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ATTENTION ALL SCHOLARS!!!!


scholarFor some time now, I’ve wondered if there might be little caches of Hodgson letters squirreled about in various libraries and universities and the like.  So, I am issuing the call to all those readers of this blog to help me find them!

Seriously, the cause of Hodgson research and criticism has long suffered from a lack of primary sources such as letters and the such.  We need to find out if there are any out there which are available for scholars and historians to use.  This is a project that will benefit everyone looking to do research on/about Hodgson and those who want to read it!  And we’re not just looking for letters that Hodgson may have written but those by his family, friends, etc.

Please use all your resources.  Check everywhere you can!  Post your findings here in the comments section.  I will take all of them (hopefully, there will be some) and create a new page here on the blog listing these resources and those scholars who brought it to my attention.

The only collection I am aware of is the letters that form part of a collection at the Harry Ransom center at the University of Texas at Austin.  Anything else is fair game.

So, as Carnacki would say at the end of a story, “out you go!”

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Collecting Hodgson


It’s not easy to be a Hodgson Collector these days.

Oh, sure, the bulk of his writing is available either through ebooks, online or print-on-demand but if you want to collect the old stuff, it can run you quite a bit of moolah.

First off, it is almost impossible to collect any letters or signatures of Hodgson.  Very, very few ever show up on the market and, when they do, generally sell for thousands of dollars.  Unlike Lovecraft, I don’t think that Hodgson was an especially prolific letter writer which certainly cuts down on the number available.  I’m sure that there are many examples currently being held in private collections but it’s unlikely any of those will show up soon.

So let’s take a look at the books and their current values.

hope-hodgson-set

A sample of the first editions.

First editions of Hodgson’s novels will likely run you in the mid to high four digits depending on condition.  For example, a typical first edition of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND (1908) lists for $8,500 here.   The same bookseller has a copy of THE NIGHT LAND (1912) for only $4,250.  First editions might have been plentiful during Lovecraft’s time but not so much so today.

The other first editions are even harder to find.  A first printing of LUCK OF THE STRONG or MEN OF THE DEEP WATERS is likely to cost between $3,000-$5,000.  Perhaps being short story collections caused them to not be kept as much as the novels.

Holden & Hardingham edition, 1921.

Holden & Hardingham edition, 1921.

In 1921-22, publishers Holden & Hardingham reprinted all of Hodgson’s books in what were called ‘cheap’ editions.  Although they may have been considered ‘cheap’ in their time, they certainly are not now!  Current listings on ebay show some of these volumes going for between $1,100-$2,700 although they do have dustjackets which affect the price considerably.  I have seen rough copies of CARNACKI and CAPTAIN GAULT from the H&H reprints, without dustjackets, going for between $200-$300 at times.

The next major Hodgson publication is 1946’s THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND AND OTHER NOVELS from Arkham House.  This book is one of the major reasons people still know Hodgson today and this is shown by its value.  In recent years, this book has seen a steep climb in value and a copy today can run anywhere from $400-$800.  This book will likely never

Arkham House, 1946.

Arkham House, 1946.

decrease in value due both to it’s historical and literary importance.   If you ever want a copy of this, my advice is to buy as good a copy as you can afford now as it will surely cost you more in the future.  It is one of my favorite books in my collection and a joy to read and hold.

carnacki

The Mycroft & Moran edition.

The Arkham House imprint, Mycroft & Moran, produced their edition of CARNACKI in 1947.  This book is important for a number of reasons.  First, it is an early volume from a press specializing in mystery and detective fiction and, second, this was the first collection to feature all NINE of the Carnacki stories.  Previous editions held only the 6 which had appeared in the magazines at the time.  This edition included the 3 previously unpublished Carnacki stories discovered by H. C. Koenig.  Henceforth, EVERY edition would contain all nine stories.  So, this version was, in essence, the first appearance of those 3 stories.  This can be a costly book.  Prices range wildly on it depending on the book and dustjacket’s condition.  Only a few years ago, the average price would have been between $50-$75 but today the average begins at around $100.  I have seen dealers pricing this book at well over that, however, so beware.  If this is an edition that you must have, set yourself a price and be patient.  Eventually, you will be rewarded.

deep waters

Arkham House, 1967.

The last Arkham House collection of Hodgson came in 1967 with DEEP WATERS.  This is a bit of a hodge-podge of many stories published in LUCK OF THE STRONG and MEN OF THE DEEP WATERS along with a few others.  Oddly enough, it has seen a recent spike in value perhaps caused by AH collectors looking to complete their runs.  In any case, copies of this book will average between $100-$200.  As with the CARNACKI above, set your price and be a savvy collector.

The next book of note was OUT OF THE STORM, published by Donald M. Grant in 1975.  This was actually one of the first Hodgson collections I ever personally owned so it has a bit of a soft spot with me.  A paperback edition was published by Centaur Books in 1980 which omits the lengthy introduction by Sam Moskowitz.  You want that introduction, trust me.  out of the stormOne would expect that this book would be more highly prized but I have seen copies on ebay sell for as little as $30 even though some dealers ask $100 for it.   I would classify this book as one of the 5 most important Hodgson books ever published.

In 1977, Ferret Fantasy produced a slim volume called POEMS OF THE SEA.  This little hardcover reprinted the two volumes of poetry which Hodgson’s widow had published after his death in 1918.  It’s a nice little book but, unless you’re interested in Hodgson’s poetry, not essential.  Normally, prices for this book can waiver between $35-$75 when available as it doesn’t show up all that often.

1977 also saw Donald M. Grant publish THE DREAM OF X.  This had been an extreme abridgement that Hodgson had done of THE NIGHT LAND in order to secure American copyright.  It was discovered by Sam Moskowitz and presented here for the first time.  A nice book, it does not seem to be highly prized by collectors as copies can be easily found in the $30 range.

R. Alain Everts small press, The Strange Company, published a series of 15 booklets in 1988 reprinting a selection of Hodgson’s stories.  Some were unpublished while others hadn’t been seen since their original magazine appearances nearly 70 years earlier.  This set is very rare and can be costly.  The booklets themselves are very simple with no artwork or photos.  A full set of these today can run between $200-$300 when found!  All of those stories can be found in various other sources today so this is more of an item for the completist.

PamperoMoskowitz teamed with Donald M. Grant once again in 1991 for THE HAUNTED PAMPERO.  This was a collection of (then) unpublished works by Hodgson.  There is a regular edition as well as a signed, limited edition.  The signed edition should cost you no more than $100 with the regular edition around $65.

I edited two chapbooks of Hodgson material for Necronomicon Press.  They were DEMONS OF THE SEA (1992) and AT SEA (1993).  Both, sadly, are out of print.  They were collections of material that, at that time, had not been republished since their original magazine appearances.  I have seen copies of both of these on ebay for around $60 which I would not agree with.

Starting in 1993, I published four collections of Hodgson material through my Hobgoblin Press.  They were: THE EXPLOITS OF CAPTAIN GAULT (2 volumes–1993); THE UNCOLLECTED WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON (2 volumes–1995); BEYOND THE DAWNING: THE POEMS OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON (1995); and DOWN IN THE WEEDS (1997).  All of these are long out of print.  I have seen these on ebay and other places for about $50 a copy but would state that they are overpriced even at $25 a copy.  All of the material in these volumes has been included in the 5 volume Night Shade collection which is still available in ebook format or in the Jane Frank books.

The final Hodgson collection from Moskowitz and Donald M. Grant, TERRORS OF THE SEA, appeared in 1996.  Again,1 terror the book’s introduction is the best part and worth the price for that alone.  This was also issued in a regular edition and a signed, limited edition.  Prices for the signed edition hover around $75 while the regular edition rests around $50.

Starting in 2003, Night Shade Books began an ambitious project by printing all of Hodgson’s fiction in five volumes.  It would take five years for all five volumes to appear.  Although the hardcovers are now all out of print, they can be purchased rather cheaply through Amazon for the kindle.  In the resale market, prices fluctuate for these books.  Some dealers price them at $40 per volume while others can ask as much as $100 per volume so beware.

1 frankIn 2005, Jane Frank published two collections culled from the Sam Moskowitz Hodgson files which she purchased at auction after Moskowitz’s death in 1997.  These were THE WANDERING SOUL: GLIMPSES OF A LIFE: A COMPENDIUM OF RARE AND UNPUBLISHED WORKS BY WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON and THE LOST POETRY OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON and were published in a joint effort by PS Publishing and Tartarus Press.  Both collections are worthy especially the WANDERING SOUL as this reprints many of Hodgson’s non-fiction essays and lectures.  This is another case where the prices can vary wildly.  I’ve seen each book sell for about $35 apiece but also listed for as much as $200 for the set.  As always, set the price you’re willing to pay and be patient.

One of the most recent Hodgson books is the paperback collection, ADRIFT ON THE HAUNTED SEAS: THE BEST adriftSHORT STORIES OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON.  Edited by Douglas Anderson and published by Cold Spring Press, this book is oddly difficult to find today and can command high prices on the resale market.  This book was distributed by Simon and Schuster, Inc. and retailed for a mere $11.  Today, it can cost at least $30 or up to $100!  This is shown by recent listings on the rare book website, abebooks.com.  I honestly do not understand the logic behind this.  Anderson’s introduction is a short 5 pages and the contents are available in other editions.  My advice would be to take the $100 a dealer wants for this book and spend it on the two Jane Frank volumes!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to collecting Hodgson books.  I haven’t covered the many paperback versions as they are, by and large, fairly easy to find and generally not too expensive.  If you have any questions about the value of a particular title or edition, leave a message on this post and I’ll be happy to answer it!

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100!!!!!!


100posts11This marks the 100th posting on the William Hope Hodgson Blog!

Back when I started this blog, several people questioned if there would be enough material to keep it going.  It wasn’t an entirely unjustified question.  After all, Hodgson doesn’t have as much devoted to him as, say, Lovecraft does.  But I felt that, whatever material I did have was important enough to present.

WHHHodgson is kind of the underdog in weird literature.  Doesn’t get a lot of press.  Guillermo del Toro isn’t lining up to direct a move based on THE NIGHT LAND.  There isn’t a convention devoted to Hodgson taking place in Blackburn.  There aren’t even any comic books doing “Hodgsonian” tales.

When I was a small press publisher back in the 1990s, I had a table at a local convention/show where I was selling my Hodgson reprints as well as a couple of Machen books and others.  The convention’s GOH was Neil Gaiman who was kind enough to stop by the table and talk a bit.  We chatted about Machen for a few minutes and gave him complimentary copies of my Machen books but, when I tried to interest him in the Hodgson, he wasn’t biting.  He just wasn’t all that keen on WHH…even when I was trying to give him FREE copies.  I’ve gotten that reaction a lot.

I guess that kind of stuck with me over the years as an example of Hodgson being the “Rodney Dangerfield” of weird fiction.  “He don’t get no respect!”

Through the years, that has always been one of the driving forces behind my efforts.  I want Hodgson to get more respect both from the readers and the literary circles.  WHH will never reach the stature of a Poe or Lovecraft (nor would even I say he deserves to be elevated so far) but there is much in WHH to enjoy and study.

This staged photo of WHH at a ship's wheel was used in his lectures about life at sea.

This staged photo of WHH at a ship’s wheel was used in his lectures about life at sea.

That was one of the reasons why I started this blog because there was no place on the internet to get a lot of this information.  You might get a bit here and there but it wasn’t centralized.  I wanted there to be a place where everyone could come to get old and new material and find out what’s going on in the world of Hodgson.

I hope that I have succeeded in that endeavor.

As we enter 2013, there are already new things in store for Hodgson and his fans.  Some new books are scheduled to come out and WHH is finally getting some of that critical attention that has been denied him for so long.

Hopefully, this year will see the publication of a new collection of Hodgson criticism and studies edited by Massimo Berruti and published by Hippocampus Press called VOICES FROM THE BORDERLAND.  It is an anthology of some old pieces and a lot of new ones as well.  I am happy to say that I will be represented in this volume by several articles and am honored to be included.

One of the most important items in VOICES FROM THE BORDERLAND will hopefully be the long-awaited Hodgson Bibliography which S. T. Joshi, Mike Ashley and I have been working on for well over 10 years now.  It is already over 100 pages long and covers international appearances as well as English.  It has been an invaluable resource in my own work and I look forward to sharing it with others.

A early photo of WHH.  I am not sure of the year but probably roughly around 1903 or so.

A early photo of WHH. I am not sure of the year but probably roughly around 1903 or so.

Already this year we have seen a new paperback of Hodgson stories from Night Shade Books called THE GHOST PIRATES AND OTHERS edited by Jeremy Lassen.  This has marked the first appearance by WHH in an inexpensive, mass produced paperback in several years.  Hodgson also was mentioned in S.T. Joshi’s two volume history of weird literature; UNUTTERABLE HORROR.

Later this year, Centipede Press will be releasing a collection of Hodgson stories compiled by S. T. Joshi.  I do not know the full contents of this book yet but I do know that it will contain the text of the original edition of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND.  Unfortunately, given the tendency of Centipede Press to produce expensive items, I fear it will not be cheap but I am sure that it will be a very attractively pro1 sargassoduced book.

In addition, 2013 will see the first issue of SARGASSO: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies.  This will be a yearly publication highlighting new articles about Hodgson as well as Hodgson inspired art and stories.  I’ve already gotten a number of submissions and am expecting new articles by some of the biggest names in Hodgson criticism.

carnackiAnother project which I’m putting together is a special, 100th anniversary edition of CARNACKI.  This will be a deluxe edition, reprinting the original texts along with annotations.  With luck, I hope to have it available by November.  Going along with that, I would like to announce a collection of all-new Carnacki tales!  I’m opening this up to submissions today, with this post, in the hopes that everyone will spread the word!  I am looking for new tales of Carnacki in the Hodgson tradition so I encourage all of our writers out there to submit a story.  Details are still being negotiated so keep watching the blog for more announcements.

Already I am looking forward to the future.  Within the last 20 years, Hodgson has made great strides in critical and reader popularity.  Virtually all of his major fiction is now available either through e-books, print-on-demand or free online sites.  The next steps are to increase availability of his poetry and non-fiction so that, for new readers, everything is available.  This is a major difference from just a few years ago when it was difficult to easily find even Hodgson’s novels.  Today, we can state that Hodgson is better known and read than ever before.

William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

And there is still so much more to learn!  Genealogy research has barely been touched and there is a great need for more study about Hodgson’s own life, opinions and beliefs.  Plus Hodgson has suffered from one major disadvantage: there has yet to be a full, book-length critical study of his works.  I hope to change this in the future.

It’s been a great 100 posts and I hope everyone will still around for the next 100!!

(I’d like to thank everyone who has helped with this blog over the last 100 posts.  I could not have done it without your overwhelming support and I humbly thank you all.  Whether you have contributed materials, shared knowledge, spread the word or just read the blog regularly, you are why I keep going and posting week after week.  I may be the person behind the blog but it is really for all of you.)

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A Guide to Hodgson Criticism


Sometimes I am asked what is the ‘best’ scholarly work on Hodgson to read?  Usually this comes from people who have read Hodgson’s writings and want to learn more about the man and his work.  Happily (or unhappily), unlike Lovecraft, there has not been so much work done on Hodgson as to be overwhelming.  Indeed, there is much yet to be done but, like everything, there is a beginning.  This list contains comments regarding the items which are purely my own opinion.

We must first divide this list into two parts: Biographical and Critical.  Although some contain elements of both, most fall firmly into one camp or the other.

Biographical

There have been several significant biographical pieces on Hodgson.  It is due to them that we have what little information that we do today.

evertsThe earliest came from R. Alain Everts 1974’s, William Hope Hodgson: THE NIGHT PIRATE, Volume 2 .  This was the result of much individual research by Everts and interviews with Hodgson’s then surviving siblings.

Sam Moskowitz provided the longest and most detailed analysis with his essay which first appeared in three issues of Weird Tales in 1973 when he was that magazine’s editor.  These installments were combined into one article which served as the introduction to the important collection, Out of the Storm (Grant, 1975).

Both Everts and Moskowitz deserve reading.  However, they often disagree on various points.  Moskowitz, for example, claims that WHH had a good relationship with his parents while Everts refutes this.  Because much of this information is apocryphal, it cannot be independently verified at this point.  My belief is that much of the information both scholars quoted was gained from interviews they conducted with WHH family.  As such, we must adjust for faulty memories or the more typical tendency to ‘revise’ history to make it appear more palpable.  Read with an open mind.

PamperoMoskowitz would go on to pen two more forewords to the other two WHH collections from Grant that he edited.  Much useful information is contained in both.  In The Haunted Pampero (1991), Moskowitz describes the efforts of Hodgson’s widow to keep his work alive until her death in 1943.  In Terrors of the Sea (1996), Moskowitz’s introduction picks up after the death of Hodgson’s widow when the literary estate reverted to Hodgson’s sister, Lissie.  This essay is particularly interesting in that it describes how Lissie often did more harm than good albeit unintentionally as she did not understand publishing and contracts.

The next major biographical step would come with Jane Frank’s The Wandering Soul.  After Moskowitz’s death in 1997, Frank and her husband purchased Moskowitz’s Hodgson collection which Jane Frank used to put together this anthology of WHH’s non-fiction and essays.

In addition to an excellent essay covering Hodgson’s life and career, Frank presents several unpublished WHH items that have significant impact on our knowledge of Hodgson’s life.  These include the lectures “A Sailor and His Camera” and “Ship’s Log”.  Recently, Frank has mentioned that she still has some unpublished items from Moskowitz’s files and is searching for a publisher for them.

Criticism

One of the earliest examples of Hodgson Criticism is H. P. Lovecraft’s essay, “The Weird Work of William Hope Hodgson”.  This was originally published in The Phantagraph in 1937 and then later in H. C. Koenig’s amateur magazine, The Reader and Collector (1944).  This essay was reprinted in full on this blog here.  Lovecraft had taken the portions on Hodgson that he had included in his revised essay, Supernatural Horror in Literature, and expanded them in this article.

That issue of The Reader and Collector marked the first time that serious critical attention had been focused on Hodgson.  Through the kind generosity of Koenig’s son-in-law, Gene Biancheri, we have reprinted that issue in it’s entirety on this blog.  The issue included essays by Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth, Koenig, E. A. Edkins and Ellery Queen.

Arkham House, 1946.

Arkham House, 1946.

In 1947, Koenig provided the introduction to Arkham House’s edition of House on the Borderland which was the first time many readers had read anything about Hodgson.

For the next several decades, the bulk of Hodgson Criticism would primarily be contained in introductions to various reprints of his work.  Many library encyclopedias and indexes would appear in the 1970s and 80s which would include sections on Hodgson but would be priced beyond the means of most readers.

In 1987, Hodgson enthusiast Ian Bell would self publish William Hope Hodgson: Voyages and Visions which would collect many significant essays on Hodgson.  It was the most significant gathering of scholarly articles on Hodgson since 1944’s Reader and Collector.

Recently, academic scholars have taken up the Hodgson banner.  Writers such as Emily Alder and Kelly Hurley have placed articles in volumes published by Cambridge University Press and others.

I would be remiss if I did not at least mention my own article, Writing Backwards: The Novels of William Hope Hodgson”, which was first published in 1992.  In it, I provided evidence that Hodgson’s novels were published in the reverse order of publication which changes many conceptions about Hodgson and his work.  I reprinted the essay on this blog here.

These are, to my mind, the primary sources that one should read for a basic understanding of Hodgson Criticism.  In an earlier post, I provided a more detailed listing of what was published and when which can be read here.

There is a great deal more work left to be done on Hodgson.  To date, he has not even received a book length analysis of his life and work.  In many ways, the field of Hodgson Criticism is as unexplored as many of the locales in his stories.  This needs to be corrected.–Sam Gafford

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William Meikle’s CARNACKI


1 meikleFew authors have done as much to keep Carnacki alive as William Meikle.  In addition to publishing a fine collection of short stories (CARNACKI: HEAVEN AND HELL), Meikle has contributed several other stories about the ‘ghost-finder’ to various anthologies and magazines.  Here is a list of Meikle’s Carnacki stories in print to date:

Coming Soon

  • The Island of Dr. Monroe (Steampunk Cthulhu anthology / Chaosium)
  • The Beast of Glamis (Weird Detection anthology / Prime )

And Meikle has not stopped there!  Word has recently reached us here at the Last Redoubt that he has written a new Carnacki story teaming the ‘ghost-finder’ with Hodgson’s other serial character, none other than amoral smuggler Captain Gault!  We are trembling with anticipation at what spectral adventures these two could get into and hope that it is published very soon.

(The bulk of the information contained here has been copied, with permission, from William Meikle’s website: http://www.williammeikle.com/  Go check it out and see all the other excellent books available from this talented writer.)

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CARNACKI #6: “The Thing Invisible”


carnacki 1(Spoiler warning!  This blog posts discusses plot details in the story, “The Thing Invisible”.  If you have not read this story yet, you can do so here.)

We come now to the sixth, and final, Carnacki story to appear in a magazine during Hodgson’s lifetime.  “The Thing Invisible” was published in the January, 1912, issue of The New Magazine.   It was also the last story to be included in the book collection of Carnacki stories that first appeared in 1913.   It is significant to note that there was a space of 18 months between the publication of this story and June, 1910’s, appearance of “The Searcher of the End House” (which was the last Carnacki story to appear in The Idler).  I have several theories as to why this may have been so which I will take up after the story recap.

After dinner with his friends, Carnacki reveals that he has just returned from South Kent where he was called for a most interesting case.  Sir Alfred Jarnock’s estate has a chapel which has a reputation for being haunted.  There is a legend that if any enemy were to enter the chapel after nightfall, they would be attacked by a dagger which rests over the altar.  Just another curious folktale that would have been ignored had a recent, dangerous, incident not have happened.

One Sunday, after service, the Rector had been talking with Sir Jarnock and Jarnock’s eldest son while the butler was going about extinguishing the candles.  Remembering that he had left his small prayer book on the Communion table, the Rector called to the butler to retrieve it.  As the three men looked towards the butler, he opened the small chancel gate and, before their eyes, was struck by the dagger.

“The Rector’s version was clear and vivid, and he had evidently received the astonishment of his life. He pictured to me the whole affair—Bellett, up at the chancel gate, going for the prayer book, and absolutely alone; and then the blow, out of the Void, he described it; and the force prodigious—the old man being driven headlong into the body of the Chapel. Like the kick of a great horse, the Rector said, his benevolent old eyes bright and intense with the effort he had actually witnessed, in defiance of all that he had hitherto believed.”

The butler survived the attack as the blade missed his heart but broke his collarbone.  It was then that Jarnock’s eldest son, George, had sent for Carnacki.  Sir Jarnock’s nerves had gotten the better of him and he appeared unable to deal with the situation.

After arriving, Carnacki makes his usual exact examination of the place and even spends three days painstakingly inspecting the roof.  He comes to the conclusion that there is no way for someone to hide in the chapel which is problematic as all witnesses, including the butler, claim that there was no one at all near him when the attack occurred.

“Above the altar hangs the ‘waeful dagger,’ as I had learned it was named. I fancy the term has been taken from an old vellum, which describes the dagger and its supposed abnormal properties. I took the dagger down, and examined it minutely and with method. The blade is ten inches long, two inches broad at the base, and tapering to a rounded but sharp point, rather peculiar. It is double-edged.

“The metal sheath is curious for having a crosspiece, which, taken with the fact that the sheath itself is continued three parts up the hilt of the dagger (in a most inconvenient fashion), gives it the appearance of a cross. That this is not unintentional is shown by an engraving of the Christ crucified upon one side, whilst upon the other, in Latin, is the inscription: ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will Repay.’ A quaint and rather terrible conjunction of ideas. Upon the blade of the dagger is graven in old English capitals: I WATCH. I STRIKE. On the butt of the hilt there is carved deeply a Pentacle.”

Finally speaking to Sir Jarnock, Carnacki proposes that he spend the night in the chapel to which Sir Jarnock completely refuses.  It is Sir Jarnock’s habit to lock the chapel every evening so that none would risk harm and he would not yield on this point especially after what had happened to the butler.

Undaunted, Carnacki decides to make an impression of the key when he borrows it the following day and have a duplicate made in secret.  He sets up his camera and takes a picture of the quite chapel in daylight.  Carnacki then goes into town to develop the plate and have the duplicate key made.

That night, Carnacki sneaks into the chapel.  In preparation, he dons several pieces of plate mail over which he wears a shirt of chain mail ‘borrowed’ from the Jarnock’s Armory.  He carries with him a lantern and his gun.

“Now it would be silly to say I did not feel queer. I felt very queer indeed. You just try, any of you, to imagine yourself standing there in the dark silence and remembering not only the legend that was attached to the place, but what had really happened to the old butler only a little while gone, I can tell you, as I stood there, I could believe that something invisible was coming toward me in the air of the Chapel. Yet, I had got to go through with the business, and I just took hold of my little bit of courage and set to work.”

Carnacki resets his camera and re-examines the chapel again to no avail.  He takes another picture of the chapel with the use of his flash and then sits down in one of the pews to wait.  As the evening wears on, he hears odd noises like the sound of a metallic ‘clank’ from the direction of the altar and soft steps near him.  The dark and the quiet bear down on him:

“Suddenly my courage went. I put up my mailed arms over my face. I wanted to protect it. I had got a sudden sickening feeling that something was hovering over me in the dark. Talk about fright! I could have shouted if I had not been afraid of the noise…. And then, abruptly, I heard something. Away up the aisle, there sounded a dull clang of metal, as it might be the tread of a mailed heel upon the stone of the aisle. I sat immovable. I was fighting with all my strength to get back my courage. I could not take my arms down from over my face, but I knew that I was getting hold of the gritty part of me again. And suddenly I made a mighty effort and lowered my arms. I held my face up in the darkness. And, I tell you, I respect myself for the act, because I thought truly at that moment that I was going to die. But I think, just then, by the slow revulsion of feeling which had assisted my effort, I was less sick, in that instant, at the thought of having to die, than at the knowledge of the utter weak cowardice that had so unexpectedly shaken me all to bits, for a time.”

When nothing happens, Carnacki recovers his courage.  He turns on his lantern but sees nothing amiss or worrying so shuts it off and sits for awhile more in the dark.

His nerves fading, Carnacki becomes convinced that he is hearing a slithering sound near the camera and shines his lantern to find nothing there.  Standing up, he is determined to see if the dagger has moved and walks up to the chancel gate to find that the dagger is no long in the scabbard above the altar.

Afraid that it might be floating about somewhere near, he steps up the gate and, as he opens it, is struck mightily in the chest by the dagger!  Thrown backward, he loses his gun and the lantern smashes on the floor.  Panic stricken, Carnacki runs blindly down the aisle, knocking over his camera and out the door.

In his room, Carnacki regains his calm and examines his armor.  The dagger had pierce both the chain and plate armor and left a scratch on his chest.  With a chill, Carnacki realizes that it had been pointed at his heart.

At dawn the next morning, Carnacki returns to the chapel and examines his equipment.  The lantern is shattered but his gun is untouched and the camera only  slightly damaged.  The dagger is lying in the aisle.

With a sudden, unreasoned action, I jumped forward and put my foot on it, to hold it there. Can you understand? Do you? And, you know, I could not stoop down and pick it up with my hands for quite a minute, I should think. Afterward, when I had done so, however, and handled it a little, this feeling passed away and my Reason (and also, I expect, the daylight) made me feel that I had been a little bit of an ass. Quite natural, though, I assure you! Yet it was a new kind of fear to me. I’m taking no notice of the cheap joke about the ass! I am talking about the curiousness of learning in that moment a new shade or quality of fear that had hitherto been outside of my knowledge or imagination. Does it interest you?

Carnacki cleans up and takes the plates out of the camera before heading back to town.  He wakes up the local photographer who grants Carnacki access to his darkroom.  The first plate he develops is of the chapel, taken with the flash but there is nothing unusual in the picture.  The second plate is of what had been in the camera at the time of the attack with the lens open.  It is Carnacki’s hope that something might have imprinted upon the unexposed plate.  Although the second plate shows some shapes which could have been the dagger, they are too vague to be sure.  It is while examining the other photo that Carnacki makes an exciting discovery.

Arriving back at the castle, Carnacki is told that Sir Jarnock is unwell and would prefer that no one enter the chapel without him.  George Jarnock states that it is in keeping with his father’s personality as he would never allow anyone into the chapel.

Carnacki sneaks off and conducts some experiments in the chapel which confirm his suspicions.  He gets George to come with him and they bring a dummy dressed in plate armor to the chapel.  Although surprised when Carnacki produces a key, George says nothing.

16_thingThey place the dummy in the same position where the butler had been attacked.  When George makes a motion to open the chancel gate, Carnacki warns him that he is in danger and to step away.  George steps away to the left and Carnacki, well to the right of the dummy, leans it forward so that it presses on the chancel gate which springs open.  Suddenly, the dummy is stuck by a tremendous blow and thrown to the floor where it lays with the dagger buried in the armor.

Carnacki shows George how the trick was done.  A section of the left hand gatepost has a hinge which, when pressed down, opens a gap in the floor into which the post fits snugly with a click.  Carnacki then takes the dagger and places it in a hole in the post, point upward.  Then, pressing further, the section lifts back up, covering the dagger and closing the hole in the floor.  It is nothing more than a trap set for an unsuspecting enemy.

The case is resolved when Sir Jarnock confesses to setting the trap every night out of habit and that, the day of the butler’s injury, had set it too early.  The hole, Carnacki surmises, was used in previous ages to hide valuables and, indeed, that is where Sir Jarnock has hidden his late wife’s jewelry.

As there was no permanent injury with the butler recovering, the affair is hushed up and the chapel retains it’s ‘haunted’ reputation.

“The Thing Invisible” is definitely one of Carnacki’s weakest cases as written by Hodgson.  Not only is there no supernatural cause but the ‘haunting’ itself is handled poorly and is hardly interesting.  Compare this to other stories where even the manufactured hauntings are more dramatic and we can see why this story lacks.   The only ‘fear’ comes as Carnacki sits alone in the chapel and even this is not as effective as in other stories.

In addition, there is no mention of any of Carnacki’s previous cases (like there are in other stories), the Sigsand Manuscript, or even the SaaaMaaa Ritual.  In some ways, it seems as if this case happened to a completely different Carnacki!  None of his investigative techniques are used here such as sealing the doors or placing wires to determine if anyone else is walking nearby.

It is for this reason that I feel that this is quite possibly the first Carnacki story written by Hodgson.  The story feels as if Hodgson is working his way towards the ‘Carnacki’ that we grow to know in the other stories and even some of his prose style is reminiscent of early works.  In addition, the beginning is written in such as way as to set up the formula for the later stories.  It explains the narrative frame far more than the later tales do and reads like an introduction to the series.

I believe that it was for this reason that August Derleth chose this story to lead the 1947 collection whereas, in the original 1913 edition, it is the last story in the book.  Although I can understand this reasoning, I feel that, in some ways, it is a mistake to lead with this weaker story.  Someone new to Carnacki might read this tale and wonder what all the fuss is about and not bother to read any further.  Far better to maintain either the original collection’s order (with the three additional stories added) or place this story closer to the middle when the strength of the other stories will prop up it’s deficiencies.

I feel that it is likely that The Idler rejected this story and maybe even for the same reasons I’ve just noted.  Perhaps they also felt that this was a ‘weaker’ story.  This would explain the time gap between the Idler appearances and this story later in The New Magazine.  My conclusion is that Hodgson had to shop this story around before finding it a home and that would not happen until 1912.  This was the last Carnacki story to appear in Hodgson’s lifetime.  We don’t know exactly when Hodgson stopped writing stories about his “ghost-finder” but others, like Sam Moskowitz, believe that at least “The Hog” was written closer to Hodgson’s death in 1918.  It is yet another Hodgson question that we will never be able to fully answer.

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Lose Yourself in SARGASSO!


Ok, so I’m not the greatest when it comes to slogans!  I’m open to any suggestions!

I’ve just received the logos for the SARGASSO magazine and I couldn’t wait to share them with everyone.  They are amazing!  More excellent work from famed artist Jason Eckhardt, they will grace the cover and contents page of every issue.  I will also feature them in the SARGASSO webpage which I am currently working on and hope to get up and running by the end of the year.

Here is Jason’s cover logo:

Image

I love the color and the skull!  This will be featured prominently on every cover in color!

For the inside, contents page, Jason has done something more elaborate:

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Another excellent job by Mr. Eckhardt!

Regarding SARGASSO, I’d like to remind those that have promised material that time is moving ever forward.  While I have gotten many superb pieces of art and a few stories, I am still waiting on articles.  So, remember, the deadline is March 30th and that will be here sooner than you know it!  I want this magazine to be a repository of premiere scholarship about WHH but that won’t happen without your support!  Sorry, but I gotta crack the whip a bit here!  SARGASSO depends on your support not just as readers but contributors.  Let’s show all those upstarts out there that ol’ WHH is worthy of serious attention too!

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An Index to the Blog!


I love indexes!  They’re just such wonderfully marvelous things!  One of the very first things I usually do when I get a new book is to flip to the back and check out the index and bibliography.  If I like them, I know I’ll like the book!

Given that this blog has now had 65 posts (believe it or not!), there are probably a lot of people who are just now discovering it and want to read more but who wants to wade through 65 posts looking for something?  Well, fear not, true believer! (I grew up on Stan Lee comics obviously.)  What follows is a clickable index of all of the posts so that you can jump to any of them from here.

I’ve also organized them by subjects so you can easily find more of what you’re interested in.

HODGSON’S LIFE

“A Life on the Borderland”

“Smile for the Camera, William Hope Hodgson”

“The Man Who Saved Hodgson”

“Sail on One of Hodgson’s Ships!”

“Meet Mrs. Hodgson!”

“William Hope Hodgson, This is Your Life!”

“A Hodgson Mystery”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part One”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part Two”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part Three”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part Four”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part Five”

“Hodgson Memorial”

“HPL & WHH”

“Mr. Hodgson, Second Mate”

“A Medal for Hodgson”

HODGSON’S FICTION

“Hodgson’s First Story”

“From the Tideless Sea”

“More News from the Homebird”

“The Baumoff Explosive”

“The Voice in the Night”

HODGSON’S NON-FICTION, POETRY, ETC.

“Physical Culture: A Talk with an Expert”

“Why Am I Not At Sea?”

“The Calling of the Sea”

HODGSON CRITICISM

“Hodgson’s Publishing History”

“Writing Backwards: The Novels of William Hope Hodgson”

“A Brief History of Hodgson Studies”

“The First Literary Copernicus”

“WHH: Master of the Weird and Fantastic by H.C. Koenig”

“The Weird Work of William Hope Hodgson by H. P. Lovecraft”

“In Appreciation of William Hope Hodgson by Clark Ashton Smith”

“William Hope Hodgson by August Derleth”

“The Poetry of William Hope Hodgson by E. A. Edkins”

“William Hope Hodgson and the Detective Story by Ellery Queen”

“WHH: Writer of Supernatural Horror by Fritz Leiber, Jr.”

“An Appreciation”

“A NIGHT LAND Review”

“A Biographical Item”

HODGSON TEXTS AND MEDIA

“Free Hodgson”

“What’s That I Hear?”

“William Hope Hodgson and Arkham House”

“MATANGO!!!!”

“Canacki on the TV!”

“Hodgson on the Web!”

MISC.

“The Dreamer in the Night Land”

“My First Hodgson”

“Updates”

“A Borderland Gallery”

“Why Carnacki?”

“E. A. Edkins and some Updates!”

“New Sargasso Sea Story”

“The REAL Sargasso Sea”

“A Carnacki Gallery”

“The Derelict of Death by Ford and Clark”

“The House on the Borderland by Corben and Revelstroke”

“Why I’m doing this…”

“Sign Here, Please”

“Announcing SARGASSO!!!”

“Updates and New Poll”

“A Curious Matter of Books”

“A Hodgson Parody”

“Odds and Ends”

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Odds and Ends


There’s a couple of items that people have sent me recently that I’d like to get off my desk before getting into more Hodgson work.  I appreciate all the feedback I get from everyone who reads this blog and I especially enjoy hearing about new and exciting Hodgsonian items!

The ever helpful Gene Biancheri sends along this photo of the Star of India which, as longtime readers of this blog will remember was actually a ship that Hodgson had sailed on when it was named the Euterpe.  This photo was taken in May of 1976 but the ship is still docked in San Francisco should anyone care to visit.  If it were not on the opposite coast from me, I would probably try to live on it if I could!  I am still amazed at the thought that it is possible to step aboard one of the actual ships that Hodgson served upon.

You can read the original blog post about the Star of India here.

Another item comes from noted Hodgson scholar, Jane Frank, who writes in to remind me that WHH did receive the Royal Humane Society medal in 1898.  This is in reference to my earlier post regarding WHH’s posthumous medal which I wrote about in this blog post: “A Medal for Hodgson”.

Jane is, of course, absolutely correct and provides this citation from her book, THE WANDERING SOUL:

BRONZE MEDALS CITATIONS TAKEN FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT FOR 1898

Hodgson, W.H. Ship’s Apprentice.   Case 29648

On the 28th March 1898, a man accidentally fell overboard from his ship in the harbour at Port Chalmers, New Zealand, the distance from shore 600 yards, and the water infested with sharks. Hodgson jumped after him, and kept him afloat for 25 minutes, when they were picked up by a boat half a mile from the ship.

This information may also be found online here.  Simply scroll down to the “H” and you will find Hodgson.  On the website for the Royal Humane Society, there is this description of the medal:

The Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal was introduced in 1837.

It is awarded to people who have put their own lives at great risk to save or attempt to save someone else.

It is accompanied by a Certificate signed by the Society’s President, HRH Princess Alexandra.

Hodgson was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society and it would have looked like this:

Unfortunately, we have no idea where this medal might be today.  It is certainly likely that WHH’s widow, Bessie, kept this along with the posthumous medal she received.  However, she never remarried and had no children.  Perhaps, upon Bessie’s death, these medals might have been bequeathed to WHH’s sister, Lizzie, but I do not know.  Unless someone can provide a copy of Bessie’s (and/or Lizzie’s) will, this will remain an open question.  Even then, the wills may not provide an answer.

Hodgson collector par excellance, Dave Kurzman, provided the following photos of another unique volume.  This time it is Bessie Hodgson’s personal copy of WHH’s collection, THE LUCK OF THE STRONG.  Especially poignant is the death notice placed on the inside front cover.  Mrs. Hodgson’s name and address are on the front page.

Many thanks to Dave for sharing this very unique Hodgson item with us!

Not as many people have voted in the poll as I would have liked.  It is really a great help to me as it determines the type of material I post here on the blog.  If you’d still like to vote, you can do so here.

One of the interesting things about the votes so far is that the majority want to see more posts about Hodgson’s writing!  While that is certainly heartening to me, it is also a little taunting as those are the types of posts that take the longest time to do.  And, surprisingly enough, my days are not completely filled with Hodgson!  Still, I will attempt to fulfill that demand as often as possible.

One of the ways that I will be doing that is beginning a regular series focusing completely on the Carnacki stories.  I will be starting that series next Monday, November 12th, and will be examining all of the stories in full with the final article focusing on “The Hog” in which I will address the curious publishing history of the tale and also the persistent rumors that WHH did not write the story.  I hope you will all enjoy it.

Several people have remarked to me that this blog is specifically responsible for renewing their interest in Hodgson.  This makes me very happy as this is one of the biggest reasons I started this blog in the first place!  The more people who talk about WHH, the more people who will want to read WHH!  In some ways, it is like pushing a boulder up a hill.  It’s an enormous effort at first but, once you reach that crest, it’s amazing how quickly it will speed up.

Thanks again to everyone who takes the time to read and comment on the blog.  As WHH would say, “Here’s a hearty handshake on it!”

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THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND by Corben and Revelstroke


It is a source of constant amazement to me that more of William Hope Hodgson’s works have not been adapted into comic or graphic novel format.  It would seem that many of his stories would fit perfectly with such a visual medium.  Consider the sea creatures of WHH’s “Sargasso Sea” stories or the supernatural cases of Carnacki.  The amount of action in all of these would be perfect for such adaptations and far more so than Lovecraft has been, to my thinking.

And yet, to my knowledge, there has only been one comic format adaptation of Hodgson.  That is Vertigo Comics 2000 publication of The House on the Borderland adapted by Richard Corben and Simon Revelstroke.  Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, has a long and illustrious history as a publisher of horror and cutting edge comics.  When I first heard of this book, I was quite excited!  I’d been a fan of Corben’s work since his days in the old Warren magazines of Creepy and Eerie so I knew that, artistically, he would be a good match for the material.

Unfortunately, what was eventually published bore little resemblance to the original novel by WHH.  If anything, I would not consider this to be an ‘adaptation’ in so much as it is a ‘re-interpretation’.  It takes WHH’s novel more as an inspiration than a literal script.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the inclusion of a ‘framing sequence’ meant to give the story more of a “contemporary vein”.  In it, two hikers discover the manuscript that forms Hodgson’s original novel while being chased by a group of irate Irishmen.  Later, at the end, Corben and Revelstroke use the framing sequence as a way of not only lending credence to the events detailed in the journal but also for their own speculations and attempts to ‘explain’ the meaning of the novel.  This is both unnecessary and pointless and adds little to the overall impact of the book.  I would have rather that they had spent more pages on the adaptation than indulge in this extraneous addition.

This is probably the weakest aspect of the book in that Corben and Revelstroke have excised large portions of the novel.  Most conspicuous is the section where the narrator’s mind travels across a plain of desolate loneliness into a valley of murderous gods in half-slumber.  Overall, this part seems to have fallen victim to Corben & Revelstroke’s concept of what is truly important in the novel: the swine-creatures.

Even in this aspect, there is little resemblance to Hodgson’s novel.  Where WHH had his narrator engage in an almost placid defense of his house and sister, Corben & Revelstroke re-imagine it into a multi-page siege sequence complete with rapidly fired guns and an attempt by the swine-creatures to rape the narrator’s sister.

Sexual themes in the novel have been suggested and examined before.  A most notable example is Iain Sinclair’s afterword to a later printing of the novel entitled “An Aberrant Afterword: Blowing Dust in the House of Incest”.  However, Corben & Revelstroke remove all pretense in their version with the narrator’s sister making an overt attempt to seduce him.  In this adaptation, this is representation of the sister’s descent into degeneration caused by the attack from the swine-creatures but it remains jarring nonetheless.

Such wild excesses are to be expected with Corben whose own adaptations of Poe stories have often contained naked women and inexplicable sex scenes.  But, on the whole, they do not ring true in a Hodgson story.

In many ways, this adaptation confuses me.  If it were meant to appeal to fans of Hodgson, those readers will be, at best, disappointed and, at worst, very angry.  If it was hoped to bring more fans to Hodgson’s own writings, this again is baffling as those who expect WHH’s work to be like this will inevitably be unsatisfied.

This book works best if you are able to completely separate it from the original novel.  If you can do this, it is actually a very enjoyable graphic novel with much to commend it.  Corben’s art is in fine display here and shows once again why he became such a popular and influential artist.  The worst aspect of this adaptation might be the incessant attempts to make sense of everything.  In Hodgson’s own novel, much is hinted at but rarely explained.  That, in my opinion, is one of the reasons it is so successful and so powerful.  The unknown is always more frightening than an explanation.

The book contains an introduction by comic book legend, Alan Moore.  Thankfully, he spends virtually no time talking about the adaptation that follows but instead about Hodgson and his work.  That Moore is a fan of Hodgson is well shown here and it is not surprising that Carnacki makes an appearance in Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The hoped-for explosion of Hodgson adaptations after this book never happened.  And, considering how little of the novel this book actually adapts, I’d say there is still need for a more faithful version.

This adaptation is apparently no longer in print but can be found through Amazon sellers (it is also available as a Kindle) and frequently shows up on ebay.

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