October Continues: H. P. Lovecraft

I am happy to say that H. P. Lovecraft was introduced to me recently by a friend. I later found out that my brother is a big fan and actually prefers his work over another, more well-known, Gothic writer: Edgar Allen Poe. Lovecraft wrote in the horror and fantasy genres, as well as in what used to be called “weird fiction,” which is now typically referred to as science fiction. Here is a little background on H. P. Lovecraft:

As a youth, Lovecraft (born 1890) was a voracious reader. When Lovecraft was eight, he lost his father and was subsequently raised by his mother, aunts, and grandfather. His grandfather had an interest in science fiction and he passed that interest on to Lovecraft. Like many authors, his popularity grew after his death so Lovecraft’s life is fraught with ups and downs, lulls and periods of brief success.  Lovecraft married at one point and moved to New York, but his marriage and life there eventually deteriorated and he returned to his home in Providence, Rhode Island. Lovecraft died in 1937 of ailing health but his works, published in several magazines and trade publications, were eventually consolidated and published in volumes, including The Outsiders  and Others (1939).

Nowadays, hplovecraft.com lists much of his work – fiction, poetry, letters -with their full text available to read. The first story of his that I read was a short story titled, Pickman’s Model.

It’s worth noting that Lovecraft’s stories have influenced many other writers who have used his concepts in their own works.  Coined “the Cthulhu Mythos,” Lovecraft’s extraterrestrial gods, fictional New England Towns, etc. have been used by many other authors, even TV movies, indie films, commercial films, video games and board games, including the board game Arkham Horror, which I have played!

A taste of Pickman’s Model:  “Don’t ask me what it is they see. You know, in ordinary art, there’s all the difference in the world between the vital, breathing things drawn from Nature or models and the artificial truck that commercial small fry reel off in a bare studio by rule. Well, I should say that the really weird artist has a kind of vision which makes models, or summons up what amounts to actual scenes from the spectral world he lives in. Anyhow, he manages to turn out results that differ from the pretender’s mince-pie dreams in just about the same way that the life painter’s results differ from the concoctions of a correspondence-school cartoonist. If I had ever seen what Pickman saw—but no! Here, let’s have a drink before we get any deeper. Gad, I wouldn’t be alive if I’d ever seen what that man—if he was a man—saw!”

And a favorite quote of mine:

“Mather, damn him, was afraid somebody might succeed in kicking free of this accursed cage of monotony–I wish someone had laid a spell on him or sucked his blood in the night!”

I also just finished, “The Call of Cthulhu,” which has an opening paragraph that I love:

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

I have since started on “The Dunwich Horror,” and I plan on reading “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

(briefly, on a writing note, I am halfway done writing a complete pilot treatment based on my outline and I have a new idea for the second act of my YA novel…)

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