Why I’m doing this…


Today marks the 50th post here on the William Hope Hodgson blog!  Hard to believe that I’ve been doing this for almost three months now.  Time does fly.  I remember when I started doing this blog how several people questioned me as to “how are you ever going to find enough to say about Hodgson”?  Well, quite easily actually and there’s still a lot more to be done.

During those 50 posts, I’ve been able to bring out a lot of information that many Hodgson fans may never have seen before or even know about!  That’s been one of my favorite things about this blog.  Another is all of the help and assistance I’ve gotten from many of you like Dan Ross, Gene Biancheri and many more.  Through your help, we’ve been able to expand people’s awareness of Hodgson and explain why he’s so worthy of all this attention.  It makes me very happy that we’ve built a community of Hodgson fans here and it gives me the encouragement to keep building this blog.

I am frequently asked “Why?  Why are you doing all this work for a writer that not many people know about?”  I’m never quite sure how to answer that question.  I mean, I know why I do it but am never sure how to explain it to others.

I first heard of Hodgson when I read Lovecraft’s excellent essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature” around 1980 or so.  I hadn’t heard of many of the authors that HPL mentioned but I made it a goal to try and read as many as possible.  That was not as easy 30 years ago as it is today.   Without the internet, I had to use the services of my local library and assorted book dealers.  However, as an 18 year old, I didn’t have a whole lot of money and couldn’t afford many of the prices such books were demanding even back then and the libraries had a depressingly low amount of these authors available.

In 1982, I attended the World Fantasy Convention in New Haven, CT, where (for the first time) I found Hodgson books.  Sphere had just reprinted all four novels and the Carnacki collection and one of the dealers happened to have multiple copies of each.  Naturally, I got them all and quickly devoured them.

What I found amazed me.  Here was an incredible author that I had very little knowledge of and his works just knocked me off my feet.  I read each one of those Sphere paperbacks several times and that began my interest in Hodgson.

Although my primary fiction idol was Lovecraft, I found much in Hodgson to admire.  The power of his ideas, the enormity of his imagination and the sense of man helpless against the cosmos spoke to me.  I made it a point to find everything by Hodgson possible which wasn’t much back then because so much of his work was either out of print or simply forgotten.  Not to sound like an cranky old man but “when I was young I had to walk uphill 20 miles both ways to read Hodgson”

I began to develop an interest in reading about Hodgson as well but there was very little out there.  This surprised me because I was so used to the scholarly interest in Lovecraft that I couldn’t understand why Hodgson wasn’t getting any of that attention.  So I began to do some research and write some of my own and, together with S. T. Joshi, find ‘forgotten’ and ‘uncollected’ stories and articles by WHH that no one had read since their first appearance nearly 70 years earlier.  This led to my republishing much of those items through my small press, Hobgoblin Press, in the early 1990’s as well as editing three collections of material for Necronomicon Press.

So when someone asks me “Why?”, the answer is largely because I believe that Hodgson is worthy of so much more attention and acclaim than he currently receives.  He does not deserve to be a “Forgotten Author”.  So this blog is my way of not only trying to bring him to a larger audience but also to try and bring all of the Hodgson community together in a single place.  More than anything, I want more people to actually read Hodgson!

But, in the end, the real answer to that question is simply, “Because I like him.”

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5 Comments

Filed under William Hope Hodgson

5 responses to “Why I’m doing this…

  1. Micky

    My first story by WHH was “The House Among The Laurels“ which I chose to read only because I liked the romantic title and because the story was to my liking I decided to find more by the same author which brought me to contact with the classic horror tales by Shiel, Machen, Lovecraft, Buchan and others I had not known before (though as a child I read Poe or Doyle which we had in our family bookcase). Then I got Hodgson’s four novel plus Carnacki Stories which brought me to the victorian scary tales and I was looking forward to read more great writers and horror tales of the era (though I did not concentrate on the aformentioned period but I read also older stories and sometimes literary pieces of modern days.)
    Alas! After all those years and after reading thousands of classich horror tales I cannot but say 90 percents of the claasic horrors are nothing up to much at all (I am not using the word piece of crap only to be decent boy) and the fact is Mr. Hodgson is an incredebly unique author and is head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries, his predecesers or followers and second only to such great names like Blackwood, Machen, Smith, Machen or Shiel. (Recently, during my long illness, I read complete Lovecraft’s work again and my reading has backed up my opinion WHH can write rings around the bugler from Rhode Island and all his work.)
    It is really unfortunate this great writer is not as known as he deserves so we must thank to people like you, Sam, or your friend T.S.Joshi, for you to take pains to revive the half forgotten names among which WHH belongs.

    • Sam Gafford

      Theodore Sturgeon is famous for saying “90% of everything is crap” and I agree with him. If you look at any genre, in any period, you will find some real standouts and gems but they are surrounded by a lot of dreck. It takes time for all of that to fall away and leave the gold. Many people (myself included) look at such periods as the pulp magazine boom of the 1920s as a golden time for genre fiction. But, when you actually sit down and read those pulps, you realize how BAD some of them actually were! Time can make anything look good from a distance. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog! Beyond anything, I want to get more people READING Hodgson. I don’t care if it’s here or in ebooks or wherever just so long as he’s being READ!

  2. Daniel del Valle

    And I like Hodgson too, and I’m glad your blog exists. Hodgson deserves as much attention and study as Lovecraft, that’s not taking away from Lovecraft, but Hodgson came before him and introduced many of the
    cosmic terrors that the gentleman from Providence made famous.
    Hodgson may not be as famous or the better writer compared to Lovecraft, but I think he is more interesting. He approaches a shattering of reality as the intrusion of another dimension, a sinister pleroma if you will, that is, at best indiffferent, at worst hostile to us . Read “The Baumoff Explosive” to see how beautifully Hodgson works the theme of the cosmic shattering of our so-called “rational” reality.

    • Sam Gafford

      I sometimes think of Hodgson as the “Hemingway of Horror”. His style can often be very short and blunt and not a lot of time spent on exposition. I am reminded of his story, “A Tropical Horror”, which begins with very little explanation. Just two sailors, resting on the deck one night and suddenly, BAM! There’s a monster! There’s something to be said for such brutal bluntness. Not much attention is given to Hodgson’s actual writing style other than to nag about how unrealistic it is in THE NIGHT LAND. More work needs to be done here methinks…

  3. Dan

    Your blog is excellent, and one of my favorite ones on weird fiction. I haven’t read WHH for a long time, but I have always been interested in learning more about him as a person, since he seems like an interesting character. Keep up the good work.

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