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Selected Letters III
(1929-1931)

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By H.P. Lovecraft
Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei

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     Back at the Barnes Street house in his native Providence, H.P. Lovecraft lived comfortably with his aunts, Mrs. F.C. Clark and Mrs. A.E. Phillips Gamwell, his mother’s sisters, during the period of his life covered by the letters in this third volume – July, 1929 through 1931. Here he steadily improved as a writer of the macabre, enlarging his literary horizons, while at the same time, paradoxically, he began to doubt himself with an unhappy effect on his creative activity.
     Yet this was the period of some of his most notable tales – The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow over Innsmouth, The Whisperer in Darkness, and At the Mountains of Madness – as well as of his best poems, the The Fungi from Yuggoth, the crystallization of ideas or themes he hoped to develop later in fiction. It was also a time of many difficulties with editors of the few magazines regularly publishing tales of the macabre.
     His revision work included more and more tales that were eventually to be looked upon as his own, such as The Curse of Yig and The Mound, and his increasing correspondence delineates his interest in manuscripts that merged into the range of his own creative domain.
     His letters – the windows to the world for him – were sometimes voluminous indeed; in this volume a letter to Woodburn Harris, and another to Frank Belknap Long, are the longest ever written, each setting down significant facts of his background and genealogy, as well as of his life as writer and man. In these letters Lovecraft sets forth how inexpensively he lived, his views on marriage as a doomed social institution, on the inevitable decline of art and literature, and explored many other subjects with an easy erudition unknown to any of his correspondents – Long, James F. Morton, Maurice W. Moe, Clark Ashton Smith, Elizabeth Toldridge, August Derleth and such newcomers as Robert E. Howard, Harris, and J. Vernon Shea.
     He defined himself repeatedly as a “truth-seeker,” a rational materialist in his philosophy, an “indifferentist” in his view of human history, and a “cosmicist” in his overall conception of the known, observable universe. The depth and variety of his insight have seldom been equalled by the letter-writers of his time.

Bibliographic Information

Selected Letters III (1929-1931). By H.P. Lovecraft, Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House Publishers, Inc.; 1998; Hardcover.

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