H. P. Lovecraft: A Life

The Lovecraft series continues with a look at S. T. Joshi’s biography of that writer.

Joshi has expanded this 708 page book into 1,200 pages with the updated edition called I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m going to do my wrists a favor, when I do, and get the kindle edition.

Raw Feed (2005): H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, S. T. Joshi, 1996, 2004.H P Lovecraft A Life

Joshi is such a concise writer that it would do little good to sum up all the points of interest in this book’s 655 pages of text, and some it, expectedly, repeats Joshi’s H. P. Lovecraft and H. P. Lovecraft:  The Decline of the West. Since Joshi sums up all of Lovecraft’s fiction including some of his most important revisions, I think this book comes about as close as you can get to a one volume introduction to Lovecraft without reading his work.

He gives brief summaries of Lovecraft’s most important correspondents and professional contacts, the magazines he published in, and other matters related to Lovecraft’s interests, life, and times.

Granted, some of this gets a bit far afield.

Is it really necessary to give a summary of Antarctic exploration when mentioning Lovecraft’s interest in it even though it is, of course, relevant to his “At the Mountains of Madness“?

Still, I learned a lot about Lovecraft. Continue reading

Is Death His Only Character?: Edmund Wilson and Ambrose Bierce

In any case, it is certainly true, not only that, as has been said by Clifton Fadiman, Death itself is Bierce’s favorite character, but that, except in The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter, a rewriting of a story by someone else, Death may perhaps be said to be Ambrose Bierce’s only real character.

That’s from American literary critic Edmund Wilson’s “Ambrose Bierce on the Owl Creek Bridge” from his Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War. After hearing Wilson’s remark repeated so often, I decided to actually read the essay.

“Death may perhaps be said” is a weaselly phrase because “perhaps” is a weasel-word. “Death may perhaps be said to not be” is equally true if no weight of probability is assigned to that “perhaps”.

But I will agree that death is an obsession with Bierce.  Continue reading