Review of “The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft,” edited by S.T. Joshi

The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft is a collection of loss. Two stories — The Rats in the Walls and At the Mountains of Madness — described failed attempts to return home while the other two — The Dunwich Horror and The Colour Out of Space — tell of fathers unable to provide for their sons. Each story is carefully concealed in archaic vocabulary and fantastic imagery, but the gut-wrenching sadness of lost inheritance is everywhere in these pages. The alternate reality they paint, including fantastic amalgamations of previous mythologies and religions, would doubtless be familiar to that other fantastic horror writer, Mohammed ibn Abdullah. Indeed, that absurdly named character constantly referenced yet never featured, Abdul Alhazred (Abdullah [who] all has read?), may be a conscious homage to ‘s predecessor.


Yet this post is only have about that and half about the brilliant editing of S.T. Joshi. His helpful footnotes are the perfect implementation to that educational methodology I learned at UNL — . So now let us SOAR into Horror in this blog review…

Dr. Ken Kiewra of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln described the SOAR learning methodology as a four-step process.

  1. Selection highlights major and minor points from a lecture. This is the first step of any hermeneutical process, but most learning will stop here.
  2. Organization ties selections within a lecture together. This term describes building internal connections in a text. The building of these connections mimic the building of the human mind, tying together information to give it a semantic meaning.
  3. Association involves creating external connections between a lecture and analogous information. To associate means that information is not just internally coherent within some context, but goes along with other texts. If you imagine a text as a domain, organization is vertical learning while association is horizontal learning.
  4. Regulation involves challenging one’s knowledge, forcing one to actively construct again the learning structures. A well designed question can do this. Regulation exploits the brain’s complex adaptive system ability to reform in a way most useful. Make recall of learning useful, and one will recall better

The difference between these stage is not always solid — merely selecting a term, for example, defines it as important within the context of a text and immediately makes the learner think of what it means outside the text — but the methodologies is. The upcoming tdaxp special feature on Coming Anarchy (part of SummerBlog ’06) SOARs mightily, and I now recognize the academic use of my blogging as intellectual SOARing. I have also become annoyed when I see other instructors willfully violate SOAR principles, and thus delighted when educators use them.

Joshi’s brilliant footnotes illustrate all four SOAR stages. I will use examples from the final pages of the novella At the Mountains of Madness, though I promise known of the quotes give away any plot points. When necessarily, I will edit or slightly reword the sentence, to further prevent any loss of freshness if you read this volume. Each of the passages contains a selection from Lovecraft followed by a use of SOAR by Joshi.

Selection – highlight key passages

Lovecraft: The inner antarctic is a waste as utterly and irrevocably devoid of every vestige of normal life as is the sterile disc of the moon.

Joshi: The sentence is printed as per Lovecraft’s manuscript. In the original published version, it reads “waste utterly and irrevocably devoid of normal life.” Lovecraft has failed to correct this reading, but it may be an oversight.

Organization – tie a text to itself

Lovecraft: We could soon reconstruct in fancy the whole stupendous thing as it was a million or ten million or fifty million years ago.

Joshi: Cf. a similar usage in “The rats in the Walls”: “… the events which must have taken place there three hundred, or a thousand, or two thousand, or ten thousand years ago.”

Association – tie a text to another text

Lovecraft: run back, before we had seen what we did see, and before our minds were burned with something which will never let us breathe easily again!

Joshi: A frequently expressed sentiment in Lovecraft’s fiction. Cf. “The Call of Cthulhu”: “I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me” (The Dunwich Horror and Others, 154).

Regulation – force active construction by the learner

Lovecraft: “the nameless cylinder,” “the elder pharos,” “Yog-Sothoth” …

Joshi: See note 42 to “The Dunwhich Horror”

Joshi’s use of SOAR is extremely effective. I had read all of these stories before, yet I understood each better with Joshi’s method. Lovecraft described The Dunwhich Horror, one of his most successful stories, as a juvenile blunder and now I see why. The atmospheres of The Rats in the Walls and The Colour out of Space is infinitely distinct now, while before they blended together. And At the Mountains of Madness, which I previously enjoyed as an imaginitive fantasy, now speaks to me its sadness, and loss, and lonliness, as it never did before.

Joshi accomplishes this not be insisting on a certain perspective, or by force-feeding his interpretation, but by Selecting, Organizing, Associating, and Regulating the reader. His work is marvelous, and nearly every academic text could be improved with a hand such as his. I doubt that Joshi has learned the SOAR methodology under that name, and his learning may have been practical and not at all academic, yet The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft provides the best use of SOAR in book form that I have ever seen. Previously, SOAR (with its natural application to the world of presentations) appeared to be a way to make “Powerpoint better than Powerpoint.” It is now a way to make books better than books.

Besides the four stories, Joshi provides an introduction, a selection of letters, and an overview of Lovecraft in the media. I purchased my copy for $13.50 from Barnes and Noble, thought it is also available from and other fine retailers.

Redefining the Gap 12, Bibliography

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06


Below is the bibliography for this project. Many of the documents cited can be obtained from JSTOR.

Agnew, John A. 1995. Mastering Space. New York: Routledge.

Ansah, Esi E. 2002. Theorizing the Brain Drain. African Issues 30: 21-24.

Ansley, Fran. 2001. Inclusive Boundaries and Other (Im)possible Paths toward Community Development in a Global World. University of Pennsylvania Law Review 150: 353-417.

Baker, Raymond. 1995. Combative Cultural Politics: Film Art and Political Spaces in Egypt. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 15: 6-38.

Barnett, Clive. 1995. Awakening the Dead: Who Needs the History of Geography?. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 20: 417-419.

Barnett, Thomas P.M. 2003. The Pentagon’s New Map: It Explains Why We’re Going to War, and Why We’ll Keep going to War. Esquire. Stable URL:

Barnett, Thomas P.M. 2004. The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Barnett, Thomas P.M. 2005. Glossary. The Newsletter from Thomas P.M. Barnett 1.13. Stable URL:

Barnett, Thomas P.M. 2006. Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Barone, Michael. 2005, August 27. Fall Reading. U.S. News & World Report. Stable URL:

Beckstrom, John H. 1974. Handicaps of Legal-Social Engineering in a Developing Nation. The American Journal of Comparative Law 22: 697-712.

Broad, Robin, and Cavanagh, John. 1995-1996. Don’t Neglect the Impoverished South. Foreign Policy 101. 18-35.
Brosius, J. Peter. 1999. Analyses and Interventions: Anthropological Engagements with Environmentalism. Current Anthropology 40: 277-309.

Caprioli, Mary and Boyer, Mark A. Gender, Violence and International Crisis. The Journal of Conflict Resolution 45:503-518.

Center for International Development & Conflict Management (CIDCM). 2006. Actor-Level Primary Data Collections. International Crisis Behavior Project. Stable URL:

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2006a. Appendix B – International Organizations and Groups. The World Factbook. Stable URL:

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2006b. Rank Order – Internet Hosts. The World Factbook. Stable URL:

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2006c. Rank Order – GDP – per capita (PPP). The World Factbook. Stable URL:

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2006d. Rank Order – Life Expectancy at Birth. The World Factbook. Stable URL:

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2006e. Rank Order – Population. The World Factbook. Stable URL:

Chaikivsky, Andrew. 2002, December. [the strategist]. Esquire 163. Stable URL:

Chichilnisky, Graciela. 1994. North-South Trade and the Global Environment. The American Economic Review 84: 851-874.

Coderre, Dave. 2003. Transforming the Pentagon Vision of the Global Security Environment. The Naval Supply Corps Newsletter. Stable URL:

Cohen, Saul B. 1991. Presidential Address: Global Geopolitical Change in the Post-Cold War Era. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 81: 551-580.

Davenport, Christian and Armstrong, David A. II. 2004. Democracy and the Violation of Human Rights: A Statistical Analysis from 1976 to 1996. American Journal of Political Science 48:538-554.

Dawson, Marc H. 1987. The Many Minds of Sir Halford J. Mackinder: Dilemmas of Historical Editing. History in Africa 14:27-42.

Demeny, Paul. 2003. Population Policy Dilemmas in Europe at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century. Population and Development Review 29: 1-28.

Dodds, Klaus-John. 1994. Geopolitics in the Foreign Office: British Representations of Argentina 1945-1961. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 19: 273-290.

Dodds, K. and Sidaway, J.D. 2004. Halford Mackinder and the ‘Geographical Pivot of History’: A Cententnial Retrospective. The Geographical Journal 170:292-297. Stable URL:

Edwards, Michael, Hulme, David and Wallace, Tina. 1999. NGOs in a Global Future: Marrying Local Delivery to Worldwide Leverage. Public Administration and Development 19:117-136. Stable URL:<117::AID-PAD70>3.0.CO;2-S.

Eisenstein, Zillah. 1997. Women’s Publics and the Search for New Democracies. Feminist Review 57:140-167.

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Erb, Guy F. 1977. “North-South” Negotiations. Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science 32: 106-119.

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Gilbert, E. W., and Parker, W.H. 1969. Mackinder’s Democratic Ideals and Reality after Fifty Years. The Geographical Journal 135:228-231.

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Hentz, James J. 1997. Economic Stagnation in Sub-Sahara Africa and Breaking the “Implicit Bargain”. Issue: A Journal of Opinion 25: 32-34.

Holm, Hans-Henrik. 1990. The End of the Third World?. Journal of Peace Research 27: 1-7.

Horowitz, Irving Louis. 1985-1986. The “Rashomon” Effect: Ideological Proclivities and Political Dilemmas of the International Monetary Fund. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 27: 37-55.

Hooson, David J.M. 1962. A New Soviet Heartland? The Geographical Journal 128:19-29.

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Ignatius, David. 2005, May 18. A Quiet Transformation. Washington Post, p. A17. Stable URL:

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Kaufman, Stuart J. 1999. Approaches to Global Politics in the Twenty-First Century: A Review Essay. International Studies Review 1: 193-221.

Kearns, Gerry. 1997. The Imperial Subject: Geography and Travel in the Work of Mary Kingsley and Halford Mackinder. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 22:450-472.

Keddie, Nikki R. 1998. The New Religious Politics: Where, When, and Why Do “Fundamentalisms” Appear?. Comparative Studies in Society and History 40: 696-723.

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Mazrui, Ali A. 2002. Brain Drain between Counterterrorism and Globalization. African Issues 30: 86-89.

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Moon, Graham, and Brown, Tim. 2000. Governmentality and the Spatialized Discourse of Policy: The Consolidation of the Post-1989 NHS Reforms. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 25: 65-76.

Moxham, Ben. 2003. The US Military: Brining Hope “to Every Corner of the World.” Focus on the Global South. Stable URL:

Niva, Steve. Alternatives to Neolibralism. Middle East Report 210:16.
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Roberts, Susan, Secor, Anna and Sparke, Matthew. Neoliberal Geopolitics. Antipode 35: 886-897. Stable URL:

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Sidaway, James Derrick, and Pryke, Michael. 2000. The Strange Geographies of ‘Emerging Markets’. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 25: 187-201.

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Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes