The long gap between this blog and its predecessor is only partly the result of my own indolence and the general hubbub of the holiday period. My webmaster, Greg Lowney, took an extended vacation (Dec. 19–Jan. 11) to China, and so I was unable to update my website in any fashion—not that there was any urgency to do so. I am looking forward to meeting Greg (at a scheduled dinner of our local “gang” of weird fiction devotees on Jan. 25) to get the lowdown on his trip to the Far East.
My big news (if it qualifies as such) is the publication of 300 Books by S. T. Joshi via my Sarnath Press imprint (https://www.amazon.com/300-Books-Joshi-Comprehensive-Bibliography/dp/165465406X/). In conjunction with this volume, I have assembled a volume entitled Bits of Autobiography and Interviews (https://www.amazon.com/Bits-Autobiography-Interviews-Compiled-Joshi/dp/1654636320/), with my ugly mug on the cover. The great bulk of the book consists of interviews (most of them online) I have given over the decades, from the early 1990s to the present day. Both books are priced at $15.95, but I will very soon have a supply of copies in hand, so I’m prepared to sell them for $15.00 each on the usual terms (i.e., media mail postage covered by the price). Should some masochists wish both volumes, I am prepared to let them go for a total of $25.00.
Another highly enticing item is the issuance of a complete audiobook of Lovecraft’s complete revisions and collaborations (essentially, the texts contained in volume 4 of the variorum edition of Lovecraft’s Complete Fiction): https://www.hplhs.org/collaborations.php. Now you can have HPL’s complete fiction in two convenient thumbdrives! I have always found that hearing a Lovecraft story heightens my appreciation of it and provides new insights that a mere reading cannot always supply.
A colleague informs me that BBC Radio has followed up its production of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward with a version of “The Whisperer in Darkness”: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06spb8w/episodes/player. This will in turn be followed by a version of “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” I have not had the time to gauge the merits of these multi-episode productions, but the mere fact that the BBC is undertaking them is an important sign of Lovecraft’s worldwide celebrity.
My essay on Michel Houellebecq from Lovecraft Studies No. 12 (2018)—“Why Michel Houellebecq Is Wrong about Lovecraft’s Racism”—has now appeared in a Polish translation by Mateusz Kopacs: https://www.hplovecraft.pl/2020/01/09/s-t-joshi-dlaczego-houellebecq-myli-sie-co-do-rasizmu-lovecrafta/. Kopacs has added some further criticisms of Houellebecq, covering issues I did not address in my short piece. (An English-language translation of this web page can be found here: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pl&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.hplovecraft.pl%2F2020%2F01%2F09%2Fs-t-joshi-dlaczego-houellebecq-myli-sie-co-do-rasizmu-lovecrafta%2F.) It appears that Houellebecq carries far greater weight in Europe as an “authority” on Lovecraft than he deserves, and Kopacs and others believe it is long overdue that the record be set straight on Houellebecq’s distortions and misinterpretations of Lovecraft, especially on the racism angle (he was the one who has most notably propounded the false view that the entirety of Lovecraft’s writing is infected with racism).
On a more personal note, I may mention that I dusted off my violin (thanks in no small part to my wife’s purchase of a new bow for it) and participated in my choir’s “Messiah Sing-along/Play-along” on December 28. I was assured that I would be only one of several violinists playing at the event. What was my alarm when I discovered that there was only one other violinist—and he opted to play the second violin part, since I only knew the first violin part! There is a key section in the finale (“Amen”) where the first violins are playing all by themselves for about four bars—a petrifying experience for someone so out of practice as I was. Even though I thought I was horribly out of tune, this was nothing more than a fundraiser for our choir and not a “performance” in any meaningful sense of the term. Perhaps next time I will do more practicing ahead of the event—or, better still, not play at all!