Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - HP Lovecraft

Lovecraft is a special writer, capable of twisting the mind of the reader in ways that all of the visual horror we are forever shown in this day and age can never accomplish.

What WAS the thing at the bottom of the pit? What was it that the good Doctor saw? So many open questions to let our minds fill in the blanks with the things that horrify us above all else.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is Lovecraft's longest work (at least that I've encountered) and there is so much in the meager 120 or so pages that it's amazing. We follow the Doctor as he relates the tale of his patient Charles Dexter Ward and his supposed decent into madness. In doing so we learn of an ancient relative who may have gone beyond dabbling in the black arts. Though the case revolves around Mr. Ward... the true story is that of his ancient relative.

Lovecraft has a grasp of the language that is beyond beautiful. He is eloquent, descriptive, engaging and thought provoking without ever coming across as pompous or arrogant. His description is effective without being obnoxious (Unlike J Fenimore Cooper), his dialog is realistic and meaningful (not like Jane Austin)and his plot is engaging, grabbing the reader from beginning to end (unlike "The House of the Seven Gables"). Highly recommended for those who like either the writing style of the time, or simple horror fans.


Scott Sigler said...

Go ahead, give INFECTED a try. Saw your many comments on the INFECTED reviews, thanking the people who gave it bad reviews because you didn't believe the vast majority of five-star reviews? Definitely an interesting take on how to interpret opinions!

I hope you go ahead and give it a try, you are clearly a very discerning book buyer.


Ravenskya said...

Where did I thank people who didn't give 5 star reviews? It must have been a while ago because I don't recall it. Not that it means I didn't do it, I just don't remember.

What I hate is when a book has a thousand 5 star reviews that say nothing other than things like "This book rocked" or "This is the greatest book ever written" those don't help. The funny thing is that I generally find more information on the reviews of people who dont give either 5 or 1 star reviews (too many of the 1 stars will just say "It Sucked"). I tend to read mostly the 2 to 4 star reviews because I find them more believable.

I do actually intend to read your book at some point. I have a pile that has hit absolutely retarded porportion that I need to read and it's actually getting me a bit depressed because I can't read them and write good quality reviews on them as fast as they are piling in the door (mostly my fault I admit to being a compulsive book buyer).

I hope you didn't take any comments I made as a direct attack on your book, as I haven't read it. It was probably more of an attack on the reviewers.

Anonymous said...

A rare praise of a book from you! That alone interests me enough to look into his book. And more interesting of your assessment by comparison. I don’t know about Cooper. Yeah Austen sounds quite abstract, well, head over the cloud(?). And it gives a remote structural similarity to Austen’s too in some points. Just by running a few pages from Amazon, his writing looks quite dense and a bit hue of medical report like narratives. O you mentioned it. So is it the same tone to the end, I just wonder. You seems to have hinted he’s not contemporary…

William E. Hart said...

There are many unanswered questions and inconsistencies in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, due to the fact that what we have is only a draft copy, never proofed, corrected, or finished for publication in H. P. Lovecraft's lifetime; and yet, it is still a very powerful and moving tale, for those who have no problem with the archaic spellings and now dis-used words in his text.

I offer the follow note to those that have already enjoyed the tale, and to those who could never quite get into it before.

As a Lovecraft fan, did you know that the free unabridged reading and performance by SAG-AFTRA actor William E. Hart (me), of H. P. Lovecraft’s, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, is now complete on the CthulhuWho1 (dot) com blog? Help yourself to this and more of the audio you'll find there!

I truly believe this tale (and all of Lovecraft's work) needs to be heard, to be fully appreciated!

Will Hart
aka CthulhuWho1

Scott Sigler is VERY worth listening to in his podcast/readings/performances,
and worth supporting through his works in print!