all it is.

First, like many critics, Joshi has the bad habit of stating his opinions as if they were indisputable fact. Second, when someone reads only a handful of an author's one-hundred-plus stories, and then pontificates that much of the writer's work is "routine hackwork"--which Joshi admits that he did in CAS's case--then that is grossly irresponsible "scholarship", and I have a tremendous problem with it. Again, let us hope that when Joshi revises the biography, he makes a more responsible, informed, and nuanced assessment of CAS's fiction.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 6 Sep 09 | 01:36PM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2009 03:41PM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As for CAS's personal philosophy, his cosmicism
> and his ability to escape the conditioning of the
> "human aquarium" are profoundly original.

When I said that Smith was not much of a philosopher, what I meant, of course, was that I consider the sort of thing you mention to be nonsense---fine for providing a weird story with atmosphere, but hardly to be taken seriously as a basis for action of any kind in the real world.

> Second, when someone reads only
> a handful of an author's one-hundred-plus stories,
> and then pontificates that much of the writer's
> work is "routine hackwork"--which Joshi admits
> that he did in CAS's case--then that is grossly
> irresponsible "scholarship", and I have a
> tremendous problem with it.

Perhaps then there is, after all, something to be said for academic scholarship? In academia, when something is submitted for publication in a reputable journal or by an academic publisher, it is subjected to peer review. The (often anonymous) experts who review the manuscript then spot such errors and either recommend rejection or demand revision before publication. Or such is the theory, at least.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 01:55AM
Name a more definitive Lovecraft biography than Joshi's?

That is right, you can't!

:)



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 7 Sep 09 | 02:04AM by Eldritch Frog.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: australianreaderdotcom (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 07:09AM
A problem: if we are to argue that all philosophers, for their philosophical system to be valid, must create an original system, then it devalues the place of those who, whilst followers, explore what it means to hold those systems as a neccesary component of their world-view.

Marcus Aurelius, for example, may not be an original thinker, but he is important for revealing what your garden-variety stoic held important. And that's where HPL and CAs come in; in the former case alone, we see, clearly, what it was like to be a scientific materialist in the first third of the Twentieth century, and this, really, is more exciting for our understanding of that philosophy than those far and few who created their own, original systems.

My basic point is this: we should not look solely to the original thinker for our understandings of a philosophical system or position, but also to the followers and epigones, for their translations into the world-views of the more common people. We don't just understand the impact of Darwin on the world by looking only at Darwin, but how the society around and following him absorbed and absorbs his ideas, and we should not be doing the same for philosophy, or for any other comparable field of human endeavour.

Blog: The Cruellest Month -- [the-cruellest-month.blogspot.com.au]
Website: [www.phillipaellis.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 07:57AM
Quote:
[W]hat I meant, of course, was that I consider the sort of thing you mention to be nonsense---fine for providing a weird story with atmosphere, but hardly to be taken seriously as a basis for action of any kind in the real world.

I am not altogether sure what you mean, here, but if I understand you correctly, then the view you express is the nonsensical one, to me, with its arbitrary and insupportable dualism.

As for the application and understanding of such ideas as the equivocal definition of "reality", have a look at the Danish philosopher Jurij Moskvitin's Essay on the Origin of Thought, sometime. And please, since you seem to have it all figured out, by all means tell us what exactly the "real world" is. ;-)

This fact may shock you, but some of us really can and do consciously distance ourselves from consensus reality and maintain, at least for brief periods, the sort of perception that CAS espouses. That few are capable of doing so really doesn't concern me, since my world is as "real" as theirs.

Even if we follow your frame of reference, however, your assertion falls flat. Marcus Aurelius, for instance, obviously found it quite valuable to contemplate life from the cosmic perspective. When last I checked, he did not do so to create atmosphere for weird tales, but as a form of spiritual exercise that assisted him in ruling over the Roman Empire, which, I believe, would fit your definition of the "real world".

Quote:
Perhaps then there is, after all, something to be said for academic scholarship?

That's right, there is. I am not the one who is anti-academic. Although I am far from being uncritical of academics, one finds them making the sorts of gaffes as Joshi does far less frequently. Joshi's work is often outstanding, within his limitations, and I am for the most part glad that he is around. It is silly, however, to pretend that his lack of formal academic affiliation does not leave him hamstrung, at times. When he makes such howlers as he did in the case of CAS, and then compounds the error with arrogance, he deserves to be called to account.

By the way, having graduate research assistants to check citations and the like, as academics often do, means that such errors as Joshi's should usually never even reach the peer review stage.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 7 Sep 09 | 10:30AM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 09:19AM
australianreaderdotcom:

You seem to discount the possibility that so-called epigones add original contributions of their own, by developing--and sometimes altering beyond recognition--the alleged "original" ideas of others.

"Original" ideas are themselves more likely to be mere syntheses of others' ideas, ones that are recombined to create something new, than they are to be offspring of the forehead of Zeus. Absolute originality does not exist. As someone wisely observed, those who seem most original are the ones who best disguise their sources. In emphasizing the cosmic perspective, Marcus, for instance, showed a distinct element of originality. In developing the idea, so does the thought of CAS.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 01:43PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> You don't strike me as an academic in the field of Weird Fiction (or
> even educated for that matter), but nonetheless I can safely assume
> that Joshi is more widely published than you will ever be, has more
> projects in the field than you have (in any field), and is a more
> amiable chap as well.
>
> I met him 2 years ago, and trust me he is not the jerk you
> hate-spewing shoggoths would paint him to be! :p
>
> Yes, he is opinionated but unlike you he actually backs his ideas
> clear and concise evidence!
>
> Name a better biography on Lovecraft? Oh, that's right you can't!
> There is not a more definitive biography on Lovecraft out there!
>
> Maybe you should right his "wrongs" with a biography yourself? After
> all you are the "academic"?

Please try to keep up, Frog. Martin made a ridiculous comment to emphasize how silly some of the criticism against Joshi in this thread has been; I refined the comment to make it even more ridiculous, because I haven't cared much for the unsupported Joshi-bashing, either. I think his biography is excellent, and I'm eager to read the expanded version. As for the sneering at Joshi's atheism and materialism from others: the preponderance of evidence points to the existence of only atoms and the void, so he's placed the right bet. Religions, philosophies, and New Age fantasies aren't somehow better than reality because they're more unprovably rococo.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 04:00PM
Priscian:

Quote:
I haven't cared much for the unsupported Joshi-bashing, either.

Maybe you are the one who needs take his own advice about keeping up. Both I and others have offered specific evidence in this thread, as well as elsewhere in the forum, regarding Joshi's errors and arrogant misstatements. Also, I have been careful to mention what I consider to be the positive aspects of Joshi's work, as well. Therefore, to suggest that every critical comment here about Joshi has been negatively one sided involves selective perception.

Quote:
the preponderance of evidence points to the existence of only atoms and the void, so he's placed the right bet.

Ah, another pontificator who can tell us all about what "reality" really is! Now that I have your word for it, I shall certainly mend the error of my ways! ;-)

All I can say is, I envy you your certainty, but not your myopia, which bespeaks a breathtaking historical ignorance. In Ancient Greece, for instance, the "preponderance of the evidence" was that the cause of emotional depression is excess secretions of black bile. R.D. Laing has a great quotation that pertains to those of your ilk (paraphrased from memory): "Yesterday, the universe was a great clock. Today, it is a hologram. What intellectual rattle will we be waving at it tomorrow?"


P.S. Speaking of ignorance, historical and otherwise, if you think that atoms are still considered to be the primary unit of matter, then your physics is about a century out of date. When I hear a lecture about science and its infallibility, I generally find it more convincing when the person actually gets the science right!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 7 Sep 09 | 04:18PM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 04:21PM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ah, another pontificator who is capable of telling
> us all about what "reality" really is! Now that I
> have your word for it, I certainly see the error
> of my ways! ;-)

He does refer to evidence, which means he is not just asking us to take his word for it---he is saying that we could all at least in principle verify it to our own satisfaction. It is rather the person who, for example, says that "Although, by the very nature of things, I have no way of demonstrating it to you, it happens to be true that the Universe is ruled by invisible, numinous forces" who is demanding that we unquestioningly bow to his authority.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 05:24PM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Priscian:
>
> I haven't cared much for the unsupported
> Joshi-bashing, either.
>
> Kyberean:
>
> Maybe you are the one who needs take his own
> advice about keeping up. Both I and others have
> offered specific evidence in this thread, as well
> as elsewhere in the forum, regarding Joshi's
> errors and arrogant misstatements. Also, I have
> been careful to mention what I consider to be the
> positive aspects of Joshi's work, as well.
> Therefore, to suggest that every critical comment
> here about Joshi has been negatively one sided
> involves selective perception.

Incorrect. Not a single example of "specific evidence" of Joshi's errors is offered in this thread. Some of the following opinions have been offered, though:

1. A biographer must write from a completely objective point of view.
2. The prefaces to Joshi's Arkham House Lovecrafts suck.
3. Joshi makes "very basic mistakes." (No examples.)
4. Joshi is not an academic.
5. Joshi's writing is "dreary."
6. Some claptrap about "science worshippers."
7. Joshi repeats himself.

However, no specific examples or links accompany these assertions.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Priscian:
>
> the preponderance of evidence points to the
> existence of only atoms and the void, so he's
> placed the right bet.
>
> Kyberean:
>
> Ah, another pontificator who can tell us all about
> what "reality" really is! Now that I have your
> word for it, I shall certainly mend the error of
> my ways! ;-)
>
> All I can say is, I envy you your certainty, but
> not your myopia, which bespeaks a breathtaking
> historical ignorance. In Ancient Greece, for
> instance, the "preponderance of the evidence" was
> that the cause of emotional depression is excess
> secretions of black bile. R.D. Laing has a great
> quotation that pertains to those of your ilk
> (paraphrased from memory): "Yesterday, the
> universe was a great clock. Today, it is a
> hologram. What intellectual rattle will we be
> waving at it tomorrow?"
>
>
> P.S. Speaking of ignorance, historical and
> otherwise, if you think that atoms are still
> considered to be the primary unit of matter, then
> your physics is about a century out of date. When
> I hear a lecture about science and its
> infallibility, I generally find it more convincing
> when the person actually gets the science right!

For someone who likes thinking about the nature of the universe in analogies rather than facts, you're taking my nod to Democritus rather literally.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 09:51AM
Yea, I noticed that I responded to the wrong person. That is why I later edited my response because I forgot who I was even railing against in this post.

But seriously, I find the Joshi bashing to be quite ridiculous. I was surprised he was such a cool guy when I met him based on negative things people said about him on the internet. He went out of his way to make sure I had a good time and personally gave me a Lovecraft tour of Providence even though the University was too scared to do it because the weather was a little crazy that day.

But for crying out loud, if you have not even read his biography then what can you possibly know about this book?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 10:00AM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yea, I noticed that I responded to the wrong
> person. That is why I later edited my response
> because I forgot who I was even railing against in
> this post.
>
> But seriously, I find the Joshi bashing to be
> quite ridiculous. I was surprised he was such a
> cool guy when I met him based on negative things
> people said about him on the internet. He went
> out of his way to make sure I had a good time and
> personally gave me a Lovecraft tour of Providence
> even though the University was too scared to do it
> because the weather was a little crazy that day.
>
> But for crying out loud, if you have not even read
> his biography then what can you possibly know
> about this book?

You don't mean me specifically, right? Because I have read the bio. Twice.

I met Joshi a few years ago in Buffalo when he was "on tour" for "The Angry Right." Not many people showed up for the reading, but he pleasantly engaged the few of us there in discussion about his writing, current events, etc. He even signed my copy of "Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism." Nice guy.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 11:09AM
priscian Wrote:
> You don't mean me specifically, right? Because I
> have read the bio. Twice.
>
> I met Joshi a few years ago in Buffalo when he was
> "on tour" for "The Angry Right." Not many people
> showed up for the reading, but he pleasantly
> engaged the few of us there in discussion about
> his writing, current events, etc. He even signed
> my copy of "Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism."
> Nice guy.

No. Another poster was bashing the book, and then admited that he did not read it. It was in the first few pages! lol

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 11:14AM
I am sure Joshi is a fine fellow; I would not know. My complaint is strictly with the products he is selling. The character testimony of friends and relatives is not really germane to this issue.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 11:25AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am sure Joshi is a fine fellow; I would not
> know. My complaint is strictly with the products
> he is selling. The character testimony of friends
> and relatives is not really germane to this issue.

Again, name a better biography on the subject?

Also, if you are such a "scholar" then why not write a better biography?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 11:51AM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Again, name a better biography on the subject?

If you take a moment to read this thread, you will notice that I have said nothing about Joshi's Lovecraft biography. For a good reason: I have not read it! I have read a number of his other works, however. In fact, I am currently struggling with his awful book about John Dickson Carr.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 8 Sep 09 | 11:52AM by Jojo Lapin X.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 01:03PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Eldritch Frog Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Again, name a better biography on the subject?
>
> If you take a moment to read this thread, you will
> notice that I have said nothing about Joshi's
> Lovecraft biography. For a good reason: I have not
> read it! I have read a number of his other works,
> however. In fact, I am currently struggling with
> his awful book about John Dickson Carr.

This is absolutely hilarious! That is 2 bashers in this thread, who have not read the biography!

How do you expect any of us to take your opinions serious when you have not and do not intend to read either of the books?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 01:25PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How do you expect any of us to take your opinions
> serious when you have not and do not intend to
> read either of the books?

I do not understand. Why do I have to read his Lovecraft biography before I can have an opinion on those books of his that I have read? It seems entirely unreasonable.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 01:46PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Eldritch Frog Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > How do you expect any of us to take your
> opinions
> > serious when you have not and do not intend to
> > read either of the books?
>
> I do not understand. Why do I have to read his
> Lovecraft biography before I can have an opinion
> on those books of his that I have read? It seems
> entirely unreasonable.

Could you explain why you dislike the book about Carr (which I haven't read) so much? So far in this thread, Martin has been the only one to offer specific examples of flaws in some of the works discussed (SL and "Lovecraft Remembered"). Everyone else has offered only unsupported opinion.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 01:59PM
priscian Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Could you explain why you dislike the book about
> Carr (which I haven't read) so much?

It is poorly written; it has no point; like most of Joshi's "analytical" work it consists mainly of a string of lengthy quotations. It also points up what is perhaps the fundamental problem with Joshi's scholarship: the absurdly Lovecraft-centric nature of his view of the world of literature. There is, of course, no reason whatsoever to refer to Lovecraft, or even mention him, in a book about Carr---but Joshi drags Lovecraft into this like he drags Lovecraft into everything.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 02:15PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> priscian Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Could you explain why you dislike the book
> about
> > Carr (which I haven't read) so much?
>
> It is poorly written; it has no point; like most
> of Joshi's "analytical" work it consists mainly of
> a string of lengthy quotations. It also points up
> what is perhaps the fundamental problem with
> Joshi's scholarship: the absurdly
> Lovecraft-centric nature of his view of the world
> of literature. There is, of course, no reason
> whatsoever to refer to Lovecraft, or even mention
> him, in a book about Carr---but Joshi drags
> Lovecraft into this like he drags Lovecraft into
> everything.

"Poorly written" (I myself wouldn't say that about most of Joshi's work in general) and "has no point" are rather unspecific, but you have a point about Lovecraft's ubiquity in Joshi. I've seen H. P. L. pop up in places I certainly didn't expect to find him; not to the detriment of the work, but also not integral to its apparent purpose. I'd have to scan my collection of Joshi for specific examples, because I've only got hints in my memory.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 03:01PM
Good grief, what a ridiculous mess this thread has become! At a minimum, I am going to summarize my main points as briefly as possible in a way that cannot be gainsaid or misunderstood:

--Joshi:

1. He's done some very good work. Overall, I think that his contribution to the field is a positive one. His Lovecraft biography, in particular, is very good, though hardly flawless. It's also the best we are likely to get.

2. He's done some bad work, and has made some boneheaded mistakes, primarily because he over-extends himself. An academic affiliation would offer him better support for his over-ambitious writing and publication schedule.

I didn't list all of Joshi's boners and examples of his padding and repetition in this thread because others have done so, and because I and others have also done so in other threads on this forum. So please, Priscian, cut the crap about all the "unsupported" criticism of Joshi:

A. Joshi claims in the Lovecraft biography that "much of CAS's fiction is routine hackwork", despite the fact that, by Joshi's own admission, he had read only a small subset of CAS's fiction when he made that comment.

B. Joshi claims in his Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature that very little of Gustav Meyrink's weird fiction had been translated into English. By the publication date of Joshi's edition, nearly all of Meyrink's weird fiction had been translated into English.

C. Joshi asserts that George Sterling's "Black Vulture" is an allegory of death. Sterling, addressing the matter in an easily-discoverable letter, says nothing of the sort. Granted, Joshi needn't accept Sterling's own comment on his work at face value, but it is sheer incompetence not to refer to it, at all.

All this is just off the top of my head, writing here from work during lunch without access to any of my books!

3. I don't care whether Joshi seems like a nice guy to someone who met him in person, but I do think it worthwhile to know a person's biases. Joshi is biased toward the materialist extreme of the philosophical spectrum. His atheism is often strident. His affinity for Lovecraft, I venture, is based largely upon Lovecraft's similar views in these matters.

--CAS, Philosophy, Science, Etc.:

1. Science is a very good and useful discipline. Skepticism toward science as the sole valid medium of absolute truth does not equate automatically to anti-science, nor does it mean that such skeptics cannot make use of and appreciate science, as far as it goes. Forgive us, however, if we withhold our religious faith in science's omniscience-giving properties.

2. The ovine certainty that science uncovers absolute or objective "truth" is ridiculous. This absurdity holds for any creation of the extremely limited human brain and sensorium. Science and empiricism do not reach us "pure"; much prior cultural and intellectual conditioning prepares us for their reception. To assert otherwise is merely the bleating of the brainwashed.

3. CAS realized very clearly that this certainty is ridiculous. Humans are not sufficiently evolved to "know" much of anything, as yet.

4. This recognition, in my view, makes CAS's philosophical perspective more profound than that of most, including that of scientific materialists who are convinced that their world-view and method provide the criteria by which every question should be judged.

5. I have never advocated the false opposition of religion or "New Age" spirituality versus science. This is a phony dichotomy. CAS believed in neither the one nor the other. I agree with him. As Edison himself once said, "We don't know one-tenth of one percent about anything".

As for the impulse that underlies science and religion as explanatory, comforting, and certainty-providing disciplines, Kurt Vonnegut beautifully summarizes the deep psychological need, and the deep emotional weakness, that underlies them both:

"Tiger gotta hunt,
Bird got to fly,
Man got to sit and wonder, why? why? why?

Tiger gotta sleep,
Bird got to land,
Man got to tell himself he understand".



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 8 Sep 09 | 03:27PM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 September, 2009 12:52PM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

>
> Philosophy: I think that English Assassin severely
> underestimates CAS and his philosophical
> abilities, but I see little point in debating the
> matter further. English Assassin and I have a
> different definition of philosopher, it seems. To
> me, a philosopher is simply someone who thinks
> philosophically and who seriously considers
> philosophical problems. One does not need to have
> a Ph.D. in the subject, or to found a
> philosophical school, in order to be a
> philosopher. The Ancient Greeks wisely considered
> philosophizing to be the province of every
> thinking subject.

I'm not sure I have quite as narrow idea of philosophy as you think. I'm quite happy to admit that CAS might well have had a discusive and open philosophical mind, which is fine and probably means I'd sooner share a pint or two with him than Lovecraft, however I think it's fair to say that he doesn't have quite such a defined and well-formed Philosophy. That is to say that I think most people who know Lovecraft would know what a Lovecraftian Philosophy was, but I'm not convinced that a CASian Philosophy would be, specifically.

I do take issue with you that Lovecraft was particularly closed minded. Having strong opinions doesn't mean you don't or haven't discussed a given concept, either by yourself or with others. HPL always seems quite open to having discussions about any subject. Even things, like Modernism, which weren't to his taste, he dabbled with to see what it was about. I think I'd also point out that many of HPL's friends held radically different opinions with him on cosmolgy, yet he was always open to debate. The fact that he argued his case well, rationally and strongly doesn't mean he is philosophically autistic. This is a gross simplification in my opinion. I think the problem with Lovecraft's nay sayers are they feel insulted/patronized by his rhetoric. He is to my mind a very powerful rhetorical writer and I don't see anything wrong with that, especially in fiction. I don't want endless relativism. CS Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy, while I strongly disagree with almost every word of, is also a fine piece of fantasy rhetoric.


> As for CAS's personal philosophy, his cosmicism
> and his ability to escape the conditioning of the
> "human aquarium" are profoundly original. I know
> of few Western philosophers, apart from the
> Stoics, who were able to de-center human
> perspectives and view reality from non-human
> viewpoints without bringing "God" into the
> equation--and a highly anthropomorphic god, at
> that! Planets and Dimensions is a far better
> source for CAS's philosophical opinions than his
> letters to friends.

This is a good point. While I'm not too keen on some of CAS' proto-sf work in general, he does produce a stagering cosmic perspective, perhaps more intuitively arrived at than Lovecraft, whose Philosophy is perhaps more mechanically in more than one respect.

> As for allegations of philosophical naivete, I'd
> say that true naivete lies in an uncritical
> worship of science and materialism. In that
> respect, Lovecraft is by far the more naive of the
> two authors. That anyone could mislabel such an
> extreme epistemological skeptic as CAS "naive"
> simply boggles the mind.

Perhaps 'naive' is a little strong in relation to CAS, although i will qualify that with saying that I used it in comparison to HPL's perspective, which I perceive as being more questioning and less accepting than you do. I also think I qualified my post by saying that this is just my opinion and it's all subjective and I wasn't being absolute. But I will add that surely asking for proof, logic or questioning circular thinking isn't particularly naive? This assumption that all scientists and atheists is scientism I find staggering. Anyone who has studied in the sciences will know that there is more debate, disagreement and outright rivalry in science many other disciplines. This perception of evil materialist scientists being sucked off by their unquestioning science-worshipping followers as they coldly reduce everything to a cold grey world is, frankly, stereotyping, grossly simplistic name-calling in my opinion - or is it just another man's rhetoric?


> First, like many critics, Joshi has the bad habit
> of stating his opinions as if they were
> indisputable fact. Second, when someone reads only
> a handful of an author's one-hundred-plus stories,
> and then pontificates that much of the writer's
> work is "routine hackwork"--which Joshi admits
> that he did in CAS's case--then that is grossly
> irresponsible "scholarship", and I have a
> tremendous problem with it. Again, let us hope
> that when Joshi revises the biography, he makes a
> more responsible, informed, and nuanced assessment
> of CAS's fiction.

It has to be said that HPL: A Life is a biography on Lovecraft and not Clark Ashton Smith and I see no reason why Joshi should have to read everything by every single person he mentions in it. The fast that he looked at some of CAS's fiction, poetry, letters and art is enough, in my opinion, for him to express an opinion in passing and to give an overview. I suppose this new edition might be amended in this regard as Joshi's knowledge and opinions change. Actually isn't demanding such an ultra-thoroughness in Joshi's scholarship a bit like like the sort of thing that those who 'worship science' would level at pseudo-science, religion and spiritualism also demand? Is literary scholarship really as important as science?

Anyway, hope this post wasn't too inflammatory and not too personal.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 9 September, 2009 02:14PM
priscian Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "Poorly written" (I myself wouldn't say that about
> most of Joshi's work in general) and "has no
> point" are rather unspecific

About the lack of point: A book cannot just be a catalog of facts; it needs a thesis. We can find out the facts about what is in Carr's novels by reading them ourselves. The only point of writing a book about them must be to add something to our understanding of them.

As Joshi admits, the only thing that a Carr novel is ever about is how a complicated, seemingly impossible crime was committed. The construction of such a baffling plot is its sole reason for existing, its sole source of entertainment the unraveling of the mystery. Yet Joshi already on page one explains that in order not to spoil anything for readers unfamiliar with the novels, he will refrain from discussing details of their plots! This, of course, leaves him with nothing to talk about at all.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 10 September, 2009 10:06AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> priscian Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > "Poorly written" (I myself wouldn't say that
> about
> > most of Joshi's work in general) and "has no
> > point" are rather unspecific
>
> About the lack of point: A book cannot just be a
> catalog of facts; it needs a thesis. We can find
> out the facts about what is in Carr's novels by
> reading them ourselves. The only point of writing
> a book about them must be to add something to our
> understanding of them.
>
> As Joshi admits, the only thing that a Carr novel
> is ever about is how a complicated, seemingly
> impossible crime was committed. The construction
> of such a baffling plot is its sole reason for
> existing, its sole source of entertainment the
> unraveling of the mystery. Yet Joshi already on
> page one explains that in order not to spoil
> anything for readers unfamiliar with the novels,
> he will refrain from discussing details of their
> plots! This, of course, leaves him with nothing to
> talk about at all.


And the mere fact that you have not read Joshi's biography, do not intend to and are instead discussing a book that has nothing to do with his Lovecraft Biography leaves you with...nothing to talk about at all! :p

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: australianreaderdotcom (IP Logged)
Date: 10 September, 2009 07:27PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
> > If you take a moment to read this thread, you
> will
> > notice that I have said nothing about Joshi's
> > Lovecraft biography. For a good reason: I have
> not
> > read it! I have read a number of his other
> works,
> > however. In fact, I am currently struggling
> with
> > his awful book about John Dickson Carr.

Given that this thread is about the biography, then, not having read it, why are you even posting in this thread? It's akin to joining a reading group, and discussing Pride and Prejudice by talking exclusively about Emma and Sense & Sensibility!

Blog: The Cruellest Month -- [the-cruellest-month.blogspot.com.au]
Website: [www.phillipaellis.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2009 06:42PM
I find it ironic that after a long absence from the Eldritch Dark, I should return to find two separate threads dealing with H. P. Lovecraft on an ostensibly Clark Ashton Smith-website ---and not a word of complaint from Kyberean, although he repeatedly upbraided me for precisely the same thing. (Although, curiously, Kyberean does see fit to mention me twice by name in these same threads!)

As for the issues at-hand: S. T. Joshi is the premier Lovecraft-scholar now living. As such, any work of his on Lovecraft is worth looking into, and studying in detail. (---Whether I shall have the money to do so myself, of course, is an entirely other matter…) I must also say that Mr. Joshi was very kind to me in our one or two brief contacts in the 1990's, and I also found him to be very exacting in his scholarship.

Where I do disagree with Joshi, is in his apparent “hero-worship” of Lovecraft. Though in no sense hagiographic -Joshi is appropriately critical of Lovecraft in his biography- one gets the feeling (from reading Joshi’s own description of the event) that Joshi’s youthful discovery of Willis Conover’s book, Lovecraft at Last, was almost akin to a religious experience for Joshi. This sense of “hero-worship”, in all its varying degrees and uncritical manifestations, extends to much of Lovecraft’s fandom, as well.

One such example of this “hero-worship“, I fear, may be found in the apparent title of Joshi’s newly-enlarged work, i.e. “I Am Providence” ---a title which, if Joshi applies it uncritically (and perhaps he doesn‘t -we'll just have to see), one would find extremely troubling.

Lovecraft is far closer to the Puritanical theocratic Royalism of the Massachusetts Bay colony, than he ever was to the progressive, liberal, racially and religiously tolerant Providence of Roger Williams. Indeed, the frankly religious and “blasphemy”-laden language of HPL’s weird-fiction is closer to a vituperative Cotton Mather-sermon on the evils of free-thinking, than to anything Roger Williams wrote in the same time period. The fact that HPL was writing in the early 20th century, while Williams wrote in the 17th, (when polemics such as Mather’s are somehow considered more “excusable”), makes Lovecraft’s unabashed atavism all that much more appalling.

As early as 1698, Rhode Island’s leaders were vehemently protesting English parliamentary interference in colony affairs. (Herbert Aptheker, The Colonial Era [1979], p. 27) (Compare this with HPL, who routinely peppered his correspondence with “God Save the King!", and who as late as the 1930’s was still decrying the “sedition” of the American revolution against arbitrary royal authority, and what he called the treasonous secession of “Yankees” from their rightful English masters in 1775 and 1809. [Miscellaneous Writings 374])

Providence itself, H. P. Lovecraft’s hometown, was founded by Roger Williams, who was banished by the Massachusetts colony (APTHEKER 92), and who later succeeded, Herbert Aptheker writes, in “parrying several threats of invasion from Massachusetts, whose rulers wanted to forcibly wipe out ‘Rogues Island.’” (APTHEKER 99)

“Williams,” Aptheker says elsewhere,

“really believed that ‘God had made of one blood’ all mankind, and to him all people were equal in the sight of God and hence should find equal treatment at the hands of his children. In this he included all people of all colors and persuasions. Especially notable was the fact that he included the American Indians (Williams wrote the first Indian-English dictionary), and that he drew the necessary but very provocative conclusion that the forcible taking of their lands was sinful and therefore void, thus questioning the King’s title and all other land titles- questioning, indeed, the whole base of the Massachusetts colony.” (APTHEKER 98)

In Rhode Island, too, “slavery and indentured servitude were forbidden (though the former prohibition did not remain effective in the 18th century)” (APTHEKER 99-100) -an idea which presents a striking contrast to Lovecraft’s own incongruous view of slavery as a “divine” right (in such poems as “De Triumpho Naturae”), and Lovecraft’s love and veneration for the slaveholding aristocracy of the American South. (Lovecraft had pictures of Southern Confederate leaders on his walls; in strained, pseudo-archaic travel-writings, Lovecraft railed against “the empty rantings of Northern Abolitionists” [MW 374]; in Lovecraft’s travelogue on Richmond, Virginia, furthermore, HPL goes into panegyrics over such personages as “William Byrd, Gent.”, (MW 326), “Robert Edward Lee, Jefferson Davis, and the Great Lost Cause!” (MW 324) -William Byrd, whose personal diary [quoted in Aptheker, pp. 41-43 ff.] reveals him to have been a rabid torturer of the worst sort -and whose amusements consisted of applying things like the “branding-iron, “the bit”, and “the whip” to intransigent or rebellious African slaves -often female slaves and children.)

Roger Williams likewise, Aptheker writes, “insisted that all, even the most ‘paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships,‘ be freely permitted and not be the cause of any persecution whatever“ in Rhode Island. (APTHEKER 98) As early as 1654 in England, Roger Williams was asking, “Whether it be not the duty of the Magistrate to permit the Jews, whose conversion we look for, to live freely and peaceably among us?” (Oscar S. Strauss, Roger Williams: The Pioneer of Religious Liberty, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1936., p. 173) As Strauss observes,

“It is gratifying to record as a further evidence of the humane tolerance of Roger Williams, that not alone was he the founder of a State in the New World, which was the first to shelter the Jews under equal laws, but he also took a significant part in securing their readmission into England after long years of exclusion following their final expulsion under Edward in the year 1290.” (174-175)

Perhaps needless to say, this contrasts greatly with HPL’s views on the same subject, cf. HPL’s recurring rhetoric regarding the “weak”, “effeminate” aspects of Eastern/Oriental/Jewish philosophy, and what HPL termed the “foetid flood of swart, cringing Semitism“ (MW 376) in New York City.

Significant, too, is Aptheker’s description of colonial Rhode Island as a place where “Jews and Quakers and even ’witches’ did find a haven and equality and fraternity” (APTHEKER 100), ---women and particularly witches repeatedly forming the consorts of Lovecraft’s male agents of “chaos” in his fiction. Here, as elsewhere, HPL is closer to Mather than to Williams.

Rhode Island, too, was ground zero for both the Industrial Revolution in America, as well as that transoceanic mercantile trade which HPL so decried, and of which slavery played so large a part. Here, as elsewhere, HPL was rebelling against the very basis (in this case the economic basis) of his home state.

And while Joshi, in his Penguin paperback edition of HPL’s works, suggests that Lovecraft “could look upon the ‘Puritan theocracy’ of Massachusetts with suitably abstract horror and even a certain condescension” (PENGUIN 70), it seems more likely that Lovecraft’s views were closer to those of Puritan Massachusetts, and its ecclesiastical masters, than otherwise. Lovecraft’s seeming ambivalence and association of “horror” with the Puritan theocracy in his earlier stories is thus the result of the polemical confusion and ideological inconsistencies of Lovecraft’s early fiction, in which Lovecraft’s story ideas did not succeed in accurately reflecting all the aspects of his philosophical polemic.

Like a Roger Williams in reverse, Lovecraft wrote dark treatises of racial miscegenation and decay from the capital city of Williams’ land of tolerance- and did so in the 20th century, when our country was adopting Williams’ own progressive attitudes with more alacrity and enthusiasm than ever before. In truth, then, Rhode Island’s foundation, based as it was in the ideas of racial, religious, and democratic equality, is farther from Lovecraft’s own than the ideas of the Puritan divines.

On a more psychological level, too, in relation to this issue of “hero-worship”, one notes the apprently religious meaning of the phrase, “I am Providence”- as if one were to say, “I am Heaven”, or even “I am God.“ A better title, surely, for a new biography of HPL, would be “Twentieth Century Puritan”; or perhaps “Rhode Island Anachronism”.

The (apparently still-ongoing!) debate on the value of L. Sprague de Camp’s biography of HPL is, I think, another aspect of this “hero-worship.” This debate is an old one, as testified by E. Hoffmann Price’s account in his Arkham House memoir, Book of the Dead (pp. 335-341).

Of course, one does not have to be a Lovecraft “fan” to find faults with de Camp’s method and reasoning. I tend to give de Camp’s books very high marks, however, for paving the way. Though apparently loathe to admit it (Joshi does not even mention de Camp’s From Quebec to the Stars, for example, in his notices of previous Lovecraft-publications at the end of his Miscellaneous Writings), Joshi’s HPL: A Life largely builds upon what de Camp first started.

True, de Camp’s biography is highly critical of Lovecraft- but then that is the biographer’s job. If a biographer were ever to unilaterally adopt the point of view of his subject, he would be remiss in performing his function.

One also needs to understand that de Camp, in criticizing Lovecraft, was also being just as hard, in a way, upon HIMSELF. As de Camp points out himself in his book, he delved into Lovecraft’s life with a very definite feeling of “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” De Camp made a living as a professional writer- a very risky business, but he succeeded- and he did so mainly by writing non-fiction historical work with a rigorously logical and scientific viewpoint -not very easy in a time when pseudo-scientific works on “Chariots of the Gods” and “Jesus was an Alien”, etc., were the main bill-of-fare.

De Camp is unintentionally ridiculous on some points, of course- his criticism of Lovecraft for being too attached to his hometown is rightly challenged by Joshi as absurd. De Camp’s criticism of Lovecraft for being an “amateur”, too, is silly -as if nearly every important writer known to history were not also an “amateur” of some sort or another. Of course, in attacking Lovecraft as an “amateur”, De Camp is basically criticizing himself, and the life he feared he himself would have led, if he had not chosen the professional road.

I find it interesting, in this connection, that some on this thread would think to raise the issue of “amateur scholarship” in relation to S.T. Joshi, when the same could just as well be said of H. P. Lovecraft and his vaunted “philosophy”. In truth, of course, some of the greatest scholars and academics never had a proper degree in their chosen fields- John Kenneth Gailbraith comes to mind; Richard Leakey, the famed hominid paleontologist, is another. The nineteenth century is replete with many such “amateur scholars”, though admittedly by now they are becoming, regrettably, more and more rare.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "To state that neither CAS nor Lovecraft is ‘much of a philosopher’ by the standards of what passes for philosophy today is to pay these men an unintentional compliment.”


As a philosopher, HPL is entirely without value, except perhaps as a psychological case study, and as an example of what Marx and Engels identified as the last-stand of aristocracy, as embodied in such things as “Feudal Socialism”.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>“And please, since you seem to have it all figured out, by all means tell us what exactly the ‘real world’ is.”


Reality is the universe of observable facts- facts which exist independent of all group consensus, of all democracy, of all wish, of all emotion, of all personal whim, of all tyrant’s force, and of all religious dogma. One really has to wonder about Kyberean’s point of view, if it requires that he change the whole nature of reality simply in order to prove his point.

Science is a method of investigation, nothing more. It derives facts from reality via observation, logic, and deduction. As such, science is cumulative, and therefore measurable. That "mutability" of science, at which Kyberean scoffs, is thus, in reality, perhaps science’s greatest strength.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>“but some of us really can and do consciously distance ourselves from consensus reality … That few are capable of doing so really doesn't concern me, since my world is as ‘real’ as theirs.“


There is only one reality. Anything else is delusion.

There is a name, however, for “Kyberean’s world“: a world in which Boyd Rice is a harmless Merovingian scholar, Nicholas Schrek is a misunderstood practitioner of Tantric sex-magic, and H. P. Lovecraft is a “great philosopher“- it’s called “La-La Land.”

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>"We've come a long way since the Ancient Greeks--in the wrong direction.”


Kyberean says as he types into a computer keyboard, and then (instantaneously) uploads his post onto the Internet. That modern technology allows for the viral transmission of archaic or retrograde views is ironic, to say the least. But it is also to be expected, until such time as mankind finally lives up to the technology we have created.

It is ironic, too, that Kyberean would cite the Greeks in this instance, given HPL’s own unflattering view of Hellas. “Hairy”, “effeminate”, clever, subtle, chattering, Oriental, and “foreigners”, are some of HPL’s kinder remarks regarding the Greeks.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>“Lovecraft, in particular, seems to loom as a threatening figure to certain individuals, who then feel compelled, Oedipus-like, to ‘cut him down to size‘.”


If Kyberean wishes to misrepresent legitimate criticisms of Lovecraft as having some personal animus or basis, he is welcome to do so. But he is also wrong. For my part, my criticisms of HPL have one basis alone: facts.

But then, if Kyberean needs to change the facts of reality to suit his thesis, clearly, he is capable of doing so. Even if he is just living in a world "all his own."

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 14 October, 2009 06:04PM
Just remembered that I tried to start a discussion re. Joshi's HPL: A Life back in February of '09, on the Temple of Dagon site. Regrettably, there was little interest...... Be interesting to see how Joshi treats the issues of arsenic, ulcers, and boxers in his new, improved version...

"Arsenic, Ulcers, and Boxers in S. T. Joshi's HPL: A Life"

[www.templeofdagon.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 July, 2010 12:12PM
Since I know you guys just adore Joshi, you might want to pre-order "I Am Providence" now. He will sign the first 350 copies! If the thought of having his signature makes you swoon, and I know it does Jojo Lapin X, then email Derrick over at Hippocampus to make sure you get your precious signature! ;)

The book ships next month!

[www.hippocampuspress.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2010 02:58PM
I, for one, can't wait to read another hundred or two hundred pages about Lovecraft's APA activities. *yawns*

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2010 02:59PM
It'll also have more on the literary context in which he wrote, IIRC.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2010 03:08PM
Absquatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I, for one, can't wait to read another hundred or
> two hundred pages about Lovecraft's APA
> activities. *yawns*

but...but...there will be new pictures!!!

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Dunwichsouth (IP Logged)
Date: 13 July, 2010 09:29AM
I ordered this one the moment I heard it was coming out, and looking forward to having a hardback copy

>
> but...but...there will be new pictures!!!
Ohhhhh... Imagine if they added back in the much talked about 4-D Cthulhu Mythos Pop-up chapter. You open the book and Cthulhu slowly pokes his head out of the cyclopean door. You close the book without the proper closing ritual this book ends up on Ebay with the rest of your things... Since you are never seen again.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Dunwichsouth (IP Logged)
Date: 13 July, 2010 09:51AM
Twilight Zone Epilogue:
The next person who opens this 4-D pop-up chapter will notice something that was not in this book when it was first printed. The figure of a small man with a face of a Goya will slowly pop-up and cringe back, paper arms flapping from a cold gust of wind that must have come from a faulty ventilation system. Almost as if it was trying to communicate (in italics of course). "Don't close the book, Don't close the book, Don't cllllooooo....."

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: J. F. Uccello (IP Logged)
Date: 31 July, 2010 07:21AM
I am so excited to hold this book in my hands. It can't be denied that this is an event for Weird literature. Seems like from the description at Hippocampus that they are creating something of fine quality, which is something rare for us in this field, and I guess in book publishing in general these days.

Hopefully the proofreading has been absolutely thorough. With all the typos encountered in the Joshi Penguin editions of Lovecraft, I don't trust anyone anymore.

[www.viatoriumpress.blogspot.com] Dedicated to the Weird.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 27 September, 2010 03:01PM
Did any of you get this yet? I thought they shipped quite awhile back.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Dunwichsouth (IP Logged)
Date: 28 September, 2010 12:15AM
I sent an email to Hippocampus Press about a week ago and have yet to get a response. Their website still says September, so there's still a couple days left.

Small presses have definitely taught me patients is a virtue, and good things come to those who wait (and wait, and wait, and...)

Later
J

P.S.
wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait
and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait
and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait

Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Did any of you get this yet? I thought they
> shipped quite awhile back.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 28 September, 2010 12:33AM
Derrick just got back from Chicago last night. He was there for a week.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 28 September, 2010 05:35AM
I think the books arrived only early last week. My dealer (Gavin Smith) has got his copies and will be shipping mine any day now.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Dunwichsouth (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2010 01:42PM
Hello,
Just wanted to let everyone know that the postman just dropped off my copy of "I AM PROVIDENCE" here in Maryland!

My Hippocampus Press volumes are going by leaps and bounds. Definitely my favorite small press.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: CthulhuWho1 (IP Logged)
Date: 10 October, 2010 05:26PM
I'm suffering from West-Coast jealousy!

It's now the 10th. of October, and I have still not received my copy of "I Am Providence" here in Fullerton, California; but I have at least "seen" a copy by way of a YouTube video by MrWilum (Wilum Pugmire).

And I was very happy to see that my photo of St. John's Catholic Church, the "Haunter of the Dark" church, made it into Volume Two!

Getting one of my H. P. Lovecraft headstone photos from my HPL/Providence Flickr Collections into Providence Monthly for their August 2010 Lovecraft piece was great, but it doesn't compare with one of my photos becoming part of the ultimate H. P. Lovecraft Biography by S. T. Joshi!

I guess I'll just keep lurking by the mailbox for a few more days...

Will Hart
aka CthulhuWho1

Curator of:
[cthulhuwho1.com] (The CthulhuWho1 Blog)
[www.flickr.com] (The California Cthulhu Lovecraftian Collections)
[www.youtube.com] (The CthulhuWho1 YouTube Channel)

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2010 09:56AM
Mine came in Saturday, but I did not notice that it was left out in the spare car til last night. My wife saw a note scrawled on another piece of mail that it was in the car.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 October, 2010 08:37PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Mine came in Saturday, but I did not notice that
> it was left out in the spare car til last night.
> My wife saw a note scrawled on another piece of
> mail that it was in the car.

I hate it when postmen do shit like that. My posty likes to leave parcels in the paper recycling bin! Luckily he hasn't done so on recycling day... so far!

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2010 05:40PM
Recycling Guys: Wow, this guy cares so much for the environment, he has decided to just have these recycled before even opening the box! What a guy!!!

Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 October, 2010 07:37PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Mine came in Saturday, but I did not notice that
> it was left out in the spare car til last night.
> My wife saw a note scrawled on another piece of
> mail that it was in the car.

I hate it when postmen do shit like that. My posty likes to leave parcels in the paper recycling bin! Luckily he hasn't done so on recycling day... so far!

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 19 October, 2010 04:20PM
Got mine at the HPLFF in Portland at the beginning of the month. Sharing a room with S. T. does have its benefits. : )

Scott

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: MTS (IP Logged)
Date: 19 October, 2010 04:29PM
Anyone preorder this and not get it? I'm in Northern California, preordered it last February, and it hasn't arrived. I've written to Hippocampus three times over the last two weeks to see if they have a tracking number, but they've ignored all emails.

Mike

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 20 October, 2010 12:25PM
Hippocampus Press is not a "they", it is a "he", and I'm pretty sure Derrick must be swamped. Wait a couple of days and then drop him another line, is my suggestion.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: mfoight (IP Logged)
Date: 20 October, 2010 03:43PM
I pre-ordered it as soon as it was announced and it still hasn't arrived. I'm in PA. I've also written Hippocampus in the last several weeks and they have also ignored my emails.

Mike you are not alone in your frustration!

It is available via Amazon right now, which would put it in my hands today if I had not ordered via the publisher. I will be reconsidering any future pre-orders with Hippocampus. As you can tell I am also frustrated!

Take care,

Michael

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 20 October, 2010 03:44PM
Derrick only received copies at the very end of September (S.T. had only received his copies the day before the HPLFF). It has already been pointed out that Derrick is a one-man operation. I would point out that even if Derrick mailed your copy the same day that he received them from the printer, the USPS can take up to 30 days to deliver a media mail package from NY to NorCal (I'm in the Sacramento area). Yes, they will usually deliver packages much sooner than that, but that's what they tell you when you complain about non-receipt.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 20 October, 2010 06:16PM
Simple lesson: Avoid pre-orders from small presses if your aim is to receive your merchandise as soon as possible.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 20 October, 2010 07:12PM
Ordered mine a year and a day ago (10/19/2009) and have received no answer to the query I sent 11 days ago or the one I sent last weekend. I know Derrick has not had these in his hands for too long, but it is a bit frustrating to see on his website that most of the first 350 copies are already gone, and have no idea when your own copy will appear.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: MTS (IP Logged)
Date: 20 October, 2010 08:20PM
I have to second this. It's not the delay in shipping that bothers me (I get most things by media mail and know they can be delayed). It's the complete lack of response, which is both rude and unprofessional. I teach, and am swamped by emails from my students all the time -- but I answer them, because that's a facet of my job. If I send someone $100 upfront, in good faith that the book will be delivered, I expect that a polite enquiry about its status will be answered. And for precisely the reason that Jim states: this is a limited edition, and if it is lost one wants to address that before it goes out of print. Consumers are not whining; they would like to know what has happened with their substantial, up-front investment.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20 Oct 10 | 08:35PM by MTS.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 21 October, 2010 03:08AM
mfoight Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> It is available via Amazon right now, which would
> put it in my hands today if I had not ordered via
> the publisher. I will be reconsidering any future
> pre-orders with Hippocampus. As you can tell I am
> also frustrated!
>

According to Amazon it "usually ships in 1 to 2 months". I wouldn't call that "available right now".

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: mfoight (IP Logged)
Date: 21 October, 2010 06:01AM
Martinus you are correct as of 2 am on the 21st. However on the prior afternoon, the 20th, Amazon had copies in stock which were available "right now". Several folks ordered those copies and Amazon had now backordered the title, hence the 1 to 2 month message.

Still right now (5:53 October 21st) copies are available via Amazon 3d party sellers; perhaps they too will be soon sold and unavailable.

And as of 5:55 today, still no reply from Hippocampus from my order status inquiries.

I would like to echo MTS's comments about non-existent publisher communications.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2010 01:50AM
Ah yes, I realised that later. *blush*

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2010 06:47AM
Received a nice update from Derrick early this morning apologizing for the delay and not replying sooner. Swamped with orders, and mine will be shipped this coming week. The warming on the site refers to copies "spoken for", not those shipped.

Jim

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: MTS (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2010 09:56AM
I received a similar email today, and am relieved.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2010 02:22PM
It still boggles my mind that Joshi could not (or did not try to) get a university press to publish this full-scale biography of Lovecraft, instead of a small-time player such as Hippocampus. Granted, if an academic imprint had published the biography, the price would still be absurd, but at least the print run, though small, would not be "limited" . More important, there would be better than the proverbial snowball's chance in Hell that public and academic libraries would purchase the book, make it available, and preserve it. Ah, well....

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2010 03:14PM
Absquatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It still boggles my mind that Joshi could not (or
> did not try to) get a university press to publish
> this full-scale biography of Lovecraft, instead of
> a small-time player such as Hippocampus. Granted,
> if an academic imprint had published the
> biography, the price would still be absurd, but at
> least the print run, though small, would not be
> "limited" . More important, there would be better
> than the proverbial snowball's chance in Hell that
> public and academic libraries would purchase the
> book, make it available, and preserve it. Ah,
> well....

As you may or may not be aware, university presses do not typically pay their authors anything. Not that I imagine he will become wealthy from whatever deal he has with Hippocampus, of course---but I think that sort of thing makes a difference for people who do not have an academic job that pays them to do research. I could make additional remarks on whether it really is a good idea for scholarship of this nature to be undertaken by amateurs rather than academics, but I have found that my ideas do not go down well with pulp fandom, where a sort of anti-establishment, grass-roots attitude is cultivated. As I wish to be friends with everybody, I shall therefore leave it at that.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2010 05:21PM
Yes, that's a good point, about Joshi's cut of the proceeds, which is likely to be higher via Hippocampus. On the other hand, academic publishing credits bring rewards of a less tangible, but more lasting, nature. That's Joshi's right to choose, of course, but most of us are the worse for his choice (if it truly be his choice).

Regarding the merits of fandom versus professionalism in publishing: I have, as you may recall, been quite vocal here in favor of the latter, popularity be damned. I have no popularity here, anyway, so I have nothing to lose. ;-)

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 23 October, 2010 04:00PM
Joshi has already had an academic publication of the HPL bio: H.P. LOVECRAFT: A DREAMER AND A VISIONARY, from Liverpool University Press. He has tried since the 1990s to locate an academic publisher for the unabridged product; the Hippocampus edition merely reflects the economic reality that a "mainstream" publisher thinks that it can't justify economically its publication.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 23 October, 2010 04:09PM
I was really referring to an American academic edition of the biography. Does the Liverpool U. Press volume contain essentially the same material as the Necronomicon Press biography from the mid-90's?

Regardless, it's both fascinating and disgraceful that Joshi could not find an academic publisher for the longer biography of Lovecraft. I hope that snobbism over lack of a formal academic affiliation did not enter into the picture. In any case, we have indeed fallen a long way from the days when the professional, if non-academic, Doubleday firm would publish a Lovecraft biography, and by the likes of L. Sprague de Camp, no less.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 23 Oct 10 | 04:11PM by Absquatch.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 23 October, 2010 04:20PM
Absquatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was really referring to an American academic
> edition of the biography. Does the Liverpool U.
> Press volume contain essentially the same material
> as the Necronomicon Press biography from the
> mid-90's?

It is a much abridged version of H. P. Lovecraft: A Life.

>
> Regardless, it's both fascinating and disgraceful
> that Joshi could not find an academic publisher
> for the longer biography of Lovecraft. I hope that
> snobbism over lack of a formal academic
> affiliation did not enter into the picture. In any
> case, we have indeed fallen a long way from the
> days when the professional, if non-academic,
> Doubleday firm would publish a Lovecraft
> biography, and by the likes of L. Sprague de Camp,
> no less.

According to the backflap of the reprint of Conover's Lovecraft at Last, Cooper Square Publishing was going to do a reprint of H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, but for some reason it never happened.

It is sad that the severely flawed biography by LSdC has been more widely spread.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2010 02:07PM
It may well be disgraceful, but the disgrace is not Joshi's.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2010 10:22AM
Quote:
It may well be disgraceful, but the disgrace is not Joshi's.

If he tried in good faith to get an academic publisher for his Lovecraft biography, and settled for Hippocampus only because there was no other option, then I agree with you, as I think the remainder of my comment, above, makes clear.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: J. F. Uccello (IP Logged)
Date: 26 October, 2010 04:30AM
Got the book and am waiting for gulfs of time in order to dig in. Generally quite nice, if typographically uninspired. My only complaint is the poor quality of the foil stamping...

It is great to have this minutely detailed work in its full glory. Joshi's writing is so smooth and fluid. This unedited version may not be as "disciplined" as the abridged version, but I am thankful for all the added details on even the most obscure elements relating to Lovecraft's life and writing. This is a classic.

[www.viatoriumpress.blogspot.com] Dedicated to the Weird.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 1 November, 2010 08:27PM
I, for one, say hurrah for Hippocampus!, and I, with two doctorates to my credit, happily spit in the eye of "academe" (or is it ada-damn?)

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Leigh Blackmore (IP Logged)
Date: 20 November, 2010 01:13AM
The comment above regarding Joshi having difficulty holding an objective perspective regarding Lovecraft is patent nonsense. While one would expect someone who has devoted as much of their literary/critical career as has Joshi to one given author (Lovecraft) to be somewhat biased in favour of that author, Joshi has always demonstrated an exemplary balance where Lovecraft is concerned, not hesitating to criticise his attitudes and shortcomings in print in various places. That he provides his personal opinions is his right, and he is indeed an outspoken critic - however he backs this up with definitive research and well-expressed writing.

The magnificent new edition of Joshi's Lovecraft biography, I AM PROVIDENCE (2 vols) is absolutely essential for serious Lovecraft scholars and enthusiasts. It reflects the many years of Joshi's research at libraries all over the US, and delving through Lovecraft's manuscripts to produce the best understanding possible of this great genius of weird literature. L. Sprague de Camp's bio of the mid-1970s was only a first attempt. The first version of Joshi's bio won the World Fantasy Award, and rightly so, even though it was cut by 150,000 words. Now we have the unexpurgated complete edition, in a beautifully bound 2-vol set from Hippocampus Press. It deserves to win the World Fantasy Award all over again. The book will probably never be surpassed as a life of Lovecraft.

cheers
Leigh Blackmore
President, Australian Horror Writers Association

Leigh Blackmore



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 20 Nov 10 | 01:17AM by Leigh Blackmore.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: australianreaderdotcom (IP Logged)
Date: 2 December, 2010 01:25AM
I agree with Leigh, that I Am Providence is indispensible, and unlikely to be surpassed. It is a magnificent acheivement, and a testament to the abilities of Mr Joshi as a biographer.

I would like to add that I have had the pleasure of over a decade's correspondence with Mr Joshi, and I have found him a gentleman, as patient and as generous with his time and resources as was HPL. As a result, I am more open to his work concerning various interests, not only Lovecraft, and other writers of weird literature, including CAS, but also atheism, Mencken, social justice, and so on. In this, it can be argued, both himself and myself follow the example of Lovecraft in the breadth and catholicity of our various interests.

Blog: The Cruellest Month -- [the-cruellest-month.blogspot.com.au]
Website: [www.phillipaellis.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: jelio (IP Logged)
Date: 24 December, 2010 01:49PM
I got my copy last week and believe it or not i left volume 1 at a friends house.

So until i am able to get my hands on volume, for the time being i am starting from volume 2.

I dont think there will be any adverse effects to reading about lovecrafts life out of order especially since i am already acquainted with the basics.

So far so good, im enjoying Joshis style.

These two books will take me awhile to get through i think i will enjoy them.


The first new thing i have learned was really how poor lovecraft was in 1925-1926 he really was on a poor mans diet, i feel as though he really suffered and struggled to have food on the table.



JELIO

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 2 January, 2013 06:39AM
The pb will be available soon, according to Hippocampus Press.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: dregj (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2015 10:19AM
does anyone know what this extra edition contains
for someone who only read the single volume edition

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2015 11:12AM
Specifics? I'm afraid I don't have that kind of time. Briefly, more than a quarter of the original text was cut for the earlier editions. This contains the full text plus material revised in light of new findings concerning Lovecraft's family, his involvement with amateur journalism and the impact of both a.j. and HPL on each other, etc. The notes are also more extensive, allowing one to look up full verification and context if one so chooses. In other words, an enormous amount of material.

My own perspective? Well worth the investment, especially as it is available in tpb.



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