H.P. Lovecraft’s Holiday Grab-Bag

The Evil People: edited by Peter Haining (1968) containing the following stories:

The Nocturnal Meeting by William Harrison Ainsworth; The Peabody Heritage by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth; The Witch’s Vengeance by William B. Seabrook; The Snake by Dennis Wheatley; Prince Borgia’s Mass by August Derleth; Secret Worship by Algernon Blackwood; The Devil-Worshipper by Francis C. Prevot; Archives of the Dead by Basil Copper; Mother of Serpents by Robert Bloch; Cerimarie by Arthur J. Burks; The Witch by Shirley Jackson; Homecoming by Ray Bradbury; Never Bet the Devil Your Head by Edgar Allan Poe.

Certainly not one of the prolific anthologist Peter Haining’s better efforts in the horror field, but nonetheless interesting and informative from a historical perspective. Many of the stories were little- or uncollected prior to their appearance here. The Evil People offers a survey of witchcraft and voodoo in Anglo-American literature over about a century.

Overt racism figures in several stories. There aren’t a lot of scares here, though it’s fascinating to see how witchcraft was depicted in some 19th-century stories and excerpts. Poe’s story is one of his comic trifles; the Derleth-Lovecraft ‘collaboration’ is one of those stories written by Derleth from a few notes scrawled by Lovecraft; Basil Copper’s story is strong right up to a fizzle of a climax. The Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, and Algernon Blackwood stories are all excellent. Recommended for historical purposes.

Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft and others; edited by Stephen Jones (2011), containing the following pieces by H.P. Lovecraft and others where indicated:

A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1917); Afterword: Lovecraft in Britain by Stephen Jones; Azathoth (1921); Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1919); Celephaïs (1922); Despair (1919); Ex Oblivione (1921); Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family(1920); The Festival (1925); Fungi from Yuggoth (1931); Hallowe’en in a Suburb (1926); He (1926); History of the Necronomicon (1938); Hypnos (1922); Ibid (1938); In a Sequester’d Providence Churchyard Where Once Poe Walk’d (1937); Memory (1923); Nathicana (1927); Nyarlathotep (2008); Poetry and the Gods (1920) by H. P. Lovecraft and Anna Helen Crofts; Polaris (1920) by H. P. Lovecraft; Psychopompos: A Tale in Rhyme (1919); Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927); The Alchemist (1916); The Ancient Track; The Beast in the Cave (1918); The Book (1938); The Challenge from Beyond (1935); The Crawling Chaos (1921) by Winifred V. Jackson and H. P. Lovecraft; The Descendant (1926); The Electric Executioner (1930) by H. P. Lovecraft and Adolphe de Castro; The Evil Clergyman (1939); The Festival (1925) by H. P. Lovecraft; The Green Meadow (1918) by Winifred V. Jackson and H. P. Lovecraft; The Horror at Martin’s Beach (1923) by H. P. Lovecraft and Sonia Greene; The House(1920); The Last Test (1928) by H. P. Lovecraft and Adolphe de Castro; The Messenger (1938); The Moon-Bog (1926); The Nightmare Lake (1919); The Other Gods (1933); The Picture in the House (1919); The Poe-et’s Nightmare (1918); The Quest of Iranon (1935); The Street (1920); The Temple (1925); The Terrible Old Man (1921); The Thing in the Moonlight (1934); The Tomb (1922); The Transition of Juan Romero (1919); The Trap (1932) by H. P. Lovecraft and Henry S. Whitehead; The Tree (1921); The Very Old Folk (1927); The White Ship (1925); The Wood (1929); Two Black Bottles (1927) by H. P. Lovecraft and Wilfred Blanch Talman; and What the Moon Brings (1922).

The second of Gollancz’s new line of H.P. Lovecraft collections for the British market covers a lot of ground among Lovecraft’s lesser-read works. There’s juvenalia, Dream-Cycle stories, collaborations, revisions, poems, and Lovecraft’s excellent critical-survey essay, “Supernatural Horror in LIterature.”

If the reader has already read Lovecraft’s better-known works from his later years as a writer, this book offers a far-ranging sample of his development as a writer. Some of the juvenalia is terrible, but all of it is at the very least interesting. And much of the poetry — especially the cosmic/comic “The Poe-et’s Nightmare” (1918) and the horror-poem cycle of sonnets, Fungi from Yuggoth (1930-31)  — is surprisingly good. Highly recommended to people who want more H.P. Lovecraft; lightly recommended to people who don’t know who H.P. Lovecraft is.

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