I’ve done a basic link-rot check-and-fix of my Lovecraft on the Web Directory. Games are gone, but there’s a new category at the top for “Bloggers active at 2018”.
Betsy Williams cottage in Providence, as seen in early spring when its underlying ‘tentacular’ growth structure was visible. Most postcards show it in summer, swamped in leaf-and-bloom. Lovecraft sent a “picture postal” of it to Derleth…
PulpFest 2017 recordings don’t appear to have made it onto YouTube, but there’s a 50-minute panel discussion of Weird Editing at “The Unique Magazine” recorded at PulpFest 2015, on the editorial policies and practices at Weird Tales. The sound quality is listenable, given that it’s a convention panel recording and that those are usually notoriously bad (despite all the microphones present on the tables). But ideally you’ll still want good headphones and the volume turned up.
About ten minutes in there’s a rather curious five-minute monologue by someone who manages not to say very much about anything, but don’t be put off — after that the rest of the discussion is precise and very well informed.
Where exactly was this ‘weird editing’ going on? Chicago. I thought I’d do a brief survey of the actual addresses there, and along the way I discovered a highly likely reason why the editor Farnsworth Wright so inexplicably rejected Lovecraft’s “Cool Air”.
854 North Clark Street:
This address was noted by The Editor magazine in 1923 and O’Brien’s Best Short Stories in 1924. The address was also that of the Newberry Theater in Chicago. The new book Secret Origins of Weird Tales book gives the magazine’s 1923-24 years a detailed business history, if you want the full story of their time here.
450 East Ohio Street:
The later address of the Weird Tales editorial office in Chicago was then the Dunham Building, 450 East Ohio Street, seemingly from some point in 1926.
Interestingly this was the building of the Dunham company, “Manufacturers of Sub-Atmospheric Steam Heating Systems” and Air Conditioning. So this move to new offices may play into Lovecraft’s story “Cool Air” (written March 1926). Though perhaps only partly, in terms of the addition to the story of the technology involved, as there was an obvious precursor story in Arthur Leeds’s tale “The Man Who Shunned The Light” (1915). I suspect this story was used at one New York coffee-and-buns meeting, as a starting point for discussion on how the impoverished Leeds might improve it into a newly saleable story (see my book Lovecraft in Historical Context #4 for all the details and the story itself).
So far as I can tell, I’m the first scholar to notice the trade of the main occupants of the Dunham Building, and to connect that with “Cool Air” and the magazine’s move to a new office in 1926.
This then seems to neatly explain the decision of Farnsworth Wright to reject “Cool Air”…
Farnsworth Wright incredibly and inexplicably rejected “Cool Air”, even though it is just the sort of safe, macabre tale he would have liked” — S.T. Joshi, I Am Providence.
He may have rejected it not only because it was too close to Leeds’s 1915 story (published in Black Cat a decade earlier), but also for fear that his building’s owners would get to hear of it. And that they would then think that Wright had asked for the story from Lovecraft, in order to poke some macabre fun at them and their trade. In which case, they might even have given Weird Tales notice to quit. One can understand how Wright might have wanted to play it safe and reject the story.
840 North Michigan Avenue:
After a few years the editorial office moved to the new ‘Michigan-Chestnut’ building at 840 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago. The building was formally opened in 1929, according to the city’s architecture books.
This was a 20,000 sq.ft. corner lot, with shops at street level and elegant offices and studios above. The upper floors were said to be designed with two floors of light and high-ceiling studios that were intended to accommodate the area’s burgeoning artists’ scene. Though there doesn’t appear to be much exterior evidence of such studios on this later picture.
Judging by this plan, the studios were at the back, away from the clangour of the street noise…
Built 1927-28, by the time the building formally opened in 1929 the artists had been priced out of the booming district. As is often the case with such art studio complexes, the studios were instead occupied as offices by more professional creative services such as architects and magazine production. (Stamper, Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue: Planning and Development, 1900-1930). The ‘Michigan-Chestnut’ building was the home of the editorial offices of Weird Tales magazine until 1938.
Finally, a 1930s or 40s postcard of North Michigan Av. at night, looking like a very suitable home for Weird Tales…
Today, 840 North Michigan takes the form of an early-1990s historical folly-store, and is a far cry from Weird Tales darkness… unless you count a Hitler-saluting teddy-bear as sinister…
* Robert Weinberg’s The Weird Tales Story (1977) was a short 144-page fannish survey of the magazine’s history to 1974. It was stitching together fragments and hazy memories about the early days in the 1920s, and apparently it got a lot wrong on the early history.
* Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies (1988) was a story anthology, but also had an introduction that surveys the entire history of the magazine to 1988, with notes on where further information might be found.
* Scott Connor’s “Weird Tales and the Great Depression” in The Robert E. Howard Reader (2010).
* The Thing’s Incredible: The Secret Origins of Weird Tales (2018) is a proper in-depth business history of the magazine, but only of the turbulent 1923-24 period.
Don’t bother with the litcrit The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales (2015) if you’re looking for business history.
Thanks to my three loyal Patreon supporters, who have been hanging on in there for the last three years. I haven’t been charging them over that period, but they’re kindly still in there. This post is just to announce that my Patreon is now live again, and more Patrons would be most welcome.
Note that there are five Patron places available on the ‘Eldritch Old One’ level. Patrons at that level get to ask a monthly question about Lovecraft’s life and haunts, and I’ll do my best to answer it here in a detailed public blog post. Most probably with a good bit of new research behind the post, if required.
Your patronage also supports my editorship of the free monthly Digital Art Live magazine for science fiction artists; my JURN open access search engine; and several other personal projects. Please consider becoming a Patron, and help Tentaclii’s work continue.
Plans and an isometric view of Butler Hospital for the Insane, Providence, as it was in 1914. Unavailable in high-res on Hathi, as the auto-scanners didn’t unfold and scan the fold-outs. But someone on eBay did, and I rectified their wonky pictures with Photoshop. Possibly of use to RPG and videogame designers who care about the historical authenticity of their game environments.
Pre-ordering now for delivery in November 2018, the book New Directions in Supernatural Horror Literature: The Critical Influence of H.P. Lovecraft…
“This collection of essays examines the legacy of H.P. Lovecraft’s most important critical work, Supernatural Horror in Literature. Each chapter illuminates a crucial aspect of Lovecraft’s criticism, from its aesthetic, philosophical and literary sources, to its psychobiological underpinnings, to its pervasive influence on the conception and course of horror and weird literature through the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.”
It’s from academic mega-publishers Springer / Palgrave Macmillan. S. T. Joshi wrote an Introduction for the editor’s earlier book, The Lovecraftian Poe, which may be a somewhat encouraging sign.
Gage Prentiss’s H.P. Lovecraft statue is progressing well. A post on his Facebook page has a new photo of the current state of the casting…
“Here is a taste of the newly cast bronze life size statue of H. P. Lovecraft! There is still welding, chasing, sandblasting and patina to do, but he is finally standing in bronze.”
The start of the university year looms once more, and for some that means the start of the sprint toward the final dissertation hand-in in January 2019. Want to amaze your tutor with your ‘mad scientist’-level search skills? Here are a few ‘power-up items’ that I recently noted over at my JURN blog, and which don’t require you to sign up to some online Cloud service.
* WorldBrain for Chrome. Locally copies the text of all the Web pages you visit, and makes the resulting cache searchable by keyword. Bookmarks and blogs are fine as a basic ‘outboard brain’, but if you need global domination this seems useful.
* Open Semantic Desktop Search. Genuinely free desktop search for Windows, enabling Google-like search across and inside your bulging folder of saved research texts and PDFs. It can also auto-OCR inside PDFs that don’t have OCR text, a new feature added in a December 2017 update. Worth trying as an open source alternative to the increasingly nagging and intrusive Copernic Desktop Search.
* My own JURN search-engine. Speedy keyword-search across all public ‘open access’ arts and humanities journals, plus the full-text from selected university repositories. Groups tests show it regularly outperforms all other such services, even Google Scholar, for finding free public articles.
New from McFarland this summer, H.P. Lovecraft: Selected Works, Critical Perspectives and Interviews on His Influence. The cover, and the fact that it reprints (again) various Lovecraft stories, makes it look like yet another shovelware reprint of the stories.
But a closer inspection, via Google Books, shows that it’s not shovelware. There’s an academic section, sitting at the back of the story reprints. Plus some interviews…
I can get a few pages of the essay “The Victorian Era’s Influence on H.P. Lovecraft” via Google Books, and it looks quite encouraging. It appears to be a sound undergraduate primer on late Victorian aesthetic and philosophical movements as they were taken up in America and impacted on Lovecraft in Providence.
As such Selected Works, Critical Perspectives and Interviews looks like the sort of book one would assign to a class of bright and sensible undergraduates in an out-of-the-way American university, students preparing to spend four weeks on Lovecraft as part of a larger 12-week course module on the history of the weird in America. It seems to fit that market, although the high price (£18 on Kindle, $40 paper) is obviously geared to university libraries rather than individual students.
Even the Kindle edition is too expensive for me, though, when all I’d want to read is “The Victorian Era’s Influence on H.P. Lovecraft” and perhaps T.E.D. Klein’s “Providence after Dark” — I’m guessing the latter is perhaps a historically-accurate topographic description of Lovecraft’s long night walks among the antiquated ways and burying-grounds, evoking what HPL would have seen and felt there?
“Tentacles, Tethers, and Sea Tendrils” will be a strand on the hot academic topic of ‘sea horror’, at the 2019 Popular Culture Association National Conference in Washington, D.C., USA. Deadline for paper abstracts: 1st September 2018.
What has the worthy Italian language Lovecraft Studies journal, Studi Lovecraftiani, been up to since it was last noticed on this blog?
Studi Lovecraftiani #14 has, among other items…
“the symbolism in the story “Celephais” [and] Lovecraft at the theater”
“In this issue we talk about war in the biography and family history of H.P. Lovecraft (with reproductions of unpublished documents) […] also contains an unpublished poem by Lovecraft, and complete reviews of all Lovecraftian books published in Italy in 2015-2016.”
Note sure what the unpublished poem is, but given the ‘war’ theme it’s possibly the same one as I discovered and published in my book Lovecraft in Historical Context: fifth collection in 2014.