Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Own a Piece of Christian Johnson's Library -- Free Lovecraft Book

In a Cinerati first, I am going to offer free of charge to our blog fans a piece of Christian Johnson's library. From time to time I will be offering, free of charge, to Cinerati readers -- on a first come first serve basis -- overstock from my book collection. As many of you know, I read a lot of books. Some good...some bad. But reading a lot of books also means that I accumulate a lot of books. Sure I am donating some to my local library, but I would also like to share a limited few with people who I have tangential connections to.

So without further ado, the first book to be offered on Cinerati is The Annotated Lovecraft. I have two copies of this book and one of them needs to go.

The Annotated Lovecraft is a collection of some of H.P. Lovecraft's most famous tales edited by Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi. The book contains useful and enlightening annotations and benefits from Joshi's love of the material. Joshi's hard work in promoting scholarly research and weird writing is something that I deepley appreciate, but his disdain for the "Cthulhu Mythos" phenomenon is one that I take issue with. To quote:

Nor need we rehash the sorry story of the "Cthulhu Mythos," which (thanks largely to Derleth's rabid enthusiasm) took on a life of its own...

Joshi's own atheism, he has written books on the subject, seems to have made him overlook certain influences into Lovecraft's mythology. This is not to say that atheism isn't the best lens to look at Lovecraft, it is, rather that Joshi's particular atheism has made him overlook certain aspects in the fiction. Chief is the influence that Lucretius and the Epicurians had upon Lovecraft's mythos. As Bertrand Russell points out in his "Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?," Lucretian Epicurianism is no friend to religion, but Epicurianism does have a kind of representation of the gods.

Epicurian "gods" are described as living inter mundia (in the spaces between universes) and Lovecraft and his friends often describe the "Mythos" characters as living "in the spaces between the stars." Not to mention the underlying elemental nature of Epicurian "theology" as witnessed in Lucretius' "De Rerum Natura." Derleth got his concept of the elemental nature of the "gods" from somewhere, but Derleth (like Joshi ignores the elemental connection) ignored the lesson from "Mountains of Madness" that the gods aren't really gods.

All of this is neither hear nor there for the collection, which is wonderful, or for Joshi's contribution, which is significant.

This volume includes the following stories:

Rats in the Walls -- Lovecraft's most Poe-esque piece (other than "The Stranger")
The Colour out of Space
The Dunwich Horror
At the Mountains of Madness
and his essay on Weird Fiction.

If you want it, just leave a comment and email me where to ship it. If you want to reimburse me shipping that's fine, but not necessary. I might, just might, request that you post about the book.

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