15 September 2006

Expanding the Wikipedia Entries

I received a copy of Out of the Storm, but the paperback edition I purchased does not have the Moskovitz introduction! So I've ordered another copy, this time of the original hardcover edition. When I receive it, perhaps I can expand the biographical information on Hodgson contained in the Wikipedia entry.

Meanwhile, I have been gradually adding more material about Hodgson's works, in particular his miscellaneous short stories (those not featuring a recurring character). I wrote entries for "Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani" and also for "The Derelict." I was working my way through the Carnacki stories from 427 Cheye Walk, but Isaac said they were giving him nightmares, so we set aside that series. Instead I'm working on the miscellaneous stories in volume 2 of the Collected Fiction. I have read these once, but some did not stick in my mind very much (in fact, not all of them are terribly good). So far, these are "The Goddess of Death," "Terror of the Water Tank," and "Bullion."

As I go, I'm compiling a list of motifs that seem to commonly pop up in Hodgson's stories. Here are a few of the motifs I've catalogued: a secret passage; strangulation; knockout gas; events that appear to be supernatural but really aren't; an ancient idol; a faint sound of mysterious origin; a tendency for things to happen in threes. There are some less savory motifs such as Anglocentrism and outright racism as well. I'm naming these motifs and eventually will probably compile some kind of concordance of them. What is the point? Well, it provides a bit of insight into Hodgson's process. In his novel The Night Land he went whole-hog into his own vision and style, but when he started writing short stories for magazine publication he seemed, at least initially, to write in very formulaic ways, although his later stories became much more fluid and daring.

The process has gone approximately like this: first, read one of the stories aloud as a bedtime story to my family. We discuss it, and talk about vocabulary, structure, and motifs, and what is good or bad about the story. I may take some quick notes. The next day, if I get time, or maybe the day after that, I write the summary, then perhaps revise it later. It's a slow process, but I'm in no great hurry.

It has occurred to me that I could just record the bedtime story readings and then add Creative Commons music. This might work if it were just Grace and Isaac listening, but unfortunately Veronica tends to talk over a lot of the story, and if I had a microphone set up she would want to play with it. But I will figure out another way to bring some of these stories alive as podcasts in the near future.

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