More Annotated H.P. Lovecraft Paperback – 1 Oct 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
On the plus side, some real classics are given the annotated treatment. "The Picture in the House" is particularly welcome here, as it is perhaps Lovecraft's most horrifying short piece of fiction, and a copy of the referenced infamous picture is included for the reader to view. "The Hound" is an effective if rather traditional horror tale, the annotations for which provide some important information on the French Decadents and other outre movements referenced in the story. "Cool Air" is one of the author's most recognized stories, and the notes stress the fact that the story was written before air conditioning made its way into housing units. "Pickman's Model" is still a disturbing read, even though the ending lacks the punch today it probably had in Lovecraft's time.Read more ›
Introduction by Peter Cannon
The Picture in the House
The Shunned House
The Horror at Red Hook
The Call of Cthulhu
The Thing on the Doorstep
The Haunter of the Dark
The book overflows with photographs of sites mentioned in Lovecraft's texts, which reminds us that Lovecraft felt that, as a writer, he was a "realist," and that most of his weird tales take place in the real world and pertain to aberrations in that reality--and not necessarily supernatural eruptions. The selection is very good, although I would have dropped the boring "The Horror at Red Hook" and used "The Music of Erich Zann" instead.
I love the annotations, which always begin with a history of the writing and publication history of the story. The one for "The Call of Cthulhu" is extensive:
"'The Call of Cthulhu' was written during the summer of 1926. Farnsworth Wright initially rejected it for WEIRD TALES, though he would later change his mind, thanks to the intercession of Lovecraft's friend and fellow writer, Donald Wandrei. In June 1927 Wandrei visited Farnsworth Wright at his office in Chicago, as described in his memoir, 'Lovecraft in Providence':
"I casually worked in a reference to a story, 'The Call of Cthulhu,' that Lovecraft was revising and finishing and which I thought was a wonderful tale. But I added that for some reason or other, Lovecraft had talked about submitting it to other magazines.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
[By Peter Cannon:] Acknowledgments; Introduction [a discussion of H. P. Lovecraft and the selections in this volume]; [Hereupon stories by Lovecraft:] The Picture in the House; Herbert West--Reanimator [a collected pulp magazine serial]; The Hound; The Shunned House; The Horror at Red Hook; Cool Air; The Call of Cthulhu; Pickman's Model; The Thing on the Doorstep; The Haunter of the Dark
Though the title of this volume means that it's a sequel to The Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, in fact More Annotated H. P. Lovecraft stands just fine without the previous volume and the two volumes could just as well have been published in reverse order. Indeed, a good argument could be made that More Annotated is the better volume with which to start, especially for Lovecraft novices, since it features a number of shorter, grabbier stories plus Lovecraft's signature (though not his very best) story, The Call of Cthulhu. But the truth is that either volume can be read without the other, though they're complementary.
Oddly enough, though More Annotated contains about twice as many pieces and costs a little more than The Annotated, it's actually almost 50 pages shorter. This is because, unlike The Annotated, it doesn't contain a novella, has only a fairly short introduction which already incorporates introductions to the various stories, lacks individual story introductions by S. T. Joshi and tributes to Lovecraft by various horror writers, and also lacks the appendices Joshi previously included.
Though it looks as though Cannon must have been primarily responsible for selecting and assembling the contents of this volume, once again it appears that Joshi was in charge of the voluminous footnotes (this is, after all, "Annotated H. P. Lovecraft"), judging from their familiar style and approach, just as Joshi prepared the footnotes for The Annotated H. P. Lovecraft and for Penguin's The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories.
Assuming that to be the case, once again Joshi provides plenty of useful and interesting information in his dry and occasionally condescending manner. Do we really need to be told who the Puritans were (p. 13), what Calvinism and anti-Darwinism are (p. 38), or what a satyr and a lemur are (p. 151)?
Some other times, Joshi seems to be talking to himself. For example, in footnoting the first textual mention of Herbert West in the story of the same name, Joshi writes: "It is difficult to know where Lovecraft came up with the name Herbert West. West is by no means a specifically New England name, even though most of the story takes place in New England." In other words, Joshi is wondering aloud how Lovecraft came up with the name, something that might matter to a biographical researcher -- Joshi has already written and had published a long biography of Lovecraft -- but which otherwise provides no insight for or appeal to the interest of readers of this book. (So as far as I'm concerned, in the absence of any evidence, the name Herbert West was invented because Lovecraft thought it sounded good for that character and that story title.)
Such criticisms notwithstanding, More Annotated Lovecraft is a good reference volume for the serious Lovecraft reader and belongs on the bookshelf alongside The Annotated Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, and the Arkham House four-volume set (The Dunwich Horror and Others; At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels; Dagon and Other Macabre Tales; The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions) plus Miscellaneous Writings. Most other Lovecraft collections in print are unreliable, insight-devoid hodgepodges; your money will be better spent bypassing them and instead collecting the volumes set forth in this paragraph.
On the plus side, some real classics are given the annotated treatment. "The Picture in the House" is particularly welcome here, as it is perhaps Lovecraft's most horrifying short piece of fiction, and a copy of the referenced infamous picture is included for the reader to view. "The Hound" is an effective if rather traditional horror tale, the annotations for which provide some important information on the French Decadents and other outre movements referenced in the story. "Cool Air" is one of the author's most recognized stories, and the notes stress the fact that the story was written before air conditioning made its way into housing units. "Pickman's Model" is still a disturbing read, even though the ending lacks the punch today it probably had in Lovecraft's time. The three real jewels of this collection are the seminal works "The Call of Cthulhu," "The Thing on the Doorstep," and "The Haunter of the Dark" (one of Lovecraft's final stories and one often given less attention than I feel it deserves). The annotations are very useful in a complex work such as "The Call of Cthulhu," but in many cases they seem forced, contrived, and tiresome. Much of the time, the notes simply define terms such as cyclopean or eldritch, point out obvious concepts and alternate spellings, and endlessly reference other notes in this and the first collection of annoted Lovecraft stories. Worst of all, this book has no table of contents, and one can only see for sure what stories are included by leafing through the pages of the text.
The comments on antiquarian concepts and literary references makes this book worthwhile, but I found it to be less enlightening than I expected. Most of the annotations are unfortunately useless or repetitive. Even the pictures included in these pages, largely of old churches and cemeteries, do not correspond exactly with Lovecraft's settings The many quotes from Lovecraft's letters are interesting, but the letters can and should be read in their entirety in order to avoid mistaken impressions due to missing context. The book is also afflicted with a number of typos, which is something I am sure Lovecraft himself would have railed against. What matters are Lovecraft's stories, when it comes right down to it, and this collection does include some (but certainly not all) of his best fiction. The annotations are welcome additions to the texts, but their usefulness varies widely from page to page.
Let us begin with the selection of tales. In the preceding volume we had such interesting tales as At the Mountains of Madness, The Colour out of Space, and The Rats in the Walls, but this follow-up (and I don't know if there's another planned sequel?) has stories that are, in my opinion, less impressionable, such as Herbert West - Reanimator, The Horror at Red Hook, The Thing on the Doorstep, and The Shunned House.
Sure enough, these tales, although not all of them equal in quality, are interesting for the Lovecraft scholar to see annotated, but I think it a just a tad too much of mediocrity for a single volume. Rather I'd seen The Whisperer in Darkness, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, or another long piece (the annotated Shadow over Innsmouth has been published by Necronomicon Press, and The Shadow out of Time's definitive text has only recently surfaced) supplemented by shorter works, as the case was with the first volume.
Another thing is that there are far less annotations than in its predescent, sometimes whole pages going by without any footnote. What is worse, is that some footnotes are totally unnecessary, oneliners, or explanations of words that one can glean from any good dictionary. Again, this is not necessarily bad, it's just that it would have been better had there been one or two thoroughly explored (major) tales, and some others as dessert.
Yet not all is lost. I still recommend this one as a must-have for the inclusion of The Haunter of the Dark, The Call of Cthulhu, and Pickman's Model, and more so for the additional photographs of the sites Lovecraft mentions than for the footnotes - if you're an above average reader of Lovecraft and Lovecraft studies you'll know most of the knowledge handed already anyway. And, let's face it, anything on Lovecraft that has been done by either Cannon or Joshi is worth buying for collector's sake.
The bottom line is: get it, but don't freak out with a joyous expectation of anything remotely as "The Annotated Lovecraft". It's okay, nothing more, certainly nothing less.