Lovecraft, Cthulhu and the Old Ones enter the Pleiades

Definitely a major event for the luxury collection of the Gallimard house: in April 1932, the Pléiade integrated the Works in prose of Edgar Allan Poe into its catalog. A volume of 1184 pages, where the writer quite simply revolutionized the fantastic tale. “ Suffering, death and murder, mystery and the supernatural become categories of beauty “says the house.

However, some forty years after Poe’s death, a certain Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence – the city where he died on March 15, 1937. Between the two men, a bond beyond time is woven: if Lovecraft made Poe, his master and a guide in writing, he managed to break away from it — seeking more the suggestion of horror than its methodical description. Yet the themes remain.

Few texts by Lovecraft that do not directly mention Edgar Poe », wrote François Bon, who translated the Lovecraftian work. “Sometimes it goes further: Poe lived in Providence, and in The cursed house as in The one who haunts the night Lovecraft directly evokes his presence in the story. InThe one who haunts the night everything is based on the city seen in perspective, Lovecraft starts from this old tree, in the small park overlooking the city, where Edgar Poe himself used to come. »

With Nyarlathotep, chaos guaranteed

Was this connection between the two men enough for Lovecraft’s books to include La Pléiade? Because the collection does indeed provide for an edition of the works, in a volume which would bring together selected stories. The latter was prefacer for the texts of Philip Roth, translator of nineteen eighty four or Jack London. He had also taken Moby-Dickor even texts by F. Scott Fitzgerald — all on behalf of the bible paper collection, from the factories… of Bolloré.

We are currently preparing an edition of the works of HP Lovecraft“, confirms La Pléiade – the Great Old Ones are already stamping their feet with impatience, at the idea of ​​invading bookstores and shelves once again.

Hugues Pradier, general manager of the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, confirms the existence of the project, but ” it would be premature to provide details. Work is in progress“.

According to our information, the work would be carried out under the direction of Philippe Jaworski – we were unable to obtain any details from him.

HPL, this eternal hero…

Lovecraft, object of desire, certainly! Let us thus evoke the recent work of Daria Schmidt, The Twilight Bestiary , which takes HPL as the main character, in a most contemporary setting — for an extraordinary exploration of the romantic universe. Between psychedelic colors and disarming black & white, this comic strip released in June 2022 is a masterpiece.

Let’s add, at Réflexions, another comic strip, Howard Lovecraft and the Ice Kingdom signed Bruce Brown and Renzo Podesta (trans. Éléonore Guyonnet), published at the end of July.

Young Howard Lovecraft, ignoring his father’s warnings uses the legendary Necronomicon and opens a portal to a frozen world filled with horrific creatures. Alone and scared, Howard befriends a creature he names Spot, who takes the young boy to the king’s castle where he is captured and sentenced to death.

And Ki-oon planned the publication of the Hound, a new adaptation in manga format by Tanabe Gou, who has been immersed for some time in the works of HPL (trans. Sylvain Chollet and Clair Obscur for the adaptation). Seven volumes have already appeared, and more are on the way.

For its part, Mnémos will soon publish the 4th volume of a gigantic translation, at the end of September. This editorial program began in January, and will end in March 2023 – after several years of a titanic investment on the part of the translator. All accompanied by a critical device such as one might have believed in a Pléiade version before its time.

The Great Work

David Pathé-Camus, who had published an excellent series of articles on the profession of literary agent, collaborated with Mnémos editions, to carry out a complete retranslation of the novelist’s works – a project made possible by crowdfunding which will have exceeded all the hopes. Started in February 2018, it provided more than economic support: out of the €10,000 expected, nearly €398,000 was obtained…

From the beginning to the end of our campaign, on Ulule, I was very supported by subscribers, whom I kept regularly informed of the progress of my work. Nearly 8,500 messages were thus exchanged. These people accompanied me until the end. They helped me get through the hardships. I will be eternally grateful to them. I don’t know if other authors have received such support. For that reason alone, this project is worth talking about. It’s an amazing human experience», explains the translator.

Three volumes have already been released and four are on the way. The opportunity to come back with him on this company.

ActuaLitté: How did you discover Lovecraft?

David Pathé-Camus: Quite by chance, in 1981. Three of his books winked at me from my mother’s library, where their covers (in the Presence of the Future collection) contrasted singularly with those of the others. Their titles also intrigued me:Beyond the wall of sleep, I am from elsewhere,WhereThe color that fell from the sky. My mother did not know where these books came from. Inevitably, I couldn’t help falling into it, and I never came out of it.

Why this editorial project to retranslate everything?

David Pathé-Camus: Because it is a question of making a work, in all its strength and its entirety, more than this or that story taken separately. Because some of the old translations had to be redone. And finally because I have always read works (authors) more than books. This work seemed important to me. Lovecraft’s work is incredibly consistent, even if it evolved profoundly throughout his life (1890-1937).

It is this coherence and this evolution that I wanted to convey, when I started to retranslate it in 2010. To tell the truth, I do not believe that there are other ways of working when you want to do things seriously. We must translate “the whole by the whole”.

At the end of this integral translation, what can we learn from his writings?

David Pathé-Camus: First, that they are ever more poignantly topical and powerful. I challenge you to read a text like “Nyarlathotep” and not think about our time. It looks like it was written just for us. Lovecraft had a keen awareness of the human condition. It is of this, and of the relationship to time, of the impossibility of the situation in which we are placed, that his work speaks.

In a way, it foreshadows the currents that will come after it – such as existentialism or the absurd. We can talk about horror stories, but I would rather say that they are stories of anguish, which does not prevent them from being sometimes – we too often forget – imbued with delicacy and humor .

No, definitely, we haven’t finished hearing about Lovecraft…

drawing : Andree Wallin

Lovecraft, Cthulhu and the Old Ones enter the Pleiades