The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  7,276 ratings  ·  237 reviews

...and engulfed the soul of Charles Dexter Ward, a brilliant young New England antiquarian. Evil spirits, dark gods whose memory lived on in half-understood legends and fear-stricken superstitious whispers lurked in the vile catacombs beneath the surface of a blighted land. It was these loathsome horrors whom Ward was driven to lo...more
Paperback, Third Panther Printing, 127 pages
Published 1970 by Panther (first published 1927)
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Let me be clear at the outset of this review that when it comes to the work of H.P. Lovecraft, I am definitely one who drinks deep the kool-aid Cthulhu-aid. For me his stories are something to be savored and relished; succulent, meaty feasts of atmosphere, hyper-lush imagery and dark melodrama dipped in dread. If you’ve read other works by HPL and have not been impressed or fallen under his spell, this story is not likely to change your mind. However, if you are already a wanton Lovecraft gourm...more
mark monday
Dear Mr. Lovecraft,

I, Joseph Curwen, necromancer supreme, have rather a bone to pick (forgive my little joke) with you. I have noticed many problems with your narrative The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. First of all: that title. Surely you realize that I am the protagonist of the tale - not the fey amateur Charles Dexter Ward? I do not think it is too much to ask that the title of your document correctly identify its leading personage. Second: I have noticed a strong bias against scholars of the...more
Lovecraft is a special writer, capable of twisting the mind of the reader in ways that all of the visual horror we are forever shown in this day and age can never accomplish.

What WAS the thing at the bottom of the pit? What was it that the good Doctor saw? So many open questions to let our minds fill in the blanks with the things that horrify us above all else.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is Lovecraft's longest work (at least that I've encountered) and there is so much in the meager 120 or so...more
[Name Redacted By Goodreads Because Irrelevant to Review]
This was the first work by Lovecraft I ever read, but I have not re-read it in nearly 2 decades. I had odd tastes, even as a child. I remembered very little, aside from the broad plot-points, so you can imagine my consternation when, upon re-reading it this week, I discovered that I am merely one step away from following in the footsteps of young Charles; so many of the descriptions of him sounded like the man i have become and, as it happens, 3 years ago I began to dedicate myself to exactly th...more
“Do not call up that which you cannot put down.”
— H. P. Lovecraft, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward"

I first read H.P. Lovecraft’s 1927 short novel “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” when I was 11 years old, in the tacky Del Rey edition pictured. At the time, I was surprised by the difference between the densely erudite content and the pulp cover art. A horror writer with high-literary roots, Lovecraft remains a unique and original artist; at his best, he combines the ethereal sensibilities of “d...more
Dec 04, 2011 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: HP Lovecraft fans
Shelves: horror-gothic
I'm rereading this based upon Stephen's review so if I do not appreciate it more, it will be entirely his fault :-)

In The Case of Charles Dexter Ward HPL ventures a novel-length story about his Elder Gods and one man’s tragic fate when he delves into mysteries better left unexamined. Charles Dexter Ward is the scion of a well established Providence family who begins investigating esoteric matters and discovers that an ancestor, Joseph Curwen, was killed by...more
Dec 05, 2011 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Horror fans, sci fi fans, goths
Recommended to Michael by: Dungeons and Dragons
Shelves: pulp-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ken McKinley
This is my fourth HP Lovecraft story and, so far, it's my favorite. That says a lot. Because, I'm really enjoying discovering his writing and connecting his influences to my favorite horror authors of today. For some odd reason, Lovecraft wasn't happy with his novel. He wrote it in 1927 and he didn't try to get it published. It wasn't until after his death that August Derleth and Donald Wandrei published it in the May and July issues of Weird Tales in 1941 did the story see the light of day. I f...more
My first HP Lovecraft book, it is a well rounded and interesting story, and the perfect introduction to the Lovecraft mythos.

Background: Lovecraft wrote during the 20's and 30's, after Freud, but before Jung. To many, the human unconscious mind was still scary, dark, uncharted waters with untold depths of the unknown lurking beneath the surface. King would later pick that up, in a time when humans were more accustomed to dealing with their unconscious, and conversation between conscious and unc...more
Evan Leach
”From a private hospital for the insane near Providence, Rhode Island, there recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person. He bore the name of Charles Dexter Ward, and was placed under restraint most reluctantly by the grieving father who had watched his aberration grow from a mere eccentricity to a dark mania involving both a possibility of murderous tendencies and a profound and peculiar change in the apparent contents of his mind.”

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the longest work by H....more
Being from Providence, I feel I have to like things associated with Providence, and thus be a H.P. Lovecraft fan (of course, I don't like Family Guy, but that's another story). Fortunately a story like this makes it easy to like him. It certainly helps that I know and walk the streets and locations mentioned in this book, read parts of the book in Salem where some of the story takes place, am a fellow alumni of the same school as the protagonist, and also, when I get lost in Cranston, feel inexp...more
Please note: This novella is part of The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft , a copy of which omnibus can be picked up at the CthulhuChick website by anyone who wishes to have one.

Synopsis (slightly altered for correctness): Set in Providence, Rhode Island, the story concerns the fate of Charles Dexter Ward, a young man from a well-to-do family who has been installed in a mental asylum. The family doctor searches for the reason behind Ward's madness, learning in the process that he spent several y...more
“P.S. Shoot Dr. Allen on sight and dissolve his body in acid. Don’t burn it.”

Drawing significantly on European and Jewish occult traditions (for some very in-depth insights take a look, being wary of potential spoilers, here) Lovecraft unfolds a grand story of macabre, grotesque and suspense with a passionate portrayal of Providence in the background.

As an already avid reader and fan of Lovecraft's tales I was simply astonished by the novel. I had already read all his major works and I would nev...more
I just finished reading this as part of a much longer collection, Lovecraft - Tales, a compilation of work put together by the Library of America, but wanted to comment specifically on this as a stand alone piece.

First, I should preface the review by saying that I thoroughly enjoy reading writers like Poe and the Gothic novel. I sometimes believe if such a thing as reincarnation exists, I previously resided in a dark and seedy 19th century London town, walking distance from a foggy graveyard. So...more
I really wanted to like this, but I got a bit bored waiting for the book's narrator to just come out and say what I was sure from the beginning had happened. The story is told by a doctor and is of a patient's decent into madness. The story behind the story, however, is of a long-dead(?) relative of Ward's who dabbled in the occult and black magic. Sounds good, right? I'd never read any Lovecraft before, and have a few more of his stories still yet to go, so possibly I'll enjoy another tale more...more
Maria Grazia
La magia di Lovecraft, il motivo per cui l'orrore da lui evocato persiste nella mente come una luce eccessiva sulla retina dietro le palpebre chiuse, è che nulla è descritto, ma tutto è evocato, e fa riusonare gli archetipi che ciascuno di noi si porta dentro.
Qui non siamo ancora alla perfezione, ma l'orrore puro è vicinissimo.
This was my first experience with H.P. Lovecraft. I've read graphic novels by Alan Moore, specifically Neonomicon which reflected Lovecraft's Cthulhu myth. My interest in his stories has been piqued for awhile and the continued difficulty I've had in finding any of his book just added to my interest. I finally found four books at a local Rotary Club Book Sale and bought them all. I decided to start with The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. It took my a little while to get into the story, to get a fe...more
Lady Strawberry
Primo incontro con questo autore. Non conosco la sua produzione e quindi non so se questo romanzo sia tra le sue opere migliori. So solo che l’ho terminato in due giorni, che ho provato davvero il terrore che lo scrittore voleva provocare e che di sicuro considero questo romanzo breve una gran bella lettura. Inizialmente si tende a perdersi, la trama e macchinosa ed estremamente intrecciata, con dei balzi nel passato ricostruiti tramite racconti, dicerie e diari deliranti di personaggi secondari...more
Kaiser Dias
Obra-prima do horror
O que falar de Howard Phillips Lovecraft? Os aficionados por histórias de terror têm obrigação de conhecê-lo. O escritor estadunidense natural o qde Providence, Rhode Island (1890-1937) é influência primordial para os autores de horror moderno como Stephen King e Neil Gaiman e os filmes de Guillermo del Toro (El labirinto del fauno) só para citar alguns.

Como viveu antes da segunda guerra mundial, Lovecraft tinha a vantagem de poder escrever histórias de terror sem ter que se...more
My Inner Shelf
L’affaire Charles Dexter Ward est un très court roman qui nous relate la fascination d’un jeune étudiant pour un de ses ancêtres à la sinistre réputation. Au fil de son enquête et de ses découvertes, le jeune Ward va sombrer peu à peu dans un obsession qui va bouleverser sa vie sociale et familiale. La famille Ward m’a paru plus que lente à réagir, car Lovecraft nous décrit tout de même un homme qui devient plus ou moins fou à lier. L’incompréhension des parents est assez amusante, mais de plus...more
A critic once said that whereas Lovecraft fails as literature, it succeeds as psychological case-history. Lovecraft stories are all the same -- the same horrible monsters squish wetly down from the attic/up from the basement in response to the same predictable incantations of occult lore. Having said that, the critic notes that when all the hysterical words of eldritch and unspeakable cliche have been stripped away, there still lurks a residuum of power. And so it is with this novella -- perhaps...more
La historia está muy bien, pero avanza muy despacio, el principio se hace eterno y más aun que ese modo tan recargado que tiene Lovecraft de escribir. Es fácil que se te vaya la cabeza a las nubes y de repente hayas leído una página sin enterarte de nada.

También resulta increíble la cantidad de información y detalles que consiguen encontrar sobre una persona que vivió hace 150 años.

Abusa mucho de algunos adjetivos, como impío o cósmico. ¿Qué diantres es "horror cósmico"?

El desenlace me ha gust...more
9 June... been reading this for a couple days, in between my writing and other tasks. It's the only major Lovecraft work that I haven't read. So far, I still have to say I like In the Mountains of Madness more, but then again, that's a hard act to follow. At least I've made it out of the flashback/ historical section of the book.

20 June... Finally finished it, and I really think the only reason I did was because it was the only major Lovecraft work I hadn't read. Honestly, the only decent part o...more
Fer Silva
La escritura de H.P. Lovecraft es una delicia. Los paisajes, los detalles y la que pareciese una infinita creación de singulares mundos y criaturas lo han convertido en uno de mis autores favoritos. Mil veces recomendado, sobre todo esta historia, que creo puede fungir perfectamente como un preámbulo a la obra de Lovecraft.
Come si fa a non considerare questo romanzo un capolavoro del 900? Mai come in questo libro viene esposto il problema della Conoscenza, vista come un percorso di tentazione: la tentazione dell'uomo e la sua "condanna" a sapere, e la conoscenza come un incessante percorso verso il terrore; la scoperta del vero è una serie di passi verso l'abisso, e più si procede più si rischia di non reggere ciò che forse l'uomo non è fatto per reggere. Lovecraft aveva capito tutto, e questo romanzo è la summa d...more
Usako Rosales
i just loved the writing, you're just going through the story without knowing for sure what's happening, because, the writer gives you ideas of what is happening, but not why it happened,, i don't know how to explain it , but there were things he never explained, you just had to make your own ideas and explanations about the situations and characters, i was confused at the beginning, perhaps because I've never read books like that, but i wasn't mad, actually i really enjoyed it, a lot!
Lovecraft's only full-length novel (though a short one) and a classic of the genre. It falls just short of masterpiece due to a slightly prosaic feel that never quite attains the cosmic scope of something like At the Mountains of Madness and the Shadow Out of time, to name two of his other longer works. Which isn't necessarily a criticism, as such, since it's a different type of story, more in common with the works of Poe and Hawthorne than Hodgson. It's simply that I prefer his more cosmically...more
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is Lovecraft's longest story and my favorite of all his long works. When the book opens, Ward is an inmate of an insane asylum, always a fascinating aspect. Why is he there? What happened? Ward, an antiquarian from his youngest days, became fascinated with learning the history of a man named Joseph Curwen who left Salem for Providence in 1692. He was more intrigued than ever when he found he was descended from Curwen.
Jesse Lehrer
Reading H.P. Lovecraft can be challenging, but part of it is allowing yourself to sink into his world and his highly descriptive and disturbing style of writing. I think this is the longest story he wrote, but by the time I finished it I knew it couldn't be even a page shorter. So simple a tale written in such sheer horror...this story is a must read for anyone who wants to be scared. When I finished it I put my book down, shook my head, and said "wow".
Erik Dryden
This was my first Lovecraft story, and I thought it was pretty good. He spends most of the story skillfully building suspense, but the payoff ends up being rather underwhelming. He does an excellent job of describing physical details (characters, locale, etc.), but dialogue is virtually nonexistent. His writing style, archaic even for his time, takes a little getting used to, but it ends up adding to the story.
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Howard Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a...more
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“Do not call up that which you cannot put down.” 7 likes
“Whilst never actually rebuffing a visitor, he always reared such a wall of reserve that few could think of anything to say to him which would not sound inane.” 5 likes
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