cover image The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft

The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft

Edited by Leslie S. Klinger. Norton/Liveright, $39.95 (864p) ISBN 978-0-87140-453-4

Klinger’s most controversial claim in this new compilation is that the late horror maestro Lovecraft’s work encapsulates the fears of the average man. Stories such as “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” and “At the Mountains of Madness” seem at best tangentially related to the unifying theme of the “Arkham cycle” that Klinger advances. His outline of the historical evolution of horror literature provides useful insight into the influences on Lovecraft’s style and the evolution of the pulp magazine industry that gave him a literary outlet. The biographical entry skims the surface of a complex individual’s life, but the presence of several apparently clashing views illustrates the difficulty and ultimate futility of rendering a single verdict on a writer. Despite Klinger’s stated goal of expanding Lovecraft’s audience, the exhaustive historical background and biographical information he supplies (familiar to readers of 2004’s The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes) will appeal more to the fan than the neophyte, and with Lovecraft’s 125th birthday just around the corner, in 2015, committed enthusiasts may prefer to discuss new scholarly analysis rather than revisit familiar ground. (Oct.)