Sunday, January 18, 2009

H.P. Lovecraft's Book of Horror


When students or aficionados of the genre of horror discuss the classics of the field, there are certain short stories and novellas that always come up. Remarkably, most of these stories, while available on the web, have been hard to come by in books currently in print. No more. You have only to hurry down to the Bargain Books area of your local Barnes & Noble or bump your mouse over to Amazon and get yourself a copy of H.P. Lovecraft's Book of Horror. This is a remarkable collection that you can get for six or eight bucks or even less.
HPLBoH is a fat, 500 plus page hardback that collects such horror classics as Guy De Maupassant's The Horla, Ambrose Bierce's The Damned Thing, Robert W. Chambers' The Yellow Sign, Ralph Adams Cram's The Dead Valley, M.R. James' Count Magnus, and Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan. Plus a bunch of others, some of which I haven't read.
AND the book is kicked off by Lovecraft's definitive essay of the horror genre up until his lifetime, Supernatural Horror in Literature. In fact, the collection is based around that famous essay with the contents being drawn from the stories mentioned in the article. Thus the book title. It really is a book of stories that old H.P. probably would have edited into an anthology had he been given the chance.
I had been meaning to pick it up since seeing the book around Halloween, and after discovering that I no longer owned a hard copy of The Great God Pan (Which I wanted to re-read owing to Stephen King's story N. mentioned in a previous post.) I went out yesterday and bought the book.
This is a brand new edition, published in 2008, but originally published in the UK in 1993, so if you're a collector you might own the original. If you don't have it and are looking for some great, creepy reading, you can't go wrong with this one. My only warning is, DON'T read Lovecraft's essay before you read the stories in the book. He discusses the stories in the essay and often gives away important plot twists. Stories first. Essay last.

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