Let me see if for once I can write a blog post that doesn’t involve my peddling various of my publications like some cheap huckster. I will here relate only my multifarious activities, which—in spite of the craziness that the holiday season always seems to bring on—have progressed at a brisk pace.
But first, let me announce two important publications by Michael Aronovitz—one already available, the other to appear next month. The first is Michael’s splendid collection of his best short stories—a substantial volume, since there is much that constitutes his best. It is just appeared from Cemetery Dance Publications under the title Dancing with Tombstones (https://www.cemeterydance.com/dancing-with-tombstones.html). I wrote a foreword to the book. Coming in late January is a new novel, The Sculptor, from Skyhorse Publishing (https://www.skyhorsepublishing.com/9781949102543/the-sculptor/). This is one of the most chilling serial killer novels you will ever read—but there is also a supernatural element that is exceptionally clever and powerful. And Michael now informs me that he has already finished another novel, which I hope to read soon. There’s no stopping the guy!
As for myself, I have been busy on many fronts. I was glad to have done a light copyedit of Joshua Rex’s short novel The Inamorta, soon to be published by Joe Morey’s Weird House. What is more, I also assisted in preparing musical notation for the book: it involves a viola virtuoso in the late eighteenth century, and I transcribed a vocal rendition by Joshua of a spectral melody that figures in the text—this in spite of the fact that I have always found viola clef to be cursedly difficult! But Joshua claims I managed to produce a transcription that accurately echoes his rendition. A handwritten version of this melody will appear on the endpapers of the book—and I understand that Joe will somehow make the actual melody available, perhaps in conjunction with an audiobook of the volume.
As for my own projects, I am myself preparing a large volume for Weird House—nothing less than the first collection of stories by the noted Weird Tales writer Everil Worrell (1893–1969). She published more than twenty stories in Weird Tales and Ghost Stories between 1926 and 1955, and they have never been gathered into a volume before. (I am leaving out some of the mediocre and outdated science fiction stories she wrote.) The volume—The Canal and Other Weird Stories—has a great deal of interesting material. Lovecraft himself appreciated “The Canal” (Weird Tales, December 1927) as well as “Norn” (Weird Tales, February 1936), and perhaps other of Worrell’s stories.
I am also busy preparing the second volume of my Journals, which will cover the years 1977–1982. The effort of typing out the 90,000 words of text was herculean! And now I am in the midst of annotating the text. The volume of course covers nearly the entirety of my life at Brown University, where I obtained the B.A. (1980) and M.A. (1982) before heading off to Princeton. The final volume will cover the years 1983–87, at which point I stopped keeping journals. After this, I may issue a volume of my own Miscellaneous Writings—contents to be determined at a later time!
Much more momentously, I have begun serious work on the preparation of the letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Frank Belknap Long, from scans provided by the John Hay Library. I should say that I am merely following up on extensive—nay, massive—work already done on the book by David E. Schultz, who will properly be designated the top editor. We also hope to include Long’s side of the correspondence, which exists in substantial albeit incomplete form in the John Hay Library. The intellectual content of Lovecraft’s letters to Long is unsurpassed.
Hippocampus Press plans an impressive array of publications for 2022, although for various reasons the total number may be slightly less than the 30 or more publications we issued this year. I understand that my edition of Sir Walter Scott’s Phantasmagoria (a collection of his weird stories, poems, and essays) is already out, but I have not received copies yet. This is a 2021 title, and two more volumes in the Classics of Gothic Fiction series should emerge next year: Clemence Housman’s The Were-wolf (which will also include her enigmatic novel The Unknown Sea and a short story) and a selection of the weird stories of Sax Rohmer (a partial reprint of my Centipede Press volume of Rohmer’s writings from 2013).
It is, in fact, rather frightening to think that I am already dangerously close to the stupefying figure of 400 published books. I have already published 365 volumes (not counting the Walter Scott book), and I have at least 30 more titles that are already finished or close to finished. Yikes!
I think I’d better shut up now.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 30, we were obliged to euthanise our cat Phoebe. She had been ailing for at least month, and it turned out she had a massive amount of fluid in her lungs. There was nothing that could be done, and we didn’t want her to suffer. But although we did say goodbye to her as best we could, neither Mary nor I could actually witness her passing, which took place at the vet’s office after we left her.
She was probably seventeen years old—a fine age for a cat. I had gotten her from a shelter in upstate New York in 2006, and it was estimated that she was two years old then. She had apparently suffered some sort of trauma in her youth, for she was always exceedingly skittish and frightened; but she was the gentlest, most sweet-tempered cat I’ve ever had. Here is a recent picture of her:
It grieves me to think that I have experienced the demise of seven cats (the other six being Pinkley, Sneakers, Taffy, Lily [sister to my sole remaining cat, the fourteen-year-old Mimi; Lily died when she was only a year and a half old], Paulo, and Henry). It never gets easier. But Phoebe will live in my heart and my memories.
On to more pleasant things!
My 365th book—an edition of the weird tales (and essays) of Robert Barbour Johnson, Far Below and Other Weird Stories—has just come out in a fine paperback edition from Weird House (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/far-below/). I have several copies for sale, and I will be happy to let them go for $15 each.
Also in is John C. Tibbetts’s edition of Margery Bowen’s The Grey Chamber from Hippocampus Press (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/the-grey-chamber-stories-and-essays-by-marjorie-bowen). This is the first of a two-volume set of Bowen’s selected works, although the second volume won’t appear until 2023. I have spare copies of this book to offer as well, for $15.
And I have one copy of my Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft ($20) and one or two copies of the limited hardcover edition of Michael Shea’s superlative Lovecraftian novel Mr. Cannyharme ($40) still available. Get ’em soon before they are snapped up!
Another choice edition that has come in is the signed and slipcased edition of Ramsey Campbell’s essay collection, Ramsey Campbell Certainly, which I edited (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/ramsey-campbell-certainly-signed-hardcover-by-ramsey-campbell-5210-p.asp). I’ll be happy to let my one spare copy go for $60.
As I looked on the PS Publishing website, I saw a page for my own treatise, Ramsey Campbell: Master of Weird Fiction (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/ramsey-campbell-master-of-weird-fiction—hardcover-s-t-joshi-5640-p.asp). The publication date is given as Autumn 2021, but I have not received any copies yet and don’t know when I will. But when they come in, you’ll be the first to know.
W. H. Pugmire’s work continues to be disseminated worldwide. Soon, the German publisher Bärenklau Phantastik will release its edition of Wilum’s Das Fenster zwischen den Welten (“The Window Between the Worlds”—the title being used for the German translation of “The Strange Dark One”). The cover art is exceptional:
The image on the cover, I have been told, is an adaptation of a work by a Finnish artist, Akseli Kallen-Galela (1865–1931). I hope to have copies of the book soon.
Also in is a four-LP spoken-word recording of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth” from Cadabra Records (https://cadabrarecords.com/products/h-p-lovecrafts-the-shadow-over-innsmouth-4x-lp-set-read-by-andrew-leman-score-by-chris-bozzone). (There is also a deluxe edition that sells for $129.00) I wrote the liner notes. I have no spares to sell, so you’d better order directly from Cadabra. Supplies will not last long!
I participated in an engaging podcast on Arthur Machen, sponsored by the Brazilian publisher Editora Clock Tower, which is about to issue a volume of Machen translated into Portuguese. The podcast is now available for listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAbB-Nw1IuQ. I actually haven’t heard it myself, but I imagine my part of the program can be heard in English, but there may also be an accompanying Portuguese translation.
On a final and most curious note: We are all no doubt mourning the passing of the great Stephen Sondheim—but did you know that there is a fairly direct Lovecraft connexion to him? In short, as a nineteen-year-old, Sondheim wrote a radio script of “The Rats in the Walls.” Some pages of this have become available recently:
You can see that Sondheim has affixed the first name of Peter to the protagonist and also updated the events to July of 1937 (as opposed to July of 1923). Glad to see that Sondheim showed such good taste even as a young man!
My Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft, published by Hippocampus Press (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/h.-p.-lovecraft/about-hp-lovecraft/the-recognition-of-h.-p.-lovecraft-by-s.-t.-joshi), is now available. I shall shortly be receiving a good supply of copies, and I can offer them at $20 each. I do believe this is a pretty significant title in terms of my coverage of both the dissemination of Lovecraft’s work worldwide and the criticism of his life, work, and thought over the decades.
As a bonus, I am proud to announce that any purchasers of Recognition can also secure a copy of my Journals, Volume 1: 1974–1976 (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09LZX7LRY) for only $10. Those who wish to purchase only the Journals can have it for $15. I have to say, this book is a scream—and a must for Joshi collectors! (All three of you.) The photo on the cover of the book, incidentally, is my senior yearbook photo (1976), scanned as well as I can manage (the image was significantly improved—at least from a digital aspect—by David E. Schultz; neither he nor anyone could do anything about the overall features of my ugly mug).
I also have exactly two spare copies of the hardcover edition of Michael Shea’s Mr. Cannyharme, which I will let go for $40 each. And I have one spare copy of the third volume of the Italian translation of my biography of Lovecraft, Io sono Providence (Providence Press, 2021), which I am offering for $20. (The above discounted price for the Journals applies to anyone who buys these titles.)
A few days ago I conducted an engaging podcast on Arthur Machen with my friend and colleague in Sweden, Henrik Möller. It is already available for listening. Here it is: https://soundcloud.com/henrik-moeller-180995804/136-joshi-on-arthur-machen.
Edward Parnell—author of the wonderful book Ghostland (2019), which I reviewed—is scheduling what looks to be an entertaining Zoom event on December 4, in conjunction with Matthew Holness, regarding their favourite weird tales. Here is some further information on the event: https://www.thelasttuesdaysociety.org/event/matthew-holness-and-edward-parnells-darkplaces-zoom-lecture/. Please note that you need to purchase tickets in advance to participate in it.
I feel an obligation to make one more push to dispense with the books from Wilum Pugmire’s library, so I am making an exceptional offer: books in the categories “Books by or pertaining to Lovecraft” and “General Weird Fiction” are now being offered for $5.00 each! There are only a few exceptions to this rule, namely the following (sale prices given):
I have updated the online list (http://sesqua.net/pugmire-book-sale.html) only in the first four categories (Books by or pertaining to Lovecraft; Arkham House publications [no titles available]; Books by or pertaining to Clark Ashton Smith [no titles available]; General Weird Fiction). Other titles are available, but you will need to inquire about a given title to make sure it has not been sold. Postal rates still apply.
Just a reminder about my Zoom lecture on Lovecraft and the classics (https://www.saveancientstudies.org/event-details/sasa-live-q-a-lovecraft) at 2 p.m. EST on Saturday, October 30 (11 a.m. PST). Please note that, although the lecture is free, you have to make an RSVP ahead of time.
Mary and I have returned from an eventful trip (October 17–24) to the Midwest. We first touched down in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) to see various members of Mary’s family, including her mother, Nancy Krawczak (in whose spacious townhouse we stayed), her sisters Katie and Julie, and sundry spouses, nieces, and so on. On Wednesday the 20th I gave a brief talk at DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis, chiefly on my forthcoming book, The Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft. The crowd was relatively small but, I believe, appreciative. I was saddened to hear that the bookstore (located about a mile from where George Floyd was murdered) suffered from vandalism in the weeks following that incident.
Heading on to Milwaukee on the 21st, we had a fine dinner at an Italian restaurant with David and Gail Schultz. David and I did our best to minimise our shop talk so that our wives wouldn’t fall asleep, and I sampled some of his fine supply of single-malt Scotch after dinner.
We moved on to Muncie on Friday the 22nd, staying until Sunday. My ninety-four-year-old mother, Padmini T. Joshi, was in fine form, although she has a bit of trouble getting around. This was a veritable Joshi family reunion, as my two sisters (Ragini and Nalini), my two nieces (Annie and Anjeli), my nephew (Mark), my cousin Rohit, and various spouses of these folks were all present. Here is a photograph of myself and my two sisters:
And here is a photograph of myself, my mother, and Rohit:
On our last day in Muncie, Mary and I drove around the city to look at some of my old stomping-grounds, chief of which is of course Burris Laboratory School, which I attended from 7th to 12th grade. Mary valiantly ventured out of the car in the pouring rain to take this photo:
I note with dismay, however, that the Wikipedia entry on Burris does not list me as one of its distinguished alumni! Can’t anyone out there fix this appalling omission?
Burris has been much on my mind of late, since I am close to finishing the preparation of the first volume of my Journals, which will cover the years 1974–76 (i.e., my junior and senior years of high school, when I was editing my little literary magazine, the Forum, and was engaged in a lot of independent writing and also a great deal of musical activity). The text alone comes to about 100,000 words, and the notes I am writing (or had written decades ago for some of the earlier entries) will add at least 20,000 more words. I may even print a list of the books I read during this period, which is still extant. This list only starts in 1974, so it does not include my first reading of Lovecraft, which must have occurred in 1973. Two more big volumes of Journals will follow in due course of time.
I may add that at odd moments during the trip I returned to an activity I indulged in during previous trips, especially in 2019: musical composition. I managed to complete the first movement of my trumpet concerto (which I had begun at least two decades ago) and wrote the second and third movements; and I set two poems to music (for a cappella choir), “A Dirge of Victory” by Lord Dunsany and “Imprisoned”—by one Mary K. Wilson. All these pieces will go into my Songs from Lovecraft and Others (the trumpet concerto will be included in an appendix).
Some fine books from Hippocampus Press have come this way, and I have a few spare copies to offer to interested customers:
This issue of Penumbra is, I believe, even finer than the first one—not least because of an original story by Ramsey Campbell! The Shea book is a splendid Lovecraftian novel (a vast rewriting—or, actually, a re-imagining—of “The Hound,” set in 1960s San Francisco); the hardcover edition has been delayed, but this paperback edition looks magnificent. And Jonathan Thomas’s sixth Hippocampus collection is as mesmerising as the others, with several powerful Lovecraftian narratives. (I understand that Thomas’s Malign Providence—a gathering of his many Lovecraftian tales—is soon to appear from Centipede Press.)
I am in receipt of a two-volume edition of L. P. Davies’s Shadows Before (Ramble House, 2021), a collection (or selection?) of the many tales he wrote for the London Mystery Magazine. Davies has for decades been a favourite of mine, as I believe his novels are distinctive fusions of horror, mystery, and science fiction. I imagine his stories have comparable merits. Here is the publisher’s website discussing the books: http://www.ramblehouse.com/.
I can now mention that I have just completed the assembly of a volume of the collected stories of Robert Barbour Johnson, best known for “Far Below” (Weird Tales, June-July 1939), one of the finest Lovecraftian tales ever written. Johnson wrote several other stories in Weird Tales and other magazines, from 1935 all the way up to 1964; and he also wrote some interesting essays, such as “Can We Live without Fantasy Fiction?” (New Frontiers, December 1959). Weird House will publish this book sometime, perhaps quite soon.
I appear to have become something of a media darling of late. On Thursday, October 7, I participated in the Wyrd Transmissions podcast hosted by Curtis M. Lawson, discussing weird poetry with Linda D. Addison and Maxwell I. Gold. Everyone thought it went very well, and the podcast should be uploaded soon. The very next day I engaged in a discussion with Qais Pasha of his splendid documentary, Exegesis: Lovecraft, which was shown as part of the streaming programme of the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival (occurring a week after the in-person convention). I don’t know if this session is available on the Internet, but I greatly enjoyed reminiscing with Qais about how we worked together for the better part of two years in putting together the documentary. I still haven’t seen the final cut (the one that was aired in the streaming programme), but I’ll catch a peek at it soon.
On Wednesday, October 13, I was in a very lively session with none other than Ramsey Campbell in a podcast sponsored by his UK publisher (and mine), Flame Tree Publishing. The editorial director, Nick Wells, let Ramsey and me do nearly all the talking, as we discussed Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft, and their influence on modern weird fiction. The podcast will be uploaded on October 30.
More of this sort of thing is to come. On Wednesday, October 20, I will be at DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis (http://dreamhavenbooks.com/), talking about my Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft, which is about to be released by Hippocampus. I have received an ARC of the volume that I will show to the assembled guests. There is a page for it on the Hippocampus Press website (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/h.-p.-lovecraft/about-hp-lovecraft/the-recognition-of-h.-p.-lovecraft-by-s.-t.-joshi). As you can see, it features a fine cover design by Jason Van Hollander. Anyone in the Minneapolis area who might wish to see my ugly mug is welcome to show up.
Finally, on October 30, I will give a Zoom lecture on Lovecraft and the classics (https://www.saveancientstudies.org/event-details/sasa-live-q-a-lovecraft). I also hope to have brief discussions of Arthur Machen (and his fascination with Roman Britain) and Lord Dunsany (who confessed that his creation of Pegana was partially inspired by his love of Graeco-Roman myth).
And there will be two different podcasts on Arthur Machen in November! More details on these later.
I was delighted to see the first book of Maxwell I. Gold’s work, Oblivion in Flux, issued two months ago by Crystal Lake Publishing (https://www.crystallakepub.com/out-today-oblivion-in-flux-by-maxwell-i-gold/). Gold has become a regular contributor to Spectral Realms (and elsewhere) with some striking prose-poems, and his book (with a fine cover by the indefatigable Dan Sauer) is well worth getting.
On my own front, I can say that I have nearly finished the third chapter (“The Romans”) of my history of atheism, which has now reached in excess of 106,000 words. I can at least supply the sections of this chapter, which should give an idea of its overall thrust:
Whew! This chapter took an heroic amount of work—but I am now facing the prospect of even more work in the next chapter (“IV. The Triumph of Christianity” [ugh!]), where I have to delve into the life of Jesus (assuming there was such a person), the early history of Christianity, its eventual adoption as the Roman state religion under Constantine, the myriad controversies among early Christian sects, etc., etc.
And I am also carrying through on my threat—er, that is, promise—to publish my Journals! Yes, I have begun preparation of this work, which will probably fill three large volumes. I kept these entries (not, strictly speaking, journals, as I did not write them every day) from the Fall of 1974 until sometime in 1987, filling two spiral-bound notebooks and five blank books with my maunderings. I figure that the total wordage is something along the lines of 350,000 words. What is more incredible, I actually typed and annotated the earlier journal entries (roughly the ones in 1974 and 1975) while still in high school. My mania for self-documentation knew no bounds at that point.
The whole project is probably the funniest book of mine you’re ever likely to see—entirely unintentionally, of course. Especially during the earlier stretch of years (1974–76, when I was a junior and senior in high school), I was ludicrously opinionated and my prose was full of bombast and fustian. I was particularly fond of the word “mephitic,” although I didn’t generally use it in its literal sense (bad-smelling) but as an all-purpose term of condemnation regarding the literary works (and even musical compositions) I was absorbing—and, particularly, in regard to my own nascent writings. I was also fond of the word “execrable,” used to much the same effect.
The journals do not chronicle my initial reading of Lovecraft, which apparently occurred in 1973; but they do record my diligence in seeking out works by Lovecraft and his disciples. Consider this entry from 31 October 1975: “I’m right now beginning to think of doing a small essay on the works of J. Ramsey Campbell, to be written, I suppose, when I buy his The Height of the Scream from Arkham House, which won’t, however, be released until Winter 1975. Campbell’s works are beautiful: the atmosphere they create, the mesmerism that is almost inherent in them, is something remarkable. Definitely Campbell is the best fantaisiste now living.” An accidentally sound judgment!
But then note this entry of November 3, 1975: “On the 3rd I began another little business called, ‘The Works of Ramsey Campbell’ (I wonder why he doesn’t use the ‘J.’—I was rather fond of it), a thing which won’t be finished until I get and review the chap’s The Height of the Scream, forthcoming from Arkham House. I was inspired to do it by reading his Inhabitant of the Lake, one of the most dreadful books I’ve read in some time. I really found it hard to believe that J. Ramsey wrote it, considering the sparkling superbness of Demons by Daylight.” Well, perhaps this judgment wasn’t so far off the mark, either—and perhaps Mr Campbell himself might tentatively agree with it. I never ended up finishing my essay on Campbell at this time, and it (mercifully) does not survive.
The first volume of the Journals may be ready as early as next month, although it may take me a little longer than that to transcribe the handwritten parts of the text (some of which I can hardly read now) and do more annotating. But it will be a real hoot when it’s done!
As I live in one of the civilised parts of the country, where people are guided by science and sanity, I find myself emerging from the enforced hermitry of the pandemic for outings of various sorts. One event—not exactly an outing, but a gathering—occurred on the Sunday before Labor Day, when we resumed our tradition of the Labor Day cookout. It was bountifully attended, and Jason and Sunni Brock made the effort to come up from Vancouver.
Later in the month, as I mentioned in my last blog post, we welcomed Mary’s sister Katie Kurmis and her husband Arnie for an extended visit. Arnie, an ardent hiker, wished to explore some of the wilder terrain in our state, and he went off by himself for several days in the North Cascades. Then we all went to the Olympic Peninsula, where we saw some spectacular vistas of the natural beauty that is a distinctive feature of this area. Consider this view of Hurricane Ridge in the mist:
Is this not something out of Lord Dunsany?
We then went to Kalaloch Lodge, undertaking short hikes here and there. Then, as a magnificent culmination, we went to the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the largest rain forests in the continental United States. Here we saw spectral trees engulfed by moss:
If Lovecraft could have seen this, he would no doubt have said that these are “deep woods that no axe has ever cut.” Here is a picture of the four of us in the rain forest:
All in all, a splendid trip!
I have at last received some copies of this year’s Lovecraft Annual. I believe this is an exceptionally fine issue; here is the publisher’s web page about it: https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/lovecraft-annual/lovecraft-annual-no.-15-2021. I will be happy to sell my spare copies for $10 each.
Also on hand are two books relating to Samuel Loveman. We have finally issued the long-awaited and radically expanded edition of Loveman’s collected writings, Out of the Immortal Night, first published in 2004. This new version is about two and a half times as long, checking in at a total of 514 pages. We have included all the essays by Loveman that we could find, and toward the end of the book is a long and fascinating interview of Loveman (conducted in the 1960s) by Thomas J. Hubschman, along with several essays about Loveman by Rheinhart Kleiner, Lovecraft, George Sterling, and others.
The other volume is Born under Saturn: The Letters of Samuel Loveman and Clark Ashton Smith, part of our series of the letters of Clark Ashton Smith. This compelling volume (almost 400 pages long) contains hundreds of letters between the two writers as they discuss the theory of poetry, their current readings, and many other vital issues. I offer both of these volumes at $20 each.
And I have at last received Spectral Realms #15, which actually appeared some months ago. I am prepared to let my spare copies go for $5 to anyone who purchases any of the titles mentioned above.
I also have two spare copies of my Classical Papers and would be happy to let them go for $10 each. Believe me, you will never read any work by me like this (at least until my world history of atheism appears).
A correspondent has alerted me to the fact that the appearance of “The Music of Erich Zann” in the London Evening Standard (24 October 1932) is now available digitally on Newspapers.com: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/85747963/the-music-of-erich-zann/. Many years ago, I wrote to the British Library to secure a photocopy of the appearance; the library sent it to me in a cardboard tube, and the copy itself is a large single sheet of paper. I still have it somewhere. It does constitute a notable event in the history of Lovecraft’s recognition.
Speaking of which, my Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft should appear within a few weeks, enhanced by a fine cover design by Jason Van Hollander.
I have heard that the documentary on Lovecraft by my friend Qais Pasha will be shown as part of a streaming program of the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, occurring a week after the festival itself—i.e., 8–10 October. I should be around to participate in a Zoom Q&A session with Qais and possibly others. If I have more specific information on the timing of this film (and the Q&A session to follow), you’ll be the first to know.
Speaking of conventions, an important Lovecraft convention will occur in France at the end of October. It is called Campus Miskatonic and features a number of leading figures in the French Lovecraft community as speakers. Here is a poster for it:
If anyone is in France at the time, please consider attending!
I recently read Ramsey Campbell’s Somebody’s Voice (a novel) and The Village Killings & Other Novellas, due out soon from Flame Tree Press and PS Publishing, respectively. Both are splendid volumes, and I have written a review that can be accessed here: “Old and New Work from the Master”.
Once again, nearly a month has passed since my last blog post. I’ve been busy on multiple fronts, not to mention having to play host (not at all an unpleasant task) to my sister-in-law, Katie Kurmis, and her husband, Arnie. But my most momentous news relates to the publication of my Classical Papers through Sarnath Press (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FTKN4N9/). (I am linking to the Kindle edition of the book, since the cover design is more pleasing to me than the one on the print edition.) This volume contains all the extant papers I wrote during my years at Brown and Princeton on classical subjects—ancient history, ancient literature, and ancient philosophy. I have to say, I am reasonably proud of a number of these essays, especially the long ones on Juvenal and ancient philosophy (my honours thesis ) and on Lucretius as a satirist (my M.A. thesis ). I have no spare copies to offer to customers (I don’t have any copies myself, as the book just went live yesterday), but I hope at least a few of you might be interested. I drop Lovecraft’s name in footnotes here and there—so Lovecraft (and Joshi) completists will have to get the book whether they like it or not!
I was happy to participate in a brief interview with Nicholas Borroz, who runs a website called Filling Space. The interview concerned Lovecraft’s views on cosmicism and related subjects, and I rather like how it came out (https://filling-space.com/2021/09/03/how-does-lovecraft-speak-to-our-relationship-to-the-cosmos/).
I continue to work on various projects, including my history of atheism (which has now surpassed 90,000 words—and I’m still bogged down in the early Roman Empire!), the letters of Ambrose Bierce and George Sterling, Lovecraft’s Miscellaneous Letters (which may appear next year, pending access to libraries), and certain other projects that I do not wish to mention until they are completed.
I was pleased to receive a copy of Ramsey Campbell’s new novel, Somebody’s Voice (Flame Tree Publishing, 2021), which I understand is a novel of suspense, or perhaps of non-supernatural horror. I may review this in conjunction with another volume by Campbell, The Village Killings & Other Novellas (PS Publishing), which should appear soon. This volume, aside from containing the magnificent Needing Ghosts, includes Campbell’s detective story, The Enigma of the Flat Policeman, which he wrote at the age of fourteen; it was inspired by my old favourite, John Dickson Carr.
Speaking of Campbell, he has delighted me no end by promising to write a story for Black Wings VII. Yes, there will be a new volume in the Black Wings series; it has been officially sanctioned by Pete and Nicky Crowther, publishers of PS Publishing. I will have plenty of time to acquire contributions—the deadline is not until May 2022, for publication sometime in 2023. (Please note that submissions to this original anthology are by invitation only.)
From the other side of the country comes an amusing article about bobcats being spotted in someone’s yard in Rhode Island: https://komonews.com/news/offbeat/woman-finds-bobcat-family-in-her-backyard.
On a related note, a recent colleague, Katherine Kerestman, tells me that a new website about herself and her work has just gone live: https://www.creepycatlair.com/. She is, among many other virtues, a great devotee of cats. A somewhat superficial glance at the site doesn’t seem to show a great many pictures of actual cats; but you will see several photographs relating to Lovecraft. Katherine has a story in Penumbra #2 (2021), soon to be released.
Speaking of amusing items online, a colleague has passed on a cartoon by Clive Goddard from the well-known British satirical magazine Private Eye, which shows how ubiquitous Lovecraft (or at least Cthulhu) has become:
My colleague, Mark Howard Jones, writes that the cartoon “obviously refers to a scene in the 1964 British film Zulu, where the Sergeant Major turns to his officers (played by Michael Caine and Stanley Baker) to alert them of the arrival of the Zulu army with the line ‘Zulus, sir. Thousands of ’em!’” I’m not sure we Americans would have gotten the joke. But this may suggest that the cartoonist properly pronounces the name as “Kloo-loo,” not “Ka-thul-hoo,” since the pun wouldn’t work at all well with the latter pronunciation.
Please pardon my long silence! I’ve been busy on various fronts—but we here in Seattle are once again in the position of needing to take shelter from the oppressive heat. Temperatures are expected to reach 94° today and 89° tomorrow—a bit better than the 100+° that we faced in late June, but still pretty bad. This time we are not taking refuge in an air-conditioned hotel: my basement is cool enough, and a neighbour has just given us a portable air conditioner that Mary can use in her bedroom (on the main floor) to keep cool.
The big news is that my edition of Ramsey Campbell’s second essay collection, Ramsey Campbell, Certainly, is out from PS Publishing in a fine (and fat) paperback edition (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/ramsey-campbell-certainly-trade-paperback-by-ramsey-campbell-5211-p.asp). This book, at nearly 600 pages, contains a wealth of compelling essays, reviews, and miscellany (some of which have appeared in Dead Reckonings) on all manner of subjects relating to weird fiction, media, etc. There is a substantial section of essays on Lovecraft, including a fairly recent piece, “Lovecraft Analysed” (2013), that is one of the most perspicacious pieces on Lovecraft written of late. I have several copies available for interested customers, and am prepared to part with them for $20 each. A bargain! (There will be a signed/limited hardcover edition at some point—I signed the sheets a while ago—but I’m not sure when it will appear or whether I will have any copies to sell.)
The other project of mine that has appeared is Loved and Lost, a novel apparently written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. This work (serialised anonymously in the Dublin University Magazine [which Le Fanu was editing at the time] in 1868–69 and published in book form [also anonymously] in 1869) was attributed to Le Fanu by scholar W. J. McCormack, but it has never been reprinted under Le Fanu’s name until my edition: https://www.amazon.com/Loved-Lost-Joseph-Sheridan-Fanu-ebook/dp/B09C6KKHZR/. The edition is much enhanced by an introduction by leading Le Fanu authority Jim Rockhill, in which he goes into considerable detail regarding the probability of Le Fanu’s authorship as well as an analysis of the book as a whole. The novel is not weird, but is a poignant account of a young woman who is being pressured to marry against her will. As a “slice of life” in the Victorian age, especially in relation to the unenviable fate of women, it is a memorable work.
Quite some time ago Scott Bradfield, who has done much in recent years to promote Hippocampus Books, wrote an essay on Arthur Machen that discussed the Hippocampus edition of Machen along with other related titles. This essay was scheduled to appear in the celebrated English periodical New Statesman, but the magazine delayed and delayed, and finally Bradfield pulled the article. It has now appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and it makes for fine reading: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-ecstasies-of-arthur-machen/.
My history of atheism has now surpassed 70,000 words. I am deep in the study of the Romans—really a kind of refresher course, since I of course studied them in detail in the long-lost days of my youth as an undergraduate and graduate student at Brown and Princeton. Even though the Romans were not notable for their achievements in philosophy (the only thinkers of any consequence who wrote in Latin are Lucretius, Cicero, and Seneca the Younger—and even these were much influenced by Greek philosophy), the number of subjects I have to treat in this critical chapter are seemingly innumerable. The period covered by this chapter ranges from approximately the fifth century B.C.E. to the fifth or sixth century C.E.—the very time, of course, when Christianity arose. Here is a partial list of the topics I have to cover: Roman Religion; Philosophy in Early Rome; Lucretius; Cicero; Religion in Early Roman Literature; The Augustan Age; Seneca; Epic, Satire, and History in the Early Empire; Rome and the Jews; Jesus and Early Christianity; Stoicism in the Empire; Greek and Roman Science; Greek Literature in the Roman Empire; Early Christian Controversies and Schisms; Christianity and the Later Roman Empire; The Triumph of Christianity; The Fall of Rome and the End of Paganism. And there may be more! So I have my work cut out for me.
I believe some new Hippocampus Press books are imminent, among them several of our magazines—Penumbra No. 2, Dead Reckonigs No. 29, and the Lovecraft Annual No. 15. The second of these (technically the “Spring 2021” issue) is a bit late. Also a tad late is our hardcover edition of Michael Shea’s Lovecraftian novel Mr. Cannyharme, now scheduled to appear in mid-September (the paperback and ebook editions will appear simultaneously with the hardcover). John C. Tibbetts’s edition of The Marjorie Bowen Reader, Volume 1 is also due out soon, and I trust my Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft will appear in the not too distant future.
That last title will, I trust, be published ahead of the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland on October 1–3. I am planning to attend the festival, which is apparently going to be an in-person event. I am hopeful that my colleague Qais Pasha’s two-hour-long documentary (tentatively titled Exegesis: Lovecraft) will be shown at the event. If it is accepted, then Qais will come down from the Toronto area to speak about the film.
That’s it. Stay cool and otherwise safe, folks!
William Francis Nolan (b. 1928) died around 2 A.M. on July 15. I heard the news from his close friend, Jason V Brock, about twelve hours later. He had been hospitalised for about two weeks prior to his death, afflicted with a variety of ailments (including Covid—which he got in the hospital).
There is no question that his demise represents the passing of an era, both for himself and for our field in general. He was the last surviving link to the “Group”—the cadre of dynamic writers (Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, and several others) who revitalised weird fiction after Lovecraft’s death, taking it into new directions and fusing it more directly into ordinary life; as such, they set the stage for the best-selling work of Stephen King and others.
But Bill Nolan’s role in literature is one thing; his distinctive character is an entirely different matter. I was lucky to have known him for nearly fifteen years, after being introduced to him by Jason V Brock around 2008. He was one of the most engaging individuals of my acquaintance, full of lively opinions and fascinating tales about the many luminaries (not only the writers mentioned above but such other figures as John Huston, Steve McQueen, and many others). His sense of humour was infectious, and it was always a joy to be in his presence.
I am proud to have been the editor of his volume Nolan on Bradbury (Hippocampus Press, 2013), a volume that won the Bram Stoker Award. But Bill’s bibliography is impressively large and spans a wide range of genres and subjects. He left an imperishable legacy on our field and other fields as well.
On other, lesser matters:
I am in receipt of a sheaf of “little books” published by Borderlands Press. I have just compiled one such volume for Lovecraft, which I imagine will be published later this year or early next. The volumes that I have received from Thomas F. Monteleone, the publisher, are these:
Here is the publisher’s website for the series: https://www.borderlandspress.com/product-category/little-book-series/. Well worth securing! The title of my Lovecraft book has yet to be determined; Tom wants some kind of alliterative word to match the word “silver” in the proposed title (A Little Silver Book of …). Any suggestions?
Late last month I gave two long interviews on consecutive days for two separate podcasts. The podcasts are now up. The first is by a New Zealander, Colin Rowsell, and in my interview I managed to say a number of things (about subjects ranging from atheism to music to some aspects of my personal life) that I haven’t said before. It can be found here: https://www.project-tempest.net/s-t-joshi.
The other podcast was conducted by Mark Griffin (who, incidentally, is assembling a combined index to all the Hippocampus Press letters volumes—a very useful undertaking!). Here it is: https://anchor.fm/lcpl/episodes/Interview-with-S-T—Joshi-e14fbtv. This was a somewhat more lighthearted interview focusing chiefly on Lovecraft. But I hope there is some interest here also.
Otherwise, work continues in the usual manner. I am devoting much attention to preparing the text (with annotations) of George Sterling’s Collected Essays. This volume is likely to come out next year in conjunction with our edition of the Bierce-Sterling letters (tentatively titled A Splendid Poison). On both projects we are being substantially assisted by Vince Emery, a longtime Sterling scholar. He is himself a publisher, and he has a number of tempting books available: http://www.emerybooks.com/.In my “fire sale” of a little while ago, I failed to include a price for the hardcover copies of my anthologies, Apostles of the Weird and His Own Most Fantastic Creation. I am now prepared to offer them at the bargain rate of $20 each. I only have one copy of each of these books, so get 'em while they last!
It’s been a reasonably eventful two or three weeks. On the weekend before my sixty-third birthday (i.e., June 18–20), we moseyed down to Vancouver, Washington, to see our friends Jason and Sunni Brock—and, of course, the ninety-three-year-old William F. Nolan, who is now living with them. Bill is looking a little frail these days, but that is only to be expected; otherwise, he’s hanging in there, and I was happy to exchange some engaging conversation with him. On the 19th Mary and I toured some local waterfalls—Lucia Falls and Moulton Falls—and she took a picture of me at the former site. So here is proof that I actually do get out of my mancave and venture outdoors once in a while:
We actually went to a restaurant (Red Robin), where I had the Impossible Burger—quite tasty indeed. It has the added advantage of not filling you up the way an ordinary burger does—a point worth considering, since the Brocks, with excessive generosity, plied us with not one but two substantial desserts at home.
Soon after our return, we had to face the consequences of the hideous heat wave that struck the Pacific Northwest. We took refuge in a nearby hotel for two nights, where we relished the air conditioning and took a few dips in the hotel pool. Much of the time, however, the pool was littered by incredibly rowdy little children. Thank heaven there are no bairns around here! We felt sorry that we had to leave our cats at home: no doubt they wished there was a way of removing their fur coats. But they survived, and the temperatures have now moderated.
In terms of projects, I have been working extensively on the joint correspondence of Ambrose Bierce and George Sterling—a compelling batch of letters that we hope to publish next year. My coeditor, David E. Schultz, and I have been receiving invaluable assistance from Vince Emery, a longtime Sterling devotee (and an editor and publisher in San Francisco), who has lent us his expertise and provided documents we were unaware of. As a companion volume, we may issue a volume of Sterling’s Collected Essays, which would include pieces on Bierce, Jack London, Joaquin Miller, and many other subjects—including an essay reflecting a sort of Schopenhauerian pessimism, entitled “Pleasure and Pain!” (Yes, the exclamation mark appears in the text.)
The Lovecraft Letters project approaches completion, although it will probably be 2023 before the final volumes appear. These are:
The first three of these volumes are actually close to completion, but we need to have access to various libraries before we can finish them.
We hope that will happen later this year. Another volume that is dependent on our access to libraries is the vastly expanded edition of R. H. Barlow’s collected writings, Eyes of the God. The initial edition of 2002 has now been augmented by a great deal of additional fiction, as well as his essays and reviews and a few more poems. The book must be more than twice the size of the original volume.
I was pleased to receive a copy of Cadabra Records’ newest release, a spoken-word recording of Lovecraft’s “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” read by Andrew Leman (https://cadabrarecords.com/products/h-p-lovecraft-beyond-the-wall-of-sleep-lp-read-by-andrew-leman-score-by-chris-bozzone-black-and-blue-splatter). I wrote the liner notes to the LP. I haven’t actually listened to the recording, but I’m sure Andrew’s reading is a splendid one.
I was interested to hear that Randal Plunkett, the 21st Lord Dunsany, has released a new film, The Green Sea (2021). I greatly enjoyed his 16-minute zombie film, Out There (2012). The Green Sea is a full-length film (1 hour and 44 minutes), which Randal directed, produced, and wrote the screenplay for. I don’t doubt that it is an entertaining work. Here is a trailer for it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9hbXEoGZw8.
I am in receipt of five new and splendid publications from Hippocampus Press, which I am happy to offer at a slight discount from the retail price (to say nothing of offering free media mail postage to US customers):
I hardly need describe the Lovecraft volume aside from noting that it checks in at a hefty 492 pages. The Chambers book is my selection of what I believe to be the author’s best weird tales, taken from The King in Yellow (1895), The Maker of Moons (1896), The Mystery of Choice (1897), In Search of the Unknown (1904), and Police!!! (1915). The anthology by Jim Chambers (presumably no relation to RWC!) contains previously unpublished stories inspired by The King in Yellow by such authors as Lisa Morton, John Langan, Darrell Schweitzer, JG Faherty, Tim Waggoner, and Curtis L. Lawson, not to mention a previously unpublished novella by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
The Sidney-Fryer book is another engaging volume of his prose and poetic miscellany, with articles on Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and many other writers; not the least distinctive item is an essay (“Cosmic Troubadours”) on weirdness in rock music. John Shirley’s book contains a pair of unpublished tales: the title novella and a shorter but still lengthy story, “A Prince in the Kingdom of Ghosts.” Both tales are a fascinating mix of fantasy and terror; the novella has elements that draw upon both Smith and Lovecraft.
I have also received volume 1 of the “livre de poche” (“pocket book”—i.e., mass-market paperback) of Je Suis Providence, the magnificent French translation of my biography, I Am Providence. This book has already come out in a two-volume trade paperback and a huge (and expensive) one-volume hardcover edition. I am having a bit of trouble finding the page on the publisher’s website for this exact edition. What I find is this: https://www.editions-actusf.fr/a/st-joshi/lovecraft-je-suis-providence-tome-1. But this appears to be a page for the trade paperback, since it gives the page count as 712, whereas this “livre de poche” is 893 pages. In any case, I have one spare copy that I can part with for $25, if anyone is interested.
Another book that has come in is Unquiet Stars, the newest poetry book by Ann K. Schwader, one of the premier weird poets of our time. This book was published by Weird House, the relatively new imprint that Joe Morey has established (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/unquiet-stars/). I’ve written a review of this book that will appear in the Summer 2021 issue of Spectral Realms. I have one spare copy of the Schwader book that I will be happy to let go for $10 (or for $5, if you buy one of the books mentioned above). We should all support Weird House, Dan Sauer’s Jackanapes Press, and any other publishers that are devoted to weird poetry—a genre that has tremendous aesthetic potential but doesn’t generate a great many sales, making it economically difficult for publishers to release such books.
My friend Joshua Rex, who has already established himself as one of the dynamic young luminaries of weird fiction, has posted an interview of me on his podcast: https://anchor.fm/joshua-rex9/episodes/S—T—Joshi-e11s8gh. I greatly enjoyed talking with Joshua, especially given the fact that we discussed subjects (such as my interest in music) that I don’t usually get a chance to talk about.
I am about to write an introduction to Michael McDowell’s Cold Moon over Babylon (1980) for a planned reprint by Centipede Press. I regret to say that I didn’t discuss McDowall at all in Unutterable Horror, even though I knew his work by reputation as among the better writing of the horror “boom” of the 1970s and 1980s; and I am glad to become belatedly acquainted with this novel, which is a superlative piece of work.
Scott Bradfield, who has done much to promote Hippocampus Press books of late, had long ago written a review-essay of our Arthur Machen books (also including the recent volume of Autobiographical Writings); but this article, commissioned by the distinguished UK periodical The New Statesman, was delayed intolerably, and so Bradfield pulled the essay and has now placed it with the Los Angeles Review of Books, where I trust it will appear shortly. I am continuing to work on a volume of Machen’s general essays on philosophy, literature, and other subjects (Hieroglyphics and Other Essays), scheduled to be released by Hippocampus Press next year.
My friend and colleague Ovidio Cartagena was so taken with José R. Montejano’s afterward to the Spanish translation of W. H. Pugmire’s Bohemians of Sesqua Valley (Bohemios del valle de Sesqua [Madrid: Carfax, 2021]) that he has translated the piece. I have received the publisher’s permission to publish the translation. It conveys many of the sentiments we all feel when contemplating Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, the man and the writer.
I am happy to announce the publication of my 350th book—my edition of Ambrose Bierce’s supernatural tales in the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction (http://www.centipedepress.com/masters/biercelwf.html). This the customary superlative production job from Centipede; and, unlike my recent three-volume paperback edition of Bierce’s collected fiction from Hippocampus Press, this volume includes only those tales that are specifically weird (either supernatural horror or psychological horror [including tales of the Civil War] and his political satires and fantasies). I have exactly one spare copy of this book, which I can let go for the discounted price of $40.
I figure I need to get some books out of this increasingly crowded house, so I am offering yet another fire sale of these titles. All the titles on the list below can be obtained for only $10 each. Please note that in many cases I only have one spare copy to offer. Most are recent books from Hippocampus Press:
The following books or magazines can be obtained for a mere $5 (but if you purchase only one title, I will have to ask for an additional $5 in postage):
And I have found some fairly rare and choice items that I didn’t know I had:
As for my own activities, I am currently reading proofs and compiling the index for my study Ramsey Campbell, Master of Weird Fiction (an exhaustive revision and updating of Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction ) for PS Publishing, so I hope it will be out reasonably soon.
Numerous volumes should be appearing soon from Hippocampus Press, including Donald Sidney-Fryer’s Random Notes, Random Lines, John Shirley’s A Sorceror of Atlantis, Ken Faig Jr.’s Lovecraftian People and Places, etc. etc. I hope my historical study The Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft will be out before the end of the summer. And I am diligently working on the next issues of Spectral Realms (No. 15), Penumbra (No. 2), and the Lovecraft Annual (No. 15).
And, of course, I continue my history of atheism (right now I am neck-deep in the study of Buddhism). Never a dull moment around here!
Let me begin this blog post with the most momentous news I can think of: Lovecraft’s letters to Frank Belknap Long have now reached the John Hay Library! I imagine many of you are aware of the long and at times frustrating effort to purchase these letters (more than 500 pages of handwritten manuscript) since they were purchased in late 2006 by L. W. Currey. Well, the goal has finally been achieved, thanks largely to Derrick Hussey’s Aeroflex Foundation, the crowdfunding campaign launched by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, and, of course, my own sale of books from the library of W. H. Pugmire. It will no doubt take the library several months to scan the letters and make them available to David E. Schultz and me for editing; so one should not expect to see these letters in print until 2023. We hope to publish Long’s side of the correspondence (which survives in abundance) as well, so that in all likelihood this will be a two-volume job.
An interesting work of Lovecraft scholarship is Cédric Monget’s Lovecraft, l’Arabe, l’horreur, recently published by La Clef d’Argent (http://clefdargent.free.fr/llalh.php). The booklet includes a discussion of Lovecraft’s response to Islam, Arabian culture, and other issues relevant to his creation of the Necronomicon by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. I see that this same publisher has issued a book entitled Lovecraft: Sous le signe du chat (Lovecraft: Under the sign of the cat) by Boris Maynadier. Sounds most tempting!
I have received several copies of W. H. Pugmire’s Bohemios del valle de Sesqua (https://labibliotecadecarfax.com/tienda/es/w-h-pugmire/23-bohemios-del-valle-de-sesqua-9788412281316.html), a Spanish translation of Bohemians of Sesqua Valley. This is one of several books of Wilum’s work that will be appearing in various foreign languages. Recently I have been contacted about a translation of his work in Italian. I still have two copies of Bohemios for sale at the bargain price of $10.
Speaking of Italian, I have been notified that the first issue of the Lovecraftian magazine Voci da R’lyeh (Voices from R’lyeh) is now out (https://www.facebook.com/VdRlyeh/). It contains an interview of me (first published in a French website in 2019, following my appearance at Les Imaginales in Epinal that summer). But the issue (86 pages in length) contains a wealth of other interesting matter, from fiction to articles to graphic adaptations. I cannot tell if the magazine is online only or is available in print; at any rate, I have not received a copy.
Phantasmagoria No. 4 (2021) is an enormous periodical of more than 260 pages, edited by Trevor Kennedy, and entirely devoted to the life and work of Ramsey Campbell. Hardly an unworthy subject! I contributed a piece on Lovecraft’s influence on Campbell, focusing on his recent Daoloth Trilogy, and also wrote a brief piece expressing my admiration for what I believe to be Campbell’s most frightening story, “Makintosh Willy.” You can order the issue from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Phantasmagoria-Special-4-Ramsey-Campbell/dp/B093R5TMGF/. I do not have any spare copies of this fine magazine to offer for sale. I now see that Campbell’s second essay collection, Ramsey Campbell, Certainly (edited by me), is soon to appear from PS Publishing. I believe that my own revised study of Campbell—first published as Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction (2001) and now extensively revised as Ramsey Campbell, Master of Weird Fiction—will be coming out from PS around the same time, although I have yet to read proofs of the book.
From Cadabra Records comes a two-LP recording of Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” (https://cadabrarecords.com/products/h-p-lovecrafts-the-call-of-cthulhu-2x-lp-read-by-andrew-leman-score-by-anima-morte-variant). The story is read by Andrew Leman and has a musical score by Anima Morte. I wrote extensive liner notes for the recording. In conjunction with this recording, Cadabra has released a print booklet of the story (https://cadabrarecords.com/collections/all/products/cadabra-illustrated-7-h-p-lovecrafts-the-call-of-cthulhu-illustrated-by-matthew-jaffe-black-cover-edition), with splendid illustrations by Matthew Jaffe. My corrected text has been used.
I am in receipt of Joshua Rex’s A Mighty Word (https://joshuarex.com/books/a-mighty-word/), a superlative short novel that mingles supernaturalism with a timely sociopolitical message. We are treated to the resurrection of a young woman from the Victorian age in the (fictitious) town of Still City, and along the way we learn the grim truth about a ruthless corporation that is polluting the city’s poorer environs. I copyedited the book for the author—something Joshua mentions on the copyright page. I was happy to do the job (and in fact did relatively little—Joshua’s work doesn’t need much fixing), and am grateful for the acknowledgment. I have one spare copy (signed by the author) that I would be happy to part with for $10.
Hippocampus Press continues its campaign of clearing up its immense backlog of books. I have now received a generous number of copies of my novella Something from Below, so I repeat my offer to sell this to any interested customers for $10. Another item that has come in is K. A. Opperman’s splendid poetry volume The Laughter of Ghouls (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/poetry/the-laughter-of-ghouls-by-k.-a.-opperman), which I will offer at the discounted price of $10. Those who wish both books can have them for a combined price of $15.
More books will follow. Among our forthcoming items are:
And there is still more to come! We will be issuing a pair of unpublished novellas by John Shirley, a large volume of Matt Cardin’s essays on weird fiction and philosophy, my own treatise The Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft, and much else.
I am in receipt of two splendid books from Perla Ediciones, the Mexico City publisher that is undertaking an admirable project to translate some of the leading (or, at least, more interesting) works of Anglophone weird fiction into Spanish. The books that have come in are Julian Gloag’s La casa de nuestra madre (https://perlaediciones.com/catalogo/la-casa-de-nuestra-madre/), a translation of Our Mother’s House (1963), a curious work of Gothic horror that was effectively filmed in 1967; and Algernon Blackwood’s El valle perdido y otros relatos alucinantes (https://perlaediciones.com/catalogo/el-valle-perdido-y-otros-relatos-alucinantes/). I’ve written introductions to each volume. The introduction to the Gloag book was commissioned for this edition (I have now printed the English text in my Progression of the Weird Tale); the introduction to the Blackwood book (whose contents I helped to select) is taken from my Penguin edition of Blackwood. We should all support Perla’s campaign to bring Anglophone weird fiction to the Spanish-speaking world!
I see that my article “H. P. Lovecraft’s Racism and Recognition” has now been translated into Russian, in the online journal Darker Magazine: https://darkermagazine.ru/page/rasizm-i-priznanie-g-f-lavkrafta. I fear that I cannot even read the Cyrillic script, but it is interesting to see my name (and Lovecraft’s) in this script. I have a few recent Russian editions of Lovecraft here, and they are striking items indeed.
My history of atheism stands at nearly 35,000 words! I am almost done with the chapter on the Greek philosophers (down to about 150 B.C.E.), but will now go back to doing the first chapter of the book (on the origin and development of religion from the dawn of time to about the 5th century B.C.E.), then tackle the chapter on the Romans (which will of course also include an outline of the origin of Christianity).
I’ve gotten my vaccine! Well, the first shot anyway. But this occurred not at my health clinic (University of Washington Medical Center), but at a Safeway! My devoted wife searched the Internet high and low for a place where I could get vaccinated, and after diligent effort signed me up at this place. So far I feel nothing untoward (I got the shot only about 25 minutes ago), but I was told that side effects (fatigue, headache, etc.) may manifest themselves tomorrow. We’ll see about that!
Some interesting books have drifted in here lately. Of chief interest is Jean L. Pérez-de-Luque’s Ideology and Scientific Thought in H. P. Lovecraft (Editorial Comares, [2021?]). The book, curiously enough, is not dated, but I received it only a short time ago from the author, who has had at least one article published in the Lovecraft Annual. Although the book was published in Granada, it is written in English; in fact, I believe it is a version of a thesis that the author wrote at the University of Córdoba in Spain. Here is the Amazon page for the book: https://www.amazon.com/IDEOLOGY-SCIENTIFIC-THOUGHT-LOVECRAFT/dp/8413690501.
Brazil continues its extensive publication of Lovecraft’s work. Editora Ex Machina has issued a second edition of Contos reunidos (collected stories), translated by Francisco Innocêncio, edited by Bruno Costa, and containing an introduction by me. Here (for those who can read Portuguese) is the publisher’s web page for the book: https://www.editoraexmachina.com.br/produto/contos-reunidos-do-mestre-do-horror-cosmico/.
I have nearly completed the assembly of this year’s Penumbra. This issue has ten short stories, including an original tale by Ramsey Campbell (“Lost for Words”), along with stories by Mark Samuels, Curtis M. Lawson, Darrell Schweitzer, Geoffrey Reiter, and several dynamic young writers; it also features articles on Lord Dunsany, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Clark Ashton Smith, Greg Bear, vampire poetry (by Kyla Lee Ward), my article on Guy de Maupassant (which will serve as the introduction to my edition of Maupassant’s weird tales, forthcoming from Centipede Press), and other items. And this year’s Lovecraft Annual is also almost done.
More books should be appearing soon from Hippocampus Press: Lovecraft’s Letters to E. Hoffmann Price and Richard F. Searight; K. A. Opperman’s poetry collection The Laughter of Ghouls (actually, I believe this may already be out); volume 1 of a fine selection of the weird work of Marjorie Bowen, prepared by John C. Tibbetts (volume 2 will appear next year); and a pair of volumes relating to Samuel Loveman: the letters of Loveman and Clark Ashton Smith and a much augmented version of the 2004 volume Out of the Immortal Night, this new version containing a great deal more poetry, a large selection of Loveman’s essays, and a fascinating interview of Loveman conducted in the 1960s by Thomas Hubschman. The book now probably exceeds 500 pages!
The fourth volume of my Leslie Stephen edition is now out: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091WCSTCW. It contains some fabulous pieces! This is the first volume of his essays on literary subjects, and as many as four more volumes on this subject (dealing with individual writers from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century) will follow.
My history of atheism is now approaching 30,000 words; I am nearly finished with the chapter on the Greeks (by which I mean Greek philosophy and related issues from the dawn of time to 146 B.C.E., when Greece was conquered by Rome). The chapter, if anyone is interested, is divided into the following sections:
I present the section on “Aristotle and His Legacy” here. I fear this section may be difficult to understand for those who don’t have a background in Greek philosophy—especially since at least part of the discussion refers to earlier sections of the chapter, especially the section on Plato. Well, good luck!
I understand that the Hippocampus Press edition of my novella, Something from Below, is now out. Here is the publisher’s web page for the book: https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/something-from-below-by-s.-t.-joshi. I will be getting a fair number of copies of the book, but these may take a few weeks to reach me; and I will not be able to offer them at a discount from the already inexpensive list price ($10.00), although I will still cover media mail postage for US customers. If you can’t wait to read this piece (which I do believe is my most serious and creditable work of weird fiction), then go ahead and order it from the publisher! Or if you wish to reserve a copy from me, do let me know.
My colleague Denilson E. Ricci has sent me a pair of books he has published through his imprint, Editora Clock Tower in Brazil. The first is a collection of Clark Ashton Smith’s stories, Além da imaginacão e do tempo (http://loja.sitelovecraft.com/produto/casmith/). The second is Volume 2 of O mundo fantástico de H. P. Lovecraft, which contains a preface by me. The publisher’s website (http://sitelovecraft.com/editora/) shows other fascinating books by Anglophone weird fiction writers translated into Portuguese.
My neighbour Jim Dempsey points me to a recent online article from the Scientific American website that mentions Lovecraft: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/100-million-year-old-seafloor-sediment-bacteria-have-been-resuscitated/. Who can forget that, almost exactly 115 years ago, Lovecraft himself published a prescient letter in that illustrious magazine?
I have been in touch with Mara Kirk Hart (the daughter of Lovecraft’s friend George Kirk), who is in the process of downsizing and moving from her longtime home in Duluth, Minnesota, to New Bedford, Massachusetts. Aside from her incredible generosity in passing along some choice books that have been in her collection for decades, she has sent along a photograph that is of some interest. It shows Mara (on the right), her sister Kitty (on the left), with myself in the middle. We are, obviously, standing in front of 169 Clinton Street in Brooklyn. This must date to the early 1990s. The question is: Who took the photograph? Peter Cannon? Scott Briggs? Some passing stranger? At any rate, it is a rare memento!
My beloved spouse, bless her heart, has been combing through some bins of unsorted material that have been lying around for years. Much of this material has properly been consigned to the dustbin, but one interesting item has surfaced—an item that I was convinced was lost forever. This is nothing less than the first movement of a trumpet concerto that I composed (probably in the 1980s or 1990s) when I was still under the sway of the Baroque era. I present a scan of the first page below.
The pretentious title—Suonata per il tromba ed archi in re maggiore (Sonata for trumpet and strings in D major)—tells the whole story. The word Suonata (a now archaic spelling of sonata) was used in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to designate a concerto. I see that, although I completed the first movement (about 45 bars), I did not fill in the viola line throughout. I have always found viola parts to be difficult to write, and not merely because of the totally non-intuitive “viola clef” (different from treble clef and bass clef) that one must use. But perhaps I will resume this work someday. The second (slow) movement will probably feature only strings; the trumpet will then return for the third and final movement.
Mary also unearthed my transcription of Bach’s Italian Concerto (for harpsichord) as a violin concerto. Bach wrote the work as an avowed imitation of the concerto as produced in great quantity by Vivaldi and others. Bach himself actually transcribed several of Vivaldi’s violin concerti for harpsichord, so I came up with the brilliant plan to do a transcription in the reverse manner. I recall doing this while house-sitting for my sister Ragini in her apartment in Cranbury, New Jersey, during my years at Princeton (1982–84).
On a related note, the postponement of NecronomiCon Providence until the summer of 2022 has necessitated some alteration in the schedule of Hippocampus Press, and my book of songs (Songs from Lovecraft and Others) will now be delayed until next year. But my treatise The Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft, along with a reprint of my anthology of stories about Lovecraft, His Own Most Fantastic Creation, are still scheduled to appear this year.
My history of atheism has already reached 20,000 words, mostly concerning the Greek philosophers from the Presocratics to Aristotle (6th to 4th centuries B.C.E.). God be with me!
I have received another sheaf of recently published books from Hippocampus Press. As a way of getting them out of here (and fending off Mary’s complaints about too many books in the house), I am offering them at a marked reduction from the list price:
The Bierce edition is a repackaging of The Short Fiction of Ambrose Bierce, published in a three-volume hardcover edition by University of Tennessee Press in 2006. But here the stories have been arranged thematically rather than chronologically. The first volume contains tales of psychological and supernatural horror; the second volume contains tales of the Civil War and tales of the grotesque; the third volume contains tall tales and satirical sketches, political fantasies, and future histories. All very entertaining!
The Last Oblivion is a revised reissue of one of the earliest Hippocampus Press volumes, first published in 2002. This is, to my mind, one of the best selections of Smith’s weird verse currently available, and its reprinting is long overdue. The Averoigne Chronicles is a paperback reprint of the expensive Centipede Press hardcover edition of 2016. It features an introduction by Gahan Wilson, an afterword by Donald Sidney-Fryer, and a map of Averoigne designed by the book’s editor, Ronald S. Hilger. But of course the chief feature of the book is the material by Smith himself—all the tales and poems he wrote about this imaginary realm of mediaeval France.
As a bonus offer, I will throw in a free copy of the latest Spectral Realms to any customers who buy the Bierce edition or both of the Smith volumes. I only have 4 spare copies of all these books, so don’t delay in ordering!
I continue to work on various fronts, and I understand that Lovecraft’s Letters to E. Hoffmann Price an Richard F. Searight and K. A. Opperman’s splendid poetry volume The Laughter of Ghouls will be out soon from Hippocampus. I myself continue to revel in the work of Leslie Stephen, the first volume of whose essays on literature I am now editing. Consider this timely discussion of literary cliques in the essay “Genius and Vanity” (1877):
“No stings can be too severe which help to kill down the noxious swarm of parasites which fmd their natural food in the fulsome stream of adulation. For, unluckily for us, there was never a time when this weakness was so prevalent, because there never was a time when the power of advertising, and therefore of winning notoriety without attaining excellence, was so enormous. The evil tends to corrupt the highest and most sensitive natures. A man can scarcely keep his head, when the voice of real sympathy is drowned by the chorus of insincere jubilation. . . . We abuse the severe critics who quench youthful genius. The true evil is different. The really mischievous persons are those appreciative and generous critics who force all eminent writers to live, whether they wish it or not, in an atmosphere so thick with the fumes of incense as to be enervating to the strongest constitutions. A clique is notoriously bad; with our customary twaddle about generous criticism, we are going far to make the whole literary world into one gigantic clique. Youthful genius is no longer crushed—it is puffed into imbecility. We long for some of the bracing air of the old slashing criticism, which, if it caused much useless pain, did at least promote the growth of tough fibres instead of fatty degeneration of tissue.”
I have begun the actual writing of my history of atheism: I’ve managed to set down about 5000 words. Only half a million (or more) to go!
Well, I’ve done it! I’ve published a volume of my juvenile fiction and poetry—Back from the Dead (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X6DX7D8). What other cover image could I use but the photo of me at the age of about four, holding my beloved toy truck? Unfortunately, the format of the cover doesn’t allow readers to note that the truck itself has the initials “S. T.” on it! (I think that stands for Standard Transportation, or something of the sort.) Anyway, this volume is simply a riot—and should make everyone relieved that I didn’t pursue a career as a fiction writer or (Gawdelpus!) a poet.
I have also published my Progression of the Weird Tale (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08WZH8PBV). I do think this is a pretty strong collection of my miscellaneous pieces, especially the reprints of many of the articles I wrote for Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia (2005) and other reference works, where I discuss writers I don’t usually talk about in the ordinary course of my work.
I have a limited number of copies of both books. I can offer each for $15 (slightly above the retail price, because I have to cover the printing costs of the book and I am also covering media mail postage to US customers) or $25 for the pair. Better put your orders in early!
I was delighted to see that the Spanish translation of W. H. Pugmire’s Bohemians of Sesque Valley has appeared (https://labibliotecadecarfax.com/tienda/es/w-h-pugmire/23-bohemios-del-valle-de-sesqua-9788412281316.html). This web page is the only indication I have had that the book has appeared; I have not received any copies of the book itself. More translations of Wilum’s work into various languages will be appearing in the coming months and years.
And now, lest anyone think that the publication of my juvenile fiction and poetry means that I have descended into a prolonged state of nostalgic frivolity and idleness, I am now prepared to announce that I have at long last begun the research (and even some of the writing) for a project I have had in mind for years—nothing less than:
A World History of Atheism
by S. T. Joshi
Even this outline doesn’t even begin to convey the worldwide perspective that I hope to bring to this project. And it doesn’t sufficiently indicate how, in some ways, the book will also have to be a world history of religion itself—beginning with what we know of the religion of primitive peoples and extending to religions in the dawn of recorded history (Egyptian, Indian, Middle Eastern [Israelite, Assyrian, Mesopotamian, Babylonian], Chinese/Japanese, etc. etc. etc.). And I also intend to discuss how religious (or anti-religious) elements enter into literature, music, and other arts. Of course, the intersection of religion and politics will be a major issue.
I am staggered, almost paralysed, at the immensity of ground I have to cover. But, as you know, I am also accustomed to writing big books; and this one is likely to exceed even Unutterable Horror (300,000 words) and I Am Providence (550,000 words) when it is finally finished (if it ever is). I fully expect it to take until my seventieth year (2028). But the only way to complete a project like this is to start it—and, little by little, it will get done. I am currently renewing my knowledge of the Greek Presocratic philosophers, a subject I studied extensively at Brown and Princeton. Wish me luck!
My colleague Rickard Beghorn has issued a fascinating book by Christer Holmgren entitled Cutting Point: Solving the Jack the Ripper and the Thames Torso Murders, under his imprint, Timaios Press (https://timaiospress.com/cutting-point-2/). I went over the book to check the prose, as English was not the author’s native language; his English was just fine, but his analysis of these two notorious series of murders was even finer, and I believe he has come up with the most plausible solution for the identity of Jack the Ripper! I of course am no authority on the case (certainly not as much of an authority as the late Sam Gafford), but Holmgren’s arguments strike me as highly convincing. I have received both the paperback and hardcover editions of the book, and will be happy to let the paperback go to any interested customer for $15.
I have lately been chiefly focused on Sarnath Press publications of all different kinds. My Mencken project proceeds apace, and I have now issued thirty-nine volumes of his work. The third volume of my Leslie Stephen project is now out (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08WZHBJYH); I quoted some piquant extracts of it in my last blog post. I have also issued a substantially augmented third edition of my Stupidity Watch volume (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544821646), this one containing a series of essays on the history of atheism that have never been collected before, including one that is apparently unpublished (I wrote it for a symposium on atheism that I attended several years ago).
My Progression of the Weird Tale should be released by the time I write my next blog post; I may obtain a limited number of copies to sell to my tens of fans. What is more, I am now carrying through on my threat promise to publish my fictional and poetic juvenilia! The volume is entitled Back from the Dead: Early Fiction and Poetry, and mostly contains the stories and poems I embalmed in the “literary” magazine I edited in my final two years of high school (1974–76), The Forum. Digging out this material not long ago, I found it was not quite as horrendous as I had remembered it to be; but even so, it is good for a few laughs and little else. This book may be available as early as late next month.
Continuing the exhibition of my early work, I may at some future date publish my Journals. I began keeping a journal as a school assignment in the fall of 1974 (beginning of my junior year in high school), and kept at it all the way through college and into graduate school. I believe the latest entries date to around 1985. This (if I actually have the courage or foolhardiness to go through with it) will be a multi-volume project, as the text is appallingly copious. The incredible thing is that, even in high school, I actually annotated those early journals! I was fanatically obsessed with my own literary status at the time and kept elaborate lists of my writings and even my readings. (I will have to see if I can pinpoint the exact date when I first read Lovecraft, although possibly my list of readings doesn’t go back that far.) All this is, I must say, quite a hoot.
A more realistic project is a volume of my Classical Papers—a gathering of the papers on ancient literature, history, and philosophy (including my honours thesis on Juvenal and my master’s thesis on Lucretius) that I wrote at Brown. (I seem not to have any of the papers I wrote at Princeton [1982–84], including a paper on Aristotle’s Metaphysics that was probably the most difficult piece I’ve ever written in my life.) Some of these papers strike me as quite brilliant, if I do say so myself!
This is what comes of having too much time on one’s hands.
On a more serious note, I was saddened to hear of the passing of James Gunn, the legendary author (and critic) of science fiction. His death occurred as far back as December 23, but it was only announced recently. Here is the fine obituary of him that appeared in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/11/books/james-gunn-dead.html. I believe I met Gunn once at the Locus Awards here in Seattle some years ago, and my friends Jason and Sunni Brock and John Tibbetts (a colleague of his at the University of Kansas) knew him well. His contributions will not soon be forgotten!
I have at last received copies of some (but not all) of the new Hippocampus Press publications, in a few cases stretching back to books that appeared late last year. Here are the items that are now in hand (with my discounted price indicated in parentheses):
The Blake book is a scintillating volume of poetry. The Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner also includes letters to Arthur Harris, James Larkin Pearson, Winifred Virginia Jackson, Arthur Leeds, and Paul J. Campbell—many of these never before published. Eccentric consists of letters almost entirely unpublished, and richly details the lives of the two authors between 1930 and Smith’s death in 1961; it also includes a selection of letters by Carol Smith to Derleth. 20 Years of Hippocampus Press is a volume of 228 pages, listing 275 publications and containing a complete author and title index. I have nothing in Dead Reckonings, but I am prepared to offer this volume free to those who purchase any other volume. (But I only have four spare copies of any of these books!)
I am in receipt of Todd B. Vick’s Renegates & Rogues: The Life and Legacy of Robert E. Howard (University of Texas Press, 2021), a most interesting account of Howard’s life and writings. I read two different versions of this book in manuscript at the behest of the publisher, and made some detailed suggestions—both in content and in points of grammar and style—that I trust the author and publisher found useful. I am briefly mentioned in the author’s acknowledgments. Here is the publisher’s web page for the book: https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/vick-renegades-and-rogues. A book well worth securing!
Another publication that I have not obtained, but have heard about, is—get this—nothing less than a reprint of Mrs. William B. (Cassie) Symmes’s Old World Footprints (1928), which contains Lovecraft’s ghostwritten preface (he wrote it for Frank Belknap Long, Symmes’s nephew): https://www.boldventurepress.com/old-world-footprints/. Will no corner of the Lovecraftian firmament, however tangential, be left untouched?
Speaking of which, I have twisted Derrick Hussey’s arm into promising to publish my Songs from Lovecraft and Others—a volume of my recent musical compositions, in which I have set poems by Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and others to music. Here is the lineup:
I am now fine-tuning my scores (adding dynamic markings, breath marks, and other details). We will have an accompanying CD that features a computer-generated rendition of the compositions. My music notation software (MuseScore3) is capable of producing sound files that (in the case of choral works) can sing the notes (with a kind of “Ah” sound) but cannot articulate the words. But that seems good enough for our purposes. I suppose I might be able to have my choir’s performance of “Sunset” put on the CD, if there is a way to abstract the sound from the video recording.
My readers know of my enthusiasm for the British TV series Endeavour. I have just finished watching the sixth season and am looking forward to receiving the DVDs of the seventh season from Netflix. Another enthusiasm of mine is The Crown, a show that relates important events in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. I had previously believed that there could be no more boring monarch than Liz, but this show has proved to be riveting—not least because it chimes in with my recent renewal of interest in English history.
I bring this up now because it strikes me that the actor who plays Prince Philip (Queen Elizabeth’s husband) in the third season, Tobias Menzies, bears a striking resemblance to Lovecraft in his later years! I have been trying to find a photograph of Menzies that conveys this resemblance and have not been entirely successful. The best one I have been able to find is this: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0580014/mediaviewer/rm3578886144/. But even this one does not, to my find, fully convey his really noteworthy similarity to Lovecraft. You will just have to watch the show to find out! (Please note that a different actor plays Prince Philip in the first two seasons of the series.)
I continue to be busy on numerous fronts. My edition of Guy de Maupassant is close to finished, and I’ve just made my own translations of the short version of “The Horla” as well as of a brief essay on “The Fantastic” (“Le Fantastique”). My introduction may be of some length—and I think I may print it in this year’s Penumbra, since the Centipede Press edition may not come out for a few years.
I was delighted to see that I (and Lovecraft) received some attention in my native land. The annual journal Critical Imprints, Volume 8 (2020), issued by the Department of English, Loreto College, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), has published an interview of me about Lovecraft, conducted by Hemalatha Sridhar. Here is the website of the magazine: http://www.loretocriticalimprints.com/criticalimprints/index.php. If you click on the box containing the words “Latest Issue,” you will get a full table of contents of the issue. For those interested in securing this choice item of Joshiana, best of luck ordering it! Possibly you can get it from the Amazon India website.
For various reasons I have not yet received a number of recent Hippocampus Press volumes, ranging from Benjamin Blake’s superlative poetry collection Tenebrae in Aeternum (apparently published last November) to Lovecraft’s Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner to 20 Years of Hippocampus Press. I hope to get these volumes by the time I write my next blog post. Other items are imminent (or, in fact, are out already): my three-volume edition of Ambrose Bierce’s collected fiction; Eccentric, Impractical Devils (the letters of August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith); Machen’s Autobiographical Writings; Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne Chronicles (a reprint of the Centipede Press edition); and several others.
The Lovecraft Letters project from Hippocampus is, incredibly enough, winding to a close. Within the next two years we hope to bring out Letters to E. Hoffmann Price and Richard F. Right, Letters to Woodburn Harris and Others, Letters to Hyman Bradofsky and Others, and Miscellaneous Letters (containing small batches of letters to random individuals, along with an array of published letters). After that, all that will remain is to publish Letters to Frank Belknap Long, which may come out as early as 2022, but more likely 2023. That will be it! I would very much like to publish the letters by Long to Lovecraft, of which there is a substantial number.
I remain enthralled by the work of Leslie Stephen. I am now preparing a volume of his philosophical essays, and I have to say that the pungency of his style is simply entrancing. Consider this passage from “A Cynic’s Apology” (1869), where he discusses the value of censorious criticism:
“Nay, so far is criticism from damaging genuine talent, that even an impostor, if endowed with sufficient impudence, can thrive and wax fat and sell innumerable editions in the teeth of his scorners. All that the critic can hope to do is to keep alive the belief that there is some distinction between good writing and bad, and to encourage public opinion occasionally to assert its independence.”
Who does that remind you of? And here is a passage from the same essay that brings my “Stupidity Watch” column to mind:
“There are in this world certain persons known by the good old English name of fools. Although we shrink from applying the name to any individual, we know that, in the aggregate, they form a vast and almost impenetrable phalanx. Like other men, they have their uses; they serve, perhaps, as ballast, and prevent the machinery of the world from moving too fast. Certainly they do it effectually. There is something portentous about the huge masses of dogged stupidity which environ us on every side.”
Bravo! If you want to read more of this sort of scintillating prose, just pick up one or the other of my Leslie Stephen editions!
I am on the verge of publishing yet another collection of my miscellaneous essays, reviews, introductions, etc. This one will be called The Progression of the Weird Tale. It may not appear until next month, as I have to wait for a review (here titled “Three Poets, Three Visions”) to appear in Spectral Realms. Otherwise, the volume contains a number of entries, long and short, that I wrote for Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2005)—indeed, the section on “Weird Writers: Brief Assessments” contains a whopping 83 articles (some of these, actually, appeared in other encyclopedias to which I’ve contributed). Other pieces in the book are introductions to books that haven’t even been published yet. Here is the complete table of contents:
On to other matters. … My novella, Something from Below (PS Publishing, 2019), will be reissued by Hippocampus Press sometime this spring. Already I have come to terms with a Czech publisher, Laser Books, for a Czech translation of it (along with three other stories: “The Recurring Doom,” “Incident at Ferney,” and “Some Kind of Mistake”). A Polish publisher is now negotiating for the translation rights to the same batch of stories, but this deal hasn’t been officially signed yet. I guess I’m well liked in Eastern Europe! (A Polish publisher issued a translation of H. P. Lovecraft: A Life in a huge doorstopper of a hardcover edition in 2010.)
The second volume of my edition of Leslie Stephen’s essays has now been published by Sarnath Press (https://www.amazon.com/Essays-Religion-Edited-Collected-Stephen/dp/B08RC4BKLJ/). This contains the balance of his essays on religion; these address certain specific religious figures, and there are devastating critiques of such thinkers as John Henry Newman, Frederic Denison Maurice, Blaise Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, and others—as well as defences of the secularism of Charles Bradlaugh (an atheist M.P. who was not allowed to take his seat in Parliament because he refused to swear his oath of office on a Bible), Voltaire, and Thomas Henry Huxley. I continue to admire Stephen’s incisive logic and his fluent and idiomatic style. Lots more volumes to come!
I am in receipt of Inflections in Horror: The Weird Worlds of Carl E. Reed, Volume 1, a CD that contains a wealth of Reed’s readings of his own poems and other matter. One of the items included is “HPL: A Brief Introduction to the Man, His Work & His Lasting Influence.” Some of the poems on the CD were published in Spectral Realms. The CD can be purchased on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Inflections-Horror-Weird-Worlds-Carl/dp/B08MKYQ6SZ. I have a few spare copies of the CD that I will be happy to part with for $10.
Another tempting item that has shown up is Donald Tyson’s The Red Stone of Jubbah, just published by Weird House in an attractive hardcover edition (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/the-red-stone-of-jubbah/). This is a Lovecraftian novella featuring Abdul Alhazred, and presumably constitutes a sort of sequel or follow-up to Alhazred: The Author of the Necronomicon (2006), one of the most scintillating novels of Lovecraftian terror that I have ever read. Virtually everything by Donald Tyson is worth reading, and I daresay this new item is also.
Jackanapes Press continues its fine work with the publication of Ashley Dioses’s new poetry collection, The Withering (https://www.jackanapespress.com/product/the-withering). As with its predecessor, K. A. Opperman’s Past the Glad and Sunlit Season (which I have reviewed in the issue of Spectral Realms due out this month), this volume is lavishly illustrated with black-and-white line drawings by Jackanapes’s publisher, Daniel V. Sauer. I will be writing a formal review of this book for the Summer 2021 issue of Spectral Realms, in conjunction with a new poetry book by Ann K. Schwader coming out soon from Weird House.
Speaking of books—I can hardly overlook a splendid Christmas gift that I received from my niece, Anjeli Elkins. It is perhaps the finest picture book about cats that I have ever seen: Walter Chandoha’s Cats (https://www.amazon.com/Walter-Chandoha-Cats-Susan-Michals/dp/3836573857/). This magnificent hardcover volume features photographs, taken over decades (1942–2018), by Chandoha for a variety of purposes. Every cat lover must have it!
I have been notified that a documentary on Karl Edward Wagner, in which I appear briefly, is now available for viewing: Brandon D. Lunsford’s The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/296318). I have myself not viewed it as yet, but I’m sure it is a fine production. I am by no means an authority on Wagner’s work, but I imagine I provided some background on the weird fiction of his era. I am also hoping that a documentary on Arthur Machen, for which I was interviewed several years ago at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, will someday emerge.
I am very belatedly noting a minuscule token of my ascending fame: a passing mention of me in Charles Stross’s Lovecraftian novella Equoid (Subterranean Press, 2014). This is part of Stross’s Laundry Files series, where members of a shadowy branch of the British government battle Lovecraftian monsters. In this volume, the protagonist, Bob Howard, comes upon correspondence by Lovecraft to the actual Bob Howard (i.e., Robert E. Howard), in which Lovecraft warns of the dangers of unicorns—who are not the appealing creatures of benign fantasy that we all assume they are, but are evil entities with titanic powers. I find myself mentioned on page 16: “You’re probably thinking: WHAT THE HELL, H. P. LOVECRAFT? And wondering why I’m reading his private letters (most certainly not found in any of the collections so lovingly curated by Lovecraft scholars over the years, from August Derleth to S. T. Joshi) …” Thank you, Charles! I met Stross at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton (UK) in November 2013 and sat on a panel discussion with him, Ramsey Campbell, and others. Did he mention me as a result of this minimal association?
I will say that the protagonist does not have a very high opinion of Lovecraft, repeatedly castigating the Providence writer for his purpose prose, prolixity, etc. etc. At one point he refers to Lovecraft’s “ghastly prose.” And the long extracts from letters purporting to be by HPL to REH really read like parodies of Lovecraft—full of obvious errors (such as split infinitives, modern usages, American as opposed to British spellings, and the lack of the diaeresis in the invented utterance “Iä!”) that Lovecraft would never have made, even in correspondence. Well, regardless of whether Bob Howard’s views of Lovecraft mirror the author’s own views, Equoid is an entertaining read in its lurid way.