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H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America)

by H. P. Lovecraft

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1,0841513,712 (4.23)45
"This volume brings together 22 tales, the very best of Howard Phillips Lovecraft's fiction. Early stories such as "The Outsider," "The Music of Erich Zann," "Herbert West - Reanimator," and "The Lurking Fear" demonstrate Lovecraft's uncanny ability to blur the distinction between reality and nightmare, sanity and madness, the human and the non-human. "The Horror at Red Hook" and "He" reveal the fascination and revulsion Lovecraft felt for New York City; "Pickman's Model" uncovers the frightening secret behind an artist's work; "The Rats in the Walls" is a terrifying descent into atavistic horror; and "The Colour Out of Space" explores the eerie impact of a meteorite on a remote Massachusetts valley."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I read this volume long ago. I have since replaced it with a more comprehensive collection of Lovecraft's works. This seems like a cash-grab by Library of America, rather than a proper treatment of this writer's stories. You can find a cheaper, larger complete tales edition by Chartwell classics. It's 1112 massive pages compared to the 800 here. It claims completeness but contains fewer than 60 works. If you're like me, and feel the need to really read all of this man's unsettling stories, you will need to look elsewhere - there are many ebook editions with rare stories, letters and collaborations. In truth, Lovecraft wrote many thousands of letters and too many stories to bind in one volume, though his fame increases with time, his talent can be gleaned from a few clever and disturbing examples. You don't really need to worry about the clunkier, earlier tales.

Examining his sentences, dialogue or character choices are not necessarily a productive or enlightening exercise. But letting the stories wash over your unprepared mind, sinking into the whirling storm of imagery he conjures, and dreaming and revisiting the haunting, unimaginable dilemmas his stories continually present, is well worth the headache of trying to understand him as a writer, which very few probably ever will.

Like Poe, and Blackwood, Lovecraft is occasionally genuinely frightening. The uniquely thrilling aspects of his supernatural storytelling are often imitated but rarely equaled. Once you have savored the wonder and elegance of his most famous works, check out Clark Ashton Smith, who was a poet through and through and Arthur Machen, who took on the same subjects, but wrote more for aesthetic appreciation. There are a lot of purveyors of the weird these days, but Lovecraft may forever remain the king on the 'mountain of madness.' ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
Strange tales of strange things--but penguins grotesque? really. What is wrong with a person who describes penguins as grotesque? Now the giant blind albino penguins in the abyss, that's creepy, but ordinary penguins? Even plants seem to scare this guy--anything more undisciplined than a suburban lawn is described as overgrown.
  ritaer | Sep 30, 2018 |
I read this volume over the course of a couple winter months, just a little bit at a time, interspersed with lots of other things. If I hadn't, I might have found it a bit repetitive, as some motifs in Lovecraft's fiction tend to recur. As it was, while I noticed that, it didn't bother me. There are some truly great stories here: "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," "The Shadow over Innsmouth," &c. And the volume itself meets the always-high Library of America standards. One to keep on your shelves and dig back into on cold nights when you want the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up a little. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Feb 24, 2017 |
My husband got mock-annoyed with someone the other day. "She hasn't heard of Lovecraft," he said. "Now I can never talk to her again."

The thing is, Lovecraft is a difficult author to point to. You've only heard of him if you've heard of him. There's no quick and easy reference to him. "Oh, *you* know Lovecraft -- he wrote 'Blahdy-Blah'!"

I can hear the nerd screams from here. Yes, he created Cthulhu. Given that there doesn't even seem to be any agreement on how that's pronounced, I don't think you can blame anyone for not being familiar with it.

The fact is, Lovecraft's obscurity seems to be cherished by his deepest admirers. They *love* adoring The Important Writer Nobody Else Has Heard Of.

They also love how difficult Lovecraft is to explain, and how hard his work is to master. Yes, the man created a mythos all his stories and novellas fit into, no matter how well those stories stand on their own. But that mythos is terribly hard to get a handle on. The same shared universe houses the Old Ones and the Elder Gods, who are *not* the same people. There are Shoggoths, and there's Yog-Sothoth. If you want to have some fun, find a Lovecraft fan and say something about "Yog-Soggoth." He'll start bleeding from both eyeballs.

And yes, odds are this fan will be a he, because there's something very boyish about the adoration of Lovecraft. The monsters are slimy and creepy, Pluto is still a planet (and an important one!), and there's not the slightest breath of sexual tension. You'll find more women in Melville's entire body of work than you will in Lovecraft's -- and yes, I know I'm exaggerating, but not by much. Back off, nerds, or I'll start spoilering. Does Asenath even *count* as a female character, all things considered?

And there are the recurring words and phrases from Lovecraft's invented language -- "Cthulhu fhtagn!" "Ia! Ia!" Lovecraft makes a brilliant point that he's protesting against "the silly and childish habit of most weird and science-fiction writers, of having *utterly non-human entities* use a nomenclature *of thoroughly human character;* as if alien-organed beings could possibly have languages based on *human* vocal organs." Brilliant in theory. In practice, it looks like something Tolkien might have come up with if he got plastered one night at the typewriter.

Lovecraft is also difficult to read because, in spite of the fact that he was born in America in 1890 and died in 1937, his writing is so deliberately ornate and his prose so dense that he might have been writing a hundred years earlier. Yes, nerds, I *know* he did that on purpose. But it serves the purpose of weeding out the weak and leaving only the truly dedicated fans to worship at his altar.

This one's not so funny: The only thing more anachronistic than Lovecraft's carefully cultivated writing style is his unapologetic racism and xenophobia. Nerds, don't you *dare* try to pass this off as Lovecraft just being a product of his time. He was a Yankee. He wrote "The Rats in the Walls" in 1923. Are you seriously telling me that everybody thought it was fine and dandy to name a black cat "Nigger-Man," as he did in that story? You love the fact that he came up with the idea of Abdul Alhazred, the name of the man he'd later credit with writing the infamous Necronomicon, when he was only five years old; you don't get to skip the part where he wrote "De Triumpho Naturae: The Triumph of Nature over Northern Ignorance," an *anti-abolition*, white supremacist poem, when he was fifteen. In *1905,* a Northern teenager is writing a poem about what a shame it is we freed all those slaves? That's the wrong kind of creepy, is what that is.

So yes, I found much of this writing fascinating, and much of it difficult, for various reasons. That's as it should be.

This particular collection is a good one to start with -- not only is it a fine selection of many of his best-known and most important writings, but it includes a brief biography and a chronology of the most important events in Lovecraft's short, strange life.

Read it and see why I gave my husband a "Miskatonic University" T-shirt for Christmas, and why my son received one that says, "What Part Of 'Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn' Don't You Understand?" ( )
1 vote Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
A very handsome volume containig most of the highlights of HPL's horror writing, including two full-length novellas. Note there is not much of the Dream Cycle here, so you couldn't really call it the definitive Lovecraft collection, although it suits my tastes. ( )
  josh314 | Aug 16, 2014 |
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"This volume brings together 22 tales, the very best of Howard Phillips Lovecraft's fiction. Early stories such as "The Outsider," "The Music of Erich Zann," "Herbert West - Reanimator," and "The Lurking Fear" demonstrate Lovecraft's uncanny ability to blur the distinction between reality and nightmare, sanity and madness, the human and the non-human. "The Horror at Red Hook" and "He" reveal the fascination and revulsion Lovecraft felt for New York City; "Pickman's Model" uncovers the frightening secret behind an artist's work; "The Rats in the Walls" is a terrifying descent into atavistic horror; and "The Colour Out of Space" explores the eerie impact of a meteorite on a remote Massachusetts valley."--BOOK JACKET.

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