A new series of books I’ve been reading. H.P Lovecraft, St. Augustine, Richard A. Knaak and E.M. Cioran. Horror, pessimism, religion and World of Warcraft in one blogpost!
H.P. Lovecraft – The Haunter in the Dark (Collected Stories – Volume Three)
Once you get captivated by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, you probably will be hooked for life. I’ve been reading them since I was sixteen and last year I purchased this collection, which features some stories I had not read yet and some I was willing to re-read. The collection has some of the rich and haunting New-England stories, with vague references to witchcraft and deeper mysteries, which all find themselves rounding up in the dream stories of ‘The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath’.
The cosmic proportions of these stories are magnificent and wonderful for those readers open to it. Ofcourse, it is in the end fantastic fiction, but the creative process behind the work of Lovecraft and the creations he wrought. Wordworth has tried to connect the stories in these collections, making it easier for the reader to make sense of them and relate the texts to eachother. One could argue that the intertextual carreer of characters like Randolph Carter should be discovered instead of presented by the publisher. Thanks to digital collections, the real explorer of Lovecraft can still find his or her own way. No matter how well put together, it takes away a bit for those who want to drift through the pages.
E.M. Cioran – A Short History of Decay
Apparently the mother of Romanian philosopher Emile Cioran told him, that if she had known he’d be so unhappy, she would have gotten an abortion. If there’s anyway to introduce his work, that fact does it. The philosophy of pessimism is not the most cheery material to read, and this collection of short essays (ranging from half a page to two/three pages) is definitely not a page turner. The short, condensed passages contain nuggets of wisdom and insight on the futility of life, suicide, sin and nihilism.
Cioran used themes like that life is arbitrary, or the idea that live is inconvenient. Born in Romania, while it was occupied by Austria-Hungary, he searched for meaning pretty much most of his life, embracing nationalism as well as nihilism. His short writings are powerful and also inspiring in strange ways. Pessimists may seem drole and, well …, generally pessimistic, there is also a lot of wit and black humor in it. Cioran must have embraced his pessimism when he wrote this work, since it’s filled with witty remarks of one who has no hope.
Richard A. Knaak – Stormrage
Blizzard is an amazing company when it comes to making video games. The strenght of their flagship game World of Warcraft is not its revolutionairy visuals (not anymore atleast) but its emphasis on strong narrative and continuation. The player is part of a history that develops and fully grows on many levels. The company also invests in that in other media than the digital, releasing books to fill in certain elements of the storylines. Stormrage is one of those, filling the bap between the narratives of ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ and ‘Cataclysm’ (two expansions to the game).
The story is that of night elf Arch Druid Malfurion Stormrage and the people around him. Stormrage had been missing, ever since the start of the World of Warcraft narrative lines and cataclysm finally brought him back into action. In Cataclysm the core world was reshaped and the events in this book lead up to those and explain the sudden ravaged world players enter in that version of the game (which relaunched the whole core world). The story is a bit stretched in some parts and not always as easy to follow. Still Richard A. Knaak always manages to capture the spirit of WoW very well and gives a whole lot of new, exciting questions in this work. It also connects with the ‘War of the Ancients’ story arch.
St. Augustine – Confessions of a sinner
I was rather exciteds about reading St. Augustine, but I was let down quite a bit to be honest. This book is only part of a greater body of work, where Augustine is confessing his sins and describing his life to his deity. The work is a confession of his sinful life, before he became the later St. Augustine. The pages are filled with a dialogue he tries to have with God.
Though this book from the Penguin ideas series is full of touching and beautiful writings, I did not enjoy it too much. The devout way of writing of St. Augustine offered little of the wisdom he is revered for. This does show the man behind the wisdom though, his fallacies and insecurities. It makes him human and that is why this is worth reading.