Noted Lovecraftian scholar S. T. Joshi has authored a criticism of Lovecraftian and Cthulhu Mythos fiction, beginning with the stories by H.P. Lovecraft that gave birth to the entities, locales, books, and other plot devices that have come to be known as the "Cthulhu Mythos". Joshi further details the works of August Derleth, Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Donald Wandrei, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber and other. Joshi then expounds upon the "Derleth Mythos", and its influence on subsequent Lovecraftian fiction. Joshi then explores a new generations of Mythos writers and their respective expansion of the Cthulhu Mythos, including Richard L. Tierney, Gary Myers, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Shea, Walter C. DeBill Jr. and others. Finally, Joshi reviews some of the more modern authors who have taken up the Lovecraftian mantle: Jeffrey Thomas, Stanley C. Sargent, Wilum H. Pugmire, Thomas Ligotti, Joseph C. Pulver and many others.
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The Rise and Fall Of The Cthulhu Mythos based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ST Joshi is one of the foremost Lovecraftian scholars of this generation, author of perhaps the definitive biography and when he explores the phenomenon that HPL's fiction has become, it merits our attention. I must say I usually read Cthulhu mythos fiction and not critical comment, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was so absorbed I set everything else aside to finish it. Bravo to Mythos Books, a wonderfully enterprising small press which usually publishes trade paperbacks. Only recently have they given us hard covers, including the comprehensive collection of Lovecraftian pastiches by Robert Price (the irony here is just sickening!) and The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos by Mr. Joshi. It is a gorgeous hardcover with 308 pages, 281 of which are the text. I noted a few typos, mostly letter/symbol substitution, for example, = for `. List price is $40 but there is a heavy discount to $26.40 on Amazon. Jason C. Eckhardt provided the cover art, a very effective depiction of perhaps the Mountains of Madness; I believe Mr. Eckhardt has done some covers for Call of Cthulhu gaming supplements and some fanzines. Mr. Joshi starts the book by discussing why an exploration of the HPL phenomenon is worthwhile, how perhaps no other set of fictional creations has been so widely disseminated and used by so many other authors or artists in so many formats and media. He discusses what he thinks are the essential features that Lovecraft developed in his fiction, a Lovecraftian mythos as it were, as a vehicle for conveying his musings on the world. These include a fictional New England topography, a library of forbidden tomes invented by the author(s), a wide array of extraterrestrial inscrutable life forms and a sense of cosmicism (as opposed to a human centric view of the world). Mr. Joshi exhaustively walks us through HPL's development as a writer, and how his stories gradually became permeated by the above essential elements. He also does a very good job, I think, of showing how Lovecraft did not worry overmuch if every single detail or timeline did not dovetail between stories. In other words, these creations/elements/features were not the object of the fiction; they were devices in service of the stories, of the cosmic viewpoint. He then explores how Lovecraft's creations and ideas captivated his contemporaries and how they, in turn, began to use these elements. However, the change to the Cthulhu mythos (from the Lovecraft mythos, per the author), happened because the story elements became the story, ie: the listing of multiple arcane volumes, and the naming of cosmic horrors akin to Cthulhu were de rigueur instead of serving the conveyance of cosmic philosophy. Mr. Joshi patiently guides us through the effect of August Derleth on the history of Lovecraftian fiction and his argument of misconstrual, deliberate or otherwise by Derleth, is very compelling. In fact, much of the Japanese mythos fiction I have read continues to promulgate the Derlethian concept that Cthulhu et al were intrinsically evil and Nodens et al were intrinsically good and allied with humanity, and that occult magic as opposed to science fiction was the order of the day. We then get an overview of some more modern writers who use Lovecraftian elements, with very critical dissections of their work. You know, I am pretty opinionated about mythos fiction, but Mr. Joshi can be downright caustic. Regarding Brain Lumley: "One can only hope that this talentless hack will permanently abandon his unwitting parodies of Lovecraftian themes and conceptions." Geeze, Sunand, tell us what you really think! I guess there won't be any Cthulhumas card from Mr. Lumley this year. Well, for the most part I agree with Mr. Joshi's assessment of the various books he discusses, although he tends to object to any use of Lovecraft's creations in the Cthulhu mythos sense where there is no new exploration of HPL's cosmicism. I, on the other hand, just like a well written yarn in the genre