Wednesday, 20 August 2014

An Icon of Weird Fiction - H.P. Lovecraft


20 August 1890, the American author and creator of the “Cthulhu Mythos” and the “Necronomicon” H.P. Lovecraft was born in Providence, R.I.



“After twenty-two years of nightmare and terror, saved only by a desperate conviction of the mythical source of certain impressions, I am unwilling to vouch for the truth of that which I think I found in Western Australia on the night of 17-18 July 1935. There is reason to hope that my experience was wholly or partly an hallucination - for which, indeed, abundant causes existed. And yet, its realism was so hideous that I sometimes find hope impossible. If the thing did happen, then man must be prepared to accept notions of the cosmos, and of his own place in the seething vortex of time, whose merest mention is paralysing. He must, too, be placed on guard against a specific, lurking peril which, though it will never engulf the whole race, may impose monstrous and unguessable horrors upon certain venturesome members of it.” (H.P. Lovecraft “The Shadow out of Time”)


 An imagination of H.P. Lovecraft with probably an Elder Thing 
in the background, the first extraterrestrial species to come to the Earth, 
colonising the planet about one billion years ago 
and breeding the infamous shoggoths* 



It is the proliferous appropriation of antique, almost antediluvian adjectives that brought the most massive, mortifying censure upon Lovecraft’s eldritch works. Admittedly, the stylistic device or rather the author’s personal affinity towards an artistic recreation of pre-revolutionary American English and the attempt to walk in Poe’s footsteps sometimes produces rather weird linguistic effects. A first-person narrator, describing himself as “fairly hard-boiled” uttering sentences like “There's no use in my trying to tell you what they were like, because the awful, the blasphemous horror, and the unbelievable loathsomeness and moral foetor came from simple touches quite beyond the power of words to classify. There was none of the exotic technique you see in Sidney Sime, none of the trans-Saturnian landscapes and lunar fungi that Clark Ashton Smith uses to freeze the blood.” climaxing in the description of beings entering our earthly realms in “the texture of … a kind of unpleasant rubberiness” usually leaves no one with a dry eye in the house. And even his most worldly characters are usually hypernervous bookworms whose sense of wonder came down on them like a ton of Cyclopean bricks at some point of the story.




H.P. Lovecraft, as imagined by "Hellboy"-creator Mike Mignola



Under the picturesque but somewhat obsoletely archaic brickloads of adjectives, Lovecraft’s meticulously designed plots and methods of verifying the supernatural are often forgotten or at least overlooked. Blending the realistic and realism of contemporary science and exploration with the plain fantastical, Lovecraft’s creations, later dubbed “Cthulhu Mythos” after the squid god-like being that lies dreaming of non-euclidean geometry in his sunken, non-human city of R’lyeh on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and became a pop icon after the 1970s, outlines a war in heaven between various deities and superhuman entities, known as “Great Old Ones” and elder sentient races, resembling a plate of gigantic frutti-di-mare gone berserk, that evolves over millions of years. Creating an own mythology that reduces humanity to complete insignificance was a literal achievement all of its own, but the invention of forbidden books and New England universities and whatnot was pioneering weird fiction in a manner that makes it impossible to imagine contemporary weird and horror fiction without the precedence of Lovecraft and became an integral part of pop culture. His creations developed a true life of their own and generated an intertextuality that often surpasses the actual intention of the author.








And more about H.P. Lovecraft on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft