Monday, June 14, 2010

The "Lovecraft Legend" circa 1944

From whence doth the "legendary Lovecraft" arise? A mere seven years after Lovecraft's death, the world had changed. Scientifiction was beginning to dominate the amateur (FAPA) fiction imagination of teenagers and college kids. Lovecraft was beginning to be marginalized, as was horror in general, except for the prodding by folks like Derleth and Starrett, each with their own subtle business agendas. One assumes that Derleth fed Starrett some material, and Starrett on his own waxed eloquently (propagandized?) about the legendary aspects of Mr. Lovecraft spinning some truth and some suspicious exaggerations. Even today, these ideas of Lovecraft being invalid, pasty-faced, night-stalking, Poeesque, and self-posing-in-periwig are rampant over 65 years later. A recent auction on the Ebayeum showed that fans circulated these items in the golden era (early 1940's) of scientifiction.

From a 1944 Fanzine named "Walt's Wramblings". (Walt Daugherty, Los Angeles, d. 2007).
About H. P..Lovecraft

The following is a culling from Vincent Starrett's column, ‘Books Alive’, which appears in the book section of the Chicago Tribune.
He died in Providence, R. I, on March 15, 1937, one of the strangest figures in American literature. If there ware any mystery about the facts In the life of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, which there is not, a plausible solution night relate him in some queer way to Edgar Allan Poe, whose pupil ho was, altho {Starrett's not Walt's sic}he was born 40 years after Poe’s death. It is simpler to say that temperamentally, he was endowed to carry on the Poe tradition and did so, with single minded devotion and artistic integrity for a quarter of a century; then he died, aged 47, and became a legend and a cult. He may end --- who knows? --- as a solar myth.

Lovecraft, a semi-invalid, a recluse, and an antiquarian, was until his death America’s premier fantasist in the field of the macabre. Thousands of readers of’ "Weird Tales" ad similar occult fiction magazines know his work and believe it to be a work of genius. No book by him was published in his lifetime, but since his death two have appeared, edited and produced by his friends, August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, under the imprint of Arkham House -- a private publishing venture, inaugurated, in the first instance, solely to publish the complete writings of H. P. Lovecraft. A trilogy was planned, the second volume of which has just appeared – "Beyond the Wall of Sleep." An earlier volume of tales, 'The Outsider and Others," is still available, I believe, and a third volume of Lovecraft’s lettors to his friends is now preparing. When the task is completed, the three handsome books will mark as notable a tribute to friendship as the history of our letters can offer. Arkham House is situated at Sauk City, Wis., under the broad Balzacian brow of August Derleth.

His Most Fantastic Creation

In his introductions, Derleth speaks of Lovecraft as "the late great master of horror stories," and nobody is likely to dispute the characterization. Readers who revel in Poe and Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, and Algernon Blackwood are pretty certain to like the charnel fairy tales of Howard Lovecraft. But to me Lovecraft himself is even more interesting than his stories; he was his own most fantastic creation -- a Roderick Usher or C. August Dupin born a century too late. Like his heroes in Poe’s gigantic nightmare, he fancied himself as a cadaverous, mysterious figure of the night—a pallid, scholarly necrologist --and cultivated a natural resemblance until it was almost the real thing, although he was first and last a "literary cove". Like Dupin he created the illusion of darkness, when appeared, by drawing down his shades and turning on the electric lights, and he ended up looking rather like the sepulchral hero of "The Fall of the House of Usher".
But if Lovecraft was a self-conscious poseur, a macabre precieuse, he was genuine too, his poses never had any relation to commercial success, which he didn’t achieve, and there is no question about the sincerity of his artistry. In his field he was important. He pretended to be modest and deprecatory about his work ,and perhaps he was; but I have no doubt ho ram a considerable egotist in reverse. He wrote himself - as Poe did - into many of his tales describing himself carefully and accurately in the haggard, romantic portraits he drew of his central figures.

A Mechanistic Marterialist

His major premise is best described in his own words: "All my stories … are based on the fund{amental lore or legend that this world was inhabited at one time by other races who, in practising black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside ever ready to take possession of this earth again." Did he believe that? I don't know - he claimed to be a mechanistic materialist - and probably the …

[The remainder of this text was found on Google Books to this ending point. More is as yet unobtainable to me. – CP] }
In 1942 Starrett began a weekly column, "Books Alive," He retired from The Chicago Tribune in 1967 after 25 years. // Walter Daugherty was a stalwart in Los Angeles circa 1944, and perhaps his most notorius legend was a "firefight" with a contemporary Larry T Shaw with their "apazines" speaking in terms, " To Hell with You, Larry T. Shaw" and " Rats Will Eat You, Walter J. Daugherty"; a not unusual circumstance of that era – much less today's internet forums! He was an associate with Ackerman from the 1950's in his Monster Magazine. He died circa June 2007 at age 90.


Lady Lovecraft said...

I love how you keep coming up with these rare bits and pieces!
"Interesting" ideas there, to say the least ... Thanks for sharing!

Will Errickson said...

"...a pallid, scholarly necrologist..."

Oh, how I yearned in my youth to be such as this! Great stuff here.


Blog Archive


Google Analytics