Rediscovered: At Last, Derleth and His Mythos

Guess it didn’t quite squeak across the finish line in time to make it under the Xmas tree this year — and barely slipped under the wire for a 2012 pub date! — but John Haefele’s book on August Derleth, H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos is available for order against any birthdays coming up in the New Year — or next Xmas, if you can sweat it out until then.

I haven’t seen the finished book as yet, but did four or five rounds of proofing on the text, and as a side effect plunged into a reread of a lot of Lovecraft, culminating on Xmas Day with “The Festival,” one of my faves and spot-on for the moment. (Longtime weird fiction fan Rah Hoffman traditionally does a live reading of this story every Xmas: “It was the Yooooooltide. That men call ‘Christmas’. . . though they know in their hearts that it is oooooolder than Bethlehem and Babylon, ooooolder than Memphis and Mankind. It waaaaaas the Yoooooltide. . . .” Haefele mentions Rah a few times in the book.)

At close to 400 pages, this is Haefele’s magnum opus, thus far, and certainly the best thing ever done on the Cthulhu Mythos. Other commentators simply haven’t done the research into Derleth, and get most of the facts wrong — and most of the so-called major Lovecraft scholars simply don’t write very well. Yeah, they can berate you with their plodding opinions, as if their opinions matter, but Haefele digs into the background in a way you have never seen before — and models his style on classic books-about-books authors such as Vincent Starrett or Derleth himself. A pleasure to read — or I’d never have made it through so many proofings.

Find out how Lovecraft adopted story motifs from a teenaged Derleth, as the Cthulhu Mythos rose to weird life in the 1930s — and lots more you may not be ready to believe, but Brother Haefele is here to sell you on that eldritch gospel.

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