Illustrated by Dan Hillier
Edited by S. T. Joshi
Preface by Alan Moore
This collection, spanning Lovecraft’s literary career, marries his best-known short stories with two modern masters of the macabre, the acclaimed artist Dan Hillier and author Alan Moore.
The birth of the modern horror story can be traced to the dark visions that crept from the febrile imagination of H. P. Lovecraft at the beginning of the last century. The alien gods, death cults and forbidden tomes that cast their maddening shadows over of his fictitious New England would introduce the world to a new set of terrors, reflecting the strange, uncaring universe being unraveled by physics and cosmology. These ‘weird’ tales, and their vast influence, have since carved their creator a tentacle-shaped throne among the monoliths of American literature.
‘The twentieth-century horror story’s dark and baroque prince’
This collection spans Lovecraft’s literary career, and charts the development of his ‘cosmicist’ philosophy; the belief that behind the veil of our blinkered everyday lives lies another reality, too terrible for the human mind to comprehend. In stories written in the gothic tradition, narrators recount their descent into madness and despair. Through their investigations into the unexplained, they tug at the thin threads that separate our world from another of indescribable horror. ‘“ Great God! I never dreamed of THIS!”’ screams occultist Harley Warren in ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’, as he begs his companion to bury him alive. Another early piece, ‘The Outsider’ – a tragic and emotive evocation of loneliness and desolation – follows a man’s escape from his castle in a desperate search for human contact, but the loathsome truth he discovers destroys his mind.
‘We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far’
In later tales, such as the iconic ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ and ‘The Whisperer in Darkness’, Lovecraft reaches into the cosmos, bridging the divide between horror and science fiction. The extra-terrestrial ‘gods’ and cursed histories that would emerge from these stories now form the cornerstones of Lovecraft’s unique mythology: the Cthulhu Mythos. This fictional universe, built in large part by his friend and most ardent supporter August Derleth, has in the years since been reimagined in myriad forms, and continues to act as a haunted playground for countless illustrators, fans and authors.
This edition, based on its sister limited edition, marries Lovecraft’s best-known fiction with two modern masters of the macabre, the acclaimed artist Dan Hillier and author Alan Moore. In his beautifully crafted new preface, Moore finds Lovecraft at once at odds with and integral to the time in which he lived: ‘the improbable embodiment of an estranged world in transition’. Yet, despite his prejudices and parochialisms, he ‘possessed a voice and a perspective both unique in modern literature’.
Hillier’s six mesmerising, portal-like illustrations embrace the alien realities that lurk among the gambrel roofs of Lovecraft’s landscapes. By splicing Victorian portraits and lithographs with cosmic and Lovecraftian symbolism, each piece – like the stories themselves – pulls apart the familiar to reveal what lies beneath.
The edition itself shimmers with Lovecraft’s ‘unknown colours’, bound in purple and greens akin to both the ocean depths and mysteries from outer space. The cover is embossed with a mystical design by Hillier, while a monstrous eye stares blankly from the slipcase.
H. P. Lovecraft was born in 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. He left school without attaining a diploma but showed an early enthusiasm for the written word. He first appeared in print in 1906 in The Providence Sunday Journal when he wrote a letter to the editor on astronomy – one of his great passions. In 1923 several of his short stories were accepted by Weird Tales, the same magazine that would first publish ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ in 1928. Lovecraft went on to write further other-worldly and existential horror stories which would form part of the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ and secure him a prominent place among 20-century horror writers. He died in 1937.
Alan Moore, born in Northampton in 1953, is a writer, performer, recording artist, activist and magician. His comic-book work includes Lost Girls (2009) with Melinda Gebbie, From Hell (1991) with Eddie Campbell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (for which he won a Bram Stoker Award in 2000) with Kevin O’Neill. He has worked with director Mitch Jenkins on the Showpieces cycle of short films and on forthcoming feature film The Show, while his novels include Voice of the Fire (1996) and his current epic, Jerusalem (2016). He lives in Northampton with his wife and collaborator, Melinda Gebbie.
S. T. Joshi is a freelance writer and editor. He has edited Lovecraft’s collected fiction as well as some of Lovecraft’s essays, letters and miscellaneous writings. Among his critical and biographical studies are The Weird Tale (1990), Lord Dunsany: Master of the Anglo-Irish Imagination (1995) and H. P. Lovecraft: A Life (1996). Joshi is also an assembler of anthologies, having compiled Documents of American Prejudice (1993) and In Her Place: A Documentary History of Prejudice against Women (2006). He edited Lovecraft’s The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (2001) and wrote The Assaults of Chaos: A Novel about H. P. Lovecraft (2013).
Dan Hillier is a London-based artist. His work has been shown in galleries as diverse as the Louvre in Paris, the Saatchi Gallery in London and Turin’s Natural History Museum. He has also collaborated with others, among Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London in 2016, UK band Royal Blood for their eponymous number-one album in 2014, and providing the covers for Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors and Anansi Boys in 2008.
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Review by psclsc on 10th Jun 2017
"A wonderfully designed book that sets off Lovecraft's baroque prose. I was enthralled by the way the colour of the cover shifted in the light depending on the angle I held it. If the society is ..." [read more]