The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft and The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham, both edited by Leslie S. Klinger, could be considered the two most important books that Lovecraft’s acolytes must own, adepts and novices alike. Both of Klinger’s magnificent volumes guide readers through all things Lovecraft, elements that united to engender the creation of a new, divergent literary genrecosmic horror.
In this post modern literary era, proponents of Barthes and reader response theory truly believe that the author is dead, that the text should be examined on its own terms, through the reader’s glass, with no consideration for the author or his stated purpose. When a text is born, inarguably, it takes on a life of its own and should be analyzed as such. However, Lovecraft and his works should be exempt from these ideologies because he is the progenitor of cosmic horror, a genre like no other that astounds and entrances readers. The term may be unfamiliar to many, but without knowing it, most have read and enjoyed books or watched movies based on the conventions of cosmic horror.
The drive to research and analyze Lovecraft is irresistible, addictive.
In these two volumes, Klinger has done all the work for those hungry for information. It is obvious that he dedicated years to bring these two valuable texts to life.
The first volume focuses on Lovecraft’s Arkham cycle, which encompasses some of Lovecraft’s most beloved tales that take place in Arkham and surroundings such as Miskatonic University. It begins with a biographical section that reveals critical documentation of Lovecraft’s life and includes fascinating images that disclose personal information such as his marriage certificate, photos of his homes and family, and even maps of Arkham, hand drawn by Lovecraft himself.
Included are twenty-two of Lovecraft’s most beloved earlier stories, which are each introduced with publication data. All stories are thoroughly annotated with notes on historical information from Lovecraft’s era, including places, social beliefs, how particular language was used, and much more. The first volume ends with information on Lovecraftian horror that includes a list of movies based on Lovecraft’s works, a chronological table, a list of Miskatonic University faculty members, and a history of the Necronomicon. Amazingly, it also includes a photo of The History of the Necronomicon in Lovecraft’s own handwriting, a genealogy of the Elder Races, and Lovecraft in popular culture. At the end is a bibliography that will direct readers to many more credible research opportunities guaranteed to enable Lovecraftian enthusiasts to continue their journey of illumination.
The second volume takes up where the first left off with twenty-five post Arkham tales. At the end are four appendices. Notable, is the Gazetteer, which serves as an encyclopedia of Lovecraftian locations.
Every disciple of H.P. Lovecraft needs both of these huge, beautiful, encyclopedic volumes in their permanent library. The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft and The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham edited by Leslie S. Klinger come very highly recommended.
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