H. P. Lovecraft: Tales
Originally for Raw, New Things #14, 2/1/2005
|What an astonishing difference a single edition
makes. For Christmas, I received a copy of the Library of America volume Tales of
H.P. Lovecraft. One of my friends had read a positive review of it in the Boston Globe,
and knowing of my interest in Lovecraft, got it for me.
This isn't my first Library of America volume; two years ago, I received a copy of Dashell Hammet's work from the same publisher. The book is well put together, although the paper feels a little flimsy to me. The binding is solid, however, and nothing says class' like a bound-in ribbon to mark your pages. I was extremely gratified to see that the book contains the recovered version of "Shadow Out of Time," as well as the Joshi-corrected versions of all the available stories. It's a good, solid edition of Lovecraft's work.
What is absolutely arresting about the volume is how much attention it has gathered. I
have seen positive reviews of it in such pop-culture mainstays as Salon.com, the Weekly
Standard, the Boston Globe, and even the Wall Street Journal. Where have these glowing
reviews been hiding? It is simply that a new generation has been introduced to Lovecraft,
or is it that he is coming out from the supposed shadow of small' publishers?
Whatever the cause, I am happy to see this new edition,. And am extremely pleased to see
the that Lovecraft is making his way further and further into the mainstream.
This of course leads me to wonder why. Lovecraft has been around for some time, even by major publishers; Doubleday has issued virtually all of Lovecraft in paperback, and Arkham House has been issuing his work for years in hardcover. Joshi's annotated editions and the Penguin editions, why have they been overlooked while the Library of America holds such great weight? Is it fact that it's hardcover, or the simple cover illustration, a photo of Lovecraft on simple black, so different from the lurid covers on the Doubleday books? This edition and the subsequent attention and legitimacy of study that it has brought to Lovecraft has been something our esteemed Mr. Joshi has been working on for years. While I do not wish to look that gift horse in the mouth, I wonder why it is that this particular edition of stories that are already commonly available, suddenly gets notice.