The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

The Lovecraft series continues with a brief look at his only true novel.

He wrote it as an experiment, and it was posthumously published in 1941.

Raw Feed (2005): The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, H. P. Lovecraft, 1927.277a820dd7a0f4d98d1dd010.L

Tim Powers, a Lovecraft fan, has said that he took his method of plot construction from H. P. Lovecraft’s letters. I’m not sure what specific story Lovecraft was talking about when mentioning his method, but, re-reading this story, I noticed that, like Powers, Lovecraft inserts historical characters in his story. Specifically, the figure of Captain Abraham Whipple who leads the raiding party on Joseph Curwen. The first times I read this novel, over twenty years ago, I didn’t know he was an historical figure, but I’ve since heard him talked about in the Revolutionary-era folk song “The Yankee Privateer”.

There are probably other historical figures (besides Judge Hathorne — a relation to Nathaniel Hawthorne) I didn’t recognize. 

This is still one of my favorite Lovecraft stories, and, like my most favorite, “The Colour Out of Space“, springs from 1927, a very productive year for Lovecraft.

It’s a very good mixing of Lovecraft’s antiquarian interests in 18th century America, gothic horror, and, with Yog-Sothoth, elements of the Cthulhu Mythos (which, of course, is not a concept Lovecraft himself used to organize his most famous stories) in a contemporary setting.


More reviews of Lovecraft related material are indexed at the Lovecraft page.

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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