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H P Lovecraft Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos, and writers who continued the tradition.

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Old 20th March 2009, 09:54 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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Originally Posted by Teresa Edgerton View Post
Going by what you say, it sounds as though many of these "corrections" are simply further redactions, based on Joshi's extensive and no doubt excellent research, but nevertheless bound to be influenced by his own interpretations of the evidence, and therefore only conjecturally more "correct" than the originally published versions.
There is quite an advanced process involved of comparing various text versions against each other in order to determine the most reliable one. For example, for "The Rats in the Walls" there is no Ms. -- so what publication to use? The second publication of WT cut up the paragraphs compared to the first one; but as Joshi demonstrates in "Textual Problems in Lovecraft" (mandatory reading -- it's in the Wildside Press edition of Discovering H. P. Lovecraft by Darrell Schweitzer) Derleth and Wandrei had a knack for picking the most unreliable versions -- reprints of reprints of reprints, with encrustations of typos and what have you -- and these are the versions that have been most commonly spread around.

Joshi's only changes to the text once the most reliable publication has been determined is reinserting Lovecraft's idiosyncrasies in spelling and punctuation: shew, co÷perate, etc.


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In those cases where the typescripts are available he stands on firmer ground, but what is the evidence (this is not a rhetorical question, because I am really interested to know) that these are the last and final drafts sent by Lovecraft to the publishers and that he played no part in altering them afterward?
Where the revisions are concerned, there isn't, of course. Still, these typescripts are the closest we can get to HPL's own pen; hence these versions are preferable to later edits (especially in the case of "The Mound", in which the edits largely consists of Derleth removing entire pages from the typescript -- not to mention his ridiculous crypt/room change...).

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I know that I often keep early and not-quite-final drafts of my own work around for sentimental or other purposes (and that I am not the only writer who does this), and I wouldn't like to think that someone would come across one of them after I was dead and assume that what they had was the "real" story and that the published version was therefore incorrect.
Something like this had to be done with "At the Mountains of Madness" (the corrected version). For this, we have Lovecraft's first A.Ms., his first T.Ms., and his corrected copies of Astounding Stories (HPL was so upset at the slaughter of his tale that he corrected his copies of the magazine by hand, using a small knife and a pen, but since he didn't have access to his own final script anymore he didn't correct all the mistakes).
However, Lovecraft made significant changes in the final T.Ms. due to new scientific finds in Antarctica, so this would be the preferred version; but this Ms. has been lost. Hence, Joshi has had to work from the remaining sources to create a hybrid text that comes as close to the lost T.Ms. as is humanly possible.

But I can't summarise this well enough, I'm afraid. "Textual Problems in Lovecraft" in Discovering H. P. Lovecraft -- that's the thing.
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Old 20th March 2009, 08:56 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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But I can't summarise this well enough, I'm afraid. "Textual Problems in Lovecraft" in Discovering H. P. Lovecraft -- that's the thing.
You've done a darn sight better job at it than I could, and with much less space....
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Old 21st March 2009, 03:48 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

I'd never heard that there was a final version of ATMOM that was lost. That's a shame.

I apologize if this has already been covered, but all I have is an ancient (1970's?) hardcover version of The Horror in the Museum, and was wondering if there are significant variations between that and the new edition when it comes to The Mound and The Curse of Yig. I've always thought those two stories were great examples of Lovecraft, but they both felt like something was missing...
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Old 21st March 2009, 05:24 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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I'd never heard that there was a final version of ATMOM that was lost. That's a shame.

I apologize if this has already been covered, but all I have is an ancient (1970's?) hardcover version of The Horror in the Museum, and was wondering if there are significant variations between that and the new edition when it comes to The Mound and The Curse of Yig. I've always thought those two stories were great examples of Lovecraft, but they both felt like something was missing...
Not so much with "The Curse of Yig" -- iirc, all such are very minor there; but "The Mound" is quite another matter, as a good-sized chunk of the story is missing in the older versions -- several pages' worth, as Martin noted above. "Medusa's Coil" has a great many differences, as well. I went through both versions about a year and a half ago, and was amazed at just how many differences! Sometimes, it was simply a slightly different emphasis, or a different word; at other times, entire sentences were vastly altered or missing, causing a completely different reading in many cases. And, of course, there is the infamous original ending which Derleth excised for PC reasons.... (It is quite justly infamous, I'd say; but nonetheless it is an example of Derleth's unwillingness to let Lovecraft stand on his own in such cases....)
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Old 21st March 2009, 10:45 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

And could you tell us what that ending is ?
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Old 21st March 2009, 04:31 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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And could you tell us what that ending is ?
Aside from her relationship to Cthulhu, Lovecraft ended with the following:

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It would be too hdeous if they knew that the one-time heiress of Riverside [...] was faintly, subtly, yet to the eyes of genius unmistakably the scion of Zimbabwe's most primal grovellers. No wonder she owned a link with that old witch-woman Sophonisba -- for, though in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a negress.
Granted, this ties in with other elements in Lovecraft's evolving views of what we now call the Cthulhu Mythos (the poem, "The Outpost", for example), but modern readers are not likely to find it anything but distasteful....
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Old 21st March 2009, 04:42 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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Granted, this ties in with other elements in Lovecraft's evolving views of what we now call the Cthulhu Mythos (the poem, "The Outpost", for example), but modern readers are not likely to find it anything but distasteful....
To be fair to Lovecraft, that ending probably originated in the original draft that he was revising, according to the surviving story notes -- but I'm sure he had no problem with it.
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Old 21st March 2009, 04:56 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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I'd never heard that there was a final version of ATMOM that was lost. That's a shame.
Well, it wasn't QUITE lost, since that was the version that Astounding Stories published; however, "that hyaena Tremaine", as Lovecraft called him, completely slaughtered the text, ruined Lovecraft's style and pacing, cut up sentences (such as putting the end of one sentence onto the start of another) etc., to the point that HPL considered it "unpublished". There is a very amusing letter from HPL to Barlow in which he pours his bile over Tremaine and Astounding.

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I apologize if this has already been covered, but all I have is an ancient (1970's?) hardcover version of The Horror in the Museum, and was wondering if there are significant variations between that and the new edition when it comes to The Mound and The Curse of Yig. I've always thought those two stories were great examples of Lovecraft, but they both felt like something was missing...
I haven't read those versions myself, but as I mentioned, there are significant chunks missing from "The Mound". Plus, Derleth made at least one mindbogglingly stupid change that Joshi mentions in his article:

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Originally Posted by Joshi
His changes in "The Mound" amount to excisions of about 500 words, and countless changes in spelling and punctuation (some resulting in incoherence; hence in a sentence reading "And if any room for doubt remained, that room was abolished...." Derleth changed the second "room" to "crypt", destroying the idiom and producing nonsence).
In a note, Joshi writes that "'Crypt' appears in the Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1943) text; in The Horror in the Museum (1970) text the word 'doubt' is substituted for 'crypt', a makeshift change which at least preserves the sense."
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Old 21st March 2009, 09:23 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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To be fair to Lovecraft, that ending probably originated in the original draft that he was revising, according to the surviving story notes -- but I'm sure he had no problem with it.
Indeed, it would appear so, given his detailed notes (though we no longer have the original material sent him for revision or ghost-writing). And, given his note there ("woman revealed as vampire, lamia, &c. &c. -- & unmistakably (surprise to reader as in original text) a negress" -- Collected Essays Vol. 5: Philosophy, Autobiography & Miscellany, for those interested in looking these up), to be just in his handling of such, he did manage to make it a surprise, though there are subtle hints enough throughout the text.

As for his having no problem with it -- well, to be honest, while I find it a gratuitous and distasteful touch, I'm afraid I'm not as disconcerted by this as many, simply because such is far from unusual even with the advanced thinkers of HPL's day; it was gradually becoming something other than the norm, but it was still quite common, even among writers not overly given to ethnic prejudice (cf. Asimov's comments on P. Schuyler Miller's "Tetrahedra from Space" in Before the Golden Age as a good example of how prevalent it still was). My complaint with it is that it does seem to be gratuitous and unnecessary; it is "gilding the lily" (if such a phrase may be used in conjunction with such a theme); not because of the sentiments expressed. To be quite so disturbed by such from a writer of his time (rather than ours, where it is looked on disparagingly) is to attempt to make that writer's views of our time, not his (or hers). Distasteful and unpleasant as it may be to us, if we held such against writers, there's scarcely a handful throughout history who would escape censure....
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Old 21st March 2009, 11:05 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

I wonder what could have actualy lead him personaly to such observations. I dont know if there were any writers of the era who were black in his region, but I would be surprised had not one such a person ever sent him a leter of complaint .
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Old 22nd March 2009, 05:04 AM   #41 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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I wonder what could have actualy lead him personaly to such observations. I dont know if there were any writers of the era who were black in his region, but I would be surprised had not one such a person ever sent him a leter of complaint .
Lobo: I don't think you have any conception of how pervasive such views were at the time. No, none such would be likely to send him such a letter; both because it was so pervasive, and stereotypes were taken for granted by nearly the whole of society, and because Lovecraft himself was during his lifetime, a rather obscure writer. He did correspond for a brief time with William Stanley Braithwaite, the noted poet and editor (who was black), but I don't believe those letters have ever been published. I do know that his reaction when he found out Braithwaite was black was enough to start the paper smoking -- and this was some years before corresponding with him (the correspondence dates to 1930, his fulmination about Braithwaite in a letter to Rheinhart Kleiner from 1918).

I don't know of any black writers in his region -- in fact, there weren't that many writers of note in his region at the time, for that matter -- but nonetheless there was the "Harlem Renaissance", which produced a considerable number of writers, artists, musicians, and the like, several of which remain notable to this day (such as Langston Hughes, Nella Larson, Zora Neale Hurston, Alic Dunbar Nelson, Jean Toomer, and the wonderful Paul Robeson, who had a voice like no other....)

As for what led him to such feelings -- well, that has never (to my knowledge) been answered completely; but the majority of whites in America at the time -- even the majority of extremely liberal people -- felt blacks were inferior at the least, often saw them as almost subhuman, or further down the evolutionary ladder (a common misconception of evolution at the time). See some of the things written even by H. G. Wells and the like on the subject -- and Wells was a decided humanitarian progressive! There is also the fact that Lovecraft came from Old American stock, which placed considerable importance on class distinctions, as well as observing a very strict color line. Then again, he did read The Color Line: A Brief in Behalf of the Unborn, by Professor William Benjamin Smith, at an early age (early enough to have written a vitriolic poem in support of its theme in 1905), not to mention Thomas Dixon's The Clansman (both the novel and the play) and The Leopard's Spots. Dixon's Clansman was the basis for the film Birth of a Nation; and if you want to get an idea how pervasive such views were, try watching that one, and realizing that it was not only extremely popular but seen as a great piece of art in its time. (It still remains an amazing technical achievement, and does have some excellent performances; but the racist element in it makes it nearly unwatchable these days.) These are just a few of the elements which went toward his views on the matter....
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Old 23rd March 2009, 10:11 PM   #42 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

When news of the Barnes & Noble tome broke, wasn't there also whispering talk of a complimentary volume of revisions and other miscellanea which in supplement with B&N's The Fiction would leave us with HPL's complete oeuvre (most complete with the addition of the complete poetry with The Ancient Track)?
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Old 23rd March 2009, 11:08 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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When news of the Barnes & Noble tome broke, wasn't there also whispering talk of a complimentary volume of revisions and other miscellanea which in supplement with B&N's The Fiction would leave us with HPL's complete oeuvre (most complete with the addition of the complete poetry with The Ancient Track)?
That was probably from me. I haven't heard anymore about this project for quite some time, and AFAIK it's still on the idea stage. It doesn't have a publisher confirmed, anyway, although a name was mentioned in connection with it.
In other words -- don't hold your breath.
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Old 24th March 2009, 05:25 AM   #44 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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When news of the Barnes & Noble tome broke, wasn't there also whispering talk of a complimentary volume of revisions and other miscellanea which in supplement with B&N's The Fiction would leave us with HPL's complete oeuvre (most complete with the addition of the complete poetry with The Ancient Track)?
Speaking of which... even though it's a very minor item, I'd like to see a new edition, with the inclusion of "An American to the British Flag", which was unavailable at the time, but which has since resurfaced....
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Old 24th March 2009, 02:56 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Re: Horror In The Museum

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Speaking of which... even though it's a very minor item, I'd like to see a new edition, with the inclusion of "An American to the British Flag", which was unavailable at the time, but which has since resurfaced....
I'm not at home and can't check, and do not remember offhand, but according to this it is included.
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