A new article by John D. Haefele on Lovecraft’s last story sale to Weird Tales, in his lifetime, just got picked up for inclusion in Lovecraft Annual no. 7 — I haven’t read any of the other contents, but the Haefele piece is outstanding, very much a continuation of the great riffs he was doing on HPL in his book A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos.
As I’ve told pretty much everyone I’ve bumped into, Haefele’s book is excellent in surveying the origins of the Cthulhu Mythos, covering how Lovecraft encouraged August Derleth and other members of his circle of friends and correspondents to jump into the game and play — that’s history.
Any one with reasonable competence can do history, if they have access to the letters back-and-forth and can figure out the sequence of events — and Haefele is more than competent. I was expecting at least that much from his book. What I wasn’t expecting was to find out that Haefele writes the best litcrit on Lovecraft I’ve seen in many years. Deep insights. A myriad of details that had passed me by, unnoticed. You can’t teach that, it’s a gift.
What I had thought would be a solid history of the origins of the Mythos turned into the best book on Lovecraft I’ve ever read.
So, if you hesitate to get Haefele’s book until the day a more affordable trade paperback appears, here’s a chance to see the sort of litcrit that has gotten so many of us revved up. Haefele tells me this essay is part of a new project surveying HPL’s Great Tales, one of the next books he has in the pipeline.
And Haefele’s byline even makes it onto the front cover!
Ironic. Supremely ironic.
Why, you may ask? Because Lovecraft Annual is edited by S.T. Joshi, the guy who recently gave Haefele’s book a scorched-earth review, calling Derleth Mythos “one of the most pernicious and misguided books on Lovecraft ever written.” Gee — you’d think he didn’t like it. . . .
Yet, somehow, Haefele writing an essay on Lovecraft saying exactly what he was saying in the book is cool to use in Lovecraft Annual.
Haefele rebutted the Joshi review, and on his blog for August 31 — less than a month ago — Joshi did a rebut of the rebut, beginning “I now see that John Haefele has written an angry response to my review of his Look at the Derleth Mythos” and ending with “So I wish John Haefele the best — and hope that he gains some sanity and perspective on the Lovecraft-Derleth issue.”
I suppose the idea suggested is that Haefele is just some angry, crazy guy — pernicious, too.
Wonder what Haefele has to say in response to the response? You can read it right here.