H. P. Lovecraft was one of the greatest horror writers of all time. His seminal work appeared in the pages of legendary Weird Tales and has influenced countless writer of the macabre. This is one of those stories.
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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is the latest magisterial Lovecraftian publication from the University of Tampa Press. What connection could a Florida university have with a staunch Rhode Islander like HPL? Interestingly, RH Barlow of De Land, FL was a correspondent and friend of HPL who served as his literary executor. UT Press has made a small industry of publishing Lovecraftiana, including A Comprehensive Bibliography and Oh, Fortunate Floridian (the letters of HPL to RH Barlow). A major player in these publications has been ST Joshi, the eminent Lovecraft scholar, who edits these books. As you might guess, the content has been more of interest to readers fascinated with HPL’s life, with scholars and with collectors, rather than to general readers. Well, it is a university press!The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is their latest foray into Lovecraftian publishing. TCOCDW was written very quickly in 1927 and HPL never really made efforts to have it published during his lifetime. There are several reasons why it now merits an urgent recommendation. The production is simply wonderful. I have the hardcover and it is simply a beautiful book to behold. The editing is by ST Joshi and we may safely consider this to be a definitive edition, superseding all others. There are copious notes on the text by Mr. Joshi which do a wonderful job of keeping everything in its proper context. You can read the novel through but it helped me immensely to stop and refer to the notes. We then have a marvelous afterward by Mr. Joshi. Not only is it very scholarly but it is also quite readable, as interesting it its own right as the text itself. Finally we have the crowning glory of the book, a series of photographs of buildings from Lovecraft’s Providence by Donovan K. Loucks. For those of us not lucky enough to have trod the streets of Providence in the footsteps of HPL and Poe, these add immeasurably to the reading experience. I cannot imagine a better way to experience The Case of Charles Dexter Ward; anyone who is a serious Lovecraftian simply must have a copy.Now of course I could wish for one more thing and that would have been a street map of Providence with these locations marked out, and perhaps a map of greater Providence with neighboring towns indicated. Well I looked them up online myself and I guess I can’t be too greedy.The fly in the ointment of course, is HPL’s text itself, which even he did not have high regard for. For idle dabblers and or those new to Lovecraft, TCOCDW is not the place to start. I remember reading a version of the text at age 14 and it did not leave any sort of favorable impression, what with all the references to colonial Rhode Island that made no sense to me then. I got lost in a salad of words and names. Even today I find it almost to be a caricature of HPL’s writing. It can be viewed as a stepping stone on his way to his greater masterpieces, a sort of farewell to supernatural fiction and a turning towards science fiction. I read it as a personal love letter from HPL to Providence with a horror story thrown in. At the very least, the paperback is none too expensive and The University of Tampa Press has given us a model of how all of HPL’s works should be presented. I can only hope for more wonders from this source.more
Well crafted and scary. Lovecraft uses too many antiquated words, and his prose can be pretentious. Even so, he masterfully instills fear, not by a direct, visual account of the horror, but rather by describing foul odors, woeful noises, eyewitnesses too traumatized to speak of what they saw, and ghoulish aftermath.more
That's definitely the creepiest of the creepiest stories of all time! Here Lovecraft used all his talent to freak all his readers with a diabolic scheme filled with a frightful environment full of madness! Here the main character has discovered through Joseph Curwen's manuscripts (An ancient resident involved with macabre subjects) some obscurities of the underworld. The more he gets involved with those things, the more he changes in a queer and sinister way. All the facts about the terrible deeds of Mr. Curwen and Charles’s insane behavior are described step by step by a third person (Charles's doctor, Mr. Willett).Lovecraft doesn't used to write long stories, but he made it perfectly. I grant this as a masterpiece and it’s the best of his works I ever read!more
This was the second Lovecraft story I read, after At the Mountains of Madness, so at the time I knew next to nothing about Lovecraft's mythos and other writings. (That didn't last long, though.) Now with two volumes of his work under my belt, this is still the story that has stuck with me the most. It takes a while to get into, and the old-fashioned, stuffy prose doesn't help the slow start, but once things start picking up with terrible revelations and horrible implications, there's no putting it down. I find it fascinating how Lovecraft is able to pull off such a terrifying story with no gratuitous visuals. Everything is implied rather than shown directly. When describing a monster, in this story at least, Lovecraft doesn't go into actual physical descriptions, but instead simply describes how terrifying in appearance the creature is. And the genius of it is, it works. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is easily the masterpiece of Howard Phillips Lovecraft.more
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is H.P. Lovecraft's only Cthulhu novel. It is written in the voice of someone examining the case of the poor Charles succumbing to the ancient horrors. The odd writing style is off-putting at first, but as the story deepens, seems more and more fitting.The book is not a mystery, as the reader knows early on what is happening (if the reader has any knowledge of the Cthulhu mythos...). This may irritated me at some point, but soon I became enchanted about the way the mystery unfolded to the characters.more
This superb tale of Horror begins -'From a private hospital for the insane near providence,Rhode island,there recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person.He bore the name of Charles Dexter Ward,and was placed under restraint most reluctantly by the grieving father who had watched his aberration grow from a mere eccentricity to a dark mania involving both a possibility of murderous tendencies and a peculiar change in the apparent contents of his mind.A short but brilliant story of madness,evil,and the dark gods.Read it - If you dare.!more
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