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Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography in Letters Paperback – 1 Sep 2000
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About the Author
S. T. Joshi, who lives in upstate New York, is the author and editor of many books, including H. L. Mencken on American Literature (Ohio University Press, 2002), Mencken's America (Ohio University Press, 2004), and Closing Arguments: Clarence Darrow on Law, Society, and Religion (Swallow Press). David E. Schultz is a technical editor for an environmental engineering firm in Milwaukee and has prepared several editions of works by Lovecraft and Ambrose Bierce.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Most of the letters are new to me, even though I am familiar with the contents of the multi-volume Arkham House "Collected Letters." Virtually all the letters are a delight to read, since poor Lovecraft could find entertainment in even the most humdrum activities... consider the wild Arabian Nights bazaar-haggling fantasy he inserts into the account of his search for a good, cheap suit, after a thief made away with almost everything he owned in the way of wearables.
The text has one annoying defect; the letters are usually not introduced by telling us who they were written to, and one must repeatedly turn to a couple of pages marked "sources" for this vital info. Lovecraft's tone and style, and openness or reticence, varied greatly with correspondent, and this is background info you have to have to appreciate a given letter.
Typographical errors are very few; I spotted only about four, all probably transcription errors in copying from Lovecraft's microscopically hand-written originals.
Like the majority of university press books I have seen over the past 40 long-suffering years, this one suffers from what Lovecraft himself might call "preternaturally odious" design. The cover consists of a fuzzy snapshot of Lovecraft superimposed on a collage of details from old engravings, and each major section is defaced by a grey blob that is probably imagined, by someone with no sense of design, to be decorative. Chapter headings seem to have been affected by word-processing runaway, so that for instance the index is headed "Marriage and Exile, Clinton Street and Red Hook"!
Let's just say I loved every word of it. After you read it, this should go right on the shelf with your worn, much-read volumes of Lovecraft fiction, and you'll find yourself dipping into it at random, at odd times. What a man! Recommended!
I reproduce ye Entire "A Note on the Text":
"The material in this volume consists of extracts from a few essays by Lovecraft (texts of which are derived from existing manuscripts or early printed appearances) and extracts of many letters. The letters have been secured from two major sources: manuscripts (many of them at the John Hay Library of Brown University and the State Historical Society at Madison, and a few in private hands) and the so-called 'Arkham House transcripts.' The transcripts were prepared by Arkham House for use in editing Lovecraft's SELECTED LETTERS; in many cases the original manuscripts of these letters have not come to light, and in some cases the manuscripts are known to have been destroyed. We have made relatively few alterations in the manuscript letters, occasionally correcting an obvious slip of the pen and writing out Lovecraft's habitual ampersands. We have made more alterations in the transcripts, in cases where there is good reason to believe that the transcriber erred in reading Lovecraft's handwriting.
"Few letters are presented in their entirety. We have not placed ellipses at the beginning or end of letters except in cases where our editing has resulted in a sentence fragment; but we have placed ellipses (enclosed in brackets) where we have made cuts or abridgments within a given extract. All other ellipses are Lovecraft's. Occasionally he used more than the conventional three or four periods in an ellipsis, and we have retained this usage to preserve the style of the original documents. We have also preserved other idiosyncratic usages, such as British spelling variants, archaisms or slang, irregular punctuation, and the like. Headnotes preceding the letters help to identify their contents and supply other necessary information.
"As an epigraph to the volume we have included Lovecraft's 'biographical notice' from Edward J. O'Brien's BEST SHORT STORIES OF 1928. The notice, although unsigned, is clearly by Lovecraft, and encapsulates in a remarkably small space the essence of his life and beliefs. As an appendix we have included Lovecraft's most polished autobiographical essay, "Some Notes on a Nonentity," written in 1933.
"Names cited frequently in the text (chiefly Lovecraft's colleagues or writers who influenced him significantly) are identified in a glossary of names at the end of the volume. Other names, and other points in the text that require elucidation, are identified in the endnotes. We have not felt the need to overburden the text with notes and commentary, and we believe that most of the extracts are self-explanatory.
"Our list of 'Sources' identifies the sources for our texts of the letters. In every chapter, each extract is numbered at its beginning, and the numbers correspond to the sequence of letters (or other works) listed in the 'Sources.' We have appended a list of further reading, supplying information on important editions of works by Lovecraft and significant biographical and critical studies. The literature on Lovecraft has now become immense, and the present list cites only the most significant works."
Thus we see that this single edition presents a number of fascinating items, as well as being a source book leading the reader to many other books. It was reading the five SELECTED LETTERS volumes from Arkham House that really secured in me that passion for HPL that makes one a life-long Lovecraftian. Lovecraft's letters reveal aspects of the man that do not appear in his brilliant weird fiction. This wonderful book reveals Lovecraft as he shew'd himself to his friends and colleagues, and the revelation is very captivating. This is one great book. I had the pb edition, but I was happy to find the hardcover edition here at Amazon, and highly recommend ye hardback edition.