I’m pleased to see that The Lovecraft Lexicon now has a Kindle ebook edition. The paper edition had held its price remarkably well, wobbling around £30 with postage, and I’ve thus been unable to justify getting it despite its obvious usefulness. But the Kindle ebook is a budget £3.84 (roughly $5), which is in my price-range (thanks, Patreon patrons!).
It’s billed as “A Reader’s Guide to Persons, Places and Things in the Tales of H.P. Lovecraft” in 589 pages (Amazon says 480 pages for the print edition).
No reviews for the Kindle edition, but a glowing review from Wilum Pugmire adorns the Amazon page for the paper edition. A review by Dan Harms (Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia) picks up small points of structure and navigation that might have been handled better, but also approves. I’ve no idea what S.T. Joshi thinks of it, but it forms a nice extension to The Lovecraft Encyclopedia, though without the scholarly references. Someone adept with a scanner and Excel and a few sorting macros could, theoretically, merge all three into a gigantic seamless A-Z mega-pedia.
I’ve now read the introduction, the substantial mini-biography of Lovecraft, and have read through to the ‘Houdini’ entry. It’s rather good and concise-yet-meaty, and sometimes draws on the letters. “Nyarlathotep” is missed out, presumably because its elements also appear elsewhere. Also skipped are a few other prose-poems such as “Memory”, and some fragments. So far I’ve only come across a few light touch suggestions of sources in The Lovecraft Lexicon, usually to do with geography, such as the passing suggestion that Bolton might equate to Lawrence on the Merrimack. The setting of “The Rats in the Walls” is also assumed to be Cornwall and the influence of Northumbria is not considered. There’s good awareness of Biblical and early modern books, but the deep linguistics is not investigated, e.g. Krannon, beyond the most obvious.
The ebook was obviously scanned and OCR’d from a print copy, and I’ve so far seen three lingering OCR errors. Thus the more obscure spellings will need to be double-checked if used in scholarship. Also, there are are few errors arising from use of old non-Joshi texts, such as “the windmill salesman” (“Colour Out of Space”) — which should be “woodmill”.
The book’s biography of Lovecraft is very sound and elegantly written. As an offprint it would be eminently suitable for introductory use on an undergraduate or masters course in a sensible university, I’d suggest, if… i) one were doing three lessons on Lovecraft in a 12 week semester; and ii) the course was not being taught by an anti-fan.
On a more minor point, we’re also told that the mill town of Bolton in northern England is in the West Midlands, which caused a guffaw from someone in the West Midlands. Culturally and geographically the English Bolton is in ‘the North’ and is just north-west of the city of Manchester, and thus definitely not in the Midlands. But it’s an understandable error to make, when the mainstream media in their London bubble constantly make similar mistakes, idly assuming that everything north of the Watford Gap can be mentally dismissed as ‘the North’, and regularly claiming that the West Midlands city of Stoke-on-Trent is ‘a town in the north’ (it’s neither). Even the clueless new Parliamentary candidate to be M.P. for Stoke-on-Trent South, a big-shot lawyer being parachuted in, immediately called the city a “town” in print in the media — probably to his Imminent Doom after Brexit.