IMG_0002Sometimes, when I’m digging through my library, I come upon a book I haven’t read since my misspent youth and the urge strikes me to try it again, just to see if it still holds up after all those years.  It’s very disappointing, of course, when it doesn’t.

Knowing that the anniversary of Lovecraft’s death (March 15) is coming up the book I pulled out was The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and I had last read that at fifteen, when I purchased the Beagle edition.  I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed, not with Lovecraft, but I wondered if I’d like it as much as my first, and only, reading.

Well, I liked it more.  It’s an awe-inspiring work, a beautiful work, even if it does concern a hideous horror from beyond poor Charles Dexter Ward’s time.  Over the course of forty-some years I’ve done a little research on Lovecraft and so on my second reading I picked up a little more on how Lovecraft uses his beloved Providence to add authenticity to his tale of terror, and this helped increase my enjoyment.

It’s obvious that HPL wrote with a very sure hand when he composed this short novel and no one has ever done this type of writing any better than the Rhode Island master of macabre.   I’ve been told that I need to get more up-to-date with my reading habits—friends tell me it’s time to quit poring through old books written by dead authors but I just can’t agree.   Reading time is precious, and sometimes hard to come by, so I’ll continue to read the best there is, and Lovecraft is most assuredly that.

The University of Tampa Press published an authoritative edition of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and I recommend it to all of Lovecraft’s fans.  It is edited, with notes, by Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi—while I do have issues with the way Joshi perceives Robert E. Howard and his fans, this is the definitive edition.  Nit-picker that I am, I will, however, take exception with Joshi’s writing in his afterword that Lovecraft’s book never saw publication until Arkham House’s Beyond the Wall of Sleep in 1943.  Any fan of Weird Tales could tell him that it appeared, in an abridged form, in the May and July issues from 1941.  Now I know Joshi knows that, and he probably means the first publication in an unabridged form, but he should have pointed that out.  The book is rounded out by a great series of photos of Providence by Donovan K. Loucks which make me want to vacation sometime in Lovecraft’s stomping ground—on my bucket list.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 at 12:57 pm and is filed under H. P. Lovecraft, Howard's Favorite Authors, Weird Tales. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
+/- Collapse/Expand All

6 Comments(+Add)

1   Keith J Taylor    
March 7th, 2013 at 5:21 am

Brian! I’m glad you posted the above. Far be it from me to truckle, but I agree with every word. I’ve coincidentally been reading THE CASE OF, etcetera, lately, and it is indeed a well-written and frightening yarn. Joseph Curwen of pre-revolutionary days is one horrifying warlock. Ward was a most unfortunate fellow to be his descendant. They made a movie out of CHARLES DEXTER WARD decades ago, with Vincent Price, so naturally they had to make the title EDGAR ALLEN POE’S HAUNTED PALACE. Sigh. Well there are still people with taste and intelligence around, and many of ‘em seem to be found on this weblog …

2   Brian Leno    
March 7th, 2013 at 1:10 pm

It is a great book isn’t it? “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” is still my favorite HPL, but WARD is a close second. I did like HAUNTED PALACE, Lon Chaney and Price, what’s not to like? A movie called THE RESURRECTED, I believe, is also based on WARD, but have not seen that yet. Thanks for the comment, great minds do read the same books, as the readers of this blog already know.

3   francisco    
March 18th, 2013 at 12:34 pm

What’s the controversy of ST Joshi with Howard fans?

4   Brian Leno    
March 18th, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Hi francisco, In “H.P. Lovecraft: A Life” Joshi writes, in reference to the letter where Lovecraft states that Howard would probably think Santayana is a brand of coffee and that Howard’s “basic mentality” is about on the same level as that of a “bank cashier…ordinary lawyer” etc..Joshi writes that “on the whole this assessment is quite accurate.” Then he adds that “if Howard’s later devotees would adhere to this view, they would make themselves a little less ridiculous in proclaiming vast profundity and originality for his work.” Page 503. Didn’t care for the uncalled slap at Howard and his fans, and never will.

5   Keith J Taylor    
March 20th, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Yeah. As you say, Brian, uncalled-for.
I don’t reckon most of us claim “vast profundity” for REH’s work, fine as it is. If it did have “vast profundity” it might even be rather dull. But REH WAS a true original, as was Lovecraft, and one of the greatest storytellers ever. And I’ve devoted a post elsewhere to arguing that he had exceptionally good instincts when he wrote historicals, a fine sense of “how it must have been”. And his work DOES have far more depth than some traducers credit it with.

6   Brian Leno    
March 21st, 2013 at 7:55 am

I guess it’s interesting that in Joshi’s newer version of the Lovecraft biography he does not include the portion where he slaps around Howard’s fans. Not because he’s changed his mind about Howard or his fans, I’m sure of that.

Leave a reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Name (*)
Mail (will not be published) (*)
URI
Comment