Despite the odd splinter of racist nonsense, HP Lovecraft’s seminal study of horror literature is pretty damn good, and one of the most thorough examinations of its time.
This is Lovecraft, so the text is not without the odd bruise of purple prose, but this is a nice and not too cloying touch that marks the essay as his own and, importantly, doesn’t get in the way of the information he is relaying to the reader. In fact, if anything, the subject matter on offer here welcomes HP’s sparing flourishes.
In ST Joshi’s introduction to this edition, explains that Lovecraft’s catalogue of horror writers from antiquity to (his) present inevitably left some names and works out, and that his knowledge in some areas is a little scant. But for all the supposed omissions or oversights here, this is still a text that leaves the reader buzzing with the possibilities of further reading, and a lot of it. Well-known writers like Poe, Machen and Blackwood are given equal airtime along with names I’d not heard of before, like Herbert Gorman and Leonard Cline. I finished the essay with a long list of names and stories to chase up. This edition also has a lengthy appendix of notes and an enormous bibliography of all the authors and works Lovecraft mentions.
A necessity for both fans of horror and those new to the genre.