on 24 March 2012
This is a small paperback of 132 pages, and it publishes this late novelette by Lovecraft based on the manuscript to the story that was discovered in 1995. Some of you will know that Lovecraft's fiction has been poorly edited, especially after his death, by sloppy editors or transcribed by people who had difficulty reading his difficult handwriting. This is ironic, because when Lovecraft first began to sell his fiction to WEIRD TALES, he wrote to the then-editor: "I have but one condition to offer; and that is that no excisions be made. If a tale cannot be printed as it is written, down to the very last semicolon and comma, it must gracefully accept rejection." Perhaps Lovecraft felt this way, even at so early a time in his career as author, because he knew that an author's reputation was keenly weighed on narrative style--it is our style that distinguishes us from other writers.
"The Shadow out of Time" was maligned by the editors and copy-editors of Astounding Stories, and then badly edited for those early Arkham House books, the texts of which are now used for really bad editions of Lovecraft's fiction such as the three H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus volumes published by Voyager in the mid-1980's and the Gollancz edition known as NECRONOMICON: THE BEST WEIRD TALES OF H. P. LOVECRAFT. Arkham House finally hired S. T. Joshi to re-edited and correct the texts of all of Lovecraft's four volumes of fiction published by them. The Joshi texts have given us the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft as Lovecraft wrote it and wished his fiction to be preserved.
This wee paperback is really outstanding, and I love it. It has an amazing Introduction of 22 pages that discusses the story and its publication and recounts the fascinating history of the discovery of Lovecraft's original manuscript in 1995, upon which the text of this edition is based. The story's text is followed by over thirty pages of notes, an appendix that includes Lovecraft's original outline Notes to the story, &c.
This is the definitive text. This is the story as Lovecraft wrote it, unhampered by editorial chaos. This is the way Lovecraft would have loved to have seen his story published, and it is very sad indeed that he went to his grave innocent of the fact that his fantastic fiction would eventually be so preserved for the keen enjoyment of future generations. This definitive text has since been included in the final volume of Lovecraft's fiction published by Penguin Classics, THE DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES (S. T. Joshi, editor; 2004), complete with numerous annotations.
on 21 January 2013
I believe I have read almost all of Lovecraft's major stories and I can easily say that 'The Shadow out of Time' is without doubt in the top five for me, topped only by stories of such magnificence as 'The Shadow over Innsmouth', 'Dagon' and 'The Call of Cthulhu'.
This amazing work seems to represent the beginning of what might have been the next major phase of Lovecraft's literary career had he not died in 1937. He seems to have almost come to grips with the horror of his content enough to present it in almost pleasant terms. Gone is the dismissal of the unknown as 'evil' and, in its place, is an evaluation of it as something approaching wonderful.
Yet, for all this new-found optimism, that indescribable sense of being in the presence of things vast beyond imagination is still very much there. In fact, it is there in even more vivid terms as ever before in Lovecraft. Specifically this is due to his focus on the endlessly befuddling concept of time.
The only niggling problem with the story is the injection of rather pedestrian pace very near the end which slows things up right when they need to race faster and faster. But this may be only my impatience.
I am very glad I bought the story in this special form as it lent an extra special meaning to my first ever reading of Lovecraft's last ever major story. It comes with an insightful introduction, extensive notes and a cover which reproduces the cover of the pulp magazine in which 'The Shadow out of Time' was first published. Now, tell me those strange cone-like beings aren't slightly cute!
on 23 September 2008
This is one of Lovecraft's best and most fascinating (and longest) stories. It tells the story of a scientist who faints in class one day, only to wake up without any memories of who he is. As the story goes on, the incredible, awful and mindboggling truth is revealed. It begins on a small scale (an individual with memory loss) and ends on a cosmic scale. Less horror story and more some kind of cosmic SF/Fantasy I think... Well, this shouldn't be discussed in advance, just read it. The Shadow out of Time is included in other Lovecraft collections. This edition, though, is not only beautiful (with original cover art) but also includes the corrected text with many commentaries made by Lovecraft-scholar Joshi.
on 1 December 2012
One of Lovecraft's 'Great Tales' and the penultimate thing he wrote, this is a treat for all Lovecraft fans. The story has been reprinted many times since its original appearance in the pulp magazine Amazing Stories, and the cover is a reprint of the cephalopod imagery one associates with those times, full of bug eyed monsters, and colours that are so evocative. The text inside has been corrected by established Lovecraft scholar, S.T. Joshi, someone who has minutely paid attention to textual detail. Joshi has also produced a thoughtful and insightful introduction that reveals the state of Lovecraft's mind as he contemplated this, his swansong of a tale, which unbeknowst to all was about to become the culmination of his art as a writer of weird tales. The story written by Lovecraft has suffered abridgement because of its original appearance in Amazing Stories, and, after the re-discovery of the manuscript version, Joshi has carefully corrected it. A comprehensive list of notes has been included to elucidate the references in the text that might baffle readers. Overall, a great read and masterfully edited by Joshi.
on 12 June 2011
I bought this purely to see what the "Corrected Text" meant, well...
There is an old saying, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That's why I would recommend to anyone buying:
H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus (3) - "The Haunter of the Dark and Other Tales"
By Voyager. (available on Amazon for £5.49)
It's cheaper, it contains "The Shadow Out of Time" and many other of Lovecrafts stories in it and is presented the way Lovecraft intended.
But a decent book none the less and has the original cover art, though seems alot more blurry on the actual book than the photo would suggest.