While gurgling and coughing things not quite syllables, colored sputum being feverishly worked towards the throat, one rarely wonders about anything outside of the present misery of their condition. I can’t help but if that’s how Howard Phillips Lovecraft felt as a young man wrestling with his own physical frailties, until his grandfather came in to tell him stories in bed.
H. P. Lovecraft was an author who died in the 1930s, at the time not widely recognized or appreciated and quite penniless. He has since found some modest popularity for his Weird Tales magazine publications. A sickly child, he would listen intently to his grandfather’s stories of the strange and paranormal in the late 1800s. He grew close with his grandfather, as his own father had been institutionalized in 1893. Such an isolated upbringing was only shaken in Lovecraft’s teenage years, and by then he was deeply enthralled with ideas of unexplained and hidden knowledge.
This is not so much a review of the man’s writings as a reflection. His works vary in their composition — some are tedious to read, while others are quite enjoyable. You can find those here. I suppose what I find so interesting is how a mind consumed by the arcane creates more strange and hidden things — stories such as The Call of Cthulhu (Arguments exist over its pronunciation. Imagine that.) or The Shadow over Innsmouth transport the reader to a world vaguely familiar, but just different enough to disturb. Tentacled giants sleeping in the deep, formless energies of chaos clawing to enter the physical world — all these crazy ideas that some forms of fiction take for granted were popularized by this fairly obscure author from the early 20th century. Indeed, Lovecraft’s characters have found themselves in heavy metal songs, cartoon episodes, video games, and even independent movies. There are even plush dolls of some of his monsters.
All that to say, an exploration of Lovecraft’s work is worthwhile — if for nothing more than an experience in early American horror stories. It offers an interesting glimpse into what can work its way into someone’s psyche after spending time isolated, and of what can come crawling out of our own minds if we indulge a darker creative impulse. Just please, don’t try to read them aloud. You’ll just frustrate yourself. And if you’re wondering about who to vote for in the current election cycle, Lovecraft fans already have an answer.