Two thirds of the Facts Providence team – Alexx Kay and Joe Linton – will be talking about Providence this Saturday August 22 on Zoom. The free event Celebremos Juntos el Cumpleanos 130 de H.P. Lovecraft and is hosted by Latin American Lovecraft enthusiast group En la Noche de los Tiempos (The Shadow Out of Time.) Continue reading
In October 2016, Alan Moore penned a new introduction to a high-end Lovecraft collection published by the Folio Society. The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories, edited by S. T. Joshi and illustrated by Dan Hillier, is available now. The collector’s edition costs a mere $125, with a 750-copy limited edition available for $575.
Below are a couple of excerpts from Moore’s 7-page introduction:
In my own case late childhood infatuation had, by my self-conscious middle teens, been tempered by increasing unease and abhorrence with regard to Lovecraft’s politics and many prejudices. Less defensibly, I had been cowed by the authoritative critical pronouncements of such disapproving commentators as both Wilsons – haughty Edmund and iconoclastic Colin – and in viewing Lovecraft through their unforgiving lens perceived him as merely a clumsy writer, burdening each clause with adjectives and archaisms, far too fond of indescribability, of final paragraphs delivered in a hyperventilating torrent of bug-eyed italics. Later, on the slopes of young adulthood and perhaps more confident in my opinions, I reread his storied and revised my view to one that once more favourable and more condescending. I saw Lovecraft now as a wild talent, one whose genius lay in transmitting his own sense of overwhelming cosmic terror to his audience despite his literary limitations. Not until embarking on a sixth decade that Lovecraft, for all his senescent affectations, would not reach did I revisit those steep lanes and jutting steeples, armed with vital insights gleaned from the continually expanding field of Lovecraft scholarship, only to find the fiercely individual and innovative prose stylist that I’d previously failed to see.
His general xenophobia was of course still present, along with his poorly reasoned and romantic veneration of the English aristocracy, but those could be viewed with greater understanding (albeir not greater sympathy) in the revealing context of his place and time and circumstances. Lovecraft’s supposed literary defects, on the other hand, turned out upon closer inspection either not to exist or to be misapprehended virtues. The most serious abuse of adjectives and repetition of last-paragraph italics are not in fact to be found in Lovecraft’s work but in that of his devotee and ‘posthumous collaborator’ August Derleth, who, while almost singlehandedly responsible for keeping his late mentor’s name alive, would with his clumsy ventriloquial interventions do much to delay his hero’s literary recognition, turning passing quirks into compulsive cliches. In Lovecraft’s own narratives the adjectives extended in pursuit of that which is beyond description ultimately stand exposed as an ingenious strategy disorienting and unsettling the reader by giving a list of entities that Great Cthulhu doesn’t much resemble, or declaring that the Colour out of Space is only a color ‘by analogy’. On examination, Lovecraft’s touted flaws seem instead to be careful tactical considerations.
The deployment of archaic vocabulary – Domdanie, nepenthe, eidolon and necrophagous, a sesquipedalian torrent – looks on second glance like an attempt to make the very medium that he expressed his stories through, the English language itself, into something creepy, unfamiliar and alienating.
The penultimate issue of Providence came out yesterday, and it is a reference-packed tour de force taking the narrative from Black’s 1919 to the present day. Eagle-eyed readers can spot “The Dunwich Horror,” “The Horror at Red Hook,” “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” “The Thing at the Doorstep”, Robert E. Howard, William Burroughs, Clark Ashton Smith and much, much more. There are also plenty of ties to Moore and Burrows’ The Courtyard and Neonomicon.
The Facts Providence team has first-run-through Providence #11 annotations up. Site authors and readers will continue to review, update and add details. Look them over and let us know if there are things we got wrong or missed.
By Edward Saul
Excitement abounds for we enthusiasts of Alan Moore, HP Lovecraft and Weird Fiction, as the crashing denouement to Providence looms overhead. Considering that the exact release date for Providence #11, let alone #12, is aptly unknowable, now is the prime time for speculation. Such speculation should not, of course, be limited merely to theorizing on what happens next, but could also stretch to the overall motives and meanings behind the series, and how that might predict what happens next.
This can be logical and precise, based on the evidence presented; those of us eagle-eyed readers, for instance, had by the release issue #3 or #4 realized that Prof. Alvarez’s comparison of Robert Black with that other Herald reporter who found Dr. Livingstone was subtly foreshadowing Black’s inevitable encounter with Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Equally, it is also possible that such theories become outlandish, echoing the excesses of 9/11 truthers in their drawing together of thick black lines between distant, disparate dots. Or, rarely, there might be a happy medium between the two.
I put it to you, fellow readers: Providence isn’t just about Lovecraft, his fiction, its meanings and its impact. It’s also a riposte to True Detective Season 1.
Stay with me here.
There is an excellent two-part interview with Alan Moore up at the Someone Who Isn’t Me podcast hosted by Daniel P. Carter. Alan Moore completists will be interested in listening to the entire interview: part 1 and part 2. Moore discusses consciousness, Jerusalem, magic, the Northhampton Arts Lab and much more. It includes quite a bit on H.P. Lovecraft, and even a reveal of some of what is in Providence #11.
In part 1 (minute 34:15) Moore describes the leap from pre-linguistic awareness into modern human consciousness, which he calls “the entire haunted palace” echoing the Edgar Allen Poe story The Haunted Palace which lends its title to Providence #10.
Carter: I’m going through Providence at the moment. It’s made me go back and read Lovecraft again, which I hadn’t done. I got into his work when I was really young – just in really silly ways as well. I’d found out about him through liking Metallica. They have a couple of songs: The Call of Cthulhu and The Thing That Should Not Be. Also through the role-playing game. Then started reading his work. I only read The Courtyard and Neonomicon fairly recently, after getting into Providence. It started making me look into other things like Kenneth Grant saying the idea that there was some kind of link between Lovecraft –
Moore: That Lovecraft is intuiting something –
Yeah. Which is essentially going back to something we said initially about how art is created. Where does art come from? Where does writing come from.
It’s a valid idea, I guess. It’s just that Lovecraft was such a fierce rationalist. Now I know Kenneth Grant gets around that by saying “ah – he didn’t know that he was channeling these things that are real.”
I think it’s more complex than that. The thing is Lovecraft came up with all these things purely out of his own imagination. They had enormous resonance because Lovecraft was almost an unbearably sensitive barometer of, what I suppose you might call American dread.
He was frightened about everything. He was awkward with women. He was frightened of immigrants – or despised them – if there’s any difference; but also, other than these average middle class fears of his time, Lovecraft was reading science magazines, and he understood the revolution that was going on in science: how Einstein had practically undone the whole of humanity’s conception of where it stood in the universe. And had re-written a lot of the basic rules of the universe.
I think Lovecraft was initially horrified by Einstein, but then came to absorb his theories and probably to understand them. It seems that he has understood and he’s taken them on board. So what Lovecraft’s fiction was reflecting was that we existed in a hostile random universe – well, not so much hostile but completely oblivious. A universe so vast that we were reduced to the tiniest, most insignificant speck – in a remote corner of this infinite blackness. Continue reading
It is not directly related to Providence, but there is plenty of H.P. Lovecraft and even a bit of Alan Moore at the L.A. County Museum of Art’s Guillermo Del Toro At Home With Monsters exhibition on display now through November 27.
Guillermo Del Toro is, of course, the director of numerous fantastic and horrific films. He is also big fan of both H.P. Lovecraft and of comics.
The exhibition displays visual art, sculpture, films, props, comics and other objects, primarily from Del Toro’s personal collection. This is topped off by some similarly-themed artwork from the museum’s collections.
I did not expect to see any Alan Moore, but, among a lot of original comics art, there are two framed From Hell pages, but Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Continue reading
We’ve got basic annotations for Providence #10 posted here. Things are getting weird for our erstwhile herald. Black is his name and black is his destiny. There are lots of references to Lovecraft’s life, plus plenty of his stories including “The Haunter of the Dark” and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
Check out the excellent discussion in the comments section, too.
We’ve got the Providence #9 basic annotations done and posted here. We are still refining them a bit, but put on your high-tech prismatic spectacles and check them out. There is quite a bit from Lovecraft’s “From Beyond,” “The Haunter of the Dark,” and “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” but not so much in the way of “The Shunned House.” Please let us know if there is stuff we missed or got wrong.
And on the corner of Bridge St. & Elizabeth Ave. is a terrible old house—a hellish place where night-black deeds must have been done in the early seventeen-hundreds—with a blackish unpainted surface, unnaturally steep roof, & an outside flight of steps leading to the second story, suffocatingly embowered in a tangle of ivy so dense that one cannot but imagine it accursed or corpse-fed. It reminded me of the Babbitt house in Benefit St., which as you recall made me write those lines entitled “The House” in 1920. Later its image came up again with renewed vividness, finally causing me to write a new horror story with its scene in Providence & with the Babbit house as its basis. It is called “The Shunned House”, & I finished it last Sunday night.
– H. P. Lovecraft to Lillian Clark, 4 November 1924, Letters from New York 82
After what seemed like a relatively slow burn, Providence moves into its final act. Providence #9 is due in stores next week, Wednesday June 1. We don’t have any advance knowledge of what this next issue holds, but we can make some educated guesses based on pre-publicized covers and other hints.
In Providence #8, Robert Black met H.P. Lovecraft, who invited Black to pay a visit to his 598 Angell Street home in Providence, RI.
Lovecraft, of course, was born in Providence, and, other than two years in New York City and many travels throughout the country, lived his entire life there. If Lovecraft is true to form, he would likely take Black on a lengthy walking tour of his beloved city, showing points of antiquarian interest and perhaps stopping for ice cream.
One site that seems likely to feature prominently in one way or another is the Babbit house at 135 Benefit Street, shown on the regular cover of Providence #9. In January 1919, Lovecraft’s ailing mother, Susie, briefly stayed with her older sister, Lillian Clark, at this house. In “The Shunned House” Lovecraft later fictionalized the house as a haunted vampire-like place sucking the life out of its inhabitants. From Lovecraft’s story:
What I heard in my youth about the shunned house was merely that people died there in alarmingly great numbers. That, I was told, was why the original owners had moved out some twenty years after building the place. It was plainly unhealthy, perhaps because of the dampness and fungous growth in the cellar, the general sickish smell, the draughts of the hallways, or the quality of the well and pump water. These things were bad enough, and these were all that gained belief among the persons whom I knew. […]
The general fact is, that the house was never regarded by the solid part of the community as in any real sense “haunted”. There were no widespread tales of rattling chains, cold currents of air, extinguished lights, or faces at the window. Extremists sometimes said the house was “unlucky”, but that is as far as even they went. What was really beyond dispute is that a frightful proportion of persons died there; or more accurately, had died there, since after some peculiar happenings over sixty years ago the building had become deserted through the sheer impossibility of renting it. These persons were not all cut off suddenly by any one cause; rather did it seem that their vitality was insidiously sapped, so that each one died the sooner from whatever tendency to weakness he may have naturally had. And those who did not die displayed in varying degree a type of anaemia or consumption, and sometimes a decline of the mental faculties, which spoke ill for the salubriousness of the building. Neighbouring houses, it must be added, seemed entirely free from the noxious quality.
We are still, yawn, wiping the sleep from the corners of our collective eyes, but the Facts in the Case of Alan Moore’s Providence team has finished our first-draft annotations for Providence #8.
As with Moore and Burrows earlier issues, there is plenty on the surface, and lots references buried below. The issue features the then 29 year old Howard Phillip Lovecraft himself (!) plus his maternal grandfather. Additionally there are Lord Dunsany, Randolph Carter (or Randall Carver if you please), dreamscapes, ghouls, ghasts, cats, klansmen, a Civil War general, legionnaires, and plenty more.
Dig a little deeper and readers will find Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo, and even the return of Merrill Brears and Johnny Carcosa, prominent in Neonomicon and The Courtyard.
Read all about it – right here.
And, of course, use the comments section to let us know what we missed or got wrong.