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Old 06-01-2016   #1
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Topic Nominated A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

I have such a curious mental & emotional relationship with ye fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, and this hath made me curious about the experience of reading him from others less contaminated with eldritch contagion.

This new edition from Barnes & Noble, THE COMPLETE CTHULHU MYTHOS TALES, has me anxious to dip again into Lovecraft's fictive universe. I am sudden overwhelm's with a desire to read some of the stories again, especially some of ye revisions such as "The Mound" and "The Curse of Yig." I even have a wee hankering to read "The Horror in the Museum," hoping that THIS time I might actually enjoy ye tale. (Usually I come away from it groaning, "My gawd, it reads like a lousy Derleth pastiche!")

I return to Lovecraft constantly, dipping into his oeuvre three or four times a month. I seem always to be writing about the fiction--I've just review'd this new edition on Amazon and am looking for other places wherein to sing its praises). A lot of my rereading is related to my work as a writer of Lovecraftian pastiche: I recently reread that rather awful tale, "The Horror at Red Hook," in preparation for writing a story for a Red Hook-themed anthology. (This writing of essays and such about Lovecraft's tales has become a real addiction of late. I am burning to write some few further essays for additional volumes in ye series from PS Publishing, LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED. Part of ye ache of wanting to write new essays comes from the way that doing so returns me to Lovecraft's fiction and dictates a new kind of study of the stories, thus giving the reading of HPL a new dimension.)

So I feel that I may a rather perverse "case". My question to y'all, then is, How often do ye return to reading Lovecraft's Work (always with a capital W, as is ye case when one speaks of Ligotti's Work; whereas with Derleth or Lumley is it always "work"...) How regularly do you read Lovecraft's weird fiction, & what compels ye to do so? Do ye return to reread favourite stories, or has anyone actually ventur'd to read his entire Oeuvre?

I'm just a curious wee thing...

"We work in the dark -- we do what we can -- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."
--Henry James (1843-1916)
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Old 06-01-2016   #2
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Re: A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

I find myself exclusively rereading his shorter pieces now, which is curious as many of these struck me as lesser works compared to his novella length narratives and longer short stories when I first read his work.

Dagon (utterly perfect apart from the suicide melodrama at the end), The Music of Erich Zann, The Festival, The Outsider, Nyarlathotep and The Night Ocean (co-written, but I still count it) nail his essential themes in elliptical mysterious narratives that exist within the margins of the undefined realms of human consciousness. His more fleshed out stories seem to me now more codified and limited, with significant dry periods. The Colour Out of Space is obviously masterful, and one of his best, but even that story has a dry section about scientists working on the meteor which I tend to skip through. I think this is down to my own change in temperament and move away from scientific materialism and procedural elements of genre fiction. The longer stories seem to be about the alien corrupting a rational material world, whilst the earlier tales I listed were more about our world itself being a dream or shadow.

When I next do a significant reread, I want to do all his Dream Cycle tales in order. I have read all his big tales countless times, but I haven't read most of the Dreamland tales more than once, and I have a strong feeling that I may appreciate them a lot more now my temperament has changed. As I'm intimately familiar with Dunsany now, I think I'll be able to glean a lot of elements I missed first time through and be able to detect a one-sided literary conversation Lovecraft was engaging in with his idol.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 06-01-2016   #3
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Re: A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

I reread, at the least, three or four of his stories once a year, but I should probably read the ones I haven't read yet. Sometimes I switch between Spanish and English so it doesn't become tedious.

Your fall should be like the fall of mountains. But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning, and shall be forever. The first and the last. The world come full circle. I am not the wheel. I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. I was the wind and the stars before this. Before planets. Before heaven and hell. And when all is done, I will be wind again, to blow this world as dust back into endless space. To me the coming and going of Man is as nothing.
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Old 06-01-2016   #4
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Re: A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

I find that interesting. As Lovecraft's writing style is so deeply tied to its baroque archaic English elements in how it achieves its effects, I'd imagine it would be a significantly different experience in another language.

Quote Originally Posted by hopfrog View Post
"My gawd, it reads like a lousy Derleth pastiche!"
This was how I reacted to some parts of The Thing on the Doorstep last time round. The 'Mythos' elements seemed shallow, unsubtle and overdone, similar to a Lovecraft pastiche. I have ranted on here recently about my general disdain for shared universes, and here Lovecraft fell prey to many of the traps. The literal connections with other works did nothing to benefit the story and made it messier rather than deeper, which was the problem Derleth had with his 'Mythos' efforts.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 06-01-2016   #5
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Re: A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

I read a short tale of his a couple times a year, and every time I find something new, like discovering a new fossil in a gouged quarry.
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Old 06-02-2016   #6
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Re: A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

I always return to the Work, at least once a year. The latest tome of Barnes & Noble is an amazing artefact, which made me go back to the Work yet again. It also brought to light how I first came to Lovecraft, which was through the Surrealists, Breton, et.al. Especially Breton's short essay, "The Great Invisibles", in the Prolegomena to a Third Manifesto of Surrealism or Else (June, 1942), where he seems to invoke the Gods of Lovecraft way before Lovecraft was introduced in translation in France in 1953. Breton wrote:

"Man is perhaps not the center, the focus of the universe. One may go so
far as to believe that there exist above him, on the animal level, beings
whose behavior is as alien to him as his own must be to the may-fly or
the whale...A new myth? These beings, must they be convinced that they
derive from a mirage, or should they be given an opportunity to reveal
themselves."

Of which I am researching and writing a related essay titled "Lovecraft and the Great Invisibles".

Who knows whether, in nature, we do not hold as small a place beside beings
whose existence we do not suspect, as our cats and dogs living in our houses
at our sides.
-William James
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Old 06-02-2016   #7
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Re: A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

I listen to Fungi From Yuggoth in my truck, daily, to and from work. I like to re-read The Festival in the Winter. Occasionally I'll re-read The Shadow out of Time. The rest of his work I only reference when something new about it is brought to my attention, or some questionable claim is made about one of his stories.
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Old 06-02-2016   #8
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Re: A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

The publication of the Variorum gave me an excuse to re-read the complete works.
I'm currently reading the volumes of letters that Hippocampus Press keep churning out, and that sometimes prompts a reading of certain stories.
I must admit to a guilty fondness for The Horror in the Museum because I think it was the first Lovecraft story that I ever read - though I didn't know it at the time. I was young enough to enjoy the purple prose without embarrassment, and surprised that this "Hazel Heald" woman had produced such a remarkably vivid and intense horror story.
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Old 06-02-2016   #9
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Re: A Return to Reading E'ch-Pi-El

I re-read his short stories every year. I've been watching the movies and listening to certain stories like, At The Mountains of Madness, in my car on MP3. I credit Lovecraft with my lifelong fascination with horror. I would sit in a local used book shop, shifting from aisle to corner lest the proprietor chase me out, and with goggling eyes spend my summer days leafing through the most unimaginable horrors that my eleven year old mind could handle. Ah, good times!

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