Mr. George and Other Odd Persons Critical Essays

August Derleth


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The products of single drafts composed at the rate of one tale a night, the stories in Mr. George and Other Odd Persons demonstrate Derleth’s creative energy, which resulted in more than one hundred fifty books published in his career. As a young man, Derleth eagerly corresponded with horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, whose works he later published under the Arkham House imprint that he founded with fellow writer Donald Wandrei. Clearly, Lovecraft’s influence is present in these stories, which were written after World War II and almost a decade after the death of Lovecraft.

Derleth began writing horror and occult fiction for publication as a teenager, selling his first story to Weird Tales at the age of sixteen. In subsequent years, he wrote stories on his own and in collaboration with his boyhood friend, novelist and educator Mark Schorer, developing as a writer with the advice of Lovecraft and others. The stories in this collection represent Derleth at the height of his abilities.

Admittedly, the scope of these tales is limited. They were intended for publication in pulp magazines and show many of the weaknesses of formula writing. Much of the plotting of the tales is stereotypical. Almost every story contains three elements: an innocent individual, frequently a child; a greedy or malevolent predator intent on harming the innocent; and an occult element, sometimes a ghost or supernaturally charged object, that ensures that...

(The entire section is 426 words.)