Spoust1's Reviews > The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
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Jul 08, 10

bookshelves: horror

I have spent a lot of time reading about the de-centering of the subject, but I cannot think of a writer who de-centers the subject more than Lovecraft. He begins with "the modern subject": for him almost always a wealthy, educated man of science from New England, usually an atheist. Lovecraft is often criticized for his often obnoxious loquaciousness. Such a criticism misses how his style is prefigured by the content of his stories: they almost always are logs or journal entries of "the modern subject," who usually end up mad at the end. The logs or journals are perhaps best described as attempts to grasp some horrible Truth, which is not directly related to us - there is a (failed) attempt to spare us the horror of the narrator - but which we infer from bits here and there in the story. The horror is this: that the godless universe we seem to inhabit, with natural laws and the like to assure us of our mastery over it, is an illusion. Things only seem to be so. In fact, the universe is full of horrible, unspeakable, powerful monsters who place no importance on human affairs. Lovecraft's brilliance lies in his ability to imply this without stating it directly. We know little of this Outside, this Reality - and how could we? We grasp it from the breaks in the narrative - which is as it should be, since this Truth amounts to the subversion of "the modern subject" from whose story we infer it. As S. T. Joshi says in the Introduction (which is superb) Lovecraft creates a "pseudomythology [that] brutally shows that man is NOT the center of the universe, that the "gods" care nothing for him, and that the earth and it's inhabitants are but a momentary incident in the unending cyclical chaos of the universe." The effect is that of dread, vertigo, even - feelings in me no one but Lovecraft has of yet produced.
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