leslie s. klinger

Presenting Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler’s latest anthology, The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, the largest collection of Sherlockian tales ever assembled—now in a deluxe hardcover edition, perfect for the collector and gift markets.

Arguably no other character in history has been so enduringly popular as Sherlock Holmes. From his first appearance, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1887 novella A Study in Scarlet,readers have loved reading about him—and writers have loved writing about him. Here, Otto Penzler collects 83 wonderful stories about Holmes and Dr. John Watson, the majority of which will be new to readers. Among these pages are tales by acclaimed Sherlockians Leslie S. Klinger, Laurie R. King, Lyndsay Faye and Daniel Stashower; pastiches by literary luminaries both classic (Kenneth Millar, P. G. Wodehouse, Dorothy B. Hughes) and current (Anne Perry, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman); and parodies by Conan Doyle’s contemporaries James M. Barrie, O. Henry, and August Derleth.”

So proud to be in this!  You can preorder here. <3

Some images of Nyarlathotep

I love how Lovecraft’s monsters are so protean, enabling so many great artists to take some wonderful creative liberties with their interpretations of one the the great author’s most fascinating inventions.

“Will Murray, in “Behind the Mask of Nyarlathotep,” points out that not only is this Lovecraft’s first fictitious god, but it is te first t appear in more tan one Lovecraft story.”

-Leslie S. Klinger, The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft


“And though this revolting graveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of drums, and thin, monotonous whine of blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond Time; the detestable pounding and piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate gods–the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Nyarlathotep.”

-H. P. Lovecraft, “Nyarlathotep”

Dr. Watson doesn’t write to you, he talks to you, with Edwardian courtesy, across a glowing fire. His voice has no barriers or affectations. It is clear, energetic and decent, the voice of a tweedy, no-nonsense colonial Britisher at ease with himself… . He is a first-class chap, loyal to a fault, brave as a lion, and the salt of the earth. All the cliches fit him, but he is not a cliche… . He is one of the greatest storytellers the world has ever listened to.
— 

John Le Carre in the introduction to Leslie S. Klinger’s "The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes


Happy Birthday Sherlock Holmes!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes was born on January 6th 1854 (the exact date speculated by Leslie S. Klinger), making Holmes 162 years of age! I suppose Holmes really can never die!

Elementary’s Sherlock Holmes’ birthdate has been assumed to also be January 6th. The year of his birth (as observed by @amindamazed) is either 1975 or 1976, making our Holmes 40 or 41 years of age!

On the Holmes/Lovecraft connection ...What 'serious' critics think (and why we shouldn't care)

Behold this book…

You could anchor a boat with this. It is nearly a thousand pages long. This book is so big I found it rather difficult to read, I felt like I should have a podium to rest it on. But perhaps I obtained an excellent upper body workout by holding it in my lap.
What does this book have to do with Sherlock Holmes, I hear you asking. Well - it is written by Leslie S. Klinger whom I’m sure you’ve heard of. He is a member in good standing of the BSI and has made many contributions to Sherlockian scholarship. Here he is with Neil Gaiman and friends in a Minnesota bookstore…

Most recently, Klinger essentially “gave” us Sherlock Holmes, courtesy of a landmark court ruling where, I believe, the judge essentially decided that Mr. Klinger was right in declaring that Sherlock Holmes now should belong to the public and that we no longer have to pay royalties to Conan Doyle’s heirs if we want to use him or his image in our derivative works, even for commercial purposes.
A good reason for all fanfic writers to be dancing in the streets.
I just recently, in the past year, started reading Mr. Lovecraft…

…realizing in the meanwhile that he also has quite a following. If you disbelieve it, just go online and google his name. Pages and pages of listings will come up.
His campy cosmic monsters have become the stars of video games, board games and role playing games. He has a number of podcasts devoted to him. Bands have composed entire albums dedicated to his “Mythos,” fans are making films, creating some pretty astounding artwork, writing books and staging public readings.
This past summer. the “NecronomiCon” was revived in Providence, R.I., Lovecraft’s beloved hometown, the equivalent to the many “221B-Cons” that Holmes fans have been holding for decades.
Lovecraft today is enjoying the biggest surge of interest that this obscure pulp fiction writer would ever have imagined in his lifetime, this huge book being just the latest of many.
As is the case with Holmes, fans began writing Lovecraftian “pastiches” even before his death and continue to crank them out in vast numbers.
The question I had to ask myself upon discovering all this was - “Why?”
When I first sat down to read Lovecraft I found him rather difficult. His flowery, arcane language made my eyes cross and at first I found myself sharing the views of one of the critics Klinger cites in his introduction, Edmund Wilson of The New Yorker, who, if you will allow me, I will now quote:

“The truth is that these stories were hack-work,” Wilson writes, “contributed to such publications as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories, where, in my opinion, they ought to have been left. The only real horror in most of these fictions is the horror of bad taste and bad art.
"Lovecraft was not a good writer. The fact that his verbose and undistinguished style has been compared to Poe’s is only one of the many sad signs that almost nobody any more pays real attention to writing.
"One of Lovecraft’s worst faults is his incessant effort to work up the expectations of the reader by sprinkling his stories with such adjectives as "horrible,” “terrible,” “frightful,” “awesome,” “eerie,” “weird,” “forbidden,” “unhallowed,” “unholy,” “blasphemous,” “hellish” and “infernal.” Surely one of the primary rules for writing an effective tale of horror is never to use any of these words - especially if you are going, at the end, to produce an invisible whistling octopus.“

I had to laugh at that last comment. I might add that Wilson left off of his list some of Lovecraft’s most overused adjectives like "cyclopean,” for example. I think Lovecraft averages 20 uses of that term per story. Also “eldritch,” “gibbous,” “betrachian,” “ichthian,” and quite a few others.
But Wilson wasn’t done with his criticism yet.
In the same scathing article, he wrote:

“The Lovecraft cult, I fear, is on an even more infantile level than the Baker Street Irregulars and the cult of Sherlock Holmes.’”

*SHOCK FACE*

Mr. Wilson. That was just rude.

I mean, you can tell from this man’s face that he plays hard ball.

A Man of Letters he may be, but in my opinion, Wilson had no cause to brand other illustrious Men (and Women) of Letters - like Vincent Starrett, Christopher Morley, William Baring-Gould, Leslie Klinger, Dorothy Sayers, Laurie King and others as “infantile.”
Rather, I say, this is the attitude that genre fiction fans often must endure from non-devotees who do not understand the joys of our unbridled enthusiasms.
Having trammeled Lovecraft into the antediluvian dust, Wilson turns his scathe upon Holmes and Conan Doyle. Again, I quote:

“(Doyle’s) writing, of course, is full of cliches,” Wilson writes, “but these cliches are dealt out with a ring which gives them a kind of value, while the author makes speed and saves space so effectively that we are rarely in danger of getting bogged down in anything boring…over the whole epic there hangs an air of irresponsible comedy, like that of some father’s rigmarole for his children.”

I might mention at this point that Wilson wasn’t too fond of Tolkein, either.
He was typical of his breed. Wilson saw himself as a “serious” critic who reviews only “serious” works of literature, apparently forgetting that such “serious” works often included such fantasies as Homer’s Odyssey, Beowulf, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Hamlet, much of Poe’s and Hawthorne’s work and many others.
He looked down his nose at authors like Doyle and Lovecraft because he did not take genre fiction like detective stories and horror stories very seriously.
Well, if you were here today, Mr. Wilson, I would tell you this to your face: Neither do we.
Let us recall Father Ronald Knox, who started us all off on this “grand game” we play.

Knox wrote a 1911 essay entitled “Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes” which today is considered the cornerstone of Sherlockian scholarship.
Rather than attempting to proclaim the Holmes stories as Great Literature, Knox proceeded to point out in a very tongue-in-cheek way all of the stories’ flaws.
Was Watson’s name John or James? Was his war wound in his shoulder or his leg? How could Victor Trevor’s bulldog bite Holmes at college when dogs were not allowed on campus? How could Holmes enjoy his best year - 1895 - when he supposedly still was dead at the bottom of the Reichenbach Falls? Etc. etc. we all know the drill very well by now.
To the “serious” literary critics, Knox had this to say: “If anyone objects that the study of Holmes literature is unworthy of scholarly attention, I might content myself with replying that to the scholarly mind anything is worthy of study, if that study be thorough and systematic.”
Or, as Holmes himself would say, “To a great mind, nothing is little.”
Many “serious” as well as popular authors have taken up the Knox baton and carried it further than non-devotees - or Doyle himself - could ever possibly imagine, and the same has happened with Mr. Lovecraft.
Lovecraft’s fans will be the first to point out his shortcomings, both as a writer and as a man. His work is as often (or perhaps even more often) the target of parody as it is of straight imitation.
If he were alive today, he might be viewed as the equivalent of an underemployed adult still living in his parents’ basement. He never held down a real job. He sponged off his mom, his aunts and briefly, his wife. And sadly, he and Archie Bunker had an awful lot in common.
Nor did Lovecraft hold any illusions about the quality of his own writing. Several years before his untimely death at age 46, he wrote to a friend:

“I do not expect to become a serious competitor of my favourite weird authors, such as Poe, Dunsany, Machen, Blackwood and others. The only thing I can say in favour of my work is its sincerity. I refuse to follow the mechanical conventions of popular fiction or to fill my tales with stock characters and situations, but insist on reproducing real moods and impressions in the best way I can command. The result may be poor, but I had rather keep aiming at serious literary expression than accept the artificial standards of cheap romance.”

Lovecraft was so dissatisfied with his own writing that he didn’t bother to publish a lot of it. That was left to his many friends, like August Derleth, who founded Arkham House Publishing for the sole purpose of getting Lovecraft’s stories and voluminous correspondence and notes into book form. 

Lovecraft didn’t care whether he made any money from his writing (psst, he didn’t). But when he did submit something, he’d become incensed if an editor had the nerve to change one word of it. He wanted it to remain exactly as it was, flaws and all.
And here’s the rub: anyone who has ever listened to an interview with any writer - whether rich and popular or poor and obscure - will note that this is what they always tell other aspiring writers: Write what you want and keep true to yourself.
Don’t pander, because readers can see through artifice and ultimately will become bored with it. Be original - aye, that’s the key to immortality as an author.
Given this advice, originality should be the yardstick by which “good” writers are measured, whether the critics consider them to be “serious” or not.

Doyle’s roadmap is still being followed by mystery writers everywhere. Lovecraft is lauded as the Father of the “weird tale,” as well as being a seminal influence on 20th century science fiction and horror.
And both authors owe a great deal to Edgar Allen Poe, whom Stephen King once called “that Great American Hack.”
A difference between Doyle and Lovecraft was that Doyle desperately wanted to be taken seriously as a writer.
He disliked his wildly popular detective hero because his stories appeared in a magazine that targeted middle-class Britons – perhaps just one notch above the pulp magazines Lovecraft’s tales appeared in, although The Strand certainly had a much wider readership.

Sherlock Holmes – according to Doyle – distracted him from what he considered his more serious work – writing pretentious histories that today very few people read, let alone review or attempt to imitate.
Herein lies a great truth: If a book just sits on a shelf unread, it’s pretty useless, regardless of its potentially “serious” content or literary merit.
Another difference between them is that, while Holmes fans who play “the game” very often forget the man that created him, Lovecraft fans find the author himself just as interesting - if not more interesting - than his actual stories.
What Doyle and Lovecraft have in common is that they are, for the most part, ignored by mainstream literary critics. If you study the lists that pundits create of must-read books, you might find “The Hound of the Baskervilles” on it, but not much else. And you won’t find Lovecraft there at all.
The only appreciation genre authors usually get is from their doting fans.
The Sherlock Holmes juggernaut made Doyle a rich man, whereas Lovecraft - like Poe - died young, sick, broke and relatively obscure, a victim of his own self-neglect.
Yet today - although he may have a bit of catching up to do - Lovecraft, like Holmes, is enjoying an unprecedented revival.
Successful writers like Robert Bloch, Guillermo del Toro, Steven King, Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates and others all number among his fans and imitators.

Bear in mind that plenty of other great writers contributed to pulp mags too, writers like H.G. Wells, for instance.


I might point out that these authors are not parasites like Mr. Wilson, who make a living by tearing down the intimate worlds of imagination that individual writers work so hard to create, however imperfect they may be.
Nor are they anywhere close to being “infantile.”
Klinger goes on to outline a curious phenomenon: that Holmes and Lovecraft fans often cross paths. He provides the following examples:
- August Derleth was a lifelong Sherlockian too. As well as founding a publishing house specifically for Lovecraft, Derleth wrote a long series of highly regarded stories about a Holmes-like detective, Solar Pons. Lovecraft appears as himself in the Pons case ‘The Adventure of the Six Silver Spiders.’ Solar Pons was first published in the pulps but later the stories were collected and published by Derleth under the “Mycroft & Moran” imprint.

- Vincent Starrett, who wrote a generous appreciation of Lovecraft in his 'Books Alive!’ column in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1944, was a venerable member of the Baker Street Irregulars.
- Peter Cannon wrote several Holmes/Lovecraft articles for the Baker Street Journal. Cannon also wrote a book-length Holmes-Lovecraft mashup titled Pulptime.
- Philip A. Shreffler, author of the Lovecraft Companion, has been a member of the BSI since 1974.
- Galvin Callaghan wrote a detailed analysis of the influence of the Holmes stories on Lovecraft’s work in 'Elementary, My Dear Lovecraft: H.P. Lovecraft and Sherlock Holmes.’
- Robert H. Waugh wrote 'Lovecraft’s Rats and Doyle’s Hound: A Study in Reason and Madness.’
Lovecraft himself was a devotee of the Great Detective. In a May 27, 1918 letter to Alfred Galpin he wrote: 'As to Sherlock Holmes I used to be infatuated with him! I read every Sherlock Holmes story published and even organised a detective agency when I was thirteen, arrogating to myself the proud pseudonym of S.H.’“

I might add here, since Klinger surprisingly fails to mention it, that Neil Gaiman brought Holmes and Lovecraft’s mythos together in his Hugo award winning short story "A Study in Emerald,” a tour de force with quite a surprise ending.

It’s frankly fun when fandoms collide in this way. In an interview, Klinger was asked who he thought would win a crossover battle between Holmes, Dracula and Cthulhu.
Klinger chose Cthulhu because, of course, he was a God - but believed that Holmes would out-think Dracula hands down…and then went on to compare Holmes to Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Wouldn’t it be great fun if the two of them met?
Maybe they have in someone’s universe, who knows.
So why do these two authors so often have the same fans?
Those of us who love the dark and stormy night, the forbidding house, the howl in the darkness, all the tropes and conventions of Gothic romance can’t help but draw comparisons.
Both authors set the imagination working with intriguing scenes and situations, no matter how implausible they may prove to be upon closer analysis. They allow their readers to escape from the weary toils of reality, however briefly.
The telling of the tale was more important to Lovecraft than details of style and substance. And the same can be said of Doyle. When taken to task for all the contradictions in his stories, Doyle reportedly said “It has always seemed to me that so long as you produce your dramatic effect, accuracy of detail matters little. I have never striven for it and I have made some bad mistakes in consequence. What matter, if I hold my readers?”

And holding their readers is what these writers are still doing.
Both have created a stable of stock characters that people can latch onto.
In Lovecraft’s case, Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, the Elder Gods, the Deep Ones, Nyarlothotep and the rest of what has been dubbed the “Cthulhu Mythos” appeal both to fans’ sense of the weird and to their sense of humor.

And we are fiercely fond of Holmes, Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft, Moriarty, Mary Morstan, Irene Adler, Lestrade and the rest of Doyle’s minor arcana.
Doyle’s 64 tales were simply not enough for us. We want more, and so we have created more, stretching the canon in every conceivable direction.

In Lovecraft’s case, we can fall into a sordid alternative universe crawling with demon rats and bloodthirsty cats, shambling fishmen, balls of cosmic gas bent on earthly domination and - as Wilson so delightfully expressed it - “invisible whistling octopuses.”
After awhile, you cease to mind Lovecraft’s plodding, florid prose and pages littered with repetitive and non-essential adjectives - even if it does send you running to the dictionary every two minutes. At least you learn new words.
Yes, Mr. Wilson, Holmes and Cthulhu are pure escapism. So what? We choose to be their friends, not their critics. We choose to be acolytes, not parasites. In the end, we prefer to be like Tacitus’ miser, whom Holmes once quoted (slightly inaccurately) as saying:

“Populus me sibilat,
at mihi plaudo ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca.”

Roughly translated: “Let the people hiss at me; I will applaud myself as I sit at home contemplating my coins.”

In my case, I’ll be sitting at home with this great, big book open upon my knee.

GOH Leslie S. Klinger

It’s Day 59 in our Sherlock Seattle countdown, which means that it’s time to introduce our next Guest of Honor, Leslie Klinger!

In Mr. Klinger’s case, I owe his involvement entirely to Laurie King. I hadn’t gotten around to asking him yet when she told me that she had been talking with Les over dinner about the convention and how he expressed interest in attending. I naturally invited him instantly and was delighted when he accepted my invitation.

For those who do not know already, Mr. Klinger is the New York Times-best-selling editor of the Edgar®-winning New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and the critically-acclaimed New Annotated Dracula, as well as numerous other books and articles on Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, vampires, and the Victorian age. He is considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on Sherlock Holmes and Dracula.

Klinger is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and served as the Series Editor for the Manuscript Series of The Baker Street Irregulars; he is currently the Series Editor for the BSI’s History Series. He served three terms as Chapter President of the SoCal Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and on its National Board. He is also the Treasurer of the Horror Writers Association. He lectures frequently on Holmes, Dracula, and their worlds, including frequent panels at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Bouchercon, World Horror Convention,  World Fantasy Convention, VampireCon, and Comic-Con, and he teaches regular courses on Holmes and Dracula at UCLA Extension.

He has been the technical adviser on many film and literary projects, including the two Warner Bros. “Sherlock Holmes” films starring Robert Downey, Jr. Klinger also authored live “Tweetnotes” for PBS during the broadcasts of the BBC’s Sherlock. His newest books are the four-volume The Annotated Sandman with Neil Gaiman for Vertigo and The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft for W. W. Norton (to be published in 2014). He is Treasurer of the Horror Writers Association and former Chapter President of the SoCal Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. Klinger is a tax and business lawyer who lives in Malibu with his wife Sharon, a large dog, and three cats.​    

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Hoping all of our friends and fans here are gearing up for the holidays but we’ll be working straight through getting the kickstarter campaign ready to launch for the first of the year.

We thought it might be fun to start giving you all a sneak peek at some of the incredible rewards levels that we’ll be offering.

First up is an incredible chance at getting a SIGNED copy of “The Annotated Dracula” by no less than dear friend Les Klinger AND the legendary Neil Gaiman! Les has been invaluable and incredibly generous with his time in supporting this project from the very beginning. Neil has been a gracious supporter of ALL the bust projects (Lovecraft, Poe and now Stoker) and this is his first time providing something really special for you all!

Please share this good news and remember……

LET’S BRING BRAM HOME!!!!!!!!!

@neil-gaiman

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The Bram Stoker Bronze Bust Project is thrilled to announce it’s first major project supporter!!!

Leslie S. Klinger is considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on those twin icons of the Victorian era, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. He is the editor of the three-volume collection of the short stories and novels, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, published by W. W. Norton in 2004 and 2005, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Work and nominated for every other major award in the mystery genre. He is also the editor of The New Annotated Dracula (W.W. Norton 2008), which possesses a similar in-depth examination of Bram Stoker’s haunting classic and its historical context. He is one of the founding partners in the law firm of Kopple and Klinger, LLP in Los Angeles.

We’re honored to have you, sir!