HP Lovecraft, an ultra crude conspectus

2022-02-23 @Literature

A few words, a few experiences, a few HP Lovecraft tales read. Lovecraft (1890-1947). An early 20th-century American author of what they call weird horror fiction. Numerous influences. Especially Edgar Poe. But Poe addresses a wider set of genres. Yet Lovecraft specializes well: the horror, the sci-fi, the macabre, the Gothic, the grotesque, the extraordinary.

Powerful descriptive language, intense imagery. Lends well to imagination. Evokes something akin to the surrealist paintings of Remedios Varos, Laura Carrington, or M.C. Escher. Fondles futurism and the symbolists (ie Roerich, heavily cited in The Mountains of Madness).

Sudden, unexpected transition from rationale into the utmost extraordinary. Fuses a dream landscape, an ulterior dimension, the wildest hyperbole, the unreal, the madness: frequent madness.

Though a contemporary of Joyce, Woolf, Eliot, Pound, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, nothing remotely modernist in the language: a plus, a pitfall, or consider what you will. Employs the Baroque, the ultra Victorian. Like Poe. I dare say, identical.

Particularly effective with the shorter stories, ex: The Outsider, The Music of Erich Zann, The Rats in the Walls. Problematic with the longer: The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness (a novella), and somewhat with The Colour out of Space. Abounds in detail ranging among such disciplines as geology, astronomy, botany, navigation. That is, sometimes too much for the genre. Sometimes monotonous. An unshifting wavelength. Not unlike my experience with Shelley’s poem Alastor. Demands much of a particular sort of energy. Reads more academically, a la Moby Dick. Behooves to approach with a different expectation, mine regretfully misaligned.

Ultimately, alluring prose, often poetic. But can feel refried for the period. That is, if spoiled by centuries of literature. There I can’t help you. Happy reading.

Questions, comments? Connect.