The Arabian Nights

The Librivox readers are working through Richard Burton’s The Book of A Thousand Nights and a Night, aka ‘The Arabian Nights’, as audiobook readings and have just released volume 9. Which makes it almost complete, as Volume 10’s contents page lists one final story, then the infamous Terminal Essay, appendices and index. Presumably once Vol. 10 is done the team will then go on to do the six volume Supplemental Nights and other related material from Burton.

The free Librivox audio is per-story, but the raw title usually gives one no indication of the contents. For instance, “Forty-second Night”. One needs to look up the story title at The Thousand Nights and a Night at There, for instance, one can see that the story for Night 908 would be “The Spider and the Wind”, and the other titles at are similarly descriptive.

The Arabian Nights was of course a formative influence on the boy Lovecraft. However the Burton edition was unlikely to have been the edition Lovecraft knew, though it is possible that the first nine volumes of the edition were available to his elders in Providence, and that he may have peeked into ‘forbidden’ copies of Burton later in the bookshops and libraries of New York City. S.T. Joshi comments on the matter in I Am Providence

The copy found in his library [Andrew Lang 1898 … could not have been read] at the age of five. … Sir Richard Burton’s landmark translation in sixteen volumes in 1885–86. Lovecraft certainly did not read this translation, either, as it is entirely unexpurgated and reveals, as few previous translations did, just how bawdy the Arabian Nights actually are. … My guess is that Lovecraft read one of the following three translations:

The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments: Six Stories. Edited by Samuel Eliot; translated by Jonathan Scott. Authorized for use in the Boston Public Schools. Boston: Lee & Shepard; New York: C. T. Dillington, 1880.

The Thousand and One Nights; or, The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments. Chicago & New York: Bedford, Clarke & Co., 1885.

The Arabian Nights. Edited by Everett H. Hale; [translated by Edward William Lane]. Boston: Ginn & Co., 1888.

I also spotted The thousand and one nights, or, The Arabian nights entertainments: translated and arranged for family readings, with explanatory notes on Hathi, in its 2nd edition, 1847. “Illustrated with six hundred woodcuts by Harvey and illuminated titles by Owen Jones.” That sounds like the sort of thing that might have been in a Providence drawing room circa 1895, and accessible to young children. One wonders if this might have been the book of the same title that Joshi refers to as being “Bedford, Clarke & Co., 1885”, with Bedford being a later reprinting?


On the inking style of Moebius

A Canadian illustrator of Lewis Carroll, Mahendra Singh, has 5,500 words which very perceptively try to work out the principles and methods of the inking style of Moebius…

Moebius… I Ink Therefore I am (1)

Moebius… On a clear-line day, you can see forever (2)

Moebius… I ink the body electric (3)

Moebius… Ink lightly into that dark night (4)

I’ve looked long and hard but there is no set of Moebius -style inking brushes for Photoshop or Krita. Everybody does grungy cross-hatching brushes, but almost no-one has lighter hatching brushes which swiftly lay down blocks of short dashes along the direction of brush-travel, or a similar series of irregular dots. Nor are there brushes that make his distinctive little noodling trailing-away lines that convey perspective.

Une nuit avec Lovecraft – free online

I’m pleased to see that the graphic novel Une nuit avec Lovecraft (‘One night with Lovecraft’, October 2018) is now available for free in its entirety, online at the website of the artist. The French edition is also on Amazon UK and US in print only, and — since it’s free in French — I feel able to note here that there’s a free English translation to be found on LibGen, the sister site of SciHub.

Winner Of London Lovecraft Festival’s New Writing Contest

Winner Of London Lovecraft Festival’s New Writing Contest Announced

Orange Shade Productions and the London Lovecraft Festival are pleased to announce that the winner of the first “Writing Lovecraft” competition is James Goss, who submitted “The Collectors of Screams,” a Mythos-expanding work set in a very strange office in the twenties. Goss is best known for his work on universe building within Doctor Who, but in addition to his rich body of work in this area he’s also written plays including “The Gentlemen of Horror” (about the friendship between Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee) and a much-produced adaptation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The play will be given a staged reading at the Old Red Lion on the closing night of the 2019 London Lovecraft Festival (5pm, Saturday 9th February 2019).

I wonder if he was where the Peter Capaldi -series Doctor Who had so many of its Lovecraftian ideas from? See, for instance, the episode “Heaven Sent” (Series 9, Episode 11) which so obviously used and reworked Lovecraft’s plot details for “The House of the Worm”.

Friday ‘Picture Postals’ from Lovecraft: Rhode Island School of Design 2

This post is a follow-on from last week’s Friday ‘Picture Postals’ from Lovecraft: Rhode Island School of Design.

Rhode Island School of Design’s Pendleton Museum was an annexe to its main galleries and a favourite Providence spot for Lovecraft. It was a ‘must-see’ stop on the tour of the town given to his visitors, partly because entrance appears to have been free. The interior appealed greatly to Lovecraft because it was a faithful recreation of a Colonial era house. It was said to have been based on the Edward Dexter house in arrangement.

Pendleton House” [opened 1906] … “sedulously maintained in order to give the visitor a faithful picture of Georgian interiors as they really were.” — Letter from Lovecraft to Kleiner, 1919.

Attached to the [Waterman St.] museum proper is a perfect reproduction of a colonial mansion, containing the finest collection of American colonial furniture in the world.” — Letter from Lovecraft to Galpin, 9th August 1936.

When Lovecraft talks about a perfect Colonial interior, this is the sort of exemplar he has in mind at the level of the upper-classes. Albeit in richly plain colours, creams and warm polished woods, brass and flashes of gold gilding, rather than the dour black and white seen here.

Pendleton Museum or Pendleton House had its public ‘entrance through Waterman St.’, rather than its own frontage. Visitors would have had to walk through the Rhode Island School of Design galleries in order to reach it.

It was set to be matched with a long-anticipated Colonial style courtyard garden, but this was delayed again and again until finally the plans for it were drawn up in 1933, and the Garden was eventually realised until 1934. One assumes that Lovecraft was likely to have attended the opening event for the Garden, but I don’t know of any record of that.

Musical affect and fear

New and public from the School of Music at Ohio State, “Musical Affect and Embodiment: Fear, Threat, and Danger in the Music of The Lord of the Rings

recent research in music perception, speech prosody, and animal ethology was reviewed to create a list of musical techniques that might communicate fear and threat. […] Musical analyses of the soundtrack accompanying the Nazgul demonstrate abundant use of these and other factors […] in the context of the soundtrack to The Fellowship of the Ring.

Those who are unfamiliar with Tolkien, or who are unable to get past Bombadil or The Council of Elrond in the first part, may not readily associate him with horror. But he has many such elements and does them very effectively. In The Lord of the Rings there are The Black Riders, the Barrow Wight, the flying Nazgul, the tentacular Lurker in the Lake, the Balrog, Moria, the Dead Marshes, the Way of the Dead, Shelob, Mordor. There are also horror elements in Merry’s account of the Ent attack on Isengard, the battle of Helm’s Deep, and several encounters with wargs.

The essay looks specifically at the early scenes on Weathertop, and includes a handy table of the conclusions of previous research on the matter…