Monthly Archives: February 2013

Serial Characters

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, serial characters were the name of the game.

They provided a writer with an opportunity to write several stories with the same character which, hopefully, would grow in popularity and provide the writer with a regular source of income.  This was all, no doubt, heightened to an extreme by the popularity of Sherlock Holmes in the Strand magazine.  Because so many readers would buy each new adventure of Holmes that they published, the magazine could rely on a higher profit from that issue and would, naturally, encourage more stories from Doyle.

So it is no surprise that Hodgson not only saw this trend but attempted to capitalize upon it himself.

During his writing career, Hodgson would attempt several times to create a serial character that would both capture the public’s imagination and line his pockets with repeat sales.  Carnacki was his most famous example but there were some others as well.


Gault was an usual character for Hodgson.  Being more fleshed out, Gault was more ‘alive’ than many of his other characters.  Appearing in stories written near the end of Hodgson’s career, Gault is an amoral ship’s captain who is not above smuggling the odd contraband through customs is the price is right.

Unlike many of Hodgson’s other characters, Gault’s moral code is ambiguous.  He is also untrusting of women which is another rare trait for a Hodgson character.  Not unsurprisingly, however, Gault is very patriotic and shows a great deal of dislike for the Germans (then at the start of WWI).  As with many writers, we have to wonder if Gault might not be showing some of Hodgson’s own personality traits.

Gault appeared in the following stories:

“Contraband of War”

“The Diamond Spy”

“The Red Herring”

“The Case of the Chinese Curio Dealer”

“The Drum of Saccharine”

“From Information Received”

“He ‘Assists’ the Enemy”

“The Problem of the Pearls”

“The Painted Lady”

“The Adventure of the Garter”

“My Lady’s Jewels”

“Trading with the Enemy”

“The Plans of the Reefing Bi-Plane”


Cargunka is another in Hodgson’s collection of ‘men of action’.  Although only appearing in a few stories, he leaves an impression of a rough and tumble fellow.  The ‘D.C.O.’ stood for “dot-and-carry-one”, which is an aside to Cargunka’s irregular gait due to having one leg shorter than the other.  Like WHH, Cargunka fancies himself a poet but is not particularly gifted.  Rare among Hodgson’s characters, Cargunka is not a ship’s captain but, rather, an owner.  In addition to owning two ships, Cargunka also owns two bars and a marine supply store.  He appeared in only these two stories:

“D.C.O. Cargunka–The Adventure with the Claim Jumpers”

“D.C.O. Carbunka–The Bells of the Laughing Sally


One of Hodgson’s lesser characters, Captain Jat is a tall, lean man who is primarily interested in treasure, women and drink.  His cabin boy, Pibby Tawles, is his confidant and companion on his adventures and also has to endure rather poor treatment at Jat’s hands.  The character itself is limited and appears to be little more than another of Hodgson’s stereotypical ‘bad officers’.  Jat appears in only two stories:

“Capt. Jat–The Adventure of the Headland”

“Capt. Jat–The Island of the Ud”

Hodgson never quite hit the mark with these serial characters.  Although Carnacki has proven to outlast him, only seven of the nine stories featuring the character were published in his lifetime.  Gault fared a little better, possibly owing to it’s more contemporary setting, and was actually responsible for the one American publication issued during Hodgson’s lifetime.


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The Copyright Volumes

awhhWilliam Hope Hodgson’s copyright volumes are something of an oddity.

If nothing else, WHH was well aware of copyrights and their importance.  This is shown several times in some of his articles for the Author magazine.  As a result, WHH had some limited run pamphlets published in America to establish his copyrights for certain material.

Those pamphlets were:

The Ghost Pirates, A Chaunty, and Another Story (1909)

Carnacki, the Ghost Finder and a Poem (1909)

The Captain of the Onion Boat (1911)

“Poems” and “The Dream of X” (1912)

Impressionistic Sketches (1913)

Cargunka and Poems and Anecdotes (1914)

These were all published by “R.H. Paget” which I believe to be something similar to what would today be known as “a vanity press”.  That is, it is my theory that WHH paid this company to publish the books in America and that he received no payment for these publications.  Then, WHH used them to secure his U.S. copyrights.

We have seen that WHH is somewhat concerned over others stealing his stories or ideas.  In a letter to Coulson Kernahan, WHH complains about another author (named only “C. L.”) using his Sargasso ideas in a story so it is not surprising that he felt the need to protect himself.

What is surprising is the material he decided to copyright.

spectralThe Ghost Pirates, A Chaunty and Another Story.

This contains an abridged version of the novel, “The Hell! Oo! Chaunty” and “The Thing Invisible”.  The abridgement of the novel is not the same version which appeared in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1944.  This was reprinted by Ian Bell in Spectral Manifestations in 1984.  I presume that the Chaunty and the story are the same as their common versions.

Carnacki, The Ghost Finder and a Poem

This volume contained an abridgement of the stories “The Gateway of the Monster”, “The House Among the Laurels”, “The Whistling Room”, and “The Horse of the Invisible” into one story.  This was also reprinted by Ian Bell in Spectral Manifestations.  The poem was “Lost” which has appeared several times most recently in Jane Frank’s The Lost Poetry of William Hope Hodgson (2005).


The Captain of the Onion Boat (1911)

Presumably this is a reprint of the original story which The Night Land and Other Romances which appeared most recently in the 4th volume of Night Shade Books, “The Collected Fiction of William Hope Hodgson”.  To my knowledge, no copies of this exists today.


dream“Poems” and “The Dream of X” (1912)

This is an interesting booklet.  The poems consist of: “I Have Borne My Lord a Son”; “Bring Out Your Dead”; “I Come Again”; “The Song of the Great Bull Whale”; “Speak Well of the Dead”;  “Little Garments”; “The Sobbing of the Freshwater”; “O Parent Sea!”; “Listening”; “My Babe, My Babe”; “The Night Wind”; “Grey Seas are Dreaming of My Death”; and “Mutiny”.

The Dream of “X” is a radical abridgement of WHH’s monumental novel, The Night Land, down to a mere 20,000 words and essentially making it an entirely new work.  Sam Moskowitz discovered a copy of this and The Dream of “X” was published by Donald M. Grant in 1977.


Impressionistic Sketches (1913)

No copies of this booklet are known to exist and it is presumed lost.


Cargunka and Poems and Anecdotes (1914)

The final, known volume included “D.C.O Cargunka: The Bells of the Laughing Sally”, the essay “The Psychology of Species” and, according to scholar Douglas Anderson “ten poems and short two to four page summaries of twenty five short stories”.

This is a very interesting assortment indeed!

One has to wonder how successful these booklets would have been in securing American copyrights considering that two were abridgements of larger works while others were summaries of stories or combining them into one story.

But consider the material which he does include.   Out of the six titles, four include poems.  (We do not know the contents of Impressionistic Sketches but it is likely there was a poem or two in there.)  Obviously, WHH considered his poems as important to copyright protect as his fiction.

Then, there are only two of his four novels represented.  Where are copyright volumes for The House on the Borderland or The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”?  Did WHH not consider these important enough to protect or could there possibly be more copyright volumes out there waiting to be discovered?

Also, Carnacki and D.C.O. Cargunka are represented but not WHH’s other serial character, Captain Gault?  This is more likely due to the fact that the collection of those tales (Captain Gault: Being the Exceedingly Private Log of a Sea-Captain) actually obtained an American release from McBride & Sons in 1918.  It is also possible that, as no copyright editions appeared after 1914, WHH either reconsidered the need for them or simply could no longer afford them.

Clearly, the copyright volumes present an interesting and unique part of Hodgson’s work.


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1 sargassoOnce again I’d like to mention that the first issue of SARGASSO: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies is still open for submissions!

So far, I have received some very nice artwork to showcase in the first issue and, just this past weekend, Robert Knox has delivered his STUNNING color artwork for the color!  I wish I could show it now but I need to keep some measure of suspense!  I also have an excellent Hodgsonian story from Pierre Comtois and several articles that are slated to arrive soon.

The deadline for submissions is March 31st.  I plan to debut the first issue at the NecronomiCON convention in Providence, RI, this August.  There are even talks about our participating in a ‘launch party’ at the convention!

I welcome submissions from everyone and am especially looking for articles dealing with Hodgson’s life, works and influence.  Please contact me either through this post or at if you’d like further information or wish to send in a submission.  If you know of someone, or an organization, that would be interested, please pass this post on to them!  Spread the word!

If all goes well, SARGASSO will be a yearly publication and, I hope, the place for Hodgson criticism and scholarship!

2 sargasso(Sargasso logos designed by Jason Eckhardt.)


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Hodgson Influenced?

1 space sargassoStepping away from the poetry for a bit and this paperback cover caught my eye.  Does anyone out there know this novel?

This looks to be an early 1960s paperback and was written by Andre Norton.  Of course, anything with the word ‘Sargasso’ in it is going to catch my eye but a science fiction novel.  And the tagline, “Trapped in the graveyard of lost spaceships”, definitely caught my interest.

So does anyone know this novel and, if so, could you say that it is Hodgson inspired?  I’d be curious if this is an updating of sorts of WHH’s stories “From the Tideless Sea” into a science fiction setting.

The cover artwork is by Ed Emshwiller who, apparently, did quite a number of paperback covers during this period.

Any information would be appreciated and, as always, credited here!


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The Second Poem?

Still another photo of WHH and his horse!  (Courtesy of University of Georgia.)

A photo of WHH and his horse in WWI! (Courtesy of University of Georgia.)

As mentioned in the last few posts (here and here), I recently found a reference to two poems possibly by William Hope Hodgson that were published in 1902.  Neither of these poems were in any of the WHH poetry volumes nor could I find any reference to them.

Still, I opened up the call to the readers of this blog for copies and more information.  Dennis Lien ably supplied the copies and Andy Robertson provided transcriptions of the poems.  “Stout fellows all!”, as WHH might say.

We reprinted one of the poems in the last post and today we provide the other poem.  This one is a bit more nautical but it is more concerned with the mothers of lost sailors not receiving any relief from government for their loss than with any terrors of the sea.

Now, this poem is interesting to us for two reasons.  First, it attempts to replicate a pattern of speech (perhaps an accent?) and Hodgson was known to do this most obviously in the novel, THE GHOST PIRATES.  Second, it concerns a financial aspect of life at sea which was something that Hodgson would write about in such articles as “Is the Mercantile Navy Worth Joining?” which is a long piece about the bad economics of a life at sea.   These are two points in favor of Hodgson being the author unlike the previous poem which, apparently, had no ties to Hodgson in either theme or execution.

But, again, we cannot state with absolute certainty that the “W.H.H.” who is credited with the poem is our own William Hope Hodgson and probably never will be able to unless new evidence emerges.

For now, I simply present the poem and leave the question open.


(“A widow gets an allowance; a bereaved mother none; the Government takes the sons and forgets the mothers.” — Miss Weston, “the Bluejacket’s Friend”)

You shout for cash by the million pound,
An’ the ships you’re sharp to build,
There’s “great indocements” ‘anded round,
F’r plices wot must be filled;
The chaps, they lissens to sense an’ — rot,
The worldwide seas they roam,
But they ‘ave some ‘eart — which you ‘ave not,
F’r the pore old soul at ‘ome.

There’s a bit of cash wot’s reg’ler sent,
There’s a scrawl that’s sweet to scan,
F’r its line on line for comfort meant
From Billy or Bob or Dan;
–Till a biler busts, or the ship goes down
(Your ‘nollidge is bought with life),
An’ then — I hav’n’t a single “brown”
Bein’ but mother, not wife.

Me lords, they ‘ave a jolly good time,
‘N me lidies knows no need;
The swell is the flow’r of place an’ time,
An’ I’m but a useless weed;
You tikes me lad f’r th’ connin’ tow’r,
F’r the tops, or the turret gun,
An’ when ‘e falls, me luck turns sour–
Its the ‘Ouse, when me best is done.

Now, the pore young widder, the weepin’ kid,
You spares ‘em a bite of bread,
They’ve a drink o’ tea ‘n’ a ‘addick to grid,
They’ve a glimmer of sun ahead,
But a mother she counts just nothink at all,
A botherin’, wrinkled crone;
She give ‘er boy, at the nation’s call,
An’ now — she may starve, alone.


(Thanks again to Dennis Lien and Andy Robertson for their help with these items.–Sam Gafford)

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Call for Help: UPDATE!

William Hope Hodgson

William Hope Hodgson

A few days ago, I posted a call for help in locating what might possibly be two new (or forgotten) poems by William Hope Hodgson.  It is testimony to the good graces of the many readers of this blog that copies of the pages in question have been located!  Many thanks go to Dennis Lien for providing the copies and also to Andy Robertson for providing transcriptions of the two poems.

The question of the authorship of these poems is still unresolved.  Dennis Lien states that there is nothing within the magazine itself to identify “W.H.H” and it is not impossible that another poet, unaware of Hodgson, used these initials.  This poem, “The New Gregorian Chant”, is not similar to any other themes in Hodgson’s poetry which is a strike against his authorship.  Also, Hodgson did not publish anything (that we are aware of) in this magazine, Picture Politics.  Strike two.  Finally, these poems appeared in the June-July 1902 issue of that magazine.  This was a period when Hodgson was busy with his “School of Physical Culture” and the only verifiable publications during that time were newspaper ‘notices’ and a few articles about exercise.  Now, it is entirely possible that Hodgson was writing poetry as early as this and that this was an early example.  There is not enough evidence to make a conclusive ruling.

I present this poem here and the other poem, perhaps more nautical, will follow in the next posting.  Again, thanks to Dennis Lien and Andy Robertson for their kind assistance in unearthing this material.

The New Gregorian Chant

“School Boards have been a great misfortune all over the country; they have lowered the tone of morality and increased the amount of crime.” –Dean of St. Paul’s.

Enter DEAN GREGORY, with chorus of Cabinet Ministers, and, as “corner men,” SIR JOHN GORST (tambourine) and MR. ATHELSTAND RILEY (bones).


‘Neath mighty Farmer George’s rule,

When dames and parson ran the school

That taught a village serf to spell

C-h-u-r-c-h so well

That naught beside his brain could hold—

That was Old England’s Age of Gold.

CHORUS.—With a Fal-lal-lal-lal-la.

A snake there crept that Eden in

With many ills that horrid bin,

“School-Board” his name; he clanged a bell,

And Grammar came’ yea, Knowledge fell

Of “upright” writing and the shame

Algebra brings an honest name.

CHORUS.—With a Fal-lal-lal-lal-la.

Then ragged urchins learned to parse,

To far outshine their pa’s and ma’s;

To chatter in a foreign tongue

Or call a lordly brewer “Bung.”

Authority—I mean the Church—

Was left by learning in the lurch.

CHORUS.—With a Fal-lal-lal-lal-la.

But, all ye country vicars, shout!

A Balfour wipes that School Board out.

Curates—soup-tickets in each hand

And blankets—of the Oxford brand

Shall well instruct our rising youth

And teach them Church—High Church—is truth.

CHORUS.—With a Fal-lal-lal-lal-la.


Comments about this poem and theories about it authorship are encouraged.–Sam Gafford


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An Early Poetry Review

As with any author, it is important to understand how Hodgson was received and reviewed by his contemporaries.  There are several very enthusiastic reviews of WHH’s novels but, given the scarcity of his poetry, very little  in that regard.  In fact, there are only two known contemporary reviews of Hodgson’s poetry that are known to exist.  This is, of course, marginal because the reviews are both of THE CALLING OF THE SEA which was not published until 1920, two years after Hodgson’s death.

In any event, the following is a review which appeared in the May, 1920, issue of The Bookman which was edited by WHH’s good friend, A. St. John Adcock.  Although unsigned, there is a good chance that Adcock wrote the review himself.  The review attempts to place Hodgson within the field of poetry by considering his unique voice and experiences.

Hope Hodgson’s Poems*

It is strange that such an essentially seafaring people as the English, who have produced so many great poets, have produced so few who have written great poetry of the sea, and that most even of those few have been landsmen. However beautifully the landsman may write about it, there is usually something lacking from his verse, for it needs a sailor who has known the sea long and intimately in all its moods to interpret it aright. There are finer things in Swinburne’s and Tennyson’s sea pictures than any you will find in Falconer’s rather wooden “Shipwreck,” but Falconer was a sailor, and his “Shipwreck” has survived for a century and a half because he had heard the voice of the storm when the black night and the tumultuous waves were all about him; he had been wrecked and had seen his comrades swept overboard and struggling till they were ruthlessly drawn down into the endless waste of waters; and he has put his personal experiences into his verse, what he actually saw and heard and thought and suffered, with a simple realism that makes it alive and vivid in spite of its crudities.

That realistic truthfulness is the outstanding quality in Hope Hodgson’s poems. He died, a soldier, on the fields of France; and for some ten years before the war he had lived by his pen and won a considerable reputation as a novelist; but for eight years before that he had followed the sea and gave his heart to it, and its influence is over all the best of his work. Most of his novels and short stories drew their inspiration from it, but the eeriness, the mystery, the cruelty and terror of it appealed to him more potently than did its quieter, happier aspects. He was keenly susceptible to its wonder and its beauty, but for him the wonder and the beauty often had a suggestion of something sinister underlying them. It is so in his tales, and it is so in these poems. This consistency is the natural result of his sincerity, and it is the note of sincerity that gives his poems much of their forcefulness. His passion for the sea was no pose but a real and deep emotion, as spontaneous as the verse he wrote about it. There is a bizarre imaginative power in such a blend of fantasy and realism as “The Place of Storms”; his descriptive pieces, such as “Storm,” “The Ship,” “Down the Long Coasts,” are etched effectively in vigorous black-and-white. He reached a higher level in his prose, but he was a true poet as he is a true novelist of the sea.

There is an excellent frontispiece portrait, and an introduction in which Mr. St. John Adcock gives some personal recollections and a character sketch of the author.

*”The Calling of the Sea.” By W. Hope Hodgson. Introduction by A. St.
John Adcock. 2s. 6d. net. (Selwyn & Blount.)

–[Unsigned.] “Hope Hodgson’s Poems.” Bookman (London) 344 (May 1920): 81.

(Many thanks to Phillip Ellis for putting on the trail of this item and transcribing it for the blog!)

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Call for Help!

Recently, I came across this listing for a London magazine:

picture_politics_190206-07Picture Politics, A Penny Popular Monthly [No. 104, June-July 1902] ed. F. Carruthers Gould (The Westminster Gazette and Budget; London, 1d, 16pp, 9½” x 13″)

    [fiction and poetry only have been listed] [JE]

  • 2 · “Peace”: June 1, 1902 · Arabella Romilly · pm
  • 8 · A Way They Have in the Navy · W. H. H. · pm; [by William Hope Hodgson ??????]
  • 11 · The Political Jungle-Book: III. Hugheera’s Hunting · Saki · vi
  • 13 · The New Gregorian Chant · W. H. H. · pm; [by William Hope Hodgson ??????]
  • 15 · May 24 · S. C. S. · pm
  • 15 · The West Indian Disaster · L. A. C. · pm
  • 15 · A Song of Peace · E. C. · pm

As you can see, it lists two poems possibly being by WHH.  Does anyone know anything about this or have a way to track down a copy of this magazine?  Any help is deeply appreciated.–Sam Gafford


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An Addendum to Hodgson Poetry Checklist

Today we bring you an addendum to the Hodgson Poetry Checklist (originally posted here).  This also comes courtesy of our friend, Phillip A. Ellis, who is doing outstanding work already on Hodgson’s poetry.

An Addendum to the Checklist of William

Hope Hodgson’s Poetry

I’ve only just come across another set of appearances of William Hope
Hodgson’s poetry, ones that I had missed earlier. I have owned the book in
question for a while, but had not had the chance to inspect its contents
until this afternoon (my time) whereupon I noted the four following poems.


Cover to the volume of Hodgson poetry edited by Jane Frank.

Cover to the volume of Hodgson poetry edited by Jane Frank.

20: “Farewell”

b. Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), Adrift on the Haunted Sea: The Best Short
Stories of William Hope Hodgson (Cold Spring Harbour : Cold Spring Press,
2005): 241.

23: “Grey Seas Are

Dreaming of My Death”
g. Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), Adrift on the Haunted Sea: The Best Short
Stories of William Hope Hodgson (Cold Spring Harbour : Cold Spring Press,
2005): 25-26.

63: “The Place of Storms”
e. Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), Adrift on the Haunted Sea: The Best Short
Stories of William Hope Hodgson (Cold Spring Harbour : Cold Spring Press,
2005): 117-124.

63: “Thou Living Sea”
e. Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), Adrift on the Haunted Sea: The Best Short
Stories of William Hope Hodgson (Cold Spring Harbour : Cold Spring Press,
2005): 198-199.

(Editor’s Note–Hodgson’s poetry is one of the great, unexamined aspects of Hodgson’s writings.  Part of that was due to the fact that he actually published only a couple of poems during his lifetime (outside of the ones he included in the novels) and no collection of his poetry appeared until after his death when his widow arranged for two slim volumes to be published.

Some of Hodgson’s poetry is, quite simply, just not that good.  But in others, his vision shines through the limitations of the materials.  Very little critical attention has been paid to Hodgson’s poetry and we are indebted to researchers like Phillip A. Ellis who are undertaking this work.  I look forward to sharing more of Mr. Ellis’ expeditions into this dark, unknown world.–Sam Gafford)


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A Review of THE DREAM OF X by Donald Sidney-Fryer

Today, thanks to the kind efforts of Chris Lohnes, we present a review of Hodgson’s The Dream of X.  This review comes from the noted author Donald Sidney-Fryer and presents a different view than is generally heard regarding this work and The Night Land on which it was based.

(Donald Sidney-Fryer was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and has resided in California since he was 21 years old. He is a noted scholar, poet, bon-vivant, and world-traveler. This review, “The Dream of X, by William Hope Hodgson”, was first printed in Nyctalops, Number 14, March 1978.    – Chris Lohnes)

William Hope Hodgson, The Dream of X:

A Creative Alternative to The Night Land

By Donald Sidney-Fryer


William Hope Hodgson. The Dream of X. Dustjacket, endpapers, decoration, and illustrations by Stephen Fabian. Donald M. Grant, West Kingston, Rhode Island, 1977. Pages, 140. Price, $15.00

1Dream_of_xThis reasonably effective condensation of Hodgson’s vast and minutely narrated saga The Night Land comes to us, once again, by means of Donald M. Grant, of West Kingston, Rhode Island. If nothing else, it demonstrates that an author himself can do a much better and more sensitive condensation than those professionals who do condensations for, say, the Reader’s Digest et alia. The present reader personally found this novella, or novelette, version of The Night Land to be quite moving, but would we have done so without our memories of the complete version to fill the condensation in here and there, and to draw upon for a greater emotional resonance? We honestly don’t know. We only wish some enlightened publisher would issue the entire prose epic in a format as gorgeous as this that Donald Grant has made available to us.

Hodgson manages to give us much of the atmosphere of the original. We have here the description of the Great Redoubt, the super-pyramid in which most of humanity is concentrated in the extremely far future. Then we have the going-forth of the Hero to find the Lesser Redoubt and his Beloved, whom he has been seeking through aeons of evolution and incarnations; the wonderfully emotion-filled meeting of the lovers (this moved us to tears, as in the original); the peril-beset return to the Great Redoubt; the seeming death of the Beloved; her unexpected return to life; and then, at last, the final happiness of the lovers. The main narrative has of course been drastically reduced but it manages to convey something of the original’s mood of breathless expectancy. Stephen Fabian’s art is undoubtedly some of the best we have ever seen in a modern production of fantastic literature—he evidently has a strong sensitive identification with Hodgson – and the whole book is a marvelously sensitive edition de luxe, a veritable work of art as have been so many of Donald Grant’s productions, and certainly able to rank with some of the better products of both the Heritage Club and the Limited Editions Club of New York City. Considering that Grant has far more limited means than those publishers, his accomplishment seems to us all the more worthy and the more creditable.

As a romance, The Night Land is one of the most romantic romances imaginable, if not the ultimate romance in the most archetypal terms ever. Contrary to H. P. Lovecraft who considered it to be a clumsy archaic imitation, we have always found the style, qua style, in which Hodgson narrates it, to be both effective and highly original. Also, contrary to Lovecraft, we find the story of the lovers to be singularly moving, within the terms of “a love that is more than love” – of an extraordinary sentimentality beyond all other sentimentality – in the most Poesque sense conceivable. Without a doubt, Hodgson is one of the rare titans in the field of fantasy and science-fiction, and in the limited genre of the sustained fantasy novel of supernatural horror he has no true equal. We are indebted to Donald Grant for granting us this production, well worth every penny of the asking price.


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