Monday, January 13, 2014


H.P. Lovecraft is probably one of the more influential horror writers of the past century.  Despite having gained little recognition in his own lifetime, his works have garnered much support and fanfare over the preceding years.  His themes of cosmic horror and nihilistic outlook on humanity lends much to many of the more modern horror writers.

I personally have enjoyed many of his works, although not all.  One thing you have to understand when reading Lovecraft is that there is little dialog, character development, and often times more than necessary descriptions of the surroundings.  Most of the time, his stories are told as flashbacks with the protagonists either relating the events to someone else or writing them down before committing suicide or murder.

Lovecraft’s stories evoked awe and wonder.  When I read The Nameless City, I literally contracted claustrophobia.  Imagining having to explore deep ruins that were designed for four-legged creatures who walked on their bellies was pretty frightening to me.

One thing to note, however, is that he had many flaws in his own writings.  For one thing, a lot of his stories had overt racism.  Lovecraft himself was a snob and an anglophile.  He believed that white people were superior and had little regard for other races, although a lot of his problems were for what he considered to be the lack of civilized behavior among minorities.  This was especially true when he lived in New York City where the non-white population was much larger than his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.  To be fair, he had little regard for white trash as well.

In truth, Lovecraft was a man of extreme pride.  He never could see himself doing blue-collar work, viewing that as beneath him, and always hoped to have been given a lot of money for the stories he wrote.  Unfortunately, being a professional author was not something he ever was able to accomplish.

He had his won visions of Utopia, although it was usually in the form of alien civilizations.  In the two cases where the details of an alien civilization was given, they were asexual, grouped together by common interests rather than by families, were immortal, enjoyed intellectual pursuits, and had a Socialist government.  The last part I found odd as these were alien cultures that were so alien, that their associations would be near impossible to comprehend.

I always find it amusing how a writer’s worldview seeps into their own works.  This is always the case, no matter how fictional the world is.  A writer will write about their own personal views whether they intend to or not.  Lovecraft was no exception.

With the rise of film, many have attempted to adapt his works to the new medium.  Unfortunately, most of these adaptations have been rudimentary at best.  The best one I’ve seen, besides The Call of Cthulhu, the silent movie adaptation, is The Resurrected which was based on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.  These are really the only worth watching.

My main gripe with the adaptations is that they often add a romantic element to them.  Lovecraft’s horror often had no romance to them and female characters were often absent.  This was seen as sexist by some, however, I think it was just because Lovecraft himself had trouble relating with women and instead wrote about what he knew.  In truth, though, I think that the stories would be much stronger if many of his original ideas were kept in place.  Movie makers tend to add unnecessary characters for the sake of some farcical notion of gender equality.

In any case, I encourage you to read his works.  They are very fascinating and enjoyable.  Also, there is one story with zombies.