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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to the work of a master
It is amazing that nearly seventy years after his death, with a wealth of scholarship and information available, so many misconceptions about Lovecraft and his work remain. Lovecraft never said that human life was 'worthless'. He wrote: "Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance...
Published on 24 Jun 2006 by Jack

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4 of 109 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The tales don't work
Lovecraft is fondly regarded by many readers who encountered him in adolescence. He's not a writer for mature people, though.
Lovecraft's much-ballyhooed "cosmic horror" rests principally on an elementary logical fallacy (which H. G. Wells also committed). "Cosmic horror" derives largely from the idea of an immense and indifferent universe over against petty, myopic...
Published on 5 April 2005 by Extollager


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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to the work of a master, 24 Jun 2006
By 
Jack "sevagram" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America) (Hardcover)
It is amazing that nearly seventy years after his death, with a wealth of scholarship and information available, so many misconceptions about Lovecraft and his work remain. Lovecraft never said that human life was 'worthless'. He wrote: "Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance is the vast cosmos-at-large". This is not to say that these things are without worth, but as someone who fully understood the implications of living in an Einsteinian universe, Lovecraft recognised that these things are relative. Of course they are important to us, but there is no reason to assume that they are universal. They may be, but Lovecraft was in the business of writing horror stories (although, of course, his later stories are closer to science-fiction of the kind written by Wells and Stapledon) his aim was to create new levels of dread divorced from the outworn and redundant horrors of 18th and 19th century fiction. Ants and other insects have worth, but that doesn't stop us from carelessly treading on them or exterminating them when it suits our purposes. Lovecraft's alien entities are the same, either supremely indifferent to us or actively hostile. The question should be: Does Lovecraft achieve this sense of cosmic horror in his stories? In his best stories (The Whisperer in Darkness, The Colour out of Space, At the Mountains of Madness and the Shadow Out of Time, for instance) I believe his does. All these stories are included in this excellent collection, along with the best of his earlier, more straightforward horror pieces. To appreciate his best tales (and his meticulously orchestrated prose) requires an imaginative perspective that grows richer with maturity. Of course, one is at liberty to disagree with Lovecraft's view of the universe and to dislike his style, but you don't need to agree with his world view to appreciate his achievements as a writer. To dismiss his work as suitable only for children and adolescents because one finds his philosophy offensive is itself an immature response.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poe's successor finally joins America's literary élite, 14 July 2007
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Dominic Berlemann "luhdieu72" (Outpost of Progress) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America) (Hardcover)
Without doubt, it is a brave and controversial decision by the American Library to include H.P. Lovecraft to its core of great American writers. Condsidering the blatant misanthropy, alleged latent misogyny and highly disputed artistic value of the tales collected in this volume, one must say that it may leave readers with mixed emotions about the project. Multiethnic communities such as he encountered in New York City obviously filled Lovecraft with fear, and his fiction mirrors this biographical process, allowing a deep insight into the man's haunted psyche. However, there's an undeniable air of magic about the stories, which owes itself mainly to the dream-like distortion of human perception displayed in the tales and the highly artificial pseudo-Victorian language masterfully (if not flawlessly) employed by Lovecraft. Yet one should bear in mind that Lovecraftian scepticism doesn't lend itself to primitive xenophobia alone, but primarily to the problem of the (hypersensitive and highly gifted) individual trying to establish a firm identity within a society offering lots of different approaches to that. This is what makes Lovecraft an important writer to present-day readers, and it's not over the top to claim that there's a bond of tradition between Poe, Lovecraft and Bret Easton Ellis, all of which wrote about the state of the American Dream in their time and the untold numbers of failures connected with that ever-fascinating cultural pattern. For those who wish to familiarize themselves with Lovecraft's artistic vision of modern urbanized society, this volume provides an excellent opportunity to do so. If you're looking for intriguing female characters or realistic depiction of love relationships, however, go somewhere else.
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4 of 109 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The tales don't work, 5 April 2005
By 
Extollager (Mayville, ND United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America) (Hardcover)
Lovecraft is fondly regarded by many readers who encountered him in adolescence. He's not a writer for mature people, though.
Lovecraft's much-ballyhooed "cosmic horror" rests principally on an elementary logical fallacy (which H. G. Wells also committed). "Cosmic horror" derives largely from the idea of an immense and indifferent universe over against petty, myopic human beings. Well, certainly it is true that the rest of the universe is quite a bit larger than this planet, which in turn is bigger than us folks. So what? The significance of human beings never depended on physical size. If that were so, a tall person would be just a teensy bit more significant than a short person. Lovecraft doesn't seem ever to have realized that a quantitative fact (big universe, little earth) has no bearing at all on the qualitative, which is what we are talking about if we talk about human significance.
"Cosmic horror" wants to diminish most human qualities; they generally don't get a look-in, in Lovecraft's tales. There is very little to Lovecraft's humans other than ill-advised curiosity. The success of his stories depends on the reader going along with this trick. That isn't much to build a literary reputation on... however impressive it may have been for many of us, like the present writer, who had "Lovecraft phases" in the early Seventies when we were kids.
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H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America)
H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America) by H P Lovecraft (Hardcover - 3 Feb 2005)
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