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Authors of Weird Fiction > H. P. Lovecraft

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message 1: by Dan (last edited Apr 10, 2019 09:11PM) (new)

Dan | 773 comments Do you want to know how to write Weird fiction in classic style? H. P. Lovecraft wrote an essay explaining how. I found the essay here: http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/t...

What do you think? Are Lovecraft's recommendations useful?


message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I got an email from Necronomicon Press today & there is a Lovecraftian (& co.) rarities up for auction on eBay, closing Sunday, April 28th on Ebay. It's kind of fun looking at the items & their prices. There are some dedicated collectors out there!

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from...


message 3: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin I've just finished reading At the Mountains of Madness and boy am I glad! Glad that it is over.

Lovecraft is quite popular these days, but I suspect most of the people who think they like Lovecraft actually like works inspired by him more than works he wrote himself. Reading that book was like reading an encyclopedia. Several other things I've recently read from the early 1900s are like that as well, so it wasn't just him. But it just about bored me to death.


message 4: by Scott (new)

Scott I love Lovecraft, but I think his strength was in the shorter form. The longer stories tend to go on...and on...and on...

I had a really hard time getting through "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" the last time I read it. The only longer story of his that I think works mostly well is "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward."


message 5: by Merl (new)

Merl Fluin | 99 comments Ed wrote: "I suspect most of the people who think they like Lovecraft actually like works inspired by him more than works he wrote himself"

You might have hit the nail on the head there. I went through a long period of persevering with his short stories because I knew so many people who claimed to love them. Most of them seemed to be info dumps without any stories attached. Plenty of exciting high-concept ideas, but he seems to have had no idea how to weave them into anything resembling a narrative.


message 6: by Richard (last edited May 20, 2019 05:18AM) (new)

Richard Cadot (richardcadot) | 11 comments Why doubt other readers may actually like an author you don't? I read Lovecraft 41 years ago, just because the blurb on the back of the book sounded interesting. He has been one of my favorite authors ever since. There are as many people to criticize his work as there are to praise it and I reckon, even more so. Younger readers today may find his circumvoluted style difficult, I find it poetic and fascinating.

And so far, I have NEVER read anything inspired by his work that was really worth it. Even Neil Gaiman failed. Lovecraft's true horror emanates from his style and is indissociable from it. That is also why no movie can be made from his stories without looking stupid. It is a purely literary experience.


message 7: by Dan (last edited May 20, 2019 06:11AM) (new)

Dan | 773 comments I tend to agree with Richard. I read Lovecraft more for his writing style than his content. The writing style is unique and no one who has tried to write like him has come close to equaling it, at least not those qualities I so appreciate in Lovecraft.

That said, I do think in terms of plot Lovecraft got in a bit of a rut. One can read Lovecraft a long time and become frustrated with a sense of having made no progress. So I can understand why some may not care for some aspects of his writing. Nevertheless, the plots themselves and the myth-building worlds behind them can become their own fascination.

I have reached the tentative conclusion that people who can't or don't appreciate Lovecraft and completely dismiss him fail to appreciate his finer qualities for one of two reasons:
1) They don't appreciate good writing craft, especially his unparalleled sentence and word mastery. Just tell me what happened in the simplest and most direct terms, they demand, then tell me what came next. Don't distract me by displaying any personality or using unusual words or long sentences I have to slow down and think about.
2) They can't recognize good writing craft, possibly because they've never tried to write anything but short emails and one-paragraph book reviews. They therefore how no idea how difficult it is, what consummate skill it takes, to write what Lovecraft makes look so easy and natural.

One thing that's amazing is how Lovecraft's fellow Weird writers in the 1920s through 1940s all without exception saw and recognized in Lovecraft something truly special. Their letters to the editor, articles published in fantasy magazines, and letters exchanged with Lovecraft himself uniformly express their deep admiration for his writing. He was that generation's writer's writer. If anyone ever truly sold his soul to the devil for the return ability of writing craft, it's either Lovecraft or Henry James.


message 8: by Richard (new)

Richard Cadot (richardcadot) | 11 comments Again, without passing judgement on readers who like or dislike Lovecraft, I think he is an important yet unrecognized "literary" writer who is expected to deliver popular fiction and thus, disappoints.

Henry James was a good comparison choice in that sense. Anyone reading "The turn of the screw" and expecting a Stephen King kind of horror novel will be greatly disappointed.

The power of Lovecraft lies not in the plot but in the atmosphere he creates. The white penguins in the story "At the Mountains of Madness" are not supposed to be frightening in themselves but they do contribute to a feeling of alienation which is the central theme of all his writings. Many readers complain about the length of his descriptions and yet, they are his primary tools to evoke atmosphere.

The criticisms I read about Lovecraft could apply to many, many classic writers. Some modern writers don't even have a plot to their novels and yet, are recognized worldwide.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying popular fiction but more literary works should be approached and appreciated differently, whether they are written by Lovecraft, Proust or Woolf...


message 9: by Scott (new)

Scott I've never read a writer whose work was as immersive as Lovecraft's. I am always happy to re-read his stories and I don't think I can say that about another author.


message 10: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Richard wrote: "Why doubt other readers may actually like an author you don't? ..."

I don't doubt that many readers, including you, actually like reading HPL. But I suspect that there is a larger number of people today who enjoy works inspired by him than actually enjoy works written by him. I may be wrong about that, and I don't plan to conduct an investigation to find out.

I agree that he has a highly-developed style and he is fully in command of what he is doing. It just doesn't appeal to me.

... so far, I have NEVER read anything inspired by his work that was really worth it.

I sometimes enjoy the work of Thomas Ligotti. I have little doubt that his style was influenced by HPL. Why I like one of those guys and not the other I cannot really say, because they have a lot in common.


message 11: by Richard (new)

Richard Cadot (richardcadot) | 11 comments Ed wrote: "I sometimes enjoy the work of Thomas Ligotti."

I'm always looking forward to discover new authors though... I have never heard of Ligotti. What would you recommend I read first from this writer?

I am presently reading "New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird" which is a short story collection by different authors and I am not impressed at all. I am also planning to read "Demiurge: The Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales of Michael Shea" (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...) by Michael Shea who is supposed to be real good at updating Lovecraft's works.


message 12: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Richard wrote: "I'm always looking forward to discover new authors though... I have never heard of Ligotti. What would you recommend I read first..."

Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe is probably a good start. I particularly liked the stories "The Last Feast of Harlequin" (which I think is dedicated to HPL) and "The Greater Festival of Masks"


message 13: by Dan (last edited May 20, 2019 02:03PM) (new)

Dan | 773 comments I read Conan stories by not only Robert E. Howard, but also by many authors (Poul Anderson, Lin Carter, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert Jordan, and even Harry Turtledove) that followed him, all of whom did justice to the character. But a Cthulhu story? I can't imagine another author ever possibly writing a good one and so have never even tried reading one. But then I haven't yet read all of Lovecraft's either. Unless it's possible to read one accidentally without realizing you've read one? I may have done that.


message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) A GR friend of mine has edited several Cthulhu anthologies by new authors that I found quite good. Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities is the second, I think. He's a Danish small press, so I don't know how easy the books are to get.


message 15: by Richard (new)

Richard Cadot (richardcadot) | 11 comments Ed wrote: "Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe is probably a good start. I particularly liked the stories "The Last Feast of Harlequin" (which I think is dedicated to HPL) and "The Greater Festival of Masks""

Nice! I will read it!

BTW, I am rereading Lovecraft's complete works. I read all of it in the past (translated in French), reread several short stories 2 or 3 times but it will be the first time I read it all in English and in chronological order.


message 16: by Dan (new)

Dan | 773 comments Discussion moved here from https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Bobby wrote: "There is a lot of talk (not much discussion) about Lovecraft's prejudices. This piece examines the first time someone (amateur journalist Charles D. Isaacson) publicly challenged Lovecraft's belief - and how Lovecraft responded.
https://deepcuts.blog/2020/02/05/conc..."


I responded at the website. The essence is that I personally am more interested in literary analysis, or any type of book review of an author's literary work than I am in an author's views on social issues.

It's like when I hear an actor endorse or condemn a politician and how he or she seems to expect that fact alone to sway public opinion somehow. (Can't you just act instead Meryl?) I'd rather hear that actor talk about his or her next project, or hear about why the last was such a challenge or departure. Anything but who they think should not be the current president, or their thoughts on some imagined Jewish conspiracy.

But I realize I may be alone. Others may find the personal side more titillating.


message 17: by Catherine (new)

Catherine McCarthy | 28 comments Hear, hear! Particularly given the age in which Lovecraft wrote - times change. I'm not exonerating any form of prejudice, and it makes for interesting reading, but there are times when there is more focus on an artist's back story than the work he/she produces.


message 18: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 18 comments Then don't read it. You don't need to know anything about Lovecraft to appreciate his work. But the point of that blog in particular is to dig a little deeper, into authors and pieces that don't get a lot of attention, and to look at how Lovecraft impacted and inspired atypical voices - women, POC, LGBTQ+ - and in this case, a Jewish amateur journalist.


message 19: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Dan wrote: "Others may find the personal side more titillating...."

I was not titillated. I suspect I am untitillatable. But I enjoyed the article.

I don't usually care to know much about an author's personal character or behavior, and generally don't like reading from their personal correspondence. But it was still interesting to see how this particular little article had a considerable influence on his life. It may have been the first time he'd had his assumptions publicly questioned, and brought him into contact with people who would continue to engage him on these issues.


message 20: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 18 comments For the next few weeks on Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein I'm focusing on Hispanic writers in the Mythos. This week's entry looks at a Mexican biographical comic from 1972 - including a link to the Internet Archive where you can read the whole comic for yourself.

http://deepcuts.blog/2020/03/07/vidas...


message 21: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Bobby wrote: "This week's entry looks at a Mexican biographical comic from 1972 ..."

Neat, thanks!


message 22: by Ed (last edited Mar 10, 2020 09:13AM) (new)

Ed Erwin For unknown reasons, there is no folder here for discussing Weird video games, so I'll just post this here.

There is a cute short online video game here based on the story The Rats in the Walls. In this game, you play as the (possibly imaginary) rats, and your goal is to drive the main character insane.

The game mechanics get boring pretty fast. The music is more likely to drive you insane than the rats are. But, still, the text got some chuckles from me.

A write-up of the game is here:
https://news.avclub.com/you-re-a-bunc...


message 23: by Dan (new)

Dan | 773 comments I have created a Weird Video Games folder (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group...) for any who have interest in the topic. You can relocate post 22 there if you like. You may get more feedback if you do.


message 24: by Dan (last edited Mar 09, 2020 12:04AM) (new)

Dan | 773 comments Bobby wrote: "For the next few weeks on Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein I'm focusing on Hispanic writers in the Mythos. This week's entry looks at a Mexican biographical comic from 1972 - including a link to th..."

Spanish is my strongest foreign language. So I really found this interesting. Thanks for doing all this research. It's a fascinating topic.

I'm surprised to read that Lovecraft had such a strong following in Mexico. I would have expected it to develop first in Spain and to then maybe be reproduced in Mexico.

I'm fairly impressed by the artwork. I think it fairly typical of the quality one can expect in 1956.


message 25: by Bobby (last edited Mar 09, 2020 03:39PM) (new)

Bobby Dee | 18 comments Dan wrote: "I'm fairly impressed by the artwork. I think it fairly typical of the quality one can expect in 1956."

Yeah, but it was published in 1972. As far as I can tell, the strongest bastions of Spanish-language Lovecraft fandom were indeed initially in Argentina and Spain, which is where the first collections were published. Anyway, I'll be doing a few more posts on Hispanic Mythos authors over the coming weeks.


message 26: by Dan (new)

Dan | 773 comments I see. The 1956 date at the bottom of page 35 refers to the date of the Mexican copyright law then, not the original date of the work. Well, I take back my compliments of the artwork in that case. What would be consistent in quality for the 1950s is sub-par by 1972 standards.


message 27: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Dan wrote: "I have created a Weird Video Games folder... You can relocate post 22 there if you like. You may get more ..."

Thanks. I'll leave it here as well. I doubt I'll get many views of it.

I actually have played a few other games that fit the genre, though I'm not a big gamer.


message 28: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 18 comments This week on Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein begins a look at Japanese Mythos authors with メデューサの呪い」(“Medusa’s Curse”) by 桜 水樹氏 (Sakura Mizuki), a manga adaptation of "Medusa's Coil" by Zealia Bishop & H. P. Lovecraft. NSFW, slight nudity.

http://deepcuts.blog/2020/04/18/medus...


message 29: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin I've seen some videos on YouTube that combine an audiobook reading of an HPL story with images taken from manga versions of the stories. A good idea, but probably done without legally acquiring rights to either the audio or the images, so I won't link to them.


message 30: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 18 comments For anyone interested: an interview with Carrie Cuinn, author and editor of CTHULHUROTICA (2010). A behind-the-scenes look at Cuinn's experience with Lovecraft, how the book came to be and why.

http://deepcuts.blog/2020/04/29/edito...


message 31: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine (jasminemetcalfe) | 1 comments I first got inebrested in lovecraft reading the ghosts of heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, it is amazing by the way. Can’t believe I’m saying this but I only just put some lovecraft anthologies onto my kindle and I have never read him before. So excited to start the adventure.


message 32: by Scott (new)

Scott If there's one thing that could terrify Lovecraft it's the idea of Cthulhurotica.


message 33: by Dan (last edited Apr 29, 2020 10:18PM) (new)

Dan | 773 comments Cthulhurotica. There's a sub-genre known as erotic horror, or what Cuinn calls "literary tentacle porn"! Really?

I've heard of exactly none of the authors in the revised edition of this classic (other than Lovecraft, of course). The fact it contains twenty pieces of original art intrigues me though. To Kindle it then would cost me about twenty cents a picture. Hmm....


message 34: by Scott (new)

Scott Dan wrote: "Cthulhurotica. There's a sub-genre known as erotic horror, or what Cuinn calls "literary tentacle porn"! Really?"

I'm afraid so.
Literally afraid so.
So afraid.


message 35: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 18 comments I may be a bit inured to the whole concept since I literally wrote the book on the subject (Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos). That being said, there are good stories in there and some more mediocre ones. None of them is really out-and-out porn (I discuss a couple of those anthologies in SEX as well), and the interview I think really highlights some of the pressures she was under as an editor, trying to wrangle submissions and avoiding the straight tentacle-rape fics.


message 36: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 18 comments Also, let's not pretend that erotic horror is some new subgenre. Sex was a selling point back in the pulps, Robert E. Howard and C. L. Moore were both doing naughty tentacles in WEIRD TALES in the '30s, and Mythos luminaries like Ramsey Campbell have published collections like Scared Stiff: Tales of Sex and Death...there's an audience for it, there's plenty of good fiction there, and if it isn't your cup of tea that's okay because nobody is forcing you to read it.


message 37: by Scott (new)

Scott I have nothing against erotic horror and have read and enjoyed quite a bit of it; I just thought it seemed like, er, strange bedfellows considering Lovecraft hated talking about anything sexual.


message 38: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Dee | 18 comments Ah, so you've never read the Woodburn Harris letters!


message 39: by Scott (new)

Scott I must confess that I have not.


message 40: by Dan (last edited Aug 12, 2020 09:57PM) (new)

Dan | 773 comments Lovecraft has an HBO series debuting this weekend. I don't have HBO, so I may not be able to see it for a while.

There was a very interesting interview on NPR today of two modern horror writers who greatly admire Lovecraft. It's about why they still find Lovecraft relative. One of them is LaValle, a writer who came to my attention for writing the wonderful story that headlined last years' Weird Tales. I found the entire interview fascinating: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/...


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