H P Lovecraft

jenks

thread death
I have just finished a collection of short stories Call of Cthulhu by Lovecraft.

I know he's considered to be a bit special by the Dissensus types round here (in the same way Balllard is) and I was wondering why - I mean I think the stories were ok - a bit over-wraught and decidedly purple in places and very derivative of Poe. Also he seemed to be circling the same tropes - have I just read the wrong stuff or am I missing something?

He seems to fit into the tradition of the Hogg, Stevenson, Poe, M R James in that he tells unnerving stories - I suppose 'uncanny' tales. However, the addition of alien races combined with arcane knowledge keep on putting me in mind of Scientology and somehow spoils the effect.

Anyway, i would be interested to hear what others ahve to say - at least I know where Yogurt S got his name from now!
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Heh, old Crafty gets referenced almost on a daily basis round here - someone mentioned Shoggoths just yesterday in the thread about ancient civilisations. :)

I think he's great, as long as you take the adjective-ohrroea and extremely formulaic nature of the stories with a pinch of salt, and kind of hold your nose when he propounds his views on the, er, 'breeds' of mankind.
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
Some of his longer stuff is a bit less hackneyed and formulaic. Reading a lot of his short stories in one go could get v. bored and even now as I slip off to sleep, a grizzled hand slips past the windowsill and no! NO! NOOOO!

Ahem.

The Silver Key/Randolph Carter stuff - is a bit more imaginative (long sojorns into strange dreamworlds) as are pieces like the Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Colour Out of Space etc. I think the length gives him a chance to stretch his creative muscles a bit.

Been a bit influence on various occultists as well (Kenneth Grant, Phil Hine), which adds to his "rep". I think people just like the strange atmosphere - he created a cosmos where the good guys don't win - in fact, they and everyone else, are utterly insignificant beyond being food for our alien overlords. He's got his own (consistent for the most part) cosmology and seems to get a sense of the scale and existential horror of infinite space and the forces of nature. I like 'em.
 

STN

sou'wester
pieces like the Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward, .
I love this one; that and Pickman's Model are the best as far as I'm concerned. The Michelle Houllbeque book on him is pretty interesting. I think for me it is strange atmosphere. A lot of the alien beings just seem so unlikely as to be not very scary, which is why I like Charles Dexter Ward.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I think for me it is strange atmosphere
Yeah, I think he's tapped into something "true" there - how we feel when faced with vast expanses of nature or "the unknown". Contemplaing what might be at the bottom of the Marina Trench or on the dark side of the moon. And at the same time, there's always the appeal, the thrill of finding out what is there, even at the cost of one's s-s-sanity... shudder. I remember even when reading Conan books as a teenager my favourite characters (besides the buxom barmaids and sirens in chainmetal bikinis) were always the wizards, those who had access to stores of ancient knowledge.

I imagine the paranoia that Lovecraft expresses here here comes from his own problems and hangups - some Lovecraft crit has said it's all about women, all those slavering cosmic holes being vagina detenta on a cosmic scale.
 

vimothy

yurp
Been a bit influence on various occultists as well (Kenneth Grant, Phil Hine), which adds to his "rep". I think people just like the strange atmosphere - he created a cosmos where the good guys don't win - in fact, they and everyone else, are utterly insignificant beyond being food for our alien overlords. He's got his own (consistent for the most part) cosmology and seems to get a sense of the scale and existential horror of infinite space and the forces of nature. I like 'em.
Kenneth Grant is basically straight out of a Lovecraft novel. Michael Bertiaux also.
 

zhao

there are no accidents
total pussy as i am when it comes to horror, as have been noted many times in reference to especially japanese new-wave spiritual horror (the ring for instance), i find his stories utterly chilling. much more so than anything king ever wrote.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
The Silver Key/Randolph Carter stuff - is a bit more imaginative (long sojorns into strange dreamworlds) as are pieces like the Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Colour Out of Space etc. I think the length gives him a chance to stretch his creative muscles a bit.
Oh yeah, these stories are great, TCOOS is easily my favourite that I've read so far, and I was quite pleased to later learn that he considered it his 'most successful' story. It's just so awesomely (in the sense HPL would have used the word) creepy. Another longer story to check out is At The Mountains Of Madness, which is more of a proper novella and one of his more sci-fi oriented works.

Through The Gates Of The Silver Key reads a bit like a trip report from someone who's just freebased DMT. :D
 
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ripley

Well-known member
I think his formulaic-ness often works as part of his charm. What's entertaining is how he gets through the formula, not that he's always breaking new narrative ground.

I do like "At the Mountains of Madness" quite a bit. But some of the Randolph Carter ones are too floaty or something for me.

And I like it despite all the obvious flaws - alongside the racism and fear of "interbreeding" and such there's the fact that he's always going on about how old buildings and people are in New England - things that are 300 years old (like in "The Picture In The House") are described as horrifyingly eldritch. I always thought that was funny, since in Europe/overseas terms that's not really so old.

"The Picture In The House" also has a funny line about a book depicting "negroes with light skin and Caucasian features" doing something unspeakable. now that's racism... how did he know they were "negroes"?

that said I just bought a huge compendium of his stuff to make up for all the paperbacks I've lost, so he still retains some charm
 

Immryr

Well-known member
"The Picture In The House" also has a funny line about a book depicting "negroes with light skin and Caucasian features" doing something unspeakable. now that's racism... how did he know they were "negroes"?

because they were doing upspeakable things, durr!
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
The moonwalk? ;)
Light-skinned negroes...Michael Jackson...it's all fitting together. (Edit: durrr, that was obviously your intended joke, sorry.) Lovecraft was clearly ahead of his time!

Edit: how rare, Firefox is flagging 'negroes' as spelling error. Oh, and 'Firefox' too!
 
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tryptych

waiting for a time
Through The Gates Of The Silver Key reads a bit like a trip report from someone who's just freebased DMT. :D

I like Dreams in the Witch House because it reminds me of ketamine - people as polyhedrons floating through purple voids

The Whisperer in the Dark is good to, mostly because the Mi-Go inspire such dread in the humans without really being evil.
 

Immryr

Well-known member
i just read that houellebecq on lovecraft thing. great stuff. when i was reading atomised i did get the idea that houellebecq had similar ideas of the futility of all human strivings (till the end) as lovecraft. so i did not really surprise me to discover he had a published essay about him.
 
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