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Authors > H.P. Lovecraft

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message 1: by Martyn (last edited Aug 18, 2009 07:13AM) (new)

Martyn | 299 comments I first read The Dreams in the Witch-House on a flight home from Morocco in 2006. My brother gave me a short collection of his work, and I took it away with me.

Recently, I decided I'd try and read more of his work. And Lovecraft has got to be the coolest last name ever.

Yesterday I read The Rats in the Wall, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Call of Cthulhu and The Dunwich Horror. All I did yesterday was read!

The Cthulhu mythology is really quite staggering in its inventiveness. Lovecraft's work unlike other writers who created mythologies, Lovecraft set his firmly in our world...then lets all kinds of reality breakdowns seep into one another.

I also enjoy the narrative voice and straight-forward style of writing...usually delivered by educated men who it turns out are total lunatics...or are they? I like the ambigious nature.

Also, it seems from introductions I've read in the collections, he seems a bit of a tea-leaf with regards to other writers influences...Lovecraft would even say "this is my Poe piece, this is my Dunsany piece." He seems to have collaborated at times with other writers to bolster the mythos...again, an interesting take on the ideas of authorship.

Lovecraft was also a die-hard Anglophile...and used English spelling in his work...and quite rightly too!

I thought I'd quote a little moment from The Shadow Over Innsmouth when the protagonist sees the real residents of Innsmouth in all their glorious horror:

"And yet I saw them in a limitless stream - flopping, hopping, croaking, bleating - surging inhumanely through the spectral moonlight in a grotesque, malignant saraband of fantastic nightmare. And some of them had tall tiaras of that nameless whitish-gold metal...and some were strangely robed...and one, who led the way, was clad in a ghoulishly humped black coat and striped trousers, and had a man's felt hat perched on the shapeless thing that answered for a head."

I seem to enjoy Lovecraft's work on two levels: one is just great storytelling that is odd, spooky and in the end, mad. On another, I can see this weird pseudo-philosophical stance that reminds me of Schopenhauer or something akin to that...I only call it a pseudo-philosophy because maybe it was an unintended product from the stories and not intentional on Lovecraft's part. Such is the joy and complexity of literature, that these kinds of things happen.

It does seem Lovecraft was quite a racist chap...and it certainly finds its way into the can put it into a contextual historical background...or maybe that is merely excusing him...and do we need to worry about a dead man's views or occasional racist certainly does not diminish their effect. It's not like he wrote Mein Kampf or went around in a car beating up ethnic minorities he saw on the streets for a lark...although I do cringe when ever in his stories the terms: negroid, nigger, half-caste, chinamen, crazed arabs, mixed blood and so forth are used. Such terms have a quaint, sorry quality to them.

message 2: by Patrick, The Special School Bus Rider (new)

Patrick (horrorshow) | 269 comments Mod
Yeah, Stephen King called him a galloping racist which put a very funny picture in my head. But that is not to decry his talent and brillance, if ignorant about minority groups. I love his Shadow Over Innsmouth, and the nasty rumors of interbreeding, and sacrifice of children to them. I don't know which is more evil, the various sea monsters or the over compliance of townpeople at Innsmouth.

message 3: by Pavel (new)

Pavel Kravchenko (pavelk) | 96 comments I love his stories for the implication that everything outwardly insane is actually true, the disguised disdain for the pseudo-rational and materialistic. It also leads to some annoyance when reading a lot of his stories at once, because of his tendency to draw out the disbelief of the characters and their reluctance to actually come up with the simplest explanation for what they experience due to its accepted impossibility. On more than one occasion I caught myself thinking he was overdoing it, and consequently my favorite stories are those, which have reduced doses of this. The Whisperer in the Dark, the Shadow over Innsmouth, The Lurking Fear, Through the Gate of the Silver Key, etc.

message 4: by Hugh, aka Hugh the Moderator (new)

Hugh | 271 comments Mod
Lovecraft is a favorite of mine, though my own feeling is a little can go a long way. (I thoroughly dig the novel-length "Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward" but it goes on a bit.) Have you seen the Cthulu films done by folks who are faithful to his early 20th century aesthetic... all black and white, complete with title cards.

message 5: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments I'm quite the Lovecraft nerd. My doctoral dissertation was to be on his work, until my academic career went down in flames.

As far as his racism goes, Lovecraft became quite a bit more enlightened as he grew older. Sonia Greene, Lovecraft's wife, was Jewish, a fact that would have horrified his younger self. She was a rather progressive woman and a very positive influence on old HP. When he passed away, he was quite ashamed of many of his earlier beliefs, particularly as he watched the Nazis' rise to power in Germany.

Oh, and as Hugh noted, the Lovecraft society's Murnau-esque silent films are pretty sweet.

message 6: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 640 comments Mod
All this Lovecraft talk has led to me buying the Tales of H. P. Lovecraft on Sunday, I have yet to start it but am looking forward to it. There was also a podcast done on the Necronomicon by the Stuff You Should Know guys that also piqued my interest.

In regards to his racism, shouldn't some of it be forgiven (or at least kept in mind) as he was a product of his times? There was a lot of racist things going on at the time including segregation. Keep in mind I haven't read him yet so I haven't seen him at work.

message 7: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (last edited Aug 25, 2009 10:41AM) (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
And so... my reading list grows... again.

It's a wonder I ever finish anything.

message 8: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments In his early years Lovecraft's racism was extreme even for his time (dig up his short story/rant "the Street" sometime for an example). It isn't too hard to imagine him approving grave atrocities in the name of social purity. However, as I noted before, his world view changed pretty dramatically between the 1910's and the 1930's.

Lovecraft's bio is pretty wild, and practically a horror story unto itself. Both parents had been commited to insane asylums at one point or another, his father due to the advanced stages of syphillis. He was raised by a pair of agoraphobic and androphobic spinster aunts who treated him as a young girl for many of his early years. He had several congenital illnesses, including one in which his body had difficulty controling its temperature. An extraordinarily well read young man, he self-converted to Islam at the age of 12 and tried his best to follow the teachings of a bowdlerized translation of the Koran for a couple of years.

. . . and that's just scratching the surface. He was a very odd man.

message 9: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments The Haunter of the Dark is my new favourite story. It. Is. Awesome.

message 10: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments Martyn wrote: "The Haunter of the Dark is my new favourite story. It. Is. Awesome."

The Haunter of the Dark is a cool story. Lovecraft wrote that one in response to a story written by Robert Bloch (the author of Psycho). Bloch's story featured a character who closely resembled HP and met a grisly end. The protagonist of Haunter is clearly based on Bloch.

message 11: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments Q: How many Lovecraft protagonists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why. It is altogether against my will that I tell my reasons for opposing this contemplated change of a lightbulb - with its wholesale disposal of an evaporated filament. And I am the more reluctant because my warning may be in vain.

message 12: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Neil wrote: "Q: How many Lovecraft protagonists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why. It is altogether a..."

wonderful gag!

message 13: by Luke (new)

Luke (ljuke) Hey guys, I've been studying Lovecraft for my arts degree and found this bio by S.T. Joshi really interesting:

I remediated "Shadow Over Innsmouth" as a series of tweets, which you can read here: (if you like).

message 14: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments S.T. Joshi is the go-to guy when it comes to Lovecraft scholarship!

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