Good and cheap: H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction

HP Lovecraft Complete Fiction 1

I had been circling around this since learning of its existence a few months ago, and last week I broke down and bought it.

There are innumerable Lovecraft anthologies out there. I have owned many of them, not from any systematic search but from having grabbed them off the shelf at a bookstore, or through a book club back when I was young and dumb. The vast majority of these popular anthologies fall down in three ways. First, they only have a selection of Lovecraft’s stories. Second, the same two dozen or so of the most popular stories turn up again and again in different anthologies. Third, the stories are sometimes reprints of reprints and not the definitive versions. So if you are a completist, you have to actually do some work to try to get all of Lovecraft’s work, and avoid a lot of duplication. Or at least you did for many years.

Long-time Lovecraft critic, biographer, and anthologist S.T. Joshi fixed those problems in his three-volume Lovecraft set from Penguin Classics. Finally there was a complete set of the definitive, corrected texts of all of Lovecraft’s fiction. But you still had to buy three books.

That final problem was fixed in 2008 when Barnes & Noble published Joshi’s H.P. Lovecraft: The Fiction – Complete and Unabridged. Finally all of the definitive texts were available in one volume. But apparently that first run was plagued by vast numbers of typos. The corrected version, now trading under the title H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction, has apparently been available since 2011 or so. I only started seeing copies a few months ago, when they started showing up among the “bargain classics” at the local Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar store. Like almost all of the Barnes & Noble bargain classics, this is a hefty hardback with foil-edged pages and a cloth ribbon bookmark. You can get it for 20 bucks, which is a steal. My copy is from the eighth printing, if anyone is keeping score.

Of course, you can get the whole Lovecraft canon for free online, but I’m with Matt Baldwin on this: Lovecraft cries out to be read in print. Preferably at night after everyone else has gone to bed, by the light of a single lamp in an otherwise dark house.

HP Lovecraft Complete Fiction 3

What you get for your 20 bucks: a brief introduction by Joshi, followed by 68 stories, novellas, and novels (or maybe ‘novel’ singular, since The Curious Case of Charles Dexter Ward seems to be the only entry), followed by an appendix with some (all?) of Lovecraft’s juvenalia, followed by the discarded draft of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, followed finally by Lovecraft’s essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature”. Each story, draft, or essay is preceded by a short introduction by Joshi. The whole thing runs to 1098 pages.

I’m extremely happy with my copy. If you happen to pick one up, I suspect that you will likewise be pleased. Highly recommended.

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