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Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 11:11AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Joshi's efforts for the corrected Arkham House
> volumes are good enough for me. Those are great
> publications. Once one start walking down the
> uncreative path of perfectionism, it's easy to get
> caught and sink in the mire of nitpicking
> pedantery which has no bottom.


There is a danger of that, yes; but with Lovecraft, such things are more important than one might think. Having read his work in various editions, I can attest to what a difference it can make. Even the Arkham House editions (of which I am very fond) still retain some errors which at times pervert HPL's meaning. The Penguin editions have been corrected a great deal from the first printings, but there are still some -- as Martin has noted -- quite provoking errors here and there; but they do correct some of those found in the AH volumes, as well... and either of these is far above the other editions out there.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 11:27AM
jdworth Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> -------------------------------------------------->
>
> There is a danger of that, yes; but with
> Lovecraft, such things are more important than one
> might think. Having read his work in various
> editions, I can attest to what a difference it can
> make. Even the Arkham House editions (of which I
> am very fond) still retain some errors which at
> times pervert HPL's meaning. The Penguin editions
> have been corrected a great deal from the first
> printings, but there are still some -- as Martin
> has noted -- quite provoking errors here and
> there; but they do correct some of those found in
> the AH volumes, as well... and either of these is
> far above the other editions out there.


I do of course also appreciate the work editors do.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 12:41PM
Quote:
Once one start walking down the uncreative path of perfectionism, it's easy to get caught and sink in the mire of nitpicking pedantery which has no bottom.

Obviously, neither extreme is best, but who says that we have to choose between extremes? On the other hand, if, hypothetically speaking, we do have to choose between nitpicking pedantry and such errors as "know in their heads" for "know in their hearts", then I'll choose the pedantry, any day.

Also, such a general dictum as the one quoted above fails to consider the perspective of the poet. Even a mere misplaced comma can alter and distort the entire meaning of a line, and perhaps of an entire poem. Textual exactness and precision are indispensable to printed poetry, and concern for such should not be lumped with, or dismissed as, mere pedantry.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 14 Sep 11 | 12:43PM by Absquatch.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 03:19PM
Quote:
Absquatch
Also, such a general dictum as the one quoted above fails to consider the perspective of the poet. Even a mere misplaced comma can alter and distort the entire meaning of a line, and perhaps of an entire poem. Textual exactness and precision are indispensable to printed poetry, and concern for such should not be lumped with, or dismissed as, mere pedantry.

Being an exacting poet myself (and short story writer), I wholeheartedly agree! Of course, Lovecraft was essentially a poet as well, and in this light, little errors can have an amplified effect on the fine balance of his prose. Poetic prose is often beautiful--but just as fragile; it must be handled with care.

Supreme diligence must be taken when editing the work of a poetic writer (as for the rest of the lot, to hell with them!--pile in the errors!) Once an editor tried to sneak a couple of tiny changes into one of my stories without my noticing...you can bet they stood out to me like black on white! I demanded they be restored to the original text, and they were--only then did I consent to publication. There is no detail too small for the poet's eye--for Lovecraft's eye, if he were still around to scrutinize his texts.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 04:04PM
Indeed. I recall that two of those which tend to stick out to me, but which so many readers miss (and which remain in most editions of Lovecraft) would be the following:

From "The Thing on the Doorstep", as Derby is talking to his friend about his wife and her home town of Innsmouth (Lovecraft notes that "Derby shuddered as he spoke the name", the reaction seems to be carried to Upton himself, who is narrating:

"Her home in -- that town -- was a rather disquieting place..." In most editions, this is rendered "Her home in that -- town -- was a..."; which is just simply odd, and conveys little; whereas the former allows the reader to "hear" Derby's shudder and avoidance of speaking the name again, and also conveys Upton's own reaction, and anticipates the revelations which allow him to accept the fantastic tale Derby has to tell him.

From "At the Mountains of Madness":

"Poor Lake... poor Gedney... and poor Old Ones!" In earlier (and many current) editions, this is usually rendered as "Poor Lake... poor Gedney, and ... poor Old Ones", which subtly places a hesitation in the narrator's tone, whereas the proper reading makes the final step to his accepting them, however strange they may be, not as terrors in themselves, but as (morally, at least) equals if not superiors, to be respected, revered, and pitied. There are many other examples, if one compares long-standing texts to the corrected ones; and the same is true with Smith, who was primarily a poet and very aware of the subtle, as well as broader, associations, of language, punctuation, and so forth.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 09:16PM
Yes, jd, you know exactly what I'm talking about! According to my theory of the fragility of poetic prose--it being more 'fragile' the more poetic it is--much of Smith's writing would suffer greatly if errors were accidentally introduced. Just a single typo would be enough to partially dispel its weird, hypnotic, incantatory effect. However, in bland, 'normal' prose, a small error here and there causes comparatively little disruption. When one reads CAS, one expects--one is brought to expect--perfection;--even if the errors aren't his fault.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 15 September, 2011 04:46AM
Naturally typos are more devestating to poetry and to exacting poetic prose. And I believe that I have been comparing old texts to corrected ones, as much as many others here, and taken breaths of appreciation.

I am merely questioning where the main focus of interest lies these days. If focus on minute detail dominates today's generation. I rarely hear people discussing overall story structure, conceptual ideas, as Lovecraft and CAS used to do; I think that's where their main focus lied. I believe their perspective was the other way around from today, starting from the large, down to the smaller.

As long as it doesn't hem the overview perspective, and the creativity, in today's young generation, exacting detail is a natural part of refining the artistic expression.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 15 September, 2011 06:45AM
On that subject, from my own experience, I would say that it isn't so much attention to detail in the sense of subtleties of expression, as it is a focus on the wrong sorts of details; or, rather, a shift in emphasis away from genuinely artistic concerns of that nature (including the precise use of language for greatest, and most nuanced, effect) to those of "world-building" and the minutiae of getting all that sort of detail just right. While there isn't inherently anything wrong with the practice of world-building, to me at any rate it is a technique to add to the verisimilitude, rather than something which should be the major focus in and of itself. When one becomes fixated on that aspect, one often loses sight of the more important aspect of the characters' psychological/emotional verity, as well as the resonances of language, tone color, the importance of structure of the narrative, and so on.

I don't see attention to the sort of detail we've been referring to, and attention to structure, "conceptual ideas", and the like, to be either mutually exclusive or, indeed, particularly inimical in any way, but rather parts of the same whole. On the other hand, focus on what I would call the genuinely pedantic aspects I refer to above are, I think, essentially, anti-literary in nature, much like the ridiculously elaborate taxonomical fixation one sometimes sees with readers of "Cthulhu Mythos" tales or Tolkien's Middle-earth and the like: essentially, fannish trivia; enjoyable to some degree, and not entirely without merit artistically, but decidedly, in my view, among the lesser aspects of artistic concern when compared to these others.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 15 September, 2011 12:03PM
jdworth Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> On the other hand, focus on what I would
> call the genuinely pedantic aspects I refer to
> above are, I think, essentially, anti-literary in
> nature, much like the ridiculously elaborate
> taxonomical fixation one sometimes sees with
> readers of "Cthulhu Mythos" tales or Tolkien's
> Middle-earth and the like: essentially, fannish
> trivia; enjoyable to some degree, and not entirely
> without merit artistically, but decidedly, in my
> view, among the lesser aspects of artistic concern
> when compared to these others.

Exactly! One of my problems with fandoms of various kind is the lack of interest in, or even fear of, analysis. What I personally want to get out of intercourse with other consumers of culture is primarily the answers to two questions: 1. Precisely what is it that appeals to me in these stories (movies, what-have-you)? and 2. What else is out there that is like that?

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 16 September, 2011 05:20PM
I am just return'd from Barnes & Noble, where I have purchas'd the newly-corrected H. P. LOVECRAFT--THE COMPLETE FICTION. The book was seal'd in plastic, but I told the young man who attended me that I needed to unseal the book to ascertain if it acknowledg'd Martin Andersson--and it did. This book is now the DEFINITIVE edition of H. P. Lovecraft's fiction in S. T. Joshi's Corrected Text, aided by the strenuous attention given that text by Martin Andersson.

The Arkham House books should be boycotted until they replace those gawd-awful dust jackets with something that does not insult the genius of H. P. Lovecraft.

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

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 16 September, 2011 06:26PM
Quote:
1. Precisely what is it that appeals to me in these stories (movies, what-have-you)? and 2. What else is out there that is like

That's exactly what lead me to CAS in the first place. After randomingly purchasing and watching,
"The Ruins" - a movie I really enjoyed, I wanted to find out more about why I liked it. In reading
reviews of the movie at Amazon.com one reviewer suggested if you enjoyed "The Ruins" you might
want to check out CAS. That lead me to CAS and soon to here. Ironically, in the three years since
"Ruins" came out it has now acquired over 140 reviews at Amazon (many of them judging it very bad)
and I never did read Scott Smith's original book. The DVD sits gathering dust but the CAS books are
well tended and frequently at bedside - the most hallowed spot for books in my life.

- Cathexis

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 16 September, 2011 08:02PM
I came to CAS in a similar way--crossed the bridge from Lovecraft. I needed more cosmic horror, more bizarre words, more sheer weirdness. I vaguely knew that HPL was friends with CAS (whoever that was!), and that he had invented Tsathoggua, so I decided to check him out. In retrospect--yes, it was a good move!

I think I've discovered just about all the writers I like through others, looking for more similar matter. Over time, since a leap is represented between any two writers--a leap which is quantified into one huge, collective leap--quite a journey can be made! My journey began with The Hobbit (the first book I had read for pleasure since childhood, a few years back, early in college), and I have now travelled almost as far as old Bilbo himself!

My bedside table is my most coveted spot for books as well; that, and the back of my desk, against the wall, which has a bookend to either side. CAS often haunts these august spaces.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Dexterward (IP Logged)
Date: 17 September, 2011 05:02AM
Well said Jojo.

I'm all for editors being as "pedantic," exacting, and meticulous as humanly possible. However, I do think this blog tends to get weighed down from time to time (and I'm a big fan of this place!) in these sorts of hair-splitting discussions. Like you, I prefer the "What did you like," and "What similar things are out there" type of conversations, to all this the stuff about "editorial typos" and errata lists!

Again, precision and exactness are quite noble and desirable things. It's the discussions ABOUT them - in excess, at least - that can become a bit tiresome. But needless to say, this is all just one man's opinion!

Don't get the wrong idea, though. I do appreciate the merits of scrupulous attention to literary detail, and understand that this is an important issue. Indeed, in another mood I would very likely make a passionate argument in defense of the opposite side!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 17 Sep 11 | 05:03AM by Dexterward.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 22 September, 2011 03:43PM
Anyone care to elaborate on the Lovecraft newly-corrected Complete Fiction? Am curious.... Hardcover, I'm guessing? A rather hefty tome, it must be? Are the 4 prose poems in it? What's it go for at the ol' B&N? (RIP Borders...guess I need to become a B&N 'member' now, if they have such a program). Any other salient details I'm missing? Good cover art?--'tis important, you know. Just how 'complete' is it? Has it got that "Eryx" tale, for example? The collabs? (got those already, anyway).

My Penguins are a bit beat up, and I'm thinking I should get a better-fortified tome for a complete reread of the Lovecraft canon. And the corrections wouldn't be bad either!

C'mon, who wants to gush about their new book for the benefit of a possible buyer....

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 22 September, 2011 04:10PM
K_A_Opperman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Anyone care to elaborate on the Lovecraft
> newly-corrected Complete Fiction? Am curious....
> Hardcover, I'm guessing?

Yes, some sort of fake leather-ish material.

> A rather hefty tome, it
> must be?

1098 pages.

> Are the 4 prose poems in it?

Yes. All of HPL's solo fiction is there, plus "Under the Pyramids", "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" and "Supernatural Horror in Literature".

> What's it go
> for at the ol' B&N? (RIP Borders...guess I need to
> become a B&N 'member' now, if they have such a
> program).

$20.

> Any other salient details I'm missing?

Look for my name on the copyright page.

> Good cover art?--'tis important, you know.

It's OK, in my opinion. Not the usual tentacles, more of a science-fictional feel.

Just
> how 'complete' is it?

See above.

> Has it got that "Eryx" tale,
> for example?

Nope.

> The collabs? (got those already,
> anyway).

Including the complete "Challenge from Beyond", "Collapsing Cosmoses", "The Battle That Ended the Century", "The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast" and "The Slaying of the Monster"? Just checking. People often miss the last two in particular.

> My Penguins are a bit beat up, and I'm thinking I
> should get a better-fortified tome for a complete
> reread of the Lovecraft canon. And the corrections
> wouldn't be bad either!

The paper is a bit flimsy, but it looks very nice, with silvered page edges and a book ribbon. The book is still pretty heavy and you shouldn't read it in bed.

> C'mon, who wants to gush about their new book for
> the benefit of a possible buyer....

It's lovely and I'm very happy with it, even though I found one error three measly days too late for correction... I haven't checked it to see whether all the others really have been taken care of, but I assume they have.

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