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Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Tantalus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2011 01:09AM
cathexis Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was a lot happier before I knew about this....
>
>
>
>
> Funny - That's what a lot of HPL's characters said
> too.
>
> -Cathexis


I laughed out loud! Thanks! :-)

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 11 March, 2020 09:44PM
The "path of perfectionism", as it turns out, is just what should be followed in the future. Certainly, Joshi never achieved perfect accuracy, with his inconsistent regard for what Lovecraft actually wrote. As if the verbal straitjacketing he introduced into the Arkham House volumes wasn't enough, he made further changes to what Lovecraft wrote for the Hippocampus Press Variorum edition. It remains only for an editor with more integrity and less eccentricity to follow that path, correct Joshi's errors, and publish the very first definitive text of Lovecraft's fiction. A consummation devoutly to be wished.

jkh

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 March, 2020 12:50PM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The "path of perfectionism" ... is
> just what should be followed in the future.
> ... perfect accuracy,
> ... what Lovecraft
> actually wrote. ... It remains only for an editor with more
> integrity and less eccentricity to follow that
> path, ... and publish the very
> first definitive text of Lovecraft's fiction. A
> consummation devoutly to be wished.


Such a consummation is highly desirable, since H. P. Lovecraft is the ultimate genius prose artist of fantastic fiction. Yes, he is even better than Arthur Machen, Clark Ashton Smith, or J. R. R. Tolkien. No one else has quite such an ability as him to put together the exact right words, and in the right order, to create a magically vibrating supernatural setting or in the painting of a scenery (his prose is like a perfectly constructed incantation rite). He is the complete master; more fully than any other he understands how to be clear, he is concrete and spiritual at the same time, speaking to the human cerebral tools in us, in order to conjure the illusions of the supernatural. He knows exactly what buttons to push, how to move us completely in every aspect, where others are either too subtle, too specialized, too alien, too vague, or too artificial. No one had such a deeply insightful command, and unassuming natural panache for the English language, as Lovecraft.

I really don't understand those who say that Lovecraft was a "bad prose writer". They must be blind. He is supreme.

I am not sure where, and if, Joshi has faltered in his editing. I am not involved enough in that discussion. Surely the 1980s Arkham House volumes were, at least, a vast improvement over the earlier editions. Anyway, those are the books I have, and my re-readings in those of certain stories, like "At the Mountains of Madness", seemed much more satisfying than in the older editions. Of course, my older, more matured mind, and therefore ability to better understand the natural and cosmic perspectives, may also have played a part in that improved sensation.

I am not sure either, if a perfectly objective, definite text is at all possible. For example, Lovecraft made changes in the texts later, after his manuscripts had been published. So which is the objectively correct? His initial surge of inspiration and creative energy, or his subsequent intellectual refining of those written words?

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 15 March, 2020 10:38PM
As you said, "a perfectly objective, definite text" is not possible, but it can be much more nearly approached. For example, should the third word in "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" be "often" or "frequently"? HPL altered his TMs before sending it to The Fantasy Fan, but Joshi rejects "often" on the premise that there were errors made in the printing of the story. Still, the change to "often" could have been made by Lovecraft himself.
Anyway, you have the best available texts in Joshi's Arkham editions. Whether for commercial reasons or not, changes involving orthography, and particularly syntax and diction render Joshi's editions from Hippocampus Press distinctly objectionable. I noticed in his Lovecraft biography that he quoted HPL's letter to Edwin Baird, accompanying his first submission of 5 manuscripts to Weird Tales, but did not include the part where Lovecraft insisted that no stylistic changes or editorial excisions be made to his work. Joshi's belief that HPL used "show" to accommodate his publishers may sound plausible, but he uses "show" in "From Beyond," written almost 2 years before"The Hound", the latter being one of the five sent to Baird. Joshi's disregard of context is just poor judgement; likewise, his decision to replace HPL's proper use of italics around book titles in his Arkham editions with quotation marks in the Hippocampus fiasco. Perhaps worst of all, the deletion or insertion of commas and hyphens in locations at variance with Lovecraft's own sentence structure is another major difference between the two editions, although an indeterminate number of those alterations were carried over from the Arkham edition. Joshi does not impress one as a grammarian in that aspect.
To be fair, Lovecraft was inconsistent with the verb "to show," as seen by his narrators' use of "shew" in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "The Thing on the Doorstep", while both spellings appear in "The Whisperer in Darkness". However, Lovecraft used "shew" in all his letters as much, in all likelihood, because it is easier to write the letter "e" than the letter "o" following the letter "h", especially with such fluent and rapid composition as the correspondence required. Clearly no edition holds claim to being definitive that does not retain the use of both spellings of the verb, as HPL intended for different contextual purposes.
Other orthographic changes that systematize Lovecraft's spelling, a noted feature of Joshi's editions, are less desirable than preserving alternate spellings in accordance with Lovecraft's actual manuscripts; alternate spellings are not misspellings. Anyway, to your point, I trust this does more than suggest how Joshi "has faltered in his editing".

jkh

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 17 March, 2020 03:27PM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As you said, "a perfectly objective, definite
> text" is not possible, but it can be much more
> nearly approached. For example, should the third
> word in "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" be "often" or
> "frequently"? HPL altered his TMs before sending
> it to The Fantasy Fan, but Joshi rejects "often"
> on the premise that there were errors made in the
> printing of the story. Still, the change to
> "often" could have been made by Lovecraft himself.

My own approach would be to treat final published draft as definitive; except, of course, that I would correct it when clearly in error; or where corrected after publication by HPL. The posthumous WEIRD TALES text of this story uses THE FANTASY FAN text, and there seems to be no particular evidence that they were using a HPL-corrected copy of THE FANTASY FAN. The early Arkham House texts seem to rely on the WEIRD TALES text.

So in the case of "Beyond the Wall of Sleep", the best evidence of HPL's final wishes is, in my opinion, the text in THE FANTASY FAN. The typescript at John Hay Library is, IMHO, an earlier draft.

The FANTASY FAN text, did of course have misprints, typos and errors. So: (1) use the FANTASY FAN text; and (2) correct anything that is clearly an error. Other drafts can be consulted, but not relied upon unless a fairly strong argument can be made that the FANTASY FAN reading is erroneous. If the FANTASY FAN text makes reasonable sense, it should be used, even if it differs from (say) the typescript at JHL.

So: (1) correct obvious misprints ("litile" to "little"; "beeame" to "became", "aceppt" to "accept", etc.); (2) change "R. Bernard" to "Dr. Bernard"; (3) capitalize "South" in the phrase "decadent element of 'white trash' in the south" (but it's also no tragedy if you leave it as is); (4) fix "lis-/with" to "listened with" ("The alienists listened with keen attention...").

So yeah. I would use "often" and not "frequently", because that sure don't look like a typo to me. Also "green" and not "great" ("green edifices of light"). Dropped words and phrases stay dropped, as long as the sentence makes reasonable sense without them (as they do in all cases here).

This is merely to illustrate the approach I would take. This is not my favorite HPL story, and the differences are trivial in any event. In this case, I don't think the trivial difference between Joshi's approach and mine are likely to alter anyone's enjoyment one way of the other.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 17 Mar 20 | 03:36PM by Platypus.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 05:31PM
Agreed, as far as trivial differences go. Are you familiar with T.O. Mabbott's incomparable edition of Poe? He died before finishing the 3rd volume, which was completed by his associates. It's the standard model for the Variorum Lovecraft edition. The 2nd part of Prof. Mabbott's intro, "Plan of This Edition", validates your point of view. Poe "constantly revised his stories" (xxv). So, we might expect the first complete edition (Griswold's, 1850) to be unreliable. Not so, says Mabbott, who endorsed it's "obviously superior readings, improvements that must have come from Poe" (xxvii). Like "often" for "frequently"? Close enough. Mabbott did, of course, incorporate pencil revisions Poe made in his personal copy of the 1845 volume, TALES (a selection of 12 stories), not received by Griswold in time, and checked it up with more obscure revisions such as those in the "Phantasy Pieces", which is the first volume of the two-volume set retitled Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, of which the second volume disappeared! Vol. One was found in Poe' trunk. Supposedly the second was broken up and "used as copy by Griswold's printers" (xxviii).

jkh

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 8 May, 2020 05:50PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Kipling Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > The "path of perfectionism" ... is
> > just what should be followed in the future.
> > ... perfect accuracy,
> > ... what Lovecraft
> > actually wrote. ... It remains only for an
> editor with more
> > integrity and less eccentricity to follow that
> > path, ... and publish the very
> > first definitive text of Lovecraft's fiction. A
> > consummation devoutly to be wished.
>
>
> Such a consummation is highly desirable, since H.
> P. Lovecraft is the ultimate genius prose artist
> of fantastic fiction. Yes, he is even better than
> Arthur Machen, Clark Ashton Smith, or J. R. R.
> Tolkien. No one else has quite such an ability as
> him to put together the exact right words, and in
> the right order, to create a magically vibrating
> supernatural setting or in the painting of a
> scenery (his prose is like a perfectly constructed
> incantation rite). He is the complete master; more
> fully than any other he understands how to be
> clear, he is concrete and spiritual at the same
> time, speaking to the human cerebral tools in us,
> in order to conjure the illusions of the
> supernatural. He knows exactly what buttons to
> push, how to move us completely in every aspect,
> where others are either too subtle, too
> specialized, too alien, too vague, or too
> artificial. No one had such a deeply insightful
> command, and unassuming natural panache for the
> English language, as Lovecraft.
>
> I really don't understand those who say that
> Lovecraft was a "bad prose writer". They must be
> blind. He is supreme.
>
> I am not sure where, and if, Joshi has faltered in
> his editing. I am not involved enough in that
> discussion. Surely the 1980s Arkham House volumes
> were, at least, a vast improvement over the
> earlier editions. Anyway, those are the books I
> have, and my re-readings in those of certain
> stories, like "At the Mountains of Madness",
> seemed much more satisfying than in the older
> editions. Of course, my older, more matured mind,
> and therefore ability to better understand the
> natural and cosmic perspectives, may also have
> played a part in that improved sensation.
>
> I am not sure either, if a perfectly objective,
> definite text is at all possible. For example,
> Lovecraft made changes in the texts later, after
> his manuscripts had been published. So which is
> the objectively correct? His initial surge of
> inspiration and creative energy, or his subsequent
> intellectual refining of those written words?

Saying that Lovecraft is a better writer than Smith is like saying John Bonham was a better drummer than Max Roach.

jkh

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 May, 2020 12:36AM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Saying that Lovecraft is a better writer than
> Smith, is like saying John Bonham was a better
> drummer than Max Roach.


Or like comparing the two super-primates Tarzan and Conan. If they were to meet in a confrontation, who wins the battle?

Or comparing corona with global bank capitalism.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 May, 2020 08:33AM
As to perfection of printed books. Or perfection in Life in general. It is something that just doesn't exist. Sometimes we come very near, we briefly feel completely satisfied in our obsessive pedantry; but then, with time, the perfect object irrevocably starts to fall apart (at least if you at all plan to use it instead of sealing it behind mylar encasement and frame); or we suddenly detect something, some minuscule flaw, in the text or the printed settings structure, that could have been made differently - the brief satisfaction is gone, and our World once again falls apart.

I was very lucky to finally obtain three long sought after volumes from the Jack Vance Integral Edition, an edition which lately has become notorious for repeated binding errors and missing pages. (This edition was an amateur project made by an army of dedicated volunteers.) So, very exited and pleased with the books, I started leafing through them; and found that a few of the pages in the middle of the first book had been bound in the wrong order. Frustration started rising inside, and I wanted to return the book. But then I thought, well, at least no pages are missing. And then I thought, the binding error actually gives the book added charm, because it reminds me that this was an effort made by human hands, not a machine, ... by loving human hands. And we humans are never completely perfect. An original art object, for god's sake, with a beating heart.

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