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New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 29 May, 2013 01:38PM
I had this volume on pre-order at AmazonUSA, but then I read S. T.'s blog, which was a response to a review of the book by Jess Nevins, that appeared in LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS and was reprinted at Salon.com. S. T.'s response to the review is that is "has more than a few remarks that are either bizarre, wrongheaded, or plainly false." Joshi then points out that, for the texts of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS and "The Shadow out of Time," the book's editor, Roger Luckhurst, has returned to using the mutilated texts as they appeared in ASTOUNDING STORIES, where HPL's lengthy paragraphs were stupidly divided into shorter paragraphs. In his Note on the Text, Luckhurst writes: "I have chosen to reprint the original pulp versions of the tales with regard to paragraphing, in order to retain some of the pulp energy that ASTOUNDING STORIES wanted to inject into Lovecraft's tales." Peter Cannon, in his review of the book at Publishers Weekly, suggests "that the magazine's columnar format dictated the re-paragraphing." What the hell is "pulp energy"? Lovecraft abhorred the treatment of his work by ASTOUNDING. So, reluctantly, I cancelled my pre-order of ye book on Amazon, where it is due to be available next month. But there is an allure to new editions of Lovecraft's tales that is like a drug to me. I went to AmazonUK to see if there were reviews of the book, and saw that the book had already been published in the UK and could be order's there--and so I order'd it. I also wrote a wee review based on what could read from the book on Amazon's "Look Inside" feature.

An Oxford hardcover edition of Lovecraft's tales is one more important component to HPL's rising importance as an important American author. It is a beautiful book, solidly made, with lovely gold end papers and a gold sewn-in book ribbon. Luckhurst's Introduction is very good indeed, and his notes seem excellent (although he seems a bit snide toward S. T. at times; at one point, in a note for "At the Mountains of Madness," we have: "at this point, STJ adds a 'lost' paragraph..."--hmm...) Handsome as the book is, I cannot recommend it, and will probably give my copy to S. T. if he doesn't get the review copy that he has requested from Oxford. After he has examined the book, S. T. will come to my pad to discuss it on a YouTube vlog. The texts seems mostly sound, but there are some errors, including the notorious "silent stutter in darkness" in "The Horror at Red Hook," which should be "silent strutter" (one cannot stutter silently, hello?). The inclusion of "Red Hook" as opening story is also a very poor editorial choice, as the story is little more than a boring poor man's version of THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD. Better he should have used "The Music of Erich Zann" or "The Outsider," or both.

So, it's nice to see an Oxford edition of H. P. Lovecraft, but one wishes they could have found a more qualified editor for such an important book.

Contents:
Introduction &c
The Horror at Red Hook
The Call of Cthulhu
The Colour out of Space
The Dunwich Horror
The Whisperer in Darkness
At the Mountains of Madness
The Dreams in the Witch House
The Shadow over Innsmouth
The Shadow out of Time
Appendix: Introduction from "Supernatural Horror in Literature"
Explanatory Notes

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 29 May, 2013 02:21PM
Yes, well, god forbid that somebody other than Joshi should be allowed to edit a Lovecraft book.

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 29 May, 2013 04:09PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes, well, god forbid that somebody other than
> Joshi should be allowed to edit a Lovecraft book.


I hardly think that's the problem; many an editor has done quite well on that front. The problem here is the return to mangled and poorly edited texts, texts that HPL himself repudiated -- to the point with At the Mountains of Madness of saying that he viewed it as not having been published at all -- and the snide tone of doubt implied by that "'lost'", when what has been restored to the text was taken from HPL's own manuscripts backed by his restorations (not entirely complete) he penciled in on the copies of Astounding. While there may be valid reasons for the choice of text, given Oxford's tendency to attempt to represent a writer's final preferences, and that rather oddball swipe at the restorations STJ brought about, I'd say there's some valid criticism of the editing job here.

It reminds me very much of the Penguin editions of Poe (The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket), where the editor, Harold Beaver, had some extremely quirky views of Poe and his work, continuing to lean heavily on the Freudian interpretations, as well as subtly (and at times not so subtly) deriding Poe and, for that matter, anyone who saw in the man anything but a rather perfervid hack.

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 29 May, 2013 04:17PM
I feel I own enough collections of HPL at this point... but thanks for the heads up, WP! "Pulp energy," my arse! The only one that beckons is one day I'd like to get The Outsider and Others... one day...

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 29 May, 2013 07:39PM
wilum pugmire Wrote:

> The inclusion of "Red Hook" as opening story is
> also a very poor editorial choice, as the story is
> little more than a boring poor man's version of
> THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD. Better he should
> have used "The Music of Erich Zann" or "The
> Outsider," or both.

Wilum: I fail to see much resemblance between "The Horror at Red Hook" and THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD. Care to elaborate?

Thanks,

Jim

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 29 May, 2013 07:51PM
I am presently trying to write a new portion of my next book's novella, but later on I'll try to comment. The resemblances are abundant: the links to a kind of satanism, Robert Suydam as early version of Joseph Curwen (practicing daemonology, his seduction and fatal marriage to an innocent young woman, his underground lair where he resurrects ye dead, &c &c). See also Joshi's Notes to "Red Hook" in ye Penguin Classics edition, THE DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES.

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

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2013 09:57AM
wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> the book's editor, Roger Luckhurst, has returned to using the mutilated texts as they
> appeared in ASTOUNDING STORIES, where HPL's lengthy paragraphs were stupidly divided into shorter paragraphs.

I think the re-paragraphing is not even the major problem of these pulp versions, but the various cuts and other alterations. The proper place to retain their "pulp energy" would be in a facsimile reprint of the Astounding appearances.

The inclusion of "Red Hook" strikes me as a pretty idiosyncratic choice, too... (EDIT: and wouldn't "CoC" be a much more fitting start for the book?)

JM



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 30 May 13 | 10:02AM by walrus.

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2013 11:25AM
Luckhurst knows so much about Lovecraft, judging from his notes and Introduction, so some of his editorial choices seem quite beyond comprehension. His snide attitude toward Joshi's texts (he uses quotations again when he describes the restored text for "The Shadow out of Time" as "corrected," as if to suggest that a corrected text is a laughable idea) is very queer. The web is filled with impotent anti-Joshi trolls who richly display their intellectual density--such fools are easily laughed at, easily ignored--but to find a trace of this kind of ignorance in the editor of such an important Oxford edition---well, maybe I'm just being over-sensitive because Sunand is a beloved amigo. I am giving S. T. my copy of the book to-day, as it is not an edition one need add to their library, and Joshi feels that he will have "plenty to say" about the volume.

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



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 30 May 13 | 11:27AM by wilum pugmire.

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2013 11:35AM
This is such a pity, as I would generally highly recommend Oxford University books. Their editions of the classic Gothic novels -- save for a rather quirky introduction here and there -- are excellent; well-researched, thoughtfully edited with informative but not overwhelming notes and, as I noted above, strive to give the most accurate representation of the author's intentions. They are also quite handsome books as well. But to revert to the pulp versions of Lovecraft's stories, especially with ones which he himself so bitterly rejected, simply strikes me as very bizarre.

As for the "pulp energy" bit... that is, again, precisely what Lovecraft strove to avoid being "tainted" with, complaining loudly about how his own style had been corrupted by such heavy exposure to these influences and the editorial nagging of Wright. He always felt very much at odds with the general pulp atmosphere, which was (as he noted) given to "snappy ection [sic]" and telegraphic stylisms as opposed to, as he put it, his own "old-fashioned leisurely prose". Such a pulpish description would certainly fit some of his confreres, such as Derleth or (in many cases) Long, etc., but were completely against the grain of what HPL was doing, with (perhaps) the sole exception of the chase sequence in "Innsmouth"....

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2013 02:45PM
wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> he uses
> quotations again when he describes the restored
> text for "The Shadow out of Time" as "corrected,"
> as if to suggest that a corrected text is a
> laughable idea

Well, the idea of "restored" texts having special significance is a fan notion, apparently based on the concept of the infallibility of one's favorite author or authors. In academia it is typically the published text that is of interest, for reasons that are either obvious or not worth bothering to explain.

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2013 04:30PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well, the idea of "restored" texts having special
> significance is a fan notion, apparently based on
> the concept of the infallibility of one's favorite
> author or authors. In academia it is typically the
> published text that is of interest, for reasons
> that are either obvious or not worth bothering to
> explain.

An incompetently edited text -- and the AS text of AtMoM was incompetently edited -- is not particularly interesting when it has been superseded by another, more coherent text. HPL wasn't infallible, but he certainly was a better editor of his own work than whatever hack on the AS staff mangled AtMoM.

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2013 04:57PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
>
> Well, the idea of "restored" texts having special
> significance is a fan notion, apparently based on
> the concept of the infallibility of one's favorite
> author or authors. In academia it is typically the
> published text that is of interest, for reasons
> that are either obvious or not worth bothering to
> explain.

Um, no, this is by no means the case, as any number of critical editions throughout literary history, from the Bible to Mallory onward, will show. It has little to do with "infallibility", but it does have to do with presenting a writer's work as they wrote it, rather than as any of a number of editors (no few, as Martinus has indicated, being less than competent) thought it should be....

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2013 05:18PM
walrus Wrote:
>
> The inclusion of "Red Hook" strikes me as a pretty
> idiosyncratic choice, too... (EDIT: and wouldn't
> "CoC" be a much more fitting start for the book?)
>
> JM

I'm guessing that the strange popularity of Dennis Wheatley in England (discussed elsewhere in this Forum) has some force in this connection.

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 31 May, 2013 12:39AM
Gavin Callaghan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm guessing that the strange popularity of Dennis
> Wheatley in England (discussed elsewhere in this
> Forum) has some force in this connection.

Though it is quite unlikely, it may also be possible that it was picked partly based on the enthusiastic response to the tale by such as Edmond Hamilton, one of the mainstays of the pulps, including WT....

Re: New edition of HPL from Oxford University Press
Posted by: phillipAellis (IP Logged)
Date: 2 June, 2013 03:33AM
Regarding the principle of latest appearances during an author's lifetime serving as the basis of a text, the pulp appearances aren't strictly speaking the latest appearances. We know that Lovecraft circulated copies of the pulps with textual amendments afterwards, so these amendments must form the basis of such publications.

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