Schweitzer and Lovecraft on Hodgson

There still are a lot of William Hope Hodgson stories I’ll be looking at as well as Hodgson criticism. However, I’m mostly taking stuff in the way I read it.

These are both in The William Hope Hodgson Megapack.51GClMcTj+L._SY346_

The first, “A Note About Hodgson”, is from author and critic Darrell Schweitzer.

He justifiably says going to sea gave

Hodgson the formative experience of his life, and surely contributed to the sense of vastness, solitude, and cosmic strangeness found in his best work.

Schweitzer argues that Hodgson still has no peer “or even serious challenger” for writing the creepiest sea horror stories. Schweitzer talks briefly about Hodgson’s novels, the Carnacki stories, and regards “The Derelict” and “The Voice in the Night” as two of his most notable stories. He thinks that, given that Hodgson was turning to short stories, many of them not supernatural, when he died that, if he hadn’t have been killed in World War I, he would have become a “pulp generalist”. He concludes by stating that Hodgson is like Arthur Machen or David Lindsay – writers whose works are not particularly popular but “because of their utter uniqueness” refuse to die.

H. P. Lovecraft’s “Notes on Hodgson” is taken from his Supernatural Horror in Literature. He calls Hodgson’s style uneven but sometimes powerful. While he thinks Hodgson had a tendency “toward conventionally sentimental conceptions of the universe, and of man’s relation to it”, only Algernon Blackwood matches him in describing “unreality”.

Lovecraft, of course, called the eighteenth-century style of Hodgson’s The Boats of the “Glen Carig” “inaccurate and pseudo-romantic”. However, he thought the “nautical erudition” made up for it.

The House on the Borderland is “perhaps” Hodgson’s greatest work according to Lovecraft though having “touches of commonplace sentimentally” which prevent it from being “a classic of the first water”.

Lovecraft thought Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates reached “enviable peaks of power”, and he appreciated the hints and suggestions of the “latent horror in nature”.

Regarding The Night Land, Lovecraft thought it told in “a rather clumsy fashion” and

seriously marred by painful verboseness, repetitiousness, artificial and nauseously sticky romantic sentiment, and an attempt at archaic language even more grotesque and absurd than that in “Glen Carig”.

Still, he thought it “one of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written”. He thought it had “cosmic alienage, breathless mystery, and terrified expectancy”. He felt the last quarter of the novel dragged.

Lovecraft didn’t like Hodgson’s Carnacki stories much though admitted a few had “undeniable power”.

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