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How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2011 02:55PM
Greetings,

If you're on the East Coast like me I know you're enjoying a respite from the recent deluge.

The question in the title could've been a reply to Martinus' Errata list re: B&N "The Complete Fiction"
that was discussed in my recent thread on the $500.00 HPL book. But that thread is already 4 pages long
and that's enough of that.

Right now I've beening enjoying a re-reading of "Mountains of Madness" in my previously stated favorite
manner; In Bed, book in right hand, snack in left. I don't go to bed until I'm sleepy so I last about 20
minutes a night (your mileage may vary). I strongly prefer the Modern Library's, "Definitive Edition" but
you guys have me wondering how accurate it is.

A couple of comments on "Mountains of Madness" FWIW -
It is very much my favorite HPL story. I really wish someone would put out a good annotated version.
I had forgotten the reference to CAS! Also, the para beginning on page 27 of this version (about a page
and a half into chapter III) that begins with, "The sailor Larson was first to spy,..") is superb. Classic
HPL. Required several re-reads and pondering as the Ancient Ones lulled me to hora somnis.


-Cathexis

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2011 03:33PM
I don't know anything about what's definitive and what isn't--but I cannot resist commentary! I, myself, own the annotated 3-book set from Penguin, edited by Joshi--I suppose anything edited by him has got to be pretty definitive?

For the most part, I've only read all of HPL once, finished about a year and a half ago (but over the span of quite a bit of time), and I'm kind of itching to reread some of my favorites... HPL made me the writer I am, and I think there is much to gain from rereading him--especially now that I'm familiar with the mythos, and am a more or less seasoned writer, who can better appreciate the subtleties of style, which is so important in HPL. A first go through HPL can be a bit disorienting--I must go back through it all to truly savor it!

And I have him to thank for discovering CAS--I read "The Double Shadow" in a collection of stories based after recommendations in his "Supernatural Horror in Literature," and I was completely mesmerized, and am still reeling from the effect (over a year later!). Needless to say, I subsequently gorged myself on all the CAS I could acquire (probably half of his stories--most of the better ones).

As for "At the Mountains of Madness"--good, but not my favorite. In my memory, the ending was a bit dissatisfying--but overall, a thoroughly weirdly absoring read--definitely a rereader. I'd have to list "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" as my favorite--I love the part where the Innsmouth folk are trying to get into his room, and he escapes out the window! A very, very action-packed read for an HPL story! I could go on forever about HPL--so I'll just cut myself off right here!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Sep 11 | 03:56PM by K_A_Opperman.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2011 04:09PM
It has been several years since I read the Modern Library edition, but checking on the copyright page, I find that the texts for this were prepared by S. T. Joshi, so they are the properly restored texts, though there may be some typos which slipped in, as usually happens these days in preparing a new edition of darned near anything....

However, Martin would be able to answer much more certainly just what problems, if any, this volume has.

You might want to look up Joshi's essay, "Textual Problems in Lovecraft", in Discovering H. P. Lovecraft, ed. by Darrell Schweitzer, and the "Note on the Texts" sections of the various Arkham House volumes, through library copies, for more information.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2011 07:41AM
Quote:
I suppose anything edited by him [Joshi] has got to be pretty definitive?

Most definitively not! You should see Martinus's errata list for the Penguin volumes. Whose fault the errors are is a matter for debate, but the errors are legion.

Beyond that, there's no need to rehash the pro- and anti-Joshi arguments that have appeared in this forum (I am misclassified here as a "Joshi hater", but that is untrue. I just call his work as I see it, and, for some, anything less than breathless adoration equates to "hate"), but they are easily found through the search function.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2011 08:32AM
I should see it, but I don't.

Perhaps I'm just missing the obvious (wouldn't be the first time).
But for me the original link by Martinus to his errata list failed.
I found it with only a little effort on my part - it is under the
entry on the B&N "Complete Fiction" entry. I haven't stumbled on any
other errata lists however and I did try clicking around the same site
to find them.

The site does give this answer to what's definitive:

Quote:
Arkham House is the definitive source for Lovecraft’s fiction and letters.
His stories have been edited and corrected by S.T. Joshi based on Lovecraft’s original
autograph and typewritten manuscripts.

So I suppose I could buy the Arkham editions but in this case (Modern Library's
Definitive Ed.) the source is that same Arkham House and credit is given to S.T.
Joshi as well. The copyright page is unclear but seems to imply he helped with the
Modern Library version since the ("definitive") Arkham House editions were first
copyrighted when he was still six years old.

Therefore the bottom line in, "What is definitive?" seems to be the Arkham House Editions.
I would gladly accept correction if needed.

-Cathexis

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2011 09:39AM
cathexis Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I should see it, but I don't.
>
> Perhaps I'm just missing the obvious (wouldn't be
> the first time).
> But for me the original link by Martinus to his
> errata list failed.
> I found it with only a little effort on my part -
> it is under the
> entry on the B&N "Complete Fiction" entry. I
> haven't stumbled on any
> other errata lists however and I did try clicking
> around the same site
> to find them.

Martin posted some of his errata for the Penguin volumes in this thread and mentioned publication in the EOD, but I don't recall whether he's publicly posted the errata anywhere. Maybe he'll comment on this; I'd like to see them myself.

-- Jim J.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2011 03:18PM
If it is based on the Arkham House text that was published in 1985, it should be OK. However, later printings -- the LoA edition and later -- replaces the name "Daniels" with "Danforth" in one spot (because of something I said, in fact).

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2011 03:20PM
jdworth Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It has been several years since I read the Modern
> Library edition, but checking on the copyright
> page, I find that the texts for this were prepared
> by S. T. Joshi, so they are the properly restored
> texts, though there may be some typos which
> slipped in, as usually happens these days in
> preparing a new edition of darned near
> anything....
>
> However, Martin would be able to answer much more
> certainly just what problems, if any, this volume
> has.

Alas, it's one of those I haven't got! (BTW, I got my freebie copies of the B&N book today!!)

>
> You might want to look up Joshi's essay, "Textual
> Problems in Lovecraft", in Discovering H. P.
> Lovecraft, ed. by Darrell Schweitzer, and the
> "Note on the Texts" sections of the various Arkham
> House volumes, through library copies, for more
> information.

I'll second that. "Textual Problems in Lovecraft" is indispensable for understanding the differences between the older, corrupt texts and the corrected ones. It devotes quite a lot of space to "At the Mountains of Madness", in fact.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2011 03:26PM
priscian Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> > Martin posted some of his errata for the Penguin
> volumes in this thread and mentioned publication
> in the EOD, but I don't recall whether he's
> publicly posted the errata anywhere. Maybe he'll
> comment on this; I'd like to see them myself.

I have never done a complete comparison of the Penguin books and any lists that I have released -- here or by e-mail (I don't think I've posted any of them anywhere) -- are to be considered work in progress. Very slow progress.

(Come to think of it, that is not entirely true. I think that my list for The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories is complete, but those corrections have already been entered into later printings, so that it applies only to the first printing. And Azathoth have mercy, there were some baaaaaaad ones!)

In general, the Penguins seem fairly OK -- the Dell books are certainly worse -- but what errors there are, are usually of the terribly annoying kind, such as "know in their heads" instead of "know in their hearts" in "The Festival". Alas, the LoA book seems to have the same problems.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 03:32AM
Lovecraft is best read in the Arkham House volumes. I also think one should favor and support small press like Arkham House.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 03:36AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I also think one should favor and support
> small press like Arkham House.

Let that be read as support quality small press.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 03:54AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lovecraft is best read in the Arkham House
> volumes. I also think one should favor and support
> small press like Arkham House.

On the other hand, no Arkham House volume to date has had the corrected texts of "The Shadow out of Time" and "Hypnos", and then there is that "and thou wouldst" in "The Quest of Iranon" that should be "an thou wouldst", and so on.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 04:31AM
Martinus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> On the other hand, no Arkham House volume to date
> has had the corrected texts of "The Shadow out of
> Time" and "Hypnos", and then there is that "and
> thou wouldst" in "The Quest of Iranon" that should
> be "an thou wouldst", and so on.

Perhaps they can't afford to update, because they are on a decline? Either because lack of reader support. Or because Arkham House was August Derleth's och Donald Wandrei's baby, and the heirs are less motivated.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 07:45AM
I support whoever releases the best and the least corrupted texts, period.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2011 10:26AM
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.

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.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 22 September, 2011 05:02PM
Sounds like a lovely tome, Martin--and I'm glad there is someone out there like you trawling through the texts and reporting errors. Yes, if I purchase the tome, I will be sure to look for your name in it! I wouldn't sweat that one error too much--a book with only one error (esp. of that length) would be a truly miraculous thing!

I like the description, and, because of a recent influx of b-day money, I can deal with the price tag; it's only the size that puts me off... I really have nowhere else to read but in bed--save a small, cramped desk, which is not the most comfortable setup... Someday, I will a nice big easy chair to read in, along with a huge oaken desk on which to spread my various arcane tomes and manuscripts and human skulls and such--all this, of course, will be situated in my cavernous library, lined with suits of armor, and lit with sconce-lights....

I may yet be able to grapple with that book, and I'm certainly intrigued... will have to examine it in person at the B&N....

Thanks for the info, and for the diligent editing!

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 22 September, 2011 06:43PM
Ah--another pressing question! Are the stories written in HPL's youth included, such as "The Alchemist," "The Beast in the Cave," and "The Book"? (if I remember correctly). I would love to own those--they would help further justify my purchase. Sure, I could read them on the net--but it's not the same. There's nothing like reading something for the first time in an actual book.

So--are those early tales in there?

Additional note--just saw Pugmire's thorough (as usual) review of the tome, with content listed, and have decided I cannot live without this tome! How I would love to read that alternate Innsmouth manuscript...and all those little tales that never make it into other collections... I'm really not crazy about the cover, though...looks like they tried to depict "The Colour Out of Space"...oh well, the contents more than justify purchase asap!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 22 Sep 11 | 06:53PM by K_A_Opperman.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 22 September, 2011 08:43PM
I went and got my copy yesterday. $20.00 so I wouldn't sweat the price though
I realize your mileage may vary. Like a previous poster, I too tore off the shrink
wrap to be sure I wasn't buying two of the same thing (although I kinda was ??).
It does include a gratis to Martinus on the copyright page. It is also identified
as, "This 2011 edition,..." rather than, "This 2010 edition,..." as the previous
offering had been.

But wait! There is another identifier and it is visible with shrink-wrap on.
(At least on my copies this works). On my 2010 edition, the one with the errata came
with a **gold** ribbon bookmark whereas the stack of new 2011 editions at B&N had a
**purple** ribbon bookmark. And so, the archana of this B&N tome begins to grow,...

-Cathexis

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 22 September, 2011 08:51PM
Good info. Will look for the purple ribbon--but will tear off the wrap to be sure! I'm itching to get my hands on this....

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 23 September, 2011 05:47AM
K_A_Opperman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ah--another pressing question! Are the stories
> written in HPL's youth included, such as "The
> Alchemist," "The Beast in the Cave," and "The
> Book"? (if I remember correctly). I would love to
> own those--they would help further justify my
> purchase. Sure, I could read them on the net--but
> it's not the same. There's nothing like reading
> something for the first time in an actual book.
>
> So--are those early tales in there?

All of them. There are even stories that HPL wrote between the ages of 7 and 12. In fact, one of them -- the long version of "The Mysterious Ship" -- is published in this book for the first time (hence, alas, is the only story I can't check since I have nothing to check agisnt!). It is not better than the short version.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 23 September, 2011 05:49AM
cathexis Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> But wait! There is another identifier and it
> is visible with shrink-wrap on.
> (At least on my copies this works). On my 2010
> edition, the one with the errata came
> with a **gold** ribbon bookmark whereas the stack
> of new 2011 editions at B&N had a
> **purple** ribbon bookmark. And so, the archana of
> this B&N tome begins to grow,...

You're right! I got the purple ribbon too on my freebies.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 23 September, 2011 08:49PM
K_A_Opperman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
... Someday, I will a nice big
> easy chair to read in, along with a huge oaken
> desk on which to spread my various arcane tomes
> and manuscripts and human skulls and such--all
> this, of course, will be situated in my cavernous
> library, lined with suits of armor, and lit with
> sconce-lights....

K_A_, I would think twice about furnishing your dream library with suits of armor, at least those equipped with antique weaponry. As a mystery reader, I can assure you that that's just asking for it!

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 23 September, 2011 10:11PM
What's wrong with armor? (obviously, I haven't read the mystery you're referring to...) Do you mean the danger of a villain hiding in it? And then there's the supernatural danger of them coming to life at night. But no matter--I will have my suits of armor! At least I'm not going to have a butler...that's probably a wise move, mystery-wise.

And now for the big announcement--I have acquired the Lovecraft tome we're all so excited about here! At first I couldn't find it anywhere: looked in the HPL section, saw the B&N classics table--but no HPL! Then I discovered the culprit: it was that meddling Jules Verne: a single copy of his tome was on top of the HPL stack, concealing it entirely from view! That clever, clever bastard...(whose 20,000 Leagues is one of my all time favorites...but he's still a bastard).

It had the purple ribbon, but to be sure, I hid myself in an aisle and covertly tore off the wrap...Martin was in there, and of course, the 2011--I had found the unholy tome I sought!

I revise my opinion of the cover--in person, somehow, it is much cooler--not inappropriate in any way, and good color scheme (the black of bournless space, the purple of interdimensional haze, the cerulean of ice-satellites orbiting distant planets of ineffable nightmare, the silver of strange eidola wrought from unknown lunar metals...)

I only hope it holds up. Behind the flashy covers, I'm sure those B&N hardcovers are not the most structurally sound ever made--but the price was right, the content is delicious, and I ain't complainin'

Also, for those curious, I don't find it too heavy for bed reading; I've read heavier tomes that way and survived.

All in all, looks like a sweet book!

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2011 02:40AM
Dear K_A_, I wasn't referring to any mystery in particular. Your dream library just sounds like the perfect setting for the archetypical impossible murder. You know the kind I'm talking about:

Inspector Tallin stepped into the gloomy interior of the library. He noted in passing the splintered jamb where the heavy locked door had been forced open by Constable Meyers. The suits of armor ranked against the panelled walls seemed to be standing an honor guard for the fallen antiquarian scholar. Flickering sconce lights cast momentary shadows over the body sprawled face down across the huge oaken desk. Behind the desk a large, comfortable-looking easy chair lay on its side, apparently kicked over during the victim's dying throes. The leather desk blotter was almost completely concealed by dusty medieval manuscripts and other arcane tomes, some of which had fallen to the floor. Several of the books had been spoiled by the large crimson pool which had spread out from beneath the corpse. The cause of this was the broadsword which had been driven into the body, between the shoulder blades; stepping behind the desk, the Inspector peered beneath it and observed that five inches of the sword's blade protruded through the hard oak of the desk top.


"Well, Inspector, here's your man!" stated a cheerful voice, and looking up Tallin recognized the insouciant figure of his young friend Ronald "Smasher" Wiley. He followed the latter's pointing finger to the only suit of armor which was weaponless. "Open-and-shut case, no? Just slap the bracelets on and we can go for a pint!" The Inspector heaved a sigh. "Yes, Ron--I noticed that as well. And before you ask--we did check all the suits to make sure no-one was hiding inside." He glared at the detritus littering the desk. "Tell me something--why does every well-to-do scholar have to have a skull on his desk? Is there something about pedantry that inspires a macabre taste in paperweights?"

Well, you get the picture. Your dream library closely resembles the one on the cover of the anthology H. P. Lovecraft's Favorite Weird Tales, which depicts HPL sitting in his dream library.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2011 04:25PM
Well, Ken, you have killed me in a mini-story--thanks! A quite comical little bit.

And I'll tell you why every scholar/gothic fiction writer (typical Jamesian protagonist) needs a skull on their desk: to remind us of the ever looming pendulum of Death which at any moment may plummet down with an awful, rusty screetch to sever our chance of creating a canon sizeable and competent enough to ensure literary immortality in the future. Every writer's life, especially, is a race against death. I'm young--and I'm already running as fast as I can--or shall I say, my fingers are. Those who would seek immortality in any form necessarily find death as their greatest nemesis, and just to keep the adrenaline running, the juices flowing, we keep mister Skull on the desk.

I, for one, in reality, keep in place of a skull a small garden gnome (reading a book) on my desk...do I still count as a scholar?

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2011 04:31PM
Just remembered, some of you error detectives who've recently aquired the new HPL Complete Fiction might find it amusing that in the table of contents, at the end, its says there is an 'about the author' entry on page 1099...the book ends on 1098, and there is no such entry--we get all the 'about the author' info in the beginning, anyway.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2011 05:55PM
Wilum noticed it and told me, so I checked with Stefan and here's what he said:

Quote:
Stefan Dziemianowicz
When we translated the Lovecraft volume from our Library of Essential Writers to the leatherbound format, we had to get rid of backmatter, including the "About the Author" note. We deleted the "About the Author" reference in the TOC of the first printing of the leatherbound by having the printer make corrections in blues. When we corrected the interiors of the second printing, we got files in from the typesetter, who didn't have the correction to the contents page because the printer had made it only for their set of the interiors. One more thing to correct on the third printing.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2011 06:24PM
At any rate, it's not a harmful error--it does not occur in Lovecraft's text, which is the important thing.

By the way, just how 'definitive' is the text, Martin? As I understand it, this is THE most complete and corrected text available. Is this correct? And are there projected volumes in the works that will significantly surpass the current one? (I understand there will be a third printing of the current volume, but I don't expect it to be much superior to the current--do you have any info on this?--but I suppose it is a bit early to be asking such questions...)

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2011 06:40AM
K_A_Opperman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> By the way, just how 'definitive' is the text,
> Martin? As I understand it, this is THE most
> complete and corrected text available. Is this
> correct?

As far as I know, yes.

> And are there projected volumes in the
> works that will significantly surpass the current
> one?

Not that I know of. Robert M. Price had some project for Mythos Books which would consist of all of HPL's stories with introductions (I saw it mentioned in an online interview somewhere), but I'm not expecting that anytime soon, and anyway I haven't been asked to proofread. ;)

> (I understand there will be a third printing
> of the current volume, but I don't expect it to be
> much superior to the current--do you have any info
> on this?--but I suppose it is a bit early to be
> asking such questions...)

AFAIK, it will correct that one other error that I know of, remove the reference to "About the Author" from the table of contents, and possibly bump up the typeface of my acknowledgement a couple of points. ;)

Unfortunately, I don't know whether I will have the time or the energy to go over the text again (which I really should -- to err is human, and there are no guarantees that I found all the errors already; in fact, I think it's highly unlikely) anytime soon -- some of HPL's stories I've already read twice this year for Swedish publications, and there's other stuff I want to read as well. Last time, it took me a couple of hours every day for three months. However, anyone is welcome to contribute to the Errata thread at [www.sffchronicles.co.uk] (probably the most popular thread there, with close to 21,000 views at the moment).

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2011 12:43PM
Kinda ironic to me Folks,


I started off just looking to buy a cheap edition of HPL that was as complete as possible.
Now the same book ends up as (tentatively) the very same definitive text I asked about.
At $20.00 U.S. it is going to be hard for any Specialty Publisher to top that except by
adding intros, essays, artwork, etc. Those items may increase the critical value of such
works but it could turn out that what is a rather bare-bones, low-priced offering will
remain the standard of "legit" for quite a while. If so, a feather in the cap of B&N.

- Cathexis

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2011 03:42PM
Martin, I plan on reading through the majority of the contents of the HPL tome (don't know if I'll reread "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" or not, for example....), and if I discover any errors, I shall certainly take note of them and report them--you've served long enough. There are probably several people out there to fill your shoes by now. Maybe I'll have heart after all and go through the whole thing, word by word...we'll see.

I'm glad I've got THE edition of HPL. Perfect way to rediscover his work after being away from it for a couple of years! It's neat that it's in chronological order, too! Now I can trace the progression of HPL's ideas and writing development (of course, in theory, one would properly have to start with the juvenalia in the back to really do this)--something my old Penguins didn't facilitate.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 25 Sep 11 | 03:46PM by K_A_Opperman.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Gill Avila (IP Logged)
Date: 25 September, 2011 04:06PM
With all this tinkering I'm half tempted to wait until the definitive edition comes out in Blu-Ray.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: weorcstan (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2011 03:33AM
K_A_Opperman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I, for one, in reality, keep in place of a skull a
> small garden gnome (reading a book) on my
> desk...do I still count as a scholar?

Only if you are in Iowa or Minnesota. And beware, the dangers of this have also been publicized:

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will) by Chuck Sambuchino

[www.amazon.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26 Sep 11 | 03:38AM by weorcstan.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Radovarl (IP Logged)
Date: 26 September, 2011 08:54PM
Thanks for the tips on how to spot the new printing of the B&N volume (purple ribbon marker, etc.). I've reserved a copy at my local store, and plan to pick it up tomorrow. And thanks the Martinus for all the hard work!

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Radovarl (IP Logged)
Date: 27 September, 2011 09:53AM
Just picked up my copy of the new B&N printing. The design of the book seems much more appropriate in-hand than the photos of it I had seen led me to expect. It's probably not the greatest binding, and whatever the boards are covered with certainly isn't leather, but the art on the cover isn't as jarring as it seemed in the photos. Overall I'm quite pleased. Also, the purple ribbon seems to be a reliable indicator that the book is the new printing, with the Martin Andersson acknowledgement. All of the copies in my local store (Ithaca, NY) appeared to be identical.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Radovarl (IP Logged)
Date: 27 September, 2011 03:47PM
Radovarl Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's probably not the greatest binding,
> and whatever the boards are covered with certainly
> isn't leather...

Okay, the B&N website claims it's bonded leather. Shows what I know :).

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 27 September, 2011 04:03PM
Radovarl Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And thanks the
> Martinus for all the hard work!

You're welcome!! :)

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 27 September, 2011 06:55PM
Quote:
Radovarl
Just picked up my copy of the new B&N printing. The design of the book seems much more appropriate in-hand than the photos of it I had seen led me to expect. It's probably not the greatest binding, and whatever the boards are covered with certainly isn't leather, but the art on the cover isn't as jarring as it seemed in the photos. Overall I'm quite pleased.

I agree. In person, the book looks better than it does online--and, you can better experience the mesmeric irridescent effect of the cover...oh, shiny! At first, I was slightly irritated by the fact that one of my reading hands had to feel a different texture (of the smooth, irridescent portion) than the other (which felt 'leather'), but in delving into HPL's fiction, one quickly forgets such neurotic details--being distracted instead by those the Lovecraftian narrators relate to us. Still, I think the cover would have been best had it all been of uniform medium, such as the 'inlaid paint' (for want of better words) used for the rest of the cover. All in all, however, it's a stylish tome, and I'm damn proud to own it! Currently, it crowns that so coveted spot on the table next to my bed, shining like a silver and irridescent beacon of weirdness....

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Radovarl (IP Logged)
Date: 27 September, 2011 10:20PM
K_A_Opperman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I agree. In person, the book looks better than it
> does online--and, you can better experience the
> mesmeric irridescent effect of the cover...oh,
> shiny! At first, I was slightly irritated by the
> fact that one of my reading hands had to feel a
> different texture (of the smooth, irridescent
> portion) than the other (which felt 'leather'),
> but in delving into HPL's fiction, one quickly
> forgets such neurotic details--being distracted
> instead by those the Lovecraftian narrators relate
> to us. Still, I think the cover would have been
> best had it all been of uniform medium, such as
> the 'inlaid paint' (for want of better words) used
> for the rest of the cover. All in all, however,
> it's a stylish tome, and I'm damn proud to own it!
> Currently, it crowns that so coveted spot on the
> table next to my bed, shining like a silver and
> irridescent beacon of weirdness....

I don't perceive it as especially iridescent, but I did notice, once I shelved it next to the two volumes of I am Providence (still slogging through those weighty tomes) and the Centipede HPL, that the B&N book's color scheme incorporates nearly the exact shades of the other three (midnight blue Centipede, the purple of vol. 1 of the bio, and the light blue of vol. 2).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 27 Sep 11 | 10:21PM by Radovarl.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 27 September, 2011 10:46PM
Sweet. I'll bet they make a merry bunch on your shelf! That must be one sturdy shelf....

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: Radovarl (IP Logged)
Date: 28 September, 2011 07:15AM
The Lovecraft shelf (shared by Leiber) isn't complaining too much. The Tolkien and Vance shelves, on the other hand, occasionally do camel impressions..



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28 Sep 11 | 07:16AM by Radovarl.

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2011 07:37PM
Another B&N Update!

Available for a limited time only on E-bay, this merchant will sell you
*exactly* the same volume we've been discussing - Not for $20, not for $40,
but for the Buy-it-Now price of only $59.98 - wow!(calls for allcaps) WOW !

Why pay $20.00 US at B&N when you can pay this merchant thrice the cost?

Try this url:

B&N on Ebay

- Cathexis

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2011 08:43PM
Dammit, dammit, dammit...I already got my copy at B&N...now I've got to hang on to these two extra $20s--I could have got rid of them! But no, I acted rashly, and I must pay for it--by not paying for it. Hey, maybe I can still return my B&N copy? I really want to go the Ebay route now--I always feel like a product is higher quality if I pay more money for it. Dammit, Cathexis, I was a lot happier before I knew about this....

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2011 09:29PM
Quote:
K_A_Opperman
I was a lot happier before I knew about this....


Funny - That's what a lot of HPL's characters said too.

-Cathexis

Re: How *do* we know the definitive HPL texts are just that?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2011 09:32PM
Yep!--but they were never a very cheery bunch to begin with....

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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