Leslie Klinger: Lovecraft deserves new annotations

Following on the interview on the Illustrated Sandman, Lo Spazio Bianco has talked with Leslie Klinger about his New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, due to be published in autumn 2014, and the neverending success of Lovecraft’s universe.

1136957Mr. Klinger, you have been working on The Sandman and the Lovecraft’s world at the same time: there has been some shortcircuits beetween those lines of research?
Certainly. Neil Gaiman is a great admirer of Lovecraft, and his famous Sherlockian story A Study in Emerald is set in that world. Gaiman also wrote a fine variant on The Shadow Over Innsmouth and other Lovecraftian tales. Gaiman has his own views about the significance of humanity, though. One thing that shines through Sandman to me, that is markedly absent from Lovecraft’s work, is the sense that everyone has a story and every story is worth hearing.

Lovecraft tales survive despite the quality of style. I think their enduring success relies on that they have formed a mythological world and a taste for that. Just like superheroes and The Sandman do: do you see any resemblance between those approaches in creating worlds?
I disagree. Lovecraft did not create a coherent mythos – others who followed him did. The Gaiman universe is quite orderly by comparison. Also, in my view, Lovecraft’s style is an essential part of the tale—the serious tone, the slightly archaic words and phrasing.

Several Lovecraft’s tales have been adapted to comics. Have you taken them into account in your research? And do you think that analysing Lovecraft’s tales though their adaptations could give some insights into them?
Indeed, I’ve loved reading the comic and other graphic adaptations, though some writers get too carried away with tentacles and trying to visualize the “unnameable”. Alan Moore’s brilliant take called Necronomicon, I think, offers a modern view of one of Lovecraft’s stories. BTW, Alan wrote a terrific introduction to my New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft – you’ll enjoy it very much!

cthulhu2Does “New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft” take into account the whole of Lovecraft production, or just a selection?
Lovecraft wrote 85 stories, including three short novels—there’s simply too much material for an affordable one-volume annotated collection. I’ve selected 22 stories, primarily those that are part of the “Arkham” cycle, including Charles Dexter Ward and Mountains of Madness. I’m sorry for the ones that were omitted but it was necessary to keep the book at about 1,000 pages (with almost 1,000 notes).

Several “Annotated Lovecraft” exist: what is new in your New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft?
The annotated editions by S. T. Joshi are superb (although unillustrated), but they don’t recognize any scholarship other than Joshi’s own. Mine surveys the literature on Lovecraft, of which there is a great deal! I also spent more time providing factual-background footnotes and explanatory material, rather than concentrating on biographical details. And there are about 300 illustrations, including movie posters, book and comic covers, and many, many photographs of actual places and people (contributed by other Lovecraft scholars).

When the volume publication is scheduled?
New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, is to be published by W. W. Norton in autumn 2014.

Leave a Reply