This collection of essays on the Cthulhu Mythos range from pioneering articles by Richard L. Tierney and Dirk W. Mosig to penetrating studies by Robert M. Price, William Murray, Steven J. Mariconda, and others....
|Title||:||Dissecting Cthulhu: Essays on the Cthulhu Mythos|
|Number of Pages||:||278 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Dissecting Cthulhu: Essays on the Cthulhu Mythos Reviews
A fine collection of scholarship. Some of it somewhat outdated, though, since most of the material is lifted from 1980s & 1990s' LOVECRAFT STUDIES and CRYPT OF CTHULHU. So if you already have those journals this isn't a must.Still highly recommended.
If you're familiar with any of S.T. Joshi's other scholarship on Lovecraft, then you'll know what to expect: lots of praise of Lovecraft's genius and a huge blind spot—universally, across ALL the selected essays!—where his racism, xenophobia, and misogyny are concerned. A good first step into Lovecraft scholarship, since it includes seminal essays on the debunking of the Derleth mythos, but it's just that—a first step.
I’m friends with the owners of Miskatonic Press (MRP), who thoughtfully provided me copies of all their books. Dissecting Cthulhu, edited by S.T. Joshi, is a departure for MRP, collecting a series of critical essays about H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and the nature of the Cthulhu Mythos.The first chapter, Some Overviews, might sounds like a broad topic but it’s actually a series of excoriating attacks on Derleth. It starts with Richard L. Tierney who argues that the phrase “Cthulhu Mythos” is a misnomer created by Derleth but attributed to Lovecraft. It lays out the primary issues critics have with Derleth’s legacy: the elemental assignments of Ctulhu et al, the application of a layer of order to Lovecraft’s uncaring universe, and the knitting together of it all into a cohesive weave. Dirk W. Mosig uncouples Derleth’s contributions from Lovecraft with a new phrase, “Yog-Sothoth Cycle of Myth.” It’s a valiant attempt to correct the writings of a pupil Lovecraft called a “self-blinded earth gazer." And here we come to one of the major bones of contention with “little Augie Derleth,” who was responsible for spreading a quote incorrectly attributed to Lovecraft:“All my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on the fundamental lore or legend that this world was inhabited at one time by another race who, in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside, ever ready to take possession of this earth again.”’Lovecraft never said it. Harold Farnese, who later essays show had a spotty memory, was inaccurately quoting Lovecraft to Derleth. Here’s what he actually wrote:“All my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large…To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time ro space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all.”These two quotes will be repeated several times throughout Dissecting Cthulhu. David E. Schultz and Simon MacCullouch continue to pile on Derleth, with Joshi mopping things up. Joshi further denigrates the idea that Lovecraft’s “gods” were elementals, that the Elder Gods were powerful enough to oppose them, and that the Mythos as a whole was a parallel for Christianity. Or to put it another way, we’re now dissecting Derleth.Only Steven J. Mariconda points out that all this harrumphing is on shaky footing to begin with. Lovecraft regularly contradicted himself, the most glaring example being Cthulhu (Tulu) described in “The Mound” as a “spirit of universal harmony anciently symbolized as the octopus-headed god who had brought all men down from the stars.” Mariconda takes aim at everyone, including scholar Robert Price. Curiously Mariconda is one of the few scholars that reference the contributions of role-playing games to the mix, which is a glaring oversight given the significant contributions by Chaosium-published authors. Chaosium has a broadly inclusive view of the Mythos because it makes for a much more interesting universe to game in, at cross-purposes with the relatively narrow (and undefined) shared world originally launched by Lovecraft. 3 out of 5.The second chapter covers The Books, those esoteric sanity-blasting tomes that were recurring themes in Lovecraft’s legacy of fiction: The Necronomicon, De Vermis Mysteriis, Cultes des Goules, and Chtaat Aquadingen. Price, a biblical and Lovecraft scholar, can’t resist making a comparison between the Necronomicon and the Bible, paralleling the Apocrypha with the “real” Necronomicons. Dan Clore examines the roots of Lovecraft’s “paratext” and how he created a fictional shared universe that invented publications, which eventually spawned their own hoaxes. 4 out of 5.The third chapter details The Gods. Price leads the way here in stripping away the terms “Elder Gods” and “Great Old Ones,” by posting that they are an invention of Derleth exclusively and never envisaged as a cohesive group by Lovecraft. Will Murray delves into the identity behind Nyarlathotep which is fascinating…but then spins an entire “critical cottage industry” to the identity of Nug and Yeb from “joking allusions in private correspondence,” as Mariconda puts it. There are plenty of other Great Old Ones (that Price claims don’t exist as such) that could have used more focus, but only Nyarlathotep is revealed here. 3 out of 5.The fourth chapter covers The Landscape. It begins with Robert D. Marten attacking Murray for a series of articles titled “In Search of Arkham Country,” in which he posited the real inspirations and locations of the towns in Lovecraft’s literature. It consists of a 35 page snarky, smarmy, condescending and just plain arrogant diatribe against Murray. It would be more tolerable if we could read Murray’s response, but only Marten is allowed a soapbox. Dissecting Cthulhu would have benefited greatly from the inclusion of more the essays Marten finds so offensive. We have to make do with only Murray’s excellent “Where Was Foxfield?” Like Mariconda, Edwards W O’Brien, Jr. does an excellent job of showing how Lovecraft wrote two different versions of Arkham as suited the mood of his story. 2 out of 5.The final chapter details Lovecraft’s Influences. Marco Frenschkowski does a great of explicating the origins of Hali; Jason C. Eckhardt, on the other hand, works overtime to connect Lovecraft’s work ties to Nordic myth. Schultz returns to the “black magic” quote of Lovecraft’s incorrectly recorded by Farnese and later Derleth. Price shares the Robert E. Howard’s contributions to Lovecraft’s mythology. Stefan Dziemianowicz wraps it all up with yet another takedown of Derleth but goes further to show the influence of Derleth on later authors like Lin Carter and Brian Lumley. 4 out of 5.There’s a lot of academic chest-thumping in Dissecting Cthulhu over the indignities perpetrated by Derleth on Lovecraft’s work. Only Mariconda and Dziemianowicz make the connection that Derleth’s homogenization and dilution of Lovecraft’s work broadened its reach in popular culture. At times infuriating but always enlightening, this is a must-read book for anyone who wants to know more about Lovecraft’s legacy of weird horror fiction.
A great collection of essays and criticism about Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos from the late 1980s to the early 90s. From longer essays about the locations of Arkham, Innsmouth and Kingsport to the criticism of Derleth's interpretation of the Lovecraftian Mythos this volume was a great read. Highly recommended for those interested in the more scholarly approach to H.P.Lovecraft.
Really good collection of essays mainly debunking Derleth misinterpretation of Lovecraft's work, and a good way to understand deeply most of Lovecraft creations and writings. Highly recommended, though there are a few dozen printing mistakes scattered in some articles, probably because unproofread OCR ("m" turned into "ni" "l" to "i" etc..).
A must read for die-hard Lovecraft fans. These essays have all been previously published, but for those who don't haunt Lovecraft journals, this is a great primer. Further considerations at: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.
An interesting collection of essays on the works of Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos.
Interest collection of essays regarding Lovecraft's works, many of them drawn from journals of the 70's and 80's.