Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reflections on "Reflections"

I do from time to time try to review books I've read over at goodreads, which is a great site for covering all things bookish. But, I've also been listening to various podcasts and talks downloaded from iTunes, and there's not a spot for that on goodreads, which means that the blog gets the burden of hosting reviews of anything not found there.
Which, right now, is the talk "Reflections on H.P. Lovecraft"  by S.T. Joshi, who is a prolific and (presumably, based on the reviews of his books) thoughtful interpreter of H.P. Lovecraft, supernatural fiction (particularly horror), and, interestingly, atheism.
In terms of his presentation, Joshi is an excellent and articulate speaker. The talk was well organized and progressed smoothly. My primary objection is that  Joshi is a bit of a navel gazer, and far too often sings his own praises rather than sticking to Lovecraft. Now, granted, Joshi is a major moving force in Lovecraft scholarship, so his own work should be a part of the talk. On the other hand, "I did this" gets old after a while...
The talk itself is useful and interesting in explaining the life and work of Lovecraft, and the development of Lovecraft in popular fiction, publishing, and scholarship. The short summary is that Lovecraft was never popular in his own lifetime, and that seemed to have been okay with him. He did not desire popular lauds, though he did (much like his heir, Stephen King) desire the accolades of academia. And, after long years of life in the pulps and independent (i.e. "vanity") presses, he has finally received them.
That is the true subject of the talk, the gradual acceptance of Lovecraft by the scholarly world, finally placing him alongside the other great writers of American literature, including Poe, Hawthorne, and other New England writers.

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