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On the Shelf: August Derleth


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#1 AncientHistory

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 01:09 AM

We've talked about August Derleth a fair bit lately, and I've actually got half a shelf dedicated just for his stuff, so as long as I'm doing this I might as well take stock of my Derlethiana. Leaving out various bits and pieces like 30 Years at Arkham House, select issues of the Arkham Collector and the bound collections of the Arkham Sampler and some Arkham House books like Colonel Markeson and Less Pleasant People (which is on the Arkham House shelf), the section consists mostly of Derleth's fiction on the one hand, and various scholarship about Derleth on the other.

 

Of Derleth's fiction, the Mythos works are comprised of four books: the mammoth In Lovecraft's Shadow by Morel & Moran, whose title is sometimes noted as unkind but rarely unfitting, a Barnes & Nobles hardback of The Cthulhu Mythos which contains the contents of The Mask of Cthulhu and The Trail of Cthulhu along with other stories, the Running Press paperback edition of The Lurker on the Threshold (I have a more dog-eared edition of the mass-market paperback around her somewhere), and the Ballantine/Del Ray paperback The Watchers Out of Time containing the Lovecraft/Derleth "posthumous" collaborations. Together those four volumes all there is of Derleth's Mythos fiction, except I think the Solar Pons piece "The Adventure of the Six Silver Spiders."

 

The only other works of Derleth's unalloyed writing I have is a paperback of An August Derleth Reader with a sampling of, if not his full range, than a good chunk of it, as well as a copy of Walden West that has seen better decades, and which has a few quotes from the letters of H. P. Lovecraft - some of you might remember the thread where we tracked them down. I've sometimes thought of getting Return to Walden West just because it would feel...more complete...but I haven't yet.

 

Scholarship starts out with the oversized side-stapled one-shot magazine Remembering Derleth from the August Derleth Society, which is mainly a collection of newspaper articles, brief rememberances, Augie's favorite recipes, photographs, etc.In a not-too-disimilar vein is Who Was August Derleth?, a series of articles or mini-essays by AWD's former secretary Kay Price, and the two small pamphlets Return to Derleth: Selected Essays by White Hawk Press/James P. Roberts. These aren't bad volumes by any means and contain some interesting recollections and details, but I think the hardcover August Harvest: essays penned by various hands to keep the memory of August Derleth Green is a meatier affair, especially Steve Eng's essay on Augie's hand in promoting fantasy poetry in the United States.

 

I have Alison Wilson's August Derleth: a bibliography which is not, I know, the most up to date and has somewhere in its journeys lost its dust jacket but is otherwise in really great shape.

 

Derleth, Hawk...and Dove by Dorothy Litersky, the sole full biography of Derleth currently available; I did a fuller review here. Having read quite a bit more about Derleth since when I first picked up this book, I feel a bit differently about it - some parts of Litersky's wild claims I've confirmed (at least to my own satisfaction), others remain rather up in the air and I'm undecided on. Still, a rather solid book, and one of the incidents inspired me to a brief bit of writing: Nights in August.

 

Coming after that is John D. Haefele's slim but outstanding August Derleth Redux: The Weird Tale 1930-1971, which I also reviewed and still consider one of the more excellent works of Derlethian scholarship. Right next to it is my second copy of A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos in hardback, also by Haefele, which I did not review so well, and as you all may recall neither did S.T. Joshi.

 

There are two final volumes on the shelf which are not directly Derlethiana, but related (and they fit on the shelf). One is the slim but bloody expensive monograph H. P. Lovecraft in Britain by Stephen Jones, which deals with (among other things) Arkham House/Derleth's handling of the international copyrights, and L. Sprague de Camp's massive biography Time & Chance, which contains the other half of a peculiar anecdote - the other half of which is, for anyone interested, A Day in Derleth Country from Crypt of Cthulhu.

 

And that's it for the shelf. Now, I do have the massive two-volume Essential Solitude with the Derleth/Lovecraft correspondence, but that's over on the shelf with the other volumes of collected letters, and plenty of things that Derleth has edited over the years, and certainly many little journals with articles or essays on Derleth, but that is what I've got on the shelf.



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#2 GBSteve

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:25 AM

My introduction to the Mythos was through Derleth, possibly with the Survivor and Others. I think these are HPL commonplace book entries expanded upon by AD. I particularly remember the Ancestor, the Gable Window (which I used in our Trail game last week) and the Lamp of Alhazred. I don't remember how I moved from AD to HPL proper.


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#3 Ningauble

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 02:35 PM



My introduction to the Mythos was through Derleth, possibly with the Survivor and Others. I think these are HPL commonplace book entries expanded upon by AD. I particularly remember the Ancestor, the Gable Window (which I used in our Trail game last week) and the Lamp of Alhazred. I don't remember how I moved from AD to HPL proper.

 

The Ancestor is funny because it is not based on an idea by HPL, but rather on HPL's summary of Cline's The Dark Chamber, which Derleth misinterpreted as Lovecraft's idea.

 

"The Lamp of Alhazred" is really good, IMO.



#4 AncientHistory

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 04:57 PM

I think "The Lamp of Alhazred" is maybe the single best Lovecraftian piece that Derleth ever did, and still stands out as one of the best homages to HPL.



#5 Ningauble

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 08:32 PM

I think "The Lamp of Alhazred" is maybe the single best Lovecraftian piece that Derleth ever did, and still stands out as one of the best homages to HPL.

 

It was in fact the only one of his Cthulhu stories that was selected for the Macabre Quarto, the four-volume collection of his best horror.

Many of Derleth's horror stories seem a bit routine, but things like "The Lonesome Place" are stellar.