For several years, there’s been a H.P. Lovecraft festival in Stockholm. This legendary horror writer has become very popular in Sweden, first introduced here in the 1950’s radio show, and later anthology, “Mannen i svart” (“The Man in Black”), and in a broader sense in the 1970’s in collections edited by Sam J. Lundwall. Many publishers have since jumped on the HPL bandwagon, with by now all of his stories (sometimes in new translations – HPL is in public domain, but old Swedish translations aren’t), books about Lovecraft, comics based on him, books of HPL quotes and so on.
This year’s festival, October 2-5, was the fourth in the series, mainly held in the comics library of the Stockholm Culture House, but for Sunday also in the SF-Bookstore in the Old Town. You can find the program here : www.shplf.se.
Yours Truly was occupied some of the days, but went there Saturday, which seemed like the main events day. Guests of Honour were Darrell Tutchton and Sean Brannery from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society in the US. The program included art exhibitions, a quiz, films, a “Bazaar of the Bizarre” (HPL books and stuff for sale), panel discussions, music, games and a radio play. Local TV news also made a plug for the festival, the broadcast just before the national news, so many knew about the event.
On Saturday was the opening of a small HPL exhibition in the Culture House and then there was programming through the afternoon. The improvised auditorium in the comics library itself wasn’t big but, soon became full and people had to stand along the sides. First was a panel discussion moderated by the festival organiser Anders Lundgren, of the comics library. He interviewed the Lovecraft expert and translator Martin Andersson and Daniel Thollin and Jonas Andersson who have created the “1000 ögon” (“1000 eyes”, info in Swedish : http://1000-ogon.blogspot.se/) comic book series, where Lovecraft is transposed to a Swedish setting, namely around the city of Uppsala. What the panelists liked about Lovecraft was among other things his philosophical attitudes, his refusal to compromise with his (sometimes odd) ideas, his dark view of humanity, his stylistics and of course the heavy horror elements.
Martin Andersson also told about how he and well known HPL expert ST Joshi last summer went to Ireland, invited to go through the left-over papers of horror writer colleague Lord Dunsany, where they made some nice Dunsany discoveries, like new stories and a unpublished theatre play and correspondence. HPL was a fan of Dunsany and himself a manic letter writer, estimated to have produced between 50 000 and 80 000 letters, of which maybe 10% have been found. (He wrote in longhand, so he couldn’t keep carbon copies from a typewriter.)
In program pauses I went to the Culture House library and found several volumes of Collected Essays by H.P. Lovecraft, which will be very interesting to study. Apart from the letter writing, and short stories for the pulp magazines, Lovecraft was also active in early amateur publishing through organisations like UAPA and NAPA. He had an enormous output, of which only a tiny fraction was published in commercial magazines, and nothing in books during his too short (1890-1937) lifetime.
A.Lundgren, Anders Fager
The Swedish horror writer Anders Fager, who openly confesses to lovecraftian inspirations, was also interviewed and he’s always fun to listen to. He has recently written a piece about “To Liberate Lovecraft from Himself”, claiming that even if you like HPL, don’t try to be or write like him. The impact of the HPL world is the important thing, not always his prose. Fager may BTW have some story filmed (internationally, in English, was my impression) though it right now seems a bit shaky. The people behind have several film projects running at the same time (as film options), filming costs millions and negotiations aren’t always easy. We have to keep an eye open for what happens.
The program ended with a world premiere of a Lovecraft radio play! The Dark Adventure Radio Theatre (from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society) presented a radio adaption of Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned With The Pharaos” done in Old Time Radio style. From the 1930’s and a on, radio plays were a major entertainment industry, particulary in America. You have all for instance heard of Orson Welles’ adaption of “War of the Worlds”, which scared portions of the US population, but it was only one play in a long series. There were scores of other radio plays and adventure series on radio before TV came and ruined it. The Lovecraft play was true to the 1930’s style, with made-up commercial announcements and jazz music and about 70 minutes long (see http://www.cthulhulives.org/radio/DART/index.html).
An interesting day. I’m not a huge Lovecraft fan, I fear, but I find his life fascinating, including his involvement in amateur publishing and his contacts with early sf fandom (people like Robert Bloch, Donald Wollheim, Henry Kuttner and Bob Tucker). It is always interesting with people who refuses to be conformative and walk in the middle of the road.
Panel : A.Lundgren, A.Thollin, J.Andersson, M.Andersson
And the true function of phantasy is to give the imagination a ground for limitless expansion, as Howard Phillips himself put it.
”The Narrative of Victor Karloch” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Oqc_xhbhFU