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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward Mass Market Paperback – Nov 12 1987

4.7 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345354907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345354907
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.7 x 0.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 68 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,830,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


'Lovecraft is a dark and baroque prince. I think it is beyond doubt that H. P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale' Stephen King.

About the Author

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an influential writer of horror, fantasy and science fiction. He was born on August 20, 1890, in Rhode Island to Winfield Scott Lovecraft and Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
At 48,000 words, this is the longest tale that H.P. Lovecraft ever wrote. It is also his best.
This novel has both good plotting and an otherworldly atmosphere that pervades the book. The setting is 1920's New England where there was a revival in interest in the occult. However, the key to the tale is the 18th Century New England scene that Lovecraft had a lifetime interest in.
The character of Charles Dexter Ward was based on Lovecraft himself: a lonely intellectual who was an antiquarian who detested the Industrial Revolution. Ward's research into the occult leads to the reincarnation of one of his ancestors who in turn hatches a plot with both Ward and one of Ward's friends for a mass resurrection of the dead who would become mindless zombies dedicated to both the destruction of heavy industry in America as well as the forced expulsion, if not mass murder, of the Roman Catholic immigrants who Lovecraft detested so much from America.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is a fantasy/horror novel that tells you a lot about its author. H.P. Lovecraft was a self-styled aristocrat from a decadent Old Money family who bitterly hated the Roman Catholic Church and especially the Irish and Italian immigrants who by 1928, when this novel was first published, had already assumed a position of political power at the expense of the WASP elite that Lovecraft was a member of. Clearly, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward was reflective of Lovecraft's religious bigotry and his hateful tendencies towards certain ethnic and religious groups. It should come as no surprise that during the 1930's, Lovecraft frequently praised Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is a uniquely powerful and compelling work by a master of horror fantasy.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Case of Charles dexter Ward -which remained unpublished during H. P. L. 's lifetime- is certainly one of the most readable and enjoyable efforts of the old gentleman from Providence, even for people who are not addicted to "Call of Cthulhu" role-playing games and similar items about which Grandpa Theobald would probably have been both rather amused and irritated.
The story, unfolding slowly but with an ever increasing pace, revolves around the uncanny relation between one Charles Dexter Ward -a young antiquarian of an old Providence family, quite an alter ego of Lovecraft himself- and his ancestor Joseph Curwen, a Salem warlock from the 17th century. The descriptions of old Providence and its surroundings are exceedingly beautiful and graphic and reveal much of H. P. L. 's affection for his hometown. The story, of course, also has its great moments of cosmic fear, and the accounts of the good people of Providence's raid against Joseph Curwen and that of Dr. Willett, the avuncular and benevolent medical doctor of Ward's family, descending into the sheer abyss of horror (without even a drop of blood being splattered) belong to the most frightening and effective episodes in all of horror literature.
Lovecraft delves deeply into occult lore and black magic, much more so than in most of his other stories, where he mainly relies on some name-dropping, usually of the Great Old Ones and his own invented grimoires (like the Necronomicon & Cie.) to provide a touch of witchcraft, but he does it with utmost effectiveness, in total contrast to many of his contemporaries (and successors). The reason for this is certainly that he was a complete non-believer concerning anything supernatural.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Long one of my favorite horror stories (I remember reading it at age 13 one night and keeping one eye on the corners of my room), the main thing to remember about this novella is that it was written in the 1920's. I mention this because some of the plot elements could be seen as trite and overused given the wealth of modern horror literature.
Some of the previous reviewers have alluded to the rather plodding pace at the beginning but once the character of J. Curwen is introduced you literally will not be able to put the book down. Even the rather slow start of the story is very entertaining (esspecially the glowing language Lovecraft uses to describe Ward's ramblings in Providence - clearly Lovecraft has a special kinship for the historian in the book's title character).
The story itself is compelling and foreshadows many plot elements that were to become horror mainstays in later years. Interestingly, the typical Lovecraftian mythos here are not the central object of the story, but merely mentioned almost in passing. Curwen - his diabolical use of his young descendent, the noble yet hopelessly naive Ward and the brave Dr. Willet have all become horror archetypes. While these characterizations could be considered wooden and almost one dimensional, they none the less fit the mood and "feel" of the story perfectly.
Lovecraft also treats the reader to well crafted details. The small, minor details and difficulties Curwen experiences in 'modern' day Providence illustrates this perfectly. Curwen's detailed and yet still mysterious history and the town's efforts to expunge his evil from their community are a gripping joy to read and re-read.
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