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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In the Mountains of Madness

A month or two ago I took in an advance review copy of In the Mountains of Madness, a biography/cultural study of H.P. Lovecraft. I also took a look at the work in its final form. I noted few differences between the two versions, other than a few spelling corrections. The book has a few good points; it's adequate as a basic account of Lovecraft's life. But Poole's study contains numerous flaws.

   The ideas and writing are frequently inane, derivative, or poorly-researched. With reference to the movement which succeeded in vanquishing Gahan Wilson's Lovecraft-figure trophy bust from the World Fantasy Convention awards, Poole writes: The petition further urged that the award, in a symbolic move, replace Lovecraft's head with that of Octavia Butler, an African American writer that any objective observer would describe as one of the greatest fantasy and horror writers of the twentieth century, one whose work in many respects exceeds the boundaries of genre.

   Come on now, the bar's set pretty low here. A fantasy and horror writer? A cursory web search reveals that Butler was a science fiction writer, not a "fantasy and horror writer." And just how is this assessment of her "objective?"

   Here's another questionable statement: "He (Lovecraft) did not call the suicide hotlines that did not exist in 1904." What is the reason for mentioning something so banal and obvious, in such a contorted manner? Other dubious segments of the book include a forced attempt to define Lovecraft as an earlier practitioner of gaming, and a strange statement concerning the possible future cult status of the prose poem "Nyarlathotep."

   In total, the book is a curious exercise, lacking in useful insights.


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