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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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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:

Image

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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HPL & WHH


It is well known that famed writer H. P. Lovecraft enjoyed the works of William Hope Hodgson.  After all, he included WHH in a later version of his groundbreaking essay, Supernatural Horror in Literature, as well as incorporating that section into an article published in The Reader and Collector (June, 1944).  We previously presented that article in an earlier entry on the blog at https://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/the-weird-work-of-william-hope-hodgson-by-h-p-lovecraft/.

But did Lovecraft have anything more to say about Hodgson?

A review of Arkham House’s Selected Letters of H.P. Lovecraft shows that WHH is not mentioned much in HPL’s private letters.  Well, at least not in those selected for the Arkham House editions.  After being loaned copies of WHH’s novels and Carnacki by friend H. C. Koenig in 1934, HPL’s mentions of WHH tend to be very superficial.  In a letter to E. Hoffman Price on August 31, 1934, HPL states that “I am still reveling in the discovery of William Hope Hodgson—which, as I told you, I owe to the always-accommodating Koenig.” (SLV, pg 26)

The most revealing section occurs in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith dated September 30, 1934:

Well—as you see, I surely have become a premier Hodgson fan!  Do you know anything about W. H. H. and his career?  Koenig tells me he was killed in the war.  All told, I believe that nobody but Blackwood can equal or surpass him in capturing the exact shades of the cosmic horror mood in all their actual details.  But he was uneven—again like Blackwood.  Carnacki is very weak, artificial, and stereotyped as a whole despite the strong points which you justly point out—and the Glen Carrig certainly suffered a letdown halfway through.  As soon as the castaways have dwelt on the island long enough to become tangible realities employing obvious siege strategy, something of the story’s original tension and sense of malign expectancy is lost.  Also—the attempt to use 18th century English rings absurdly false to any sincere devotee of the 18th century.  I agree about The Ghost Pirates—and what a wealth of technical sea lore it contains!  I wonder if Hodgson was ever a sailor?  But the masterpiece, so far as I can see, is The House on the Borderland.  Boy—that dim, brooding air of menace!  And that stupefying cosmic sweep!  I am all on edge to read The Night Land . . . (SLV, pg 41)

In a letter to Duane Rimel dated September 28, 1935, HPL states:

It is well to avoid actually recognized myths such as vampirism, reincarnation, etc., and invent one’s own obscure violations of cosmic law.  What common myth, for example, does Blackwood use in The Willows?  Or Chambers in The Yellow Sign?  Or Hodgson in The House on the Borderland?  These writers create a sort of distinctive awe of their own and manage to say something fresh despite all that has been said before.  (SLV, pg 198)

The only other mention of WHH comes later when HPL once again takes Hodgson to task for his inferior imitation of 18th century English.  This mention is only a brief aside as HPL is complaining about other writers also having a similar problem.

It is interesting to note that, in the published HPL letters, he does not speak about WHH very much despite an obvious respect for the work.  The fact that he compares Hodgson to Blackwood demonstrates the high regard Lovecraft felt for WHH.  Perhaps if he had discovered Hodgson earlier, as he did Dunsany or Machen, Lovecraft would have been influenced by Hodgson’s cosmicism which was so similar to his own.

Sources

Lovecraft, H. P. The Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft, Volume V: 1934-1937.  Arkham House. Sauk City: WI, 1976.  (Abbreviated as SLV)

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Index


We’re coming up on the two month mark since I began this blog!  I’m thrilled at all the great response it’s received but also the amount of new information and items we’ve been able to bring to a wider public.  Because many might only now be discovering this blog, I present the following index to the previous posts for your convenience.  It will keep people from having to search through all of the entries.

The Dreamer in the Night Land (Intro to the blog)
A Life on the Borderland (A short bio of WHH)
Free Hodgson! (A listing of where to find WHH writings free online)
Hodgson’s First Story (A look at the first story WHH had professionally published)
My First Hodgson (Hints on what Hodgson new readers should start with)
Smile for the Camera, William Hope Hodgson!  (A gallery of WHH photos)
The Man Who Saved Hodgson! (A look at H. C. Koenig, WHH’s early champion)
Hodgson’s Publishing History (A Chronological listing of WHH’s publishing)
Sail on One of Hodgson’s Ships! (A look at a ship Hodgson sailed on that still exists today!)
Writing Backwards: The Novels of WHH (Important article on the order in which WHH wrote his novels)
A Brief History of Hodgson Studies (An overview of critical work on WHH)
Meet Mrs. Hodgson! (Article about WHH’s wife and the only known photo of her)
William Hope Hodgson, This is Your Life! (Chronology of WHH’s life)
What’s that I Hear? (List of audio adaptations)
“The First Literary Copernicus” (Reprint of important article about WHH’s cosmicism)
A Borderland Gallery (Gallery of covers of HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND)
Why Carnacki?  (Author William Meikle explains why he writes new Carnacki stories)
“WHH: Master of the Weird and Fantastic” (Important article by H.C. Koenig)
“The Weird Work of Willam Hope Hodgson” by H. P. Lovecraft (essay on Hodgson’s works by HPL)
“In Appreciation of William Hope Hodgson” by Clark Ashton Smith (essay by CAS)
“William Hope Hodgson” by August Derleth (Brief essay by co-founder of Arkham House)
“The Poetry of William Hope Hodgson” by E. A. Edkins (essay on WHH’s poetry)
“William Hope Hodgson and the Detective Story” by Ellery Queen (essay about Carnacki)
“WHH: Writer of Supernatural Horror” by Fritz Leiber (essay about WHH’s horror stories)
“An Appreciation” (portion of one of WHH’s obituaries)
E.A. Edkins and Some Updates!  (updating some previous items)
William Hope Hodgson and Arkham House (essay about the importance of AH in Hodgson’s career)
MATANGO!!!  (A look at the only film length adaptation of a WHH story)
New Sargasso Sea Story (presenting a new sea-horror tale by John B. Ford)

And that brings us up to date! Hard to believe how much we’ve covered and how much is left to do!  Next week, we’ll be looking at WHH’s Sargasso Sea stories as well as presenting the history behind that unique area.  Hope to “sea” you then!–Sam Gafford

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William Hope Hodgson and Arkham House


Today is the 122nd birthday of H.P. Lovecraft!  The importance of Lovecraft and his work in American Literature cannot be disputed and we recently reprinted an article on WHH by Lovecraft himself in which he praised much of Hodgson’s writings.  (Click here for that blog post in case you missed it!)

So in honor of the Gentleman from my home state of Rhode Island, let’s take a look at the extremely important contribution to Hodgson’s legacy made by the company which also kept Lovecraft’s memory and work from dying in the pulps: Arkham House!

Arkham House was started in 1939 by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei.  Their initial purpose was to preserve the writings of their friend, H. P. Lovecraft in hardcover.  From that beginning, Arkham House spread to become one of the leading publishers of weird fiction beginning the careers of such important writers as Ramsey Campbell and Brian Lumley.  In addition, Arkham House brought classic writers to entirely new generations.  One of those writers was William Hope Hodgson.

Throughout Arkham House’s history, they published three collections of Hodgson’s fiction (two through AH and one through their imprint, Mycroft & Moran).  These volumes are now highly prized by collectors but their most significant achievements were simply keeping Hodgson’s work alive and available.

1.  THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND AND OTHER NOVELS

THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND AND OTHER NOVELS was the 16th book published by Arkham House.  It was published in 1946 and the four color jacket by Hannes Bok was the first color dj on an Arkham House book.  The book is 639 pages long and records state that 3,014 copies were printed.  It is very similar in size and shape to Arkham House’s first book, Lovecraft’s THE OUTSIDER AND OTHERS, and the 17th Arkham House book, SKULL-FACE AND OTHERS by Robert E. Howard.  It originally sold for $5.  Copies today can easily run from $500-$1,000 depending upon condition.  This volume contained:

“William Hope Hodgson: Master of the Weird and Fantastic” by H.C. Koenig

THE BOATS OF THE “GLEN CARRIG”

THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND

THE GHOST PIRATES

THE NIGHT LAND

“Bibliography” by A. Langley Searles

This is arguably the most important book in Hodgson’s publishing history.  After the series of cheap reprints by Holden & Hardingham in 1920-21, Hodgson was virtually forgotten.  In fact, no books by Hodgson were reprinted at all between 1921 and this volume in 1946.  Had H.C. Koenig not convinced both Lovecraft and August Derleth of the merit of Hodgson’s work, this book would never had appeared and Hodgson would only be a footnote in the history of weird fiction today.  Because this collection appeared, the novels were kept alive to garner more fans and result in the paperback reprints by Ace in 1962 of HOUSE and NIGHT LAND.  It would not be until 1971 that Ballantine would include BOATS as part of their Adult Fantasy paperback series and THE GHOST PIRATES would not be reprinted until the British edition from Sphere in 1975.  This single book is the trigger for all that has followed since.

2.  CARNACKI, THE GHOST-FINDER

CARNACKI, THE GHOST-FINDER was only the 2nd book to be published by the Arkham House imprint, Mycroft & Moran.  Developed to showcase mystery and detective fiction, M&M was named after two characters from the Sherlock Holmes mythos (Mycroft, Holmes’ brother, and Moran, who was the infamous Professor Moriarity’s second in command).  The bulk of M&M’s output seems to be devoted to Derleth’s own Holmes pastiche, Solar Pons.

The dust jacket on this volume was created by artist Frank Utpatel.  Released in 1947 at 241 pages and priced at $3 with a print run of 3,050, this is the most important edition of Carnacki ever to be published.

The reason for that is the fact that this edition contained three stories that had not been included in the previous Carnacki collections of 1913 or 1921.  These three stories were acquired by Derleth through H. C. Koenig (who likely had gotten them originally from Hodgson’s family).  The most powerful and popular Carnacki story, “The Hog”, was one of these three stories.  This means that Lovecraft likely never read this story despite the fact that it echoes many of the themes and effects Lovecraft himself used in his fiction.

Ever since the appearance of this collection in 1947, all subsequent editions have included the three ‘uncollected’ stories.  The contents are:

“The Thing Invisible”

“The Gateway of the Monster”

“The House among the Laurels”

“The Whistling Room”

“The Searcher of the End House”

“The Horse of the Invisible”

“The Haunted Jarvee”

“The Find”

“The Hog”

(The last three listed were the ones Derleth included in this new edition.)

Once again, had Arkham House not published those three ‘missing’ stories, it is entirely likely that they would have been lost.  Only “The Haunted Jarvee” was published previously (in an issue of the EMPIRE MAGAZINE in 1929).  If nothing else, Derleth and Arkham House deserve praise for rescuing “The Hog” from obscurity.

Although not as collectible as HOUSE, the average price for this book on the used book market is between $100-$150.

3.   DEEP WATERS

DEEP WATERS was the third and last Hodgson collection to be published by Arkham House.  This volume also featured a cover by Frank Utpatel.  Released in 1967, the book contained 300 pages and retailed for $5.  Although Hodgson had published a collection named MEN OF DEEP WATERS in 1914, this book is not a reprint.  Instead, Derleth removed the non-weird stories from the original collection and added some others to maintain the focus on the weird.  The contents include:

“Foreward” by August Derleth

“The Sea Horses”

“The Derelict”

“The Thing in the Weeds”

“From the Tideless Sea”

“The Island of the Ud”

“The Voice in the Night”

“The Adventure of the Headland”

“The Mystery of the Derelict”

“The Shamraken Homeward-Bounder”

“The Stone Ship”

“The Crew of the Lancing”

“The Habitants of Middle Islet”

“The Call in the Dawn”

For most of these stories, this was their first reprint since their original magazine appearances which, in some cases, were 40 years previously!  By collecting these stories together, not only was Derleth preserving their memory but also bringing them to an entirely new generation who were able to see that Hodgson was a master of the sea-horror story.  Although originally planned as early as the late 40s, DEEP WATERS did not appear until 1967.  Possible reasons for this could have been Arkham House’s financial state (never particularly strong) or the amount of time it may have taken for the last two Hodgson books to sell out.  This book can usually be found today for between $60-$100.

***

I feel that it is safe to say that we owe Derleth and Arkham House a great debt as Hodgsonians.  Without these three books, we probably would never be able to read Hodgson today.  Remember also that these books were a direct result of constant encouragement by H. C. Koenig.

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