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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H. P.…
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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1941)

by H.P. Lovecraft

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Randolph Carter tales (5; mentioned)

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1,137167,196 (3.89)33
Recently added byRoman666, sturmer, Syndelle777, misaelgmx, private library
Legacy LibrariesTim Spalding
  1. 10
    The Haunted and the Haunters by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Lovecraft's Curwen is reminiscent of the ageless villain in Bulwer-Lytton.
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» See also 33 mentions

English (12)  German (2)  French (2)  All (16)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Lovecraft's only full-length novel (though a short one) and a classic of the genre. It falls just short of masterpiece due to a slightly prosaic feel that never quite attains the scope of something like At the Mountains of Madness and the Shadow Out of time, to name two of his other longer works. Which isn't necessarily a criticism per se since it's a different type of story, more in common with the works of Poe and Hawthorne than Hodgson or Blackwood. It's simply that I prefer his more cosmically themed work, and feel that Lovecraft excelled more strongly in that area. Tales of witchcraft and the occult were hardly new, even in Lovecraft's day, and had already been attempted by bigger-name writers than himself.

The novel isn't without its high points, of course: for one, a strong evocation of place that includes more than a few semi-autobiographical details, as well as a good deal of authentic New England folklore and history, all of which add a richness to the tale that raises it above his other works of this ilk. There are also some magnificently eerie moments such as the doctor's exploration of the abandoned catacombs, as well as a surprisingly rousing action scene early in the book. Unfortunately some recurring Lovecraft faults are also present: a rather too credulous and naive set of characters, an over-reluctance to reveal a particular twist long after said twist should have become blindingly apparent to everyone concerned, and a somewhat fuzzy main threat that's just a little too ill-defined to be truly terrifying.

Taken as a whole, though, I found The Case of Charles Dexter Ward to be a gripping and well-wrought tale of New England witchcraft, worth reading as much for its autobiographical content as its merits as a horror tale. ( )
  StuartNorth | Nov 19, 2016 |
Lovecraft's only full-length novel (though a short one) and a classic of the genre. It falls just short of masterpiece due to a slightly prosaic feel that never quite attains the scope of something like At the Mountains of Madness and the Shadow Out of time, to name two of his other longer works. Which isn't necessarily a criticism per se since it's a different type of story, more in common with the works of Poe and Hawthorne than Hodgson or Blackwood. It's simply that I prefer his more cosmically themed work, and feel that Lovecraft excelled more strongly in that area. Tales of witchcraft and the occult were hardly new, even in Lovecraft's day, and had already been attempted by bigger-name writers than himself.

The novel isn't without its high points, of course: for one, a strong evocation of place that includes more than a few semi-autobiographical details, as well as a good deal of authentic New England folklore and history, all of which add a richness to the tale that raises it above his other works of this ilk. There are also some magnificently eerie moments such as the doctor's exploration of the abandoned catacombs, as well as a surprisingly rousing action scene early in the book. Unfortunately some recurring Lovecraft faults are also present: a rather too credulous and naive set of characters, an over-reluctance to reveal a particular twist long after said twist should have become blindingly apparent to everyone concerned, and a somewhat fuzzy main threat that's just a little too ill-defined to be truly terrifying.

Taken as a whole, though, I found The Case of Charles Dexter Ward to be a gripping and well-wrought tale of New England witchcraft, worth reading as much for its autobiographical content as its merits as a horror tale. ( )
  StuartNorth | Nov 19, 2016 |
A master of infered horror. ( )
  jefware | Sep 29, 2016 |
very entertaining and not too much Lovecraftian ambiguity. Recommend. ( )
  DianaFord | Jan 5, 2016 |
“There is about certain outlines and entities a power of symbolism and suggestion which acts frightfully on a sensitive thinker's perspective and whispers terrible hints of obscure cosmic relationships and unnameable realities behind the protective illusions of common vision.”That little passage explains why Lovecraft’s characters often go mad at the mere sight of blasphemous eldritch monstrosities from beyond; something I often wondered about. It is also a fine example of his penchant for convoluted sentence structures.

When I read [b:At the Mountains of Madness|32767|At the Mountains of Madness|H.P. Lovecraft|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388341769s/32767.jpg|17342821] I felt that Lovecraft is preferable in smaller doses, that is when his stories are not novel length. It seems that when he gives himself room with the novel format he overindulges his tendency to ramble, overwrite and include unnecessary details. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward reinforces this impression to me.

This is basically about an undead necromancer called Joseph Curwen who is foolishly resurrected by his descendent the eponymous Charles Dexter Ward through evocations, and other black magic shenanigans. Curwen of course wrecks all kinds of havoc because you don’t come back to life via black magic to do charity work.

One thing I noticed about reading Lovecraft is that the creepy atmosphere is more effective if you read the stories in a quiet room, unfortunately I read this book in a living room while family members are watching TV and it rendered the creep factor completely ineffective. I also find the depiction of Curwen’s early life fairly mundane and less than riveting. The usual Lovecraftian tropes are all accounted for, the awful smells, the creepy noises, the creaking, the screaming and what not. The “unmentionable” Necronomicon by Mad Paula Abdul Alhazred is of course mentioned. Poor Cthulhu does not get a look in though his cousin Yog-Sothoth is often referred to.

Lovecraft’s idiosyncratic prose style can be both entertaining and frustrating. As I mentioned before he is more readable in short story format. At novel length he often repeats himself with the description of funny smells, funny noises etc. The faux-archaic English passages are also hard to decipher. The climax of the story is unexpected though, it makes the whole thing almost worthwhile. I also particularly like this passage: “It was a godless sound; one of those low-keyed, insidious outrages of Nature which are not meant to be. To call it a dull wail, a doom-dragged whine, or a hopeless howl of chorused anguish and stricken flesh without mind would be to miss its quintessential loathsomeness and soul-sickening overtones.”He could have been reviewing a Justine Bieber album here.

Not my favorite Lovecraft book then, the very best of Lovecraft is to be found in
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre
. Exactly what it says on the tin. The perfect Halloween read.

( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (62 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lovecraft, H.P.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blommestein, Bob vanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, IanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Niessen-Hossele, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From a private hospital for the insane near Providence, Rhode Island, there recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person.
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Book description
Incantations of black magic unearthed unspeakable horrors in a quiet town near Providence, Rhode Island. Evil spirits are being resurrected from beyond the grave, a supernatural force so twisted that it kills without offering the mercy of death!
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"OGTHROD AI'F GEB'L-EE'H

YOG-SOTHOTH 'NGAH'NG AI'Y ZHRO!"

Fine blueish-grey dust!

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345354907, Mass Market Paperback)

Incantations of black magic unearthed unspeakable horrors in a quiet town near Providence, Rhode Island. Evil spirits are being resurrected from beyond the grave, a supernatural force so twisted that it kills without offering the mercy of death!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:43 -0400)

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