Now its time to get under the covers of this three volume magnum opus of the collected fiction of Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
In H. P. Lovecraft’s Collected Fiction: A Variorum Edition Review Part 1, we took a look at how well Hippocampus Press took care in delivery of the books and their exteriors. Let us now delve under the skin a little.
Traces of Cryptic Designs: General Layout
Lets start with the title page depicted above. We looked a bit at this in Part 1, noting that the author photo is a match for the photo on the back of the dust cover for each volume. Nothing too surprising here.
Please note that the pages themselves are quite white; the photos seem a little off but that is from soft overhead lighting.
Also, you might get the impression that the paper weight of the pages look a bit light. I compared the page thickness to two other books, The Lord of the Ring Collector’s Edition and also a heavy, padded covered high quality edition of the Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe. It was merely a mistake of eye and lighting. I don’t believe they could have gone with a much heavier weight without ending up with much thicker volumes.
The credits page is about what you would expect; it also includes a note that this first printing is of only 750 copies.
One notation on the copyright notice is to “Lovecraft material used by permission of the Estate of H P Lovecraft; Lovecraft Properties, LLC”. Since there has been much speculation over the years about the copyrights of HPL’s work I would like to know what materials those are. Don’t miss the excellent quote there either. Even the copyright page is worth a read!
Each volume has its own table of contents. The bibliography though is found only in the third volume.
I will delve into individual volumes separately, but the Introduction sections which are included in each volume are specific to that volume. This is why I think its unlikely people will purchase these volumes individually as the introductions together form a greater work. Some of the introduction from Volume 1 on spelling is very illuminating in regards to all of the works included.
Now lets take a look at an example story, here The Shadow out of Time.
Now we get to the primary reason why you pay a premium price for these books.
Each story includes Editor Note and Text Note sections. You will immediately notice the superscript additions to the story text. The Text Notes are your footnote references to the previous editions and versions of the story, and the superscript notations direct you to those previous editions and versions. This is what a variorum version is all about. This makes H. P. Lovecraft’s Collected Fiction: A Variorum Edition an important work for academic research and criticism. If two scholars are discussing the works of HPL, they can readily determine if they are discussing the same actual work.
The importance of versions may not immediately jump to mind as important. The works of HPL have been edited and reprinted many times, and in turn, they have also been translated into many different languages – and those translations in turn are based on variations in English editions. This Variorum Edition keeps everyone, literally, on the same page as far as the source material is concerned.
Next part, I will jump into each volume of H. P. Lovecraft’s Collected Fiction: A Variorum Edition.