Mateusz “Sketch” Gorski ’18, Entertainment/News Editor
“That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.”
- H.P. Lovecraft
“Cthulhu,” “Dagon,” “Nyarlathotep,” “Shub Niggurath,” “Yog Soggoth,” “Azathoth.” If you’ve heard these strange names before, than you may have heard the works of H.P. Lovecraft. These days, Lovecraft’s influence can be seen in many different forms of media; ranging from movies, television, books, video games, and even board games. As a writer of cosmic horror, he has created such iconic and strange creatures, for only such a twisted mind can make such horrors—horrors that can drive the feeble mind of man to the brink of insanity.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1890. He lived in poverty his whole life, and has experienced a troubled childhood, to say the least. When he was young, he lost his father to a mental ward, for his mind was ill. His mother, broken by grief, neglected his son and demanded that he stay away from her. He later lived in a family home with his maternal grandfather, Whipple. Whipple would amaze Howard with weird tales and objects he had gotten from his travels through Europe. Whipple’s strange stories, as well as Howard’s terrible nightmares, fueled the young boy’s twisted imagination. One day, Lovecraft would use that creativity to write some of the most influential horror in history, even though he did not live long enough to see his success.
Lovecraft’s work stems from his creative mind, but also from his crippling anxiety. He would rarely set foot outside of his own home, even when happily married. He had many irrational phobias which made him seem completely insane. However, he used these fears to create works of fiction that illustrated the horrors of the very universe itself—stories about cosmic deities and eldritch monsters far greater than that of man. Monsters that would shatter lesser minds just by laying eyes on them. His ideas stem from a view of cosmicism, a philosophical concept that Lovecraft himself developed, entertaining the idea that we as humans are completely insignificant to the vast, indifferent universe. We are nothing but specks, floating in the infinite cosmos, waiting for our inevitable demise. It may be sad and frightening, but that is what makes good horror. Lovecraft pioneered cosmic horror, and inspired so many creators to make works in his likeness. Even the well-acclaimed author Stephen King gives praise to Lovecraft, saying: “I think it is beyond doubt that H. P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” This comes to no surprise to fans of the horror genre, as much of King’s work draws inspiration from ‘lovecraftian’ elements, which is what his loyal readers have dubbed this specific genre of literature.
There’s no question that H.P. Lovecraft was a master in his field of work. He twisted people’s perception of reality, and inspired many to continue his legacy in their own work. The only question is: Why aren’t you reading his work? If you love horror, or just literature for that matter, you should definitely check out his. I recommend At the Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and most famously, The Call of Cthulhu. Nearly all of these short stories tie into Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, a connected universe he created that paints the pictures of many cosmic monsters in each story. All of these tales are guaranteed to send a chill down your spine, as well as make you question your very existence. We as humans cannot possibly grasp the vast, unknowable, indifferent power of the universe. We are feeble creatures waiting for our inevitable demise by the hands of much greater entities. There is nothing we can do to stop our fate. Sweet dreams…
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
- H.P. Lovecraft
“[Lovecraft] was frightened of invertebrates, marine life in general, temperatures below freezing, fat people, people of other races, race-mixing, slums, percussion instruments, caves, cellars, old age, great expanses of time, monumental architecture, non-Euclidean geometry, deserts, oceans, rats, dogs, the New England countryside, New York City, fungi and molds, viscous substances, medical experiments, dreams, brittle textures, gelatinous textures, the color gray, plant life of diverse sorts, memory lapses, old books, heredity, mists, gases, whistling, whispering–the things that did not frighten him would probably make a shorter list.”
Luc Sante‘s New York Review of Books: “The Heroic Nerd”