Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hodgson and Lovecraft on the Net

One blog I keep up with is william hope hodgson, a site dedicated to Hodgson's life and writing, being as I am a great admirer of said author's work.

I first discovered it through The Night Land Website, begun by the late Andy Robertson and maintained at its new home by Kate Coady. This latter is a kind of Internet shrine, a wonderful source of information and speculation regarding The Night Land, and host to short fiction in the Hodgson mythos. Among other things, it features a really cool timeline.

I was saddened by Mr. Robertson's passing, for, though I didn't know him personally, I enjoyed his site and appreciated the devotion it represented. I actually submitted a short piece for his consideration only days before his departure. I'm grateful that his tribute to a great but largely unknown work of literature lives on.

What prompted this post was the news on the aforementioned blog that a 1924 letter of H. P. Lovecraft's was found at the Harry Ransom Center (UT Austin), which I happened to visit a few times when I was in school there. It's quite a read – scanned images of the entire letter, typed on hotel stationery, are posted at the HRC website – and divulges (in his prolix style) HPL's candid thoughts on the state of weird and "phantastical" fiction, the craft of writing, and the lack of imagination in the average American reader and writer.
Actually, the typical reader has very little true taste; and judges by absurd freaks, sentimentalities, and analogies. So it has come to be an accepted tradition that American fiction is not an art but a trade---a thing to be learnt by rule by almost anybody, and demanding above all else a complete submergence of one's own personality and thought in the general stream of conventional patterns which correspond to the bleakly uniform view of life forced on us by mediocre leadership. Success therefore comes not to the man of genius, but to the clever fellow who knows how to catch the public point of view and play up to it. Glittering tinsel reputations are built up, and dumb driven hundreds of otherwise honest plumbers take correspondence courses and try to be like these scintillant "great ones" whose achievements are really no more than charlatanry. Such is our fictional situation---indiscriminate hordes of writers, mostly without genius, striving by erroneous methods toward a goal which is erroneous to start with!
No, tell us how you really feel, Mr. Lovecraft! He goes on to praise A. Merritt's The Moon Pool, a book I remember fairly fondly, though I haven't read it in a long time. Anyway, I always find a writer's musings on their own craft – even (and perhaps especially) the very practical aspects – more illuminating than any criticism. All in all an interesting read for anyone into that period and vein of literature.

Perhaps sometime I'll post my Night Land story here or hawk it on Amazon, seeing as there's not a huge demand for wordy Hodgson-mythos fanfic in the mags these days. I've written two so far, actually, the latter being a tale set in the days when cities moved across the earth, following the sun. That one has made it to second rounds of consideration, so it can't be that bad.

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