Lovecraft in historical context : essays
Paperback, 74 Pages
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CONTENTS: The Monoliths under the Sea (a new short story, and a prequel to "Call of Cthulhu") / A note on the origin and derivation of ‘Necronomicon’ / “Dagon” : war and science at the origin of Lovecraft’s mythos / “The Rats In The Walls” : otherness and British culture / “Nyarlathotep” : science, sound, and the chaos of the Other / Lovecraft, the Cephalopoda, and the New England Sea Monster tradition / “Call of Cthulhu” : possible influences, and some notes on its enduring appeal / “At The Mountains of Madness” : some notes on Lovecraft’s possible visual inspirations. 74 pages, 13,000 words. Illustrated. Published August 2010.
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Jan 1, 2014Eight pieces are offered here, beginning with a short story prequel to “The Call of Cthulhu” cobbled together from some items written in the latter half of the 19th century. I admit the story wasn’t of much interest to me, & I pretty much skipped over it; I was much more interested in Mr. Haden’s scholarship & speculations. He starts things off with a note on the origin of the name “Necronomicon”, the warm-up to a speculative essay on the background materials (WWI U-boats, hieroglyphs, sea bed mapping, & the uses of morphine) to the story “Dagon”. This is followed by an essay on how “Rats in the Walls” deftly builds on longstanding themes of the English countryside & early 20th century notions of racial memory/regression. After this was a shorter piece on HPL’s prose-poem “Nyarlathotep” as a kind of reaction to the way in which Einstein’s then-new theories demolished the plausibility of “spiritual” or ”ethereal” understandings of reality. More down to earth is an study... More > on Cephalopoda (squids, octopi) in New Eangland sea monster legends. We segue into “The Call of Cthulu” itself in the next work, an 11 page perusal of influences on that most famous of HPL stories. The book pretty much ends with an essay on “The Mountains of Madness” that discusses the Antarctic expedition that may have prompted its writing. Quibbles: There is a table of contents that faithfully lists all the pieces in the book, but it fails to tell the reader the actual page to turn to. With a book this short, it's not too great a deal to manually seek out a particular essay, but, still. Haden’s use of sources also falls a little short at times; he seems largely limited to whatever he can find online, leaving me a bit frustrated at not being able to follow up on some lines of inquiry. He isn’t particularly detailed about his citations, either; most often he merely supplies us with the author & title of a quote. Sometimes he does not even do that, as in the case of a short aside about Oxford New College that is quite interesting & very apt in its context, but I don’t know where the author found this anecdote. The illustrations aren’t always reproduced to best advantage. I don’t know if the fault lies in how the book was printed, or in how the author formatted them to begin with. All in all, a short, but interesting collection of background information on some of Lovecraft’s writing, better written than a blog post, but not quite up to the level of traditional scholarship.< Less
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- David Haden (Standard Copyright License)
- First edition
- Burslem Books
- August 7, 2010
- Perfect-bound Paperback
- Interior Ink
- Black & white
- 0.35 lbs.
- Dimensions (inches)
- 6 wide x 9 tall
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