“William Hope Hodgson” by August Derleth

The fourth item to appear in the June, 1944, issue of THE READER AND COLLECTOR is this brief appreciation of Hodgson written by August Derleth.

To fans of weird fiction, Derleth is well known.  As co-founder of Arkham House (along with Donald Wandrei), Derleth preserved the work of H. P. Lovecraft as well as Hodgson, Robert E. Howard and many others.  And yet, this was only part of Derleth’s life and work.  A prolific writer in several genres, Derleth is also well known as a writer of regional literary fiction including a series of novels, short stories, journals, poems and other works about a fictional area known as “Sac Prairie” which was based on his home of Sauk City, Wisconsin.  To those who know August Derleth only as the publisher of Arkham House or for his additions to the Cthulhu Mythos (and the disputes over such that have emerged), I recommend for further reading and study:

August Derleth (Wikipedia entry)

Autobiography (essay on the official Arkham House website)

August Derleth Society (society founded for the study of Derleth’s work)

Although this essay is short, it shows how Derleth felt about Hodgson’s work and its importance.  As always, I have retained H. C. Koenig’s layout style so this essay is reprinted as it originally appeared.  The introductory paragraph was written by HCK.–Sam Gafford

William Hope Hodgson

By August Derleth

August Derleth in his office

Guggenheim Fellow in 1938.  Lecturer in American Regional Literature at University of Wisconsin.  Author of twenty or more volumes of verse, detective novels and prose fiction.  For many years a contributor to Weird Tales magazine.  A collection of his best short weird tales were published under the title “Someone in the Dark”, published in 1941 by Arkham House.

William Hope Hodgson
is one of the most neglected men in the field of the mystic and weird.  Certainly the Famous Fantastic Mysteries publication of Hodgson is a step in the right direction, even if the stories have been woefully cut in some cases.  I think it is not far wrong if it is wrong at all to suggest that no one else has quite the same approach and effect as Hodgson, particularly in such novels as “The Night Land” and “The House on the Borderland”.  He manages to convey an extra-sensory perception to his readers, and that is no small accomplishment.  I am hoping to see published soon in this country an omnibus of the important Hodgson novels; if Arkham House does not do it, perhaps some other, first-line publisher can be persuaded to take such a book on.  He deserves to be far better known among the aficionados, but manifestly out-of-print books across the sea give no comfort to the would-be reader and collector.  Hodgson’s sense of other worlds (decidedly not in the science-fiction tradition), his feeling for horror of the soul or spirit as apart from grue, his sometimes commonplace but always insidious manner of writing—all these aspects are distinctly his own, and it is all the more regrettable, this being so, that he has had no worthwhile publication in the U.S.


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