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Old 12-22-2015   #1
Robert Adam Gilmour
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The William Hope Hodgson thread

And Lo! The Prodigious Hodgson thread!
He's the first writer I ever fell in love with.

william hope hodgson | A blog about the writer of THE NIGHT LAND and HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND
The Night Land - Home


Here's what I said on the Lovecraft/Octavia Butler thread

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
A book of Hodgson's complete poetry is coming out at the end of the year. I think I'm only missing a few poems but it'd be nice to have them all.

I want to say something about The Night Land that people would probably advise I keep secret: I loved the romance parts with Mirdath/Nani. People tend to regard this as one of the most obnoxious parts but I found it really moving, infectious and it increased my appreciation of adorable cutesy petite girls by a hundred times.
Reading him describe her is like listening to someone make high pitched squee sounds when they see something unbelievably cute. I love that and I feel like it changed my life in an odd way.
There are sexist, prudish and annoying old soul-mate ideas wrapped up in the romance though.

People often mention the attempt at archaic language being the main flaw but I don't know why more people don't recognise that the main flaw is how much he repeats himself and even acknowledges several times that he is repeating himself!
He keeps going over his daily routines and reminding you about things in case you had forgotten.

I would have liked more monsters too. I don't think there was quite enough.

I haven't read the Dream Of X version yet but I have a feeling it won't contain everything good about the original.
The complete poetry book isn't coming out because of a lack of interest. I've just read the four main novels but I've got all the Night Shade collections, Lost Poetry, Voice Of The Ocean and the Wandering Soul biography. Aside from a few poems, I think that's everything.

James on the Lovecraft tribute anthologies thread in which I mentioned the 2 Night Land tribute anthologies and a Carnacki one.

Quote Originally Posted by James Sucellus View Post
I wouldn't mind reading an anthology of tales set in Hodgson's The Night Land universe. I never knew a badly written book could be so amazing until I read that novel.

And lo! I would be curious to see that setting tackled without the most preposterously repetitive prose I have encountered, as you will keep in mind. And lo! As you will keep in mind, it is a book that continues, as you will keep in mind, to live regularly within my imaginings, despite My Beloved Hodgson seeming to not realise he repeats himself so often, as you will keep in mind. And lo, as you will keep in mind, this book was awe inspiring to the highest degree, whilst pushing my patience as a reader beyond its uttermost limits in the second half, as you will keep in mind! And lo! And lo!
Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
You mean the ones I listed on page 2?

Quote Originally Posted by James Sucellus View Post
Aye, I remembered some had been referenced in this thread which was why I brought it up. I really do love The Night Land, despite how badly written it often is. If I didn't love it, I wouldn't even have finished it. Memories of the amazing descriptions of the Watchers or the House of Silence or the strange lights earlier in the book were all that got me through the giggling, flirting, whipping and compass checking madness later on.

I could complain about it forever, and yet I struggle to think of a weird fiction novel I have ever found that involving. The meticulously chronicled tedium somehow made it hypnotic and therefore more involving. The repetition put me in a trance that made the awe sequences even more powerful. As a piece of literature it is often almost unbelievably hokey, but as a literary experience it is incredible.
Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
I'm fairly sure I wouldn't miss the tedium and repetition.

James Stoddard remade the book. This book would certainly benefit from a remake but I don't think I'd trust anyone's judgement to keep all the things I liked. While I acknowledge the unpleasant sexism, unlike most fans, I think the giggly cute love story parts is one of the best parts.
Quote Originally Posted by James Sucellus View Post
I think in some way the very limited, small pool of repetitive language used over and over ('brooding', 'steadfast') actually helps show how useless it is when describing incomprehensible matters of the infinite with the blunt instrument of English. The second half of the book could stand substantial editing, but on revisiting the book, I didn't have much issue with the first half. It is the journey back when things become tough to read for me, though the book does pick up substantially once the House of Silence area is reached. I have been interested in purchasing the Stoddard vesion, but I am concerned that in the process of re-writing it many of my favourite parts will be made inferior as I do think chapter two in particular is very well executed.

The romance adds a certain impetus to the story, and the escort mission aspect lends the novel suspense in the final half as it does feel like she could die, but it is really the worst written thing in the book. I find the sexism of the novel gross and the justification of violence against 'Mine Own' to be particularly awful. The foot fetish stuff is funny though, I guess.

As I said before, it is a testament to how bold, brilliant and unique Hodgson's fiction was that that so many criminally bad elements can be overlooked in order to see its significant merit. The House on the Borderland and The Night Land are flawed masterpieces, but I'd take a flawed masterpiece over a book that is easier to read but merely copies what has been done many times before in an acceptable manner.

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Old 12-22-2015   #2
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

I've heard some say that Dream Of X keeps everything good about The Night Land but I've also heard that it's an incredibly clumsy abridgement that just chops out whole sections of the book without any real editing.

It might be a bit too wishlisty to ask for more monsters, but I brought a lot of hopes to The Night Land because the concept sounded so impressive. But actually the main feature I wish it had more of was darkness.
Sure, there is a never-ending night and there are portions where he is in complete darkness but for the majority of the book he can see quite clearly. I thought it'd be much better if he was in total darkness for more of the duration and struggled to see most of his attackers.

A lot of people don't like the latter half of House On The Borderland but I think those are the most intense parts.
Boats Of Glen Carrig on the other hand has a disastrous second half.

A surprising amount of music has been based on his work.
Hodgsonian vibrations
Recently Ahab did an album called Boats Of Glen Carrig.

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Old 12-22-2015   #3
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

The Night Land uses darkness and light in an interesting way early on in the book, such as when he must use his Diskos for light whilst climbing a declivity. It is portrayed as momentous and beautiful that the narrator encounters such strange light in the first (!) Gorge, and this extends to the prodigious amount of fire-hole light he encounters in the Country of the Sea. It is a shame that after that the book ceases to use darkness/light in an interesting way.

My biggest disappointment with The Night Land was how the way back home was pretty uninteresting compared to the way there, yet was so protracted. I think when I next read through this flawed jewel I shall skim many parts of the second half. Discovering the strange alien landscape was much more interesting than backtracking through it whilst kissing and giggling and whipping a lot.

There is so much wrong with The Night Land, but when it gets things right it is peerless and infinitely evocative. The image of the Watchers towering among the shadows, fixedly gazing at the Pyramid in their inexorable approach is unforgettable dream fuel and the weird enigmatic tid bits such as the Great Laughter and House of Silence are true horror. It is an incredible piece of work, for its countless flaws and tedious longueurs. I can't stop obsessing over it.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 12-22-2015   #4
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

About time! I often considered beginning a thread to Hodgson myself, but did not. I still think Hodgson, along with even Blackwood, is somewhat underrated. I have said this before, but Hodgson was the Lovecraft of the Edwardian era: the cosmicism of Machen and Blackwood was often nullified by their optimistic mysticism, whereas Hodgson, whose weird vision was similar to the other two, eschewed mysticism and embraced science, thereby spawning a type of cosmic (astronomical) horror that truly found despair in the thought that the Earth and its inhabitants are but transient specks of dust in a vast and boundless cosmos (though Hodgson was prone, as Lovecraft remarked, to thinking the universe as actively evil, as opposed to fundamentally indifferent).
As you all know, I am a profound enthusiast of The House on the Borderland, and will go to the grave defending this as a work of art. So many ideas and images condensed into one novel -- the cosmological vistas of H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon are wedded with the supernatural terror of Machen, Lovecraft, and Poe in a potent mix that even today still remains unrivalled in sheer creativity without degenerating into standard Tolkien-esque phantasy. It is set to be reprinted by Dublin's Swan River Press in the foreseeable future -- with illustrations by John Coulthart!!!!

I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.
-- J.G. Ballard

Golgonooza
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Old 12-22-2015   #5
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

Which are his best short stories? I have only read The Voice in the Night and would like to read some Carnacki tales. I heard his short stories are more conventional and accessible, so I was less intrigued by the idea of them than his hypnotic, unique novels.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 12-22-2015   #6
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

Thanks, I'll check them out when I have finished rereading the backtracking through the Upper Gorge from The Night Land, with the shadowed, oppressive, seemingly mountain-lidded (!) valley stretching on and on, whilst the protagonists are haunted by the hints of fire-lit slug creatures. Very eerie.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 12-22-2015   #7
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

Try "The Derelict" "The Call in the Dawn" "The Wild Man of the Sea" "The Stone Ship". You'll be surprised at how good they are.
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Old 12-22-2015   #8
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

I once had a weird experience with Hodgson. I was reading The House on the Borderland while traveling with friends to a local comicon.It was my first ever comicon. I went to the first comic book booth I could get to and eyed a box of graphic novels. Sticking my hand in at random, I pulled out The House on the Borderland graphic novel, adapted by Richard Corben and Simon Revelstroke, with an introduction by Alan Moore, while the actual source rested in my backpack. I bought it immediately.
The graphic novel is average in my opinion, but Alan Moor's intro is great. Here is a teaser:

"It is no easy matter to describe this work, the aura and charisma that
surrounds it, evident before the book is even opened. The mad whirl-
pool of fantastic imagery and wild, apocalyptic notions it contains. The
aftertaste it leaves upon the mind, like that of flaming and primordial-
vintage brandy."
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Old 12-23-2015   #9
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

This is an important piece about Hogson's likely progression as a writer.
Writing Backwards: The Novels of William Hope Hodgson | william hope hodgson

Perhaps if he'd lived longer he could have written unrestrained fantasy that he seemed to prefer.

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Old 12-30-2015   #10
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Re: The William Hope Hodgson thread

I have finished all of the available Carnacki tales by Hodgson. None of them are among the greats of weird fiction, or even Hodgson's work, but as formulaic and somewhat simplistic adventures they're mostly enjoyable fun and some such as The Whistling Room and The Hog were unsettling in parts. I think these would be strong stories for children just getting in to weird fiction/ghost stories, as they remain very accessible and have aged better than many stories from this period in terms of modern standards of pacing.

The intrigue and suspense came from the possibility that each tale could be non-supernatural, and I do admit to being wrong-footed at least once, although the human ingenuity in that particular story was itself preternatural.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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