The Black Aether

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Lovecraftian communities – Italy

After long preparation, a few dozens of email exchanges, sometimes losing direction or coming up against deadends, today we can finally launch the new series within TBA’s “Where should I start” column: we embark on a journey to map out and present the international Lovecraftian communities, associations, organisations, magazines, events and prominent personalities. After the general interviews, we will go into more details about the people and magazines we have introduced, however in the first round we aimed to collect and summarise the basic information from every country. The project has started a few months ago and it has turned out to be longer than expected because we’ve got stuck in our research multiple times, notably when we were looking for reliable sources whose opinion would be relevant for the community of the target country: in some cases we talked to one person, in other cases we got in touch with associations or societies who work in similar ways as the Hungarian H.P. Lovecraft Society.

We can tell you this much: wherever we went, whoever we contacted for help, everybody welcomed our initiative with enthusiasm and they tried to help us to achieve our goals to the best of their abilities. We plan to discover every European country, soon we’ll turn our attention towards the Northern regions, but we won’t stop there.

In every interview we seek the answers to 12 questions and we always encourage the interviewee to add any important or interesting detail they can think of. In the first part of the series Giuseppe Lippi, Italian writer, journalist and translator and a well-respected member of the Italian community, answers our questions. Lippi’s four volume series, Tutti i racconti, started in 1989, was the first collection to feature H.P. Lovecraft’s prose, collaborations, revisions and juvenilia in chronological order, all of them translated by Lippi. In the first part of our series let us now read the answers of Giuseppe Lippi, who even had the chance to meet Alfred Galpin.

To read the Polish interview, click here.

Are there any active cultural associations following and upkeeping HPL’s literary heritage? If yes, what are these?

I would say there are: a small, no-profit publishing house called Dagon Press, with a regular website, another called Hypnos Edizioni and a third, the recently-born Providence Press. They all publish books AND magazines, including STUDI LOVECRAFTIANI, HYPNOS and PROVIDENCE TALES. Each has its own web page or it is present on Facebook. Orders are accepted via email and their sites. The main Facebook page in Italian is LOVECRAFT ITALIA.

Are there people specialised in HPL’s work who are also well-known in Lovecraftian circles? If yes, who are they?

The major living Italian specialists are well known to Lovecraftian circles, i.e. small independent publishers, cultural organisations and such. To name just a few, the pioneers Gianfranco de Turris and Sebastiano Fusco from Rome, Pietro Guarriello from central Italy, Gianni Pilo from Rome again. You could add myself as editor and translator of the Complete Lovecraft Tales in four volumes 1989-1992, always in print in one form or the other: first with a reunification of the four in one mammoth volume (2015) and then with a reprint in two hardcover ones (2016-2017). Sebastiano Fusco co-edited with Pilo his own monumental Complete Tales plus some poetry, essays and letters in 12 hardcover volumes (!), then compressed in one mammoth book which reprints the first five. Gianfranco de Turris co-edited with Fusco various volumes of Lovecraft’s collaborators and/or disciples, letters and essays, as we will see in a little while.

Are HPLs fiction, poems and essays available in translation? If yes, have they been published in print? Are they available online? If not, which works are not translated?

Lovecraft’s fiction is all in print in Italian since 1973, but he was introduced well before that, around 1960. You can purchase his e-books online: my Complete Tales and Fusco-Pilo’s Complete Tales and Novels. The Italian titles are, respectively, Lovecraft – TUTTI I RACCONTI (Mondadori Publishing) and Lovecraft – TUTTI I ROMANZI E RACCONTI (Newton Compton). Several other titles, from partial collections to single stories, are also available in e-book form or print.

When did the first H.P. Lovecraft translation get published in your country? Was it published as a collection or just as separate short stories? Which was this collection or short story?

In 1960, “The Rats in the Walls” was included in an anthology called UN SECOLO DI TERRORE (A Century of Terror Tales, edited by Bruno Tasso). The same year “The Call of Cthulhu” + “The Dunwich Horror” were chosen for STORIE DI FANTASMI (Ghost Stories), a second compilation  edited by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini. Then, in 1963, the science fiction magazine Urania published at avery low price the first Lovecraft collection in Italy, under the title COLUI CHE SUSSURRAVA NEL BUIO (The Whisperer in Darkness, containing two more tales). Finally, in 1966 the editors of STORIE DI FANTASMI and Urania, Fruttero & Lucentini, produced the first handsome collection of Lovecraft’s best tales for Mondadori Publishing, under the fancy title I MOSTRI ALL’ANGOLO DELLA STRADA (Monsters At Your Street’s Corner). This was a huge success and stayed in print for several years, although some of the translations – good per se – were edited. In 1966 and 1967 there came out two more collections: LE MONTAGNE DELLA FOLLIA (At the Mountains of Madness & Others) and LA CASA DELLE STREGHE (The Dreams in the Witch’s House). They were issued by the rival publisher Sugar, the same company which had produced six years earlier UN SECOLO DI TERRORE. Lastly, to finish with the Precursors to our modern editions, Sugar launched in 1973 the first of the mammoth volumes, called H.P. Lovecraft – OPERE COMPLETE (Complete Works), with almost all his known stories up to then, but none of the so called Collaborations or Revisions. Translations were sometimes sound but edited, and mediocre for the rest, but all the same this fat volume became the Bible of us aficionados. Some mature attempts to publish Lovecraft’s Collaborations and Revisions ensued, not to mention his followers’ output: I MITI DI CTHULHU or Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, NELLE SPIRE DI MEDUSA or Medusa’s Coil and SFIDA DALL’INFINITO, or The Challenge from Beyond, all issued in the mid-Seventies by the Roman firm Fanucci and edited by the couple Gianfranco de Turris/Sebastiano Fusco. After that, in the late Eighties the Fusco-Pilo 12 volumes enterprise began to see the light of day (Fanucci Editore again), while in 1989 the first of my four volume set TUTTI I RACCONTI was issued, offering Lovecraft’s production from 1917 up to 1922, also including his Collaborations, Revisions & Juvenilia. This was the first edition in which all tales were offered in chronological order of composition. Further volumes contained his fiction from 1923 to 1926, then 1927-1930 and lastly 1931-1936.

How is HPL’s reputation? Is it mostly positive or negative? Are there any haters or mostly just grumblers?

His reputation has grown in the years. His luck consisted in being presented from start in regular hardcover collections, and when not hardcover, then popular enough to reach a vast audience. He was, in other words, considered an Author, both by his publishers and by the general public, not a mere entertainer. Also important was the enthusiasm shown by some of his first critics: when, in the Fifties, some French editions appeared beyond the Alps, journalists like Mario Picchi started publishing reviews and articles about him even before the appearance of the first Italian translations. I wouldn’t say there are Lovecraft’s haters in Italy by now, but certainly some dislike him. I remember meeting a personal acquaintance of HPL, and certainly one of his more regular correspondents, Alfred Galpin, who had retired from Romance Language teaching in America and lived with his wife Isbella Panzini in Italy. In 1977 we organized a Lovecraft symposium in Trieste to remember the 40th anniversary of Lovecraft’s passing and professor Galpin was among our guests. He said to me in private that Lovecraft’s tales looked to him like mere “concoctions”, artificial and even absurd stuff, and that the man himself was far superior to his published fancies. Well, Galpin was not the first, nor the last, to share this comparatively dismal view of Lovecraft’s fiction. Today his most fierce opposers are, on the “left wing”, those who condemn him for being an irrational racist, while on the “right wing” those who refuse his inclusion among the modern classics of literature.

If you needed to estimate the number of active fans (who comment, participate, go to events, write articles, follow the news and the actualities) what would you say: how many of them are out there?

Active fans are perhaps in the hundreds, but simple enthusiasts are several thousands.

Is there a leading site dedicated to HPL’s life and work? (reviews, introductory articles, essays, biography, etc.) If yes, what is it?

Sure, the already mentioned Lovecraft Italia group on Facebook, the Dagon Press website, the Hypnos website, and Weirdiana, a web journal centering on all things weird, in past literature and present.

Is there a leading news portal that follows and shares international news? (publications, events, reviews, etc.) If yes, what is it?

There are several: Weirdiana powered by Edizioni Hypnos and Weird Magazine; is devoted to all genres of the fantastic, starting from “fantascienza” or science fiction.

Is there a regularly published print magazine dedicated to the works of HPL and/or weird literature (articles, essays, short stories, poem translations, etc.) If yes, what is it?

There are the irregular STUDI LOVECRAFTIANI (Lovecraft Studies), HYPNOS magazine and the new entry, PROVIDENCE TALES.

Is there a regularly published print magazine that features the short stories / poems of contemporary writers, the followers of HPL? If yes, what is it?

Those mentioned above, I guess.

Are there active writers, poets who write cosmic horror or weird fiction and are also published in print? If yes, who are they?

I think the man you should interview for this is Andrea Bonazzi: a translator, sculptor, writer in the cosmic vein himself. He is one of the men behind HYPNOS magazine (paper) and Weird Magazine (online).

Is there a regularly held event dedicated to HPL’s works? (symposium, conference, free university, etc.) If yes, what is it? If there isn’t are there any one-off events? (not regular, smaller meet-ups)?

Not a regular annual meeting, no, but every now and then a single event promoted by fans. Years ago we had in Trieste – where I lived then – a so called FANTASTICON that oscillated between horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Thank you for the answers.

The Black Aether

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A The Black Aether az egyetlen, weird és klasszikus rémirodalommal, folk-horrorral foglalkozó online magazin Magyarországon 2015 óta. A projekt elindulásával talált magára a hazai lovecraftiánus közösség, és azóta is fontos szerepet tölt be a közösség életében. Csatlakozz te is  támogatóink  közé, hogy továbbra is zavartalanul folytatódhasson a munka, hogy a The Black Aether fennmaradhasson és tovább fejlődhessen.