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Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon [Paperback]

Daniel Clore , Dan Clore

Price: 15.16 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

31 Oct 2009
Eldritch . . . cacodaemoniacal . . . lucubration . . . Have you ever wondered about the meaning of these and other esoteric words used by Lovecraft and his colleagues? In this immense dictionary, the product of years of scholarship and research, Dan Clore not only defines thousands of words found in the work of H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and others, but supplies their derivation and, most impressively, provides parallel usages of the words from centuries of English usage, citing authors ranging from Cotton Mather to Henry Kuttner, from Edmund Spenser to Samuel R. Delany. This is a volume that scholars of English usage, enthusiasts of fantasy and horror literature, and readers who love the beauty of the English language will find richly rewarding . . . either to read from beginning to end or to dip into as the mood strikes them. Dan Clore is a free-lance writer and scholar who has published articles in Lovecraft Studies, Studies in Weird Fiction and numerous other journals and critical anthologies. His fiction is collected in The Unspeakable and Others, first published in 2001.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Lovecraftian Weird Word Collector in All of Us... 8 Feb 2011
By Michael Gmirkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book. Perhaps not 100% comprehensive, and lacking some cross-referencing entries and an index. But there's lots to like here. Basically, it defines and gives examples of many of the "weird words" or olde time spellings of current words that were used by Lovecraft in his "weird fiction." It doesn't, however, act as a Mythos encyclopedia. So, you WON'T find lists of major and minor characters, Lovecraft's various invented creatures, Gods and eldritch things. Though it WILL define and give examples of what eldritch means (weird, spooky, unusual, odd, strange), or cyclopean, or one of my favorites: horripilation (basically, the feeling or action of your hairs standing on end, getting goose bumps, etc.).

So, if you're reading or plan to read Lovecraft and some of his peers, you may want to get this lexicon in case you come across some eldritch words you're unfamiliar with and wish to look them up. Likewise, if you're a writer of weird fiction and enjoy the style of Lovecraft, this lexicon can serve as a self-help book for sprucing up your weird vocabulary. Already, I've learned some new words that have helped to turn my prose a bit more tenebrous and horripilating, if a bit more erudite and esoteric, bordering on arcanic.

Seriously though, this is a good read. But the lack of an index or table of contents does make it a tiny bit harder to find things. Heck, a thesaurus-ish type section might be nice, in case people want to take the words they KNOW and find the eldritch words they're searching for.

That aside, it does at least list the first and last words on the the open, facing pages up at the top, which makes paging through looking for a specific word a bit easier.

As noted before, there seem to be lacking some cross-referencing entries. There are a few cases where the adjective form of some God or another's name is used, and the text refers to something as being "like unto" that God, but there's no entry on that God or description in the prose of the adjective entry, so one find oneself slightly under-informed as to what exactly the adjective means. Sometimes other "weird words" are used in the definition prose, but those weird words are nowhere defined in other parts of the book. It seems like it goes across purpose to define weird words by way of other weird words NOT defined. Why not define weird words exclusively by way of common ones? Or if using a "weird word" in the description of another, make sure it is in fact defined somewhere else.

Minor issues aside, I love this book. Love it, love it, love it. Great reference! The winged, tentacled and amorphous ones would be pleased and minutely less inclined to destroy the mind of the author for it...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous book that cries out for hardcover edition 5 Mar 2010
By Matthew T. Carpenter - Published on Amazon.com
I ordered Weird Words ages ago from the publisher but never received my copy until this week. When I saw Wilum's review I nearly burst a blood vessel with jealousy! Now I can finally calm down.

Dan Clore is an interesting individual, a thoughtful intellectual who functions as one of the literati of fantastic and weird literature. He has a book of short stories which are quite cutting edge in the genre. This book has been gestating for years, as individual entries have been posted to internet news groups over the years.

The book itself is another example of the fine craftsmanship from Hippocampus Press. It is 568 (!!) pages of text, and the editing as far as I have seen is exemplary. I really like the cover art by Howard Wandrei. I need to get my two greatest sources of heartburn off my chest now. First, this is a book for the ages; I intend to keep mine forever. Weird Words cries out for a handsome leather bound hardcover, with copious lovely illustrations. I would have paid premium price for such an edition. Second, I wish Mr. Clore had written a detailed introduction that explained his interest in this area and how he accomplished it. We basically get thrown right into the lexicon.

Anyone who has read Lovecraft or Smith ends up keeping a dictionary close at hand, because of the lovely and esoteric vocabulary their stories command. This lexicon will fill such a purpose admirably. A lexicon, however, is much more than a dictionary. It is a compendium of words, how people use words, the history of words and how words were created. What Mr. Clore gives us in each entry is a definition, and then multiple examples of the word's use from the fantastic literature, often a few sentences or an entire paragraph so we see the context. For example, for fans of the Deep Ones, the entry for batrachian gives us samples from three different authors. My favorite Lovecraftian word is cyclopean, and I am gifted with 10 pages of examples! Authors represented range from Robert E. Howard to Thomas Ligotti.

This is not a work to digest entirely, over a few days. I intend to savor it. Besides having it at my side (with The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia by Dan Harms) when I read weird or fantastical fiction, it is perfect to keep at my night stand, to browse an entry or two before bed, ensuring my slumber sends me ichor drenched dreams of Yuggoth.

I cannot imagine anyone who loves weird fiction, fantasy and fantastic literature of all types, or who loves words in general not wanting a copy. Bravo Mr. Clore. More please.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, Esq. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was overjoy'd when the remarkable Dan Clore, one of our wonderfully weird authors in this beloved genre, gave me a copy of this superb book two years ago at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. The book is so good, and so original, and it has been my pleasure to buy additional copies here to give as presents to my fellow weird tale writers. As a writer of spectral fiction that is inspir'd by H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, this book is especially proficient. It comes from a fellow who has written some of the most discerning essays on H. P. Lovecraft that I have ever read, in magazines such as LOVECRAFT STUDIES and anthologies edited by the magnificent S. T. Joshi. Dan Clore is himself one of the most disturbing and delightful writers, as may be attested by his hypnotic collection, THE UNSPEAKABLE AND OTHERS (available here at Amazon).

WEIRD WORDS--and I am saving up to order more copies to give to chums--is a gathering of words for which weird fictionists have a fondness, and this is illustrated by the numerous excellent quotations culled from classic weird literature, and classic literature of all generations.

Alternate words and spellings are offer'd:
ghoul, goul, goule, ghool, ghole, gowl, n. {<Ar ghul < a root meaning "to seize] In Arabian folklore, a creature that robs graves and devours human corpses.

This is followed by quotations from Samuel Henley, Edward William Lane, Thomas Carlyle, G. W. M. Reynolds, James Joyce (from ULYSSES), H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, William Shakespeare, Charlotte Smith, Sir Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll, William Morris, Marie Corelli, Arthur Machen, Robert E. Howard, William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson, Roger Zelanzy, Mearl Prout, Clark Ashton Smith and pages and pages of others -- an in-depth and fascinating entry that shews Dan Clore's amazing knowledge of Literature and his especial genre.

This outstanding Lexicon is the work of a genius, and it will provide hours of enticing edification and enthralling entertainment for all who have the intelligence to appreciate it. For those of us who are full-time professional writers of weird fiction, it is an amazing source of language, imagery and the history of our fantastic realm. I return to it again and again, to drink its fount of scholarship and to revel in its sense of eldritch play.

Outstanding! And now to return to THE UNSPEAKABLE AND OTHERS, and enjoy Dan Clore as he puts into practice his genius as an author of the fiction of which WEIRD WORDS is a celebration.
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