The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham

In the past 10 years, the cosmic horror and weird fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) has seen increasing popularity as well as critical interest. Now Liveright is releasing a second volume of his work, after 2014's The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, complete with analysis and biographical information. Beyond Arkham collects 25 stories alongside key images, an index of story locations and annotations by editor Leslie S. Klinger (In the Shadow of Agatha Christie). And while these books are likely best for fans of the Providence, R.I., writer, newer readers will appreciate how Klinger--and novelist Victor LaValle's introduction--puts Lovecraft's fiction into historical perspective. 

Klinger's notes throughout are exhaustive, providing context for Lovecraft's classicism and often esoteric references. To his credit, Klinger is as rigorous about Lovecraft's bigotry as he is on his literary influences; both LaValle and Klinger write insightfully about how the man's repellent views influenced his body of work while refusing to dismiss him as a whole. As for Lovecraft's stories themselves, they continue to be captivating even when inconsistent in quality. His imagination created (or perhaps revealed) a terrifying universe so indifferent to humanity's existence that it could drive the characters of "The Rats in the Walls" and "Dagon" to madness. And in 2019, as the Internet and social media create a kind of constant awareness of everything, Lovecraft's fear of unlimited knowledge now seems prophetic. The commentaries, context and images contained within Beyond Arkham are a testament to Lovecraft as a writer of real vision and insight. --C.M. Crockford, freelance reviewer

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