Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H. P.…

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1941)

by H.P. Lovecraft

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Randolph Carter tales (5; mentioned)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,080137,736 (3.89)33
  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.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 33 mentions

English (9)  German (2)  French (2)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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 |
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is the latest magisterial Lovecraftian publication from the University of Tampa Press. What connection could a Florida university have with a staunch Rhode Islander like HPL? Interestingly, RH Barlow of De Land, FL was a correspondent and friend of HPL who served as his literary executor. UT Press has made a small industry of publishing Lovecraftiana, including A Comprehensive Bibliography and Oh, Fortunate Floridian (the letters of HPL to RH Barlow). A major player in these publications has been ST Joshi, the eminent Lovecraft scholar, who edits these books. As you might guess, the content has been more of interest to readers fascinated with HPL’s life, with scholars and with collectors, rather than to general readers. Well, it is a university press!

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is their latest foray into Lovecraftian publishing. TCOCDW was written very quickly in 1927 and HPL never really made efforts to have it published during his lifetime. There are several reasons why it now merits an urgent recommendation. The production is simply wonderful. I have the hardcover and it is simply a beautiful book to behold. The editing is by ST Joshi and we may safely consider this to be a definitive edition, superseding all others. There are copious notes on the text by Mr. Joshi which do a wonderful job of keeping everything in its proper context. You can read the novel through but it helped me immensely to stop and refer to the notes. We then have a marvelous afterward by Mr. Joshi. Not only is it very scholarly but it is also quite readable, as interesting it its own right as the text itself. Finally we have the crowning glory of the book, a series of photographs of buildings from Lovecraft’s Providence by Donovan K. Loucks. For those of us not lucky enough to have trod the streets of Providence in the footsteps of HPL and Poe, these add immeasurably to the reading experience. I cannot imagine a better way to experience The Case of Charles Dexter Ward; anyone who is a serious Lovecraftian simply must have a copy.

Now of course I could wish for one more thing and that would have been a street map of Providence with these locations marked out, and perhaps a map of greater Providence with neighboring towns indicated. Well I looked them up online myself and I guess I can’t be too greedy.

The fly in the ointment of course, is HPL’s text itself, which even he did not have high regard for. For idle dabblers and or those new to Lovecraft, TCOCDW is not the place to start. I remember reading a version of the text at age 14 and it did not leave any sort of favorable impression, what with all the references to colonial Rhode Island that made no sense to me then. I got lost in a salad of words and names. Even today I find it almost to be a caricature of HPL’s writing. It can be viewed as a stepping stone on his way to his greater masterpieces, a sort of farewell to supernatural fiction and a turning towards science fiction. I read it as a personal love letter from HPL to Providence with a horror story thrown in.

At the very least, the paperback is none too expensive and The University of Tampa Press has given us a model of how all of HPL’s works should be presented. I can only hope for more wonders from this source. ( )
4 vote carpentermt | Jan 17, 2011 |
This is my favorite Lovecraft story. I like the slow, careful build-up, the prose and the sense of creeping horror. And I liked the fact that in this story, at least, the good guys (using the word guy loosely) won.
  xenchu | Apr 23, 2010 |
That's definitely the creepiest of the creepiest stories of all time! Here Lovecraft used all his talent to freak all his readers with a diabolic scheme filled with a frightful environment full of madness! Here the main character has discovered through Joseph Curwen's manuscripts (An ancient resident involved with macabre subjects) some obscurities of the underworld. The more he gets involved with those things, the more he changes in a queer and sinister way. All the facts about the terrible deeds of Mr. Curwen and Charles’s insane behavior are described step by step by a third person (Charles's doctor, Mr. Willett).

Lovecraft doesn't used to write long stories, but he made it perfectly. I grant this as a masterpiece and it’s the best of his works I ever read! ( )
  lsepulveda | Mar 31, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» 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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
From a private hospital for the insane near Providence, Rhode Island, there recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is for books that contain The Case of Charles Dexter Ward as their complete contents.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary


Fine blueish-grey dust!


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)

(see all 3 descriptions)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.89)
0.5 2
1 4
1.5 2
2 4
2.5 4
3 52
3.5 20
4 107
4.5 11
5 64


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 107,464,420 books! | Top bar: Always visible