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H. P. Lovecraft

Born Howard Phillips Lovecraft
August 20, 1890(1890-08-20)
Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Died March 15, 1937 (aged 46)
Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Occupation Novelist, Short story writer, Poet
Nationality American
Ethnicity English American
Period 1917-1936
Genres Horror, Science fiction, Fantasy, Weird fiction, Gothic fiction, Lovecraftian horror, essay, travel literature
Literary movement Cosmicism
Notable work(s) The Call of Cthulhu, The Shadow Out of Time, At the Mountains of Madness
Spouse(s) Sonia H. Greene (1924–1929)
Signature

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, known then simply as weird fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Christian humanism.[1][2] Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. Lovecraft, as did Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century, exerts "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction".[3] Stephen King has called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale."[4][5]

Contents

Biography

Early life

Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, at 9:00 a.m. in his family home at 194 (later 454) Angell Street in Providence, Rhode Island. (The house was torn down in 1961.) He was the only child of Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a traveling salesman of jewelry and precious metals, and Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, who could trace her ancestry in America back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. His parents married, the first marriage for both, when they were in their thirties, unusually late in life given the time period. In 1893, when Lovecraft was three, his father became acutely psychotic in a Chicago hotel room while on a business trip. The elder Lovecraft was taken back to Providence and placed in Butler Hospital, where he remained until his death in 1898. Lovecraft maintained throughout his life that his father had died in a condition of paralysis brought on by "nervous exhaustion" due to over-work, but it is now almost certain that the actual cause was general paresis of the insane.[6] It is unknown whether the younger Lovecraft was ever aware of the actual nature of his father's illness or its cause (syphilis), although his mother likely was, possibly having even received tincture of arsenic as "preventive medication".

Lovecraft at approximately age nine.

After his father's hospitalization, Lovecraft was raised by his mother, his two aunts (Lillian Delora Phillips and Annie Emeline Phillips), and his maternal grandfather, Whipple Van Buren Phillips, an American businessman. All five resided together in the family home. Lovecraft was a prodigy, reciting poetry at the age of three and writing complete poems by six. His grandfather encouraged his reading, providing him with classics such as The Arabian Nights, Bulfinch's Age of Fable, and children's versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey. His grandfather also stirred the boy's interest in the weird by telling him his own original tales of Gothic horror. His mother, on the other hand, worried that these stories would upset him.

Lovecraft was frequently ill as a child, at least some of which was certainly psychosomatic, although he attributed his various ailments to physical causes only. Early speculation that he may have been congenitally disabled by syphilis passed on from father to mother to fetus has been ruled out. Due to his sickly condition and his undisciplined, argumentative nature, he barely attended school until he was eight years old, and then was withdrawn after a year. He read voraciously during this period and became especially enamored of chemistry and astronomy. He produced several hectographed publications with a limited circulation beginning in 1899 with The Scientific Gazette. Four years later, he returned to public school at Hope Street High School. Beginning in his early life, Lovecraft is believed to have suffered from night terrors, a rare parasomnia disorder; he believed himself to be assaulted at night by horrific "night gaunts." Much of his later work is thought to have been directly inspired by these terrors.

His grandfather's death in 1904 greatly affected Lovecraft's life. Mismanagement of his grandfather's estate left his family in such a poor financial situation they were forced to move into much smaller accommodations at 598 (now a duplex at 598-600) Angell Street. Lovecraft was so deeply affected by the loss of his home and birthplace that he contemplated suicide for a time. In 1908, prior to his high school graduation, he himself claimed to have suffered what he later described as a "nervous breakdown", and consequently never received his high school diploma (although he maintained for most of his life that he did graduate). S. T. Joshi suggests in his biography of Lovecraft that a primary cause for this breakdown was his difficulty in higher mathematics, a subject he needed to master to become a professional astronomer. This failure to complete his education (he wished to study at Brown University) was a source of disappointment and shame even late into his life.

Lovecraft wrote some fiction as a youth but, from 1908 until 1913, his output was primarily poetry. During that time, he lived a hermit's existence, having almost no contact with anyone but his mother. This changed when he wrote a letter to The Argosy, a pulp magazine, complaining about the insipidness of the love stories of one of the publication's popular writers. The ensuing debate in the magazine's letters column caught the eye of Edward F. Daas, President of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA), who invited Lovecraft to join them in 1914. The UAPA reinvigorated Lovecraft and incited him to contribute many poems and essays. In 1917, at the prodding of correspondents, he returned to fiction with more polished stories, such as "The Tomb" and "Dagon". The latter was his first professionally-published work, appearing in W. Paul Cook's The Vagrant (November, 1919) and Weird Tales in 1923. Around that time, he began to build up a huge network of correspondents. His lengthy and frequent missives would make him one of the great letter writers of the century. Among his correspondents were Robert Bloch (Psycho), Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian series).

In 1919, after suffering from hysteria and depression for a long period of time, Lovecraft's mother was committed to Butler Hospital just like her husband before her. Nevertheless, she wrote frequent letters to Lovecraft, and they remained very close until her death on May 21, 1921, the result of complications from gall bladder surgery. Lovecraft was devastated by the loss.

Marriage and New York

Lovecraft and Sonia Greene

A few weeks after his mother's death, Lovecraft attended an amateur journalist convention in Boston, Massachusetts, where he met Sonia Greene. Born in 1883, she was of Ukrainian-Jewish ancestry and seven years older than Lovecraft. They married in 1924, and the couple moved to Brooklyn. Lovecraft's aunts may have been unhappy with this arrangement, as they were not fond of Lovecraft being married to a tradeswoman (Greene owned a hat shop). Initially, Lovecraft was enthralled by New York, but soon the couple was facing financial difficulties. Greene lost her hat shop and suffered poor health. Lovecraft could not find work to support them both, so his wife moved to Cleveland for employment. Lovecraft lived by himself in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn and came to dislike New York life intensely.[7] Indeed, this daunting reality of failure to secure any work in the midst of a large immigrant population—especially irreconcilable with his opinion of himself as a privileged Anglo-Saxon—has been theorized as galvanizing his racism to the point of fear, a sentiment he sublimated in the short story "The Horror at Red Hook".[8]

A few years later, Lovecraft and his wife, still living separately, agreed to an amicable divorce, which was never fully completed. He returned to Providence to live with his aunts during their remaining years.

Return to Providence

Back in Providence, Lovecraft lived in a "spacious brown Victorian wooden house" at 10 Barnes Street until 1933. The same address is given as the home of Dr. Willett in Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The period after his return to Providence — the last decade of his life — was Lovecraft's most prolific. In that time he produced almost all of his best-known short stories for the leading pulp publications of the day (primarily Weird Tales), as well as longer efforts, such as The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and At the Mountains of Madness. He frequently revised work for other authors and did a large amount of ghost-writing, including "The Mound", "Winged Death", and "Under the Pyramids" (also known as "Imprisoned With the Pharaohs") (for Harry Houdini) and "The Diary of Alonzo Typer."

Lovecraft, on the surface, seemed like a traditional American conservative, but he considered himself a "New Deal Democrat", and was an ardent supporter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.[9]

Despite his best writing efforts, however, he grew ever poorer. He was forced to move to smaller and meaner lodgings with his surviving aunt. He was also deeply affected by Robert E. Howard's suicide. In 1936, Lovecraft was diagnosed with cancer of the intestine, and he also suffered from malnutrition. He lived in constant pain until his death on March 15, 1937, in Providence.

Grave of H. P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft was listed along with his parents on the Phillips family monument. That was not enough for his fans, so in 1977 a group of individuals raised the money to buy him a headstone of his own in Swan Point cemetery, on which they had inscribed Lovecraft's name, the dates of his birth and death, and the phrase "I AM PROVIDENCE", a line from one of his personal letters.

Background of Lovecraft's work

H. P. Lovecraft's name is synonymous with horror fiction; his writing, particularly the "Cthulhu Mythos", has influenced fiction authors worldwide, and Lovecraftian elements may be found in novels, movies, music, comic books and cartoons. Many modern horror writers, including Stephen King, Bentley Little, Joe R. Lansdale, Alan Moore, Junji Ito, F. Paul Wilson, and Neil Gaiman, have cited Lovecraft as one of their primary influences.

Lovecraft himself, though, was relatively unknown during his own time. While his stories appeared in the pages of prominent pulp magazines such as Weird Tales (often eliciting letters of outrage from regular readers of the magazines), not many people knew his name. He did, however, correspond regularly with other contemporary writers, such as Clark Ashton Smith and August Derleth, people who became good friends of his, even though they never met in person. This group of correspondents became known as the "Lovecraft Circle", since they all freely borrowed elements of Lovecraft's stories – the mysterious books with disturbing names, the pantheon of ancient alien gods, such as Cthulhu and Azathoth, and eldritch places, such as the New England town of Arkham and its Miskatonic University – for use in their own works (with Lovecraft's blessing and encouragement).

After Lovecraft's death, the Lovecraft Circle carried on. August Derleth was probably the most prolific of these writers, having added to and expanded on Lovecraft's vision. Derleth's contributions have been controversial to say the least; while Lovecraft never considered his pantheon of alien gods more than a mere plot device, Derleth created an entire cosmology, complete with a war between the 'good' "Elder Gods" and the 'evil' "Outer Gods" (such as Cthulhu and his ilk), which the 'good' Gods were supposed to have won, locking Cthulhu and others up beneath the earth, in the ocean etc., and went on to associate different gods with the traditional four elements.

Lovecraft's fiction has been grouped into three categories by some critics. While Lovecraft did not refer to these categories himself, he did once write, "There are my 'Poe' pieces and my 'Dunsany pieces' – but alas – where are my Lovecraft pieces?"[10]

Some critics see little difference between the Dream Cycle and the Mythos, often pointing to the recurring Necronomicon and subsequent "gods". A frequently given explanation is that the Dream Cycle belongs more to the genre of fantasy, while the Mythos is science fiction. Also, many of the supernatural elements of the Dream Cycle take place in its own sphere or mythological dimension, separated from our own level of existence. The Mythos on the other hand, is placed within the same reality and cosmos as the humans live in.

Much of Lovecraft's work was directly inspired by his night terrors, and it is perhaps this direct insight into the unconscious and its symbolism that helps to account for their continuing resonance and popularity.[citation needed]

All these interests naturally led to his deep affection for the works of Edgar Allan Poe, who heavily influenced his earliest macabre stories and writing style known for its creepy atmosphere and lurking fears.[11]

Lovecraft's discovery of the stories of Lord Dunsany with their gallery of mighty gods existing in dreamlike outer realms, moved his writing in a new direction, resulting in a series of imitative fantasies in a 'Dreamlands' setting.

Another inspiration came from a totally different kind of source; the scientific progresses at the time in such wide areas as biology, astronomy, geology and physics, all contributed to make the human race seem even more insignificant, powerless and doomed in a materialistic and mechanical universe, and was a major contributor to the ideas that later would be known as cosmicism, and which gave further support to his atheism.

It was probably the influence of Arthur Machen, with his carefully constructed tales concerning the survival of ancient evil into modern times in an otherwise realistic world and his mystic beliefs in hidden mysteries which lay behind reality, that added the last ingredient and finally helped inspire Lovecraft to find his own voice from 1923 onwards.

This took on a dark tone with the creation of what is today often called the Cthulhu Mythos, a pantheon of alien extra-dimensional deities and horrors which predate humanity, and which are hinted at in aeon-old myths and legends. The term "Cthulhu Mythos" was coined by Lovecraft's correspondent and fellow author, August Derleth, after Lovecraft's death; Lovecraft jocularly referred to his artificial mythology as "Yog-Sothothery".[12]

His stories created one of the most influential plot devices in all of horror: the Necronomicon, the secret grimoire written by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. The resonance and strength of the Mythos concept have led some to incorrectly conclude that Lovecraft had based it on pre-existing myths or occult beliefs. Faux editions of the Necronomicon have also been published over the years.

His prose is somewhat antiquarian. Often he employed archaic vocabulary or spelling which had already by his time been replaced by contemporary coinages; examples including Esquimau, and Comanchian. He was given to heavy use of an esoteric lexicon including such words as "eldritch", "rugose", "noisome", "squamous", "ichor", and "cyclopean", and of attempts to transcribe dialect speech which have been criticized as clumsy, imprecise, and condescending. His works also featured British English such as "colour" and "honour" (he was an admitted Anglophile), and he sometimes made use of anachronistic spellings, such as "compleat" (for "complete"), "shew" ("show"), "lanthorn" ("lantern"), "phantasy" ("fantasy"; also appearing as "phantastic"), and "Buenos Ayres" (for Buenos Aires).

Themes

Several themes recur in Lovecraft's stories:

Forbidden knowledge

In the opening of his 1926 tale "The Call of Cthulhu" Lovecraft wrote:

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.

Lovecraft's protagonists are nevertheless driven to this "piecing together", which becomes a primary plot device in many of his works.

When such vistas are opened, the mind of the protagonist-investigator is often destroyed. Those who actually encounter "living" manifestations of the incomprehensible are particularly likely to go mad, as is the case of the titular character in The Music of Erich Zann. The story features an insane mute viol virtuoso's sixth-floor apartment, whose window is the only one high enough to see over a wall on a mysterious, disappearing Parisian street—a wall whose other side contains unexplainable horrors.

Similarly, his last, and arguably most mature novel "At The Mountains Of Madness" reveals the existence of a remote frozen and ancient (non-human) city in the central wastes of Antarctica. Mankind's true origins are revealed (incidental 'playthings' created for amusement by the Great Old Ones). Many of the expedition members are killed, one (Danforth) driven incurably insane by the ancient knowledge and unpleasant events which overtake the expedition. The theme of 'forbidden knowledge' is echoed in the very opening lines of the story by the expedition's leader and survivor (Professor Dyer of the Miskatonic University): "I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why".

Those characters who attempt to make use of such knowledge are almost invariably doomed. Sometimes their work attracts the attention of malevolent beings; other times, evoking the spirit of Frankenstein, they are destroyed by monsters of their own creation.

Non-human influences on humanity

The beings of Lovecraft's mythos often have human (or mostly human) servants; Cthulhu, for instance, is worshiped under various names by cults amongst both the Eskimos of Greenland and voodoo circles of Louisiana, and in many other parts of the world.

These worshipers served a useful narrative purpose for Lovecraft. Many beings of the Mythos were too powerful to be defeated by human opponents, and so horrific that direct knowledge of them meant insanity for the victim. When dealing with such beings, Lovecraft needed a way to provide exposition and build tension without bringing the story to a premature end. Human followers gave him a way to reveal information about their "gods" in a diluted form, and also made it possible for his protagonists to win paltry victories. Lovecraft, like his contemporaries, envisioned "savages" as closer to the Earth, only in Lovecraft's case, this meant, so to speak, closer to Cthulhu.

Inherited guilt

Another recurring theme in Lovecraft's stories is the idea that descendants in a bloodline can never escape the stain of crimes committed by their forebears, at least if the crimes are atrocious enough. Descendants may be very far removed, both in place and in time (and, indeed, in culpability), from the act itself, and yet, from however remote the past, blood will out ("The Rats in the Walls", "The Lurking Fear", "Arthur Jermyn", "The Alchemist", "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward).

Fate

Often in Lovecraft's works the protagonist is not in control of his own actions, or finds it impossible to change course. Many of his characters would be free from danger if they simply managed to run away; however, this possibility either never arises or is somehow curtailed by some outside force, such as in "The Colour Out of Space" and "The Dreams in the Witch House." Often his characters are subject to a compulsive influence from powerful malevolent or indifferent beings. As with the inevitability of one's ancestry, eventually even running away, or death itself, provides no safety ("The Thing on the Doorstep", "The Outsider", The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, etc.). In some cases, this doom is manifest in the entirety of humanity, and no escape is possible ("The Shadow Out of Time").

Civilization under threat

Though little known to his fan base, Lovecraft was familiar with the work of the German conservative-revolutionary theorist Oswald Spengler. Spengler's pessimistic thesis of the decadence of the modern West formed a crucial element in Lovecraft's overall anti-modern, conservative worldview. Spenglerian imagery of cyclical decay is present in particular in At the Mountains of Madness. In his book titled H.P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West, S. T. Joshi places Spengler at the center of his discussion of Lovecraft's political and philosophical ideas.[13] Lovecraft wrote to Clark Ashton Smith in 1927: "It is my belief, and was so long before Spengler put his seal of scholarly proof on it, that our mechanical and industrial age is one of frank decadence" (see China Miéville's introduction to "At the Mountains of Madness", Modern Library Classics, 2005). Lovecraft was also acquainted with the writings of another German intellectual who dealt with civilized decadence in philosophical terms: Friedrich Nietzsche.

Lovecraft frequently dealt with the idea of civilization struggling against more barbaric, primitive elements. In some stories this struggle is at an individual level; many of his protagonists are cultured, highly-educated men who are gradually corrupted by some obscure and feared influence.

In such stories, the "curse" is often a hereditary one, either because of interbreeding with non-humans (e.g., "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" (1920), "The Shadow over Innsmouth" (1931)) or through direct magical influence (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward). Physical and mental degradation often come together; this theme of 'tainted blood' may represent concerns relating to Lovecraft's own family history, particularly the death of his father due to what Lovecraft must have suspected to be a syphilitic disorder.

In other tales, an entire society is threatened by barbarism. Sometimes the barbarism comes as an external threat, with a civilized race destroyed in war (e.g., "Polaris"). Sometimes, an isolated pocket of humanity falls into decadence and atavism of its own accord (e.g., "The Lurking Fear"). But most often, such stories involve a civilized culture being gradually undermined by a malevolent underclass influenced by inhuman forces.

There is a lack of analysis as to whether England's gradual loss of prominence and related conflicts (Boer War, India, World War I) had an impact on Lovecraft's worldview. It is likely that the "roaring twenties" left Lovecraft disillusioned as he was still obscure and struggling with the basic necessities of daily life, combined with seeing non-European immigrants in New York City.

Race, ethnicity, and class

Lovecraft lived at a time when the eugenics movement, anti-Catholicism, nativism, and strict racial segregation and miscegenation laws were all widespread in the United States, and his writings reflect that social and intellectual environment. A common dramatic device in Lovecraft's work is to associate virtue, intellect, civilization, and rationality with upper class White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. These are often posed in contrast to the corrupt, intellectually inferior, uncivilized and irrational attributes which he associated with both the lower classes in general and those of non-Anglo Saxon ethnicity, especially those who have dark skin. He held English culture to be the comparative pinnacle of civilization, with the descendants of the English in America as something of a second-class offshoot, and everyone else below.[14]

Ethnicity was more salient than race for Lovecraft; he admired Anglo-Saxons in particular, not white people generally. Non-Anglo-Saxon whites of European descent are frequently disparaged in his work on ethnic grounds. The degenerate descendants of Dutch immigrants in the Catskill Mountains, "who correspond exactly to the decadent element of white trash in the South",[15] are common targets. In "The Temple", Lovecraft's highly unsympathetic narrator is a German World War I U-boat captain whose faith in his "iron German will" and the superiority of the Fatherland lead him to machine-gun helpless survivors in lifeboats and, later, kill his own crew, while blinding him to the curse he has brought upon himself.

Class distinctions inform Lovecraft's worldview nearly as much as ethnicity. The narrator of "Cool Air" speaks disparagingly of the poor Hispanics of his neighborhood, but respects and admires the wealthy and aristocratic Dr. Muñoz, described as "a man of birth, cultivation, and discrimination."

S. T. Joshi notes, "There is no denying the reality of Lovecraft's racism, nor can it merely be passed off as 'typical of his time', for it appears that Lovecraft expressed his views more pronouncedly (although usually not for publication) than many others of his era. It is also foolish to deny that racism enters into his fiction."[16] In his book H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, Michel Houellebecq argues that "racial hatred" provided the emotional force and inspiration for much of Lovecraft's greatest works.

Recent studies have begun to question, not Lovecraft's racism per se, but his dedication to the theory. For example, Michael Gurnow's study of "The Dunwich Horror" relays that Lovecraft makes martyrs of African American twins by the close of the text, thus suggesting that, at least in part and at various times throughout his life, Lovecraft explored and questioned the veracity of his racial views.[17]

According to L. Sprague de Camp's biography, Lovecraft greatly moderated his views toward the end of his life as he began to travel more and came into contact with people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. He says Lovecraft was horrified by reports of anti-Jewish violence in Germany during the 1930s, which he regarded as irrational. Sprague de Camp also says that Lovecraft enjoyed getting a rise out of people he considered his intellectual inferiors by stating in a deadpan manner whatever he thought would offend them the most, and suggests that at least some reports of Lovecraft's racism derived from this practice.

Examples

In his personal letters, Lovecraft was explicit and candid in expressing his racism. For example, of the Jews he wrote,

The mass of contemporary Jews are hopeless as far as America is concerned. They are the product of alien blood, & inherit alien ideals, impulses, & emotions which forever preclude the possibility of wholesale assimilation... On our side there is a shuddering physical repugnance to most Semitic types...so that wherever the Wandering Jew wanders, he will have to content himself with his own society till he disappears or is killed off in some sudden outburst of mad physical loathing on our part. I've easily felt able to slaughter a score or two when jammed in a N.Y. subway train.[18]

And in the same letter (No. 60), Lovecraft wrote,

All the issues that were alive in Bible times are dead now--as are the races. The so-called Jews of today are either Carthaginians or squat Mongoloids from Central Asia, & the so-called Christians are healthy Aryan pagans who have adopted the external forms of a faith whose original flabbiness would disgust them.

In "The Call of Cthulhu" he writes of a captured group of mixed race worshippers of Cthulhu:

the prisoners all proved to be men of a very low, mixed-blooded, and mentally aberrant type. Most were seamen, and a sprinkling of negroes and mulattos, largely West Indians or Brava Portuguese from the Cape Verde Islands, gave a colouring of voodooism to the heterogeneous cult. But before many questions were asked it became manifest that something far deeper and older than negro fetishism was involved. Degraded and ignorant as they were, the creatures held with surprising consistency to the central idea of their loathsome faith.

In a letter of January 23, 1920, Lovecraft wrote:

For evolved man — the apex of organic progress on the Earth — what branch of reflection is more fitting than that which occupies only his higher and exclusively human faculties? The primal savage or ape merely looks about his native forest to find a mate; the exalted Aryan should lift his eyes to the worlds of space and consider his relation to infinity!!!![19]

In "Herbert West–Reanimator", Lovecraft gives an account of a just-deceased African-American male. He asserts:

He was a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms that I could not help calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon. The body must have looked even worse in life — but the world holds many ugly things.[20]

In "The Horror at Red Hook", one character is described as "an Arab with a hatefully negroid mouth".[21] In "Medusa's Coil", ghostwritten by Lovecraft for Zealia Bishop, the story's final surprise—after the revelation that the story's villain is a vampiric medusa—is that she

was faintly, subtly, yet to the eyes of genius unmistakably the scion of Zimbabwe's most primal grovellers.... [T]hough in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a negress.[22]

In "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", this is a description of an African — New English couple: "The present negro inhabitants were known to him, and he was very courteously shewn about the interior by old Asa and his stout wife Hannah." In contrast to their apparently alien landlord: "a small rodent-featured person with a guttural accent"

In the short story "The Rats in the Walls", one of the narrator/protagonist's nine cats is named "Nigger-Man", after Lovecraft's own cat.[23]

As I have said, I moved in on July 16, 1923. My household consisted of seven servants and nine cats, of which latter species I am particularly fond. My eldest cat, "Nigger-Man", was seven years old and had come with me from my home in Bolton, Massachusetts ...[24]

The narrators in "The Street", "Herbert West: Reanimator", "He", "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", "The Horror at Red Hook", and many other tales express sentiments which could be considered hostile towards Jews. Lovecraft married a woman of Ukrainian Jewish ancestry, Sonia Greene, who later said she had to repeatedly remind Lovecraft of her background when he made anti-Semitic remarks. "Whenever we found ourselves in the racially mixed crowds which characterize New York", Greene wrote after her divorce from Lovecraft, "Howard would become livid with rage. He seemed almost to lose his mind."[25]

Risks of a scientific era

At the turn of the 20th century, man's increased reliance upon science was both opening new worlds and solidifying the manners by which he could understand them. Lovecraft portrays this potential for a growing gap of man's understanding of the universe as a potential for horror. Most notably in "The Colour Out of Space", the inability of science to comprehend a contaminated meteorite leads to horror.

In a letter to James F. Morton in 1923, Lovecraft specifically points to Einstein's theory on relativity as throwing the world into chaos and making the cosmos a jest. And in a 1929 letter to Woodburn Harris, he speculates that technological comforts risk the collapse of science. Indeed, at a time when men viewed science as limitless and powerful, Lovecraft imagined alternative potential and fearful outcomes. In "The Call of Cthulhu", Lovecraft's characters encounter architecture which is "abnormal, non-Euclidian, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours".[26] Non-Euclidean geometry is the mathematical language and background of Einstein's general theory of relativity, and Lovecraft will reference it again and again in exploring alien archeology.

Religion

Maltheism is a recurrent theme in Lovecraft fiction. Many of Lovecraft's works are directly or indirectly adversarial to the belief in a loving, protective God; Lovecraft's works are ruled by several distinct pantheons of deities who are either indifferent or actively hostile to humanity. Several, particularly those of the Cthulhu Mythos, indulge upon alternate human origins in contrast to those found in Genesis and creation stories of other religions. Protagonist characters are often educated men who favor the claims of the physical sciences over those of scripture. In Herbert West - Reanimator, reflected on the atheism common within academic circles. Also in Through the Gates of the Silver Key the character Randolph Carter attempts after losing access to dreams to seek solace in religion, specifically Congregationalism, but doesn't and ultimately loses faith.

In 1932, Lovecraft wrote in a letter to Robert E. Howard: "All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or an eternal survival of personality exist. They are the most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses which can be made about the universe, and I am not enough of a hair-splitter to pretend that I don't regard them as arrant and negligible moonshine. In theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of radical evidence I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist.[27] "

Influences on Lovecraft

Lovecraft was influenced by such authors as Gertrude Barrows Bennett (who, writing as Francis Stevens, impressed Lovecraft enough that he publicly praised her stories[28] and eventually "emulated Bennett's earlier style and themes"[29]), Oswald Spengler, Robert W. Chambers (writer of The King in Yellow, of whom H. P. Lovecraft wrote in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith: "Chambers is like Rupert Hughes and a few other fallen Titans — equipped with the right brains and education but wholly out of the habit of using them"), Arthur Machen (The Great God Pan), Lord Dunsany (The Gods of Pegana and other Dunsany works), Edgar Allan Poe, A. Merritt (The Moon Pool, later a great liking and admiration of the original version of The Metal Monster) and Lovecraft's friends Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith.[citation needed]

Lovecraft considered himself a man best suited to the early 18th century. His writing style, especially in his many letters, owes much to Augustan British writers of the Enlightenment like Joseph Addison and Jonathan Swift. Lovecraft even went so far as to write using the antiquated grammatical peculiarities of that literary era.[citation needed] While Lovecraft's fiction radically inverted the Enlightenment belief in mankind being able to comprehend the universe, his personal outlook as revealed in his letters shows Lovecraft largely agreeing with rationalist contemporaries like Bertrand Russell.[citation needed]

He also cited Algernon Blackwood as an influence, quoting The Centaur in the head paragraph of The Call of Cthulhu. He also declares Blackwood's "The Willows" to be the single best piece of weird fiction ever written.[30]

Among the books found in his library (as evidenced in Lovecraft's Library by S.T. Joshi) was "The seven who were hanged" by Leonid Andreyev and "A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder" by James De Mille .

Lovecraft's influence on culture

Beyond direct adaptation, Lovecraft and his stories have had a profound impact on popular culture and have been praised by many modern writers. Some influence was direct, as he was a friend, inspiration, and correspondent to many of his contemporaries, such as August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber. Many later figures were influenced by Lovecraft's works, including author and artist Clive Barker, prolific horror writer Stephen King, comics writers Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, film directors John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, and Guillermo Del Toro, horror manga artist Junji Ito, and artist H. R. Giger.[31] In 2007, writer Grant Cogswell, director Daniel Gildark and a cast including Jason Cottle and Tori Spelling created the movie Cthulhu, a "reinvention" of Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" set in the Pacific Northwest. H. P. Lovecraft's writing, particularly his so-called "Cthulhu Mythos", has influenced fiction authors worldwide, and Lovecraftian elements can be seen in novels, films, comic books (e.g. the use of Arkham Insane Asylum in The Batman comic book series), music, games, and even cartoons.

Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote his short story "There Are More Things" in memory of Lovecraft. Contemporary French writer Michel Houellebecq wrote a literary biography of Lovecraft called H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life. Prolific American writer Joyce Carol Oates wrote an introduction for a collection of Lovecraft stories. The Library of America published a volume of Lovecraft's work in 2005, essentially declaring him a canonical American writer.[32][33][34]

In music, three examples of the widespread Lovecraftian influence include the psychedelic rock band called H. P. Lovecraft (later shortened to just Lovecraft) who released four albums in the 1960s and 1970s, the thrash metal band Metallica, devoted readers of Lovecraft's work, who recorded a song inspired by The Call of Cthulhu, titled The Call of Ktulu, a song based on The Shadow Over Innsmouth, titled The Thing That Should Not Be and a song based on H.P.'s Hounds of Tindalos titled All Nightmare Long off of Metallica's 2008 album Death Magnetic, as well as the Black Sabbath song Behind The Wall Of Sleep, from their 1970 debut album, based on Lovecraft's short story Beyond The Wall Of Sleep.[citation needed]

The British anarcho-punk band Rudimentary Peni released the LP album Cacophony in 1987, which was heavily influenced by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Punk Band The Marshes also had a number of Lovecraft-themed songs on their 1996 album Fledgling.

The Lovecraftian world has also made its mark on gaming. Cthulhu and its company has been brought to life in a variety of hobby game formats such as role playing games and collectible card games. The board game, Arkham Horror, is enjoying its fourth edition and a steady stream of expansions 22 years since its initial release. Chaosium first made its mark as a publisher of games based on Lovecraft's Mythos.

Survey of the work

For most of the 20th century, the definitive editions (specifically At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels, Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, The Dunwich Horror and Others, and The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions) of his prose fiction were published by Arkham House, a publisher originally started with the intent of publishing the work of Lovecraft, but which has since published a considerable amount of other literature as well. Penguin Classics has at present issued three volumes of Lovecraft's works: The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, and most recently The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories. They collect the standard texts as edited by S. T. Joshi, most of which were available in the Arkham House editions, with the exception of the restored text of "The Shadow Out of Time" from The Dreams in the Witch House, which had been previously released by small-press publisher Hippocampus Press. In 2005 the prestigious Library of America canonized Lovecraft with a volume of his stories edited by Peter Straub, and Random House's Modern Library line have issued the "definitive edition" of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness (also including "Supernatural Horror in Literature").

Lovecraft's poetry is collected in The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft, while much of his juvenilia, various essays on philosophical, political and literary topics, antiquarian travelogues, and other things, can be found in Miscellaneous Writings. Lovecraft's essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature", first published in 1927, is a historical survey of horror literature available with endnotes as The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature.

Letters

Although Lovecraft is known mostly for his works of weird fiction, the bulk of his writing consists of voluminous letters about a variety of topics, from weird fiction and art criticism to politics and history.

He sometimes dated his letters 200 years before the current date, which would have put the writing back in U.S. colonial times, before the American Revolution (a war which offended his Anglophilia). He explained that he thought that the 18th and 20th centuries were the "best"; the former being a period of noble grace, and the latter a century of science.

Lovecraft was not a very active letter-writer in youth. In 1931 he admitted: "In youth I scarcely did any letter-writing — thanking anybody for a present was so much of an ordeal that I would rather have written a two hundred fifty-line pastoral or a twenty-page treatise on the rings of Saturn." (SL 3.369–70). The initial interest in letters stemmed from his correspondence with his cousin Phillips Gamwell but even more important was his involvement in the amateur journalism movement, which was responsible for the enormous number of letters Lovecraft produced.

Lovecraft clearly states that his contact to numerous different people through letter-writing was one of the main factors in broadening his view of the world: "I found myself opened up to dozens of points of view which would otherwise never have occurred to me. My understanding and sympathies were enlarged, and many of my social, political, and economic views were modified as a consequence of increased knowledge." (SL 4.389).

Today there are five publishing houses that have released letters from Lovecraft, most prominently Arkham House with its five-volume edition Selected Letters. Other publishers are Hippocampus Press (Letters to Alfred Galpin et al.), Night Shade Books (Mysteries of Time and Spirit: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei et al..), Necronomicon Press (Letters to Samuel Loveman and Vincent Starrett et al.), and University of Tampa Press (O Fortunate Floridian: H. P. Lovecraft's Letters to R. H. Barlow).

Ohio University Press also published "Lord of a Visible World — An Autobiography in Letters" in 2000 which presents his letters according to themes, such as adolescence and travel. It was edited by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz.

Copyright

There is controversy over the copyright status of many of Lovecraft's works, especially his later works. Lovecraft had specified[citation needed] that the young R. H. Barlow would serve as executor of his literary estate, but these instructions had not been incorporated into his will. Nevertheless his surviving aunt carried out his expressed wishes, and Barlow was given charge of the massive and complex literary estate upon Lovecraft's death.

Barlow deposited the bulk of the papers, including the voluminous correspondence, with the John Hay Library, and attempted to organize and maintain Lovecraft's other writing. August Derleth, an older and more established writer than Barlow, vied for control of the literary estate. One result of these conflicts was the legal confusion over who owned what copyrights.

All works published before 1923 are public domain in the U.S.[35] However, there is some disagreement over who exactly owns or owned the copyrights and whether the copyrights for the majority of Lovecraft's works published post-1923—including such prominent pieces as "The Call of Cthulhu" and "At the Mountains of Madness"—have expired as of April 2008.

Questions center over whether copyrights for Lovecraft's works were ever renewed under the terms of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 for works created prior to January 1, 1978. The problem comes from the fact that before the Copyright Act of 1976 the number of years a work was copyrighted in the U.S. was based on publication rather than life of the author plus a certain number of years and that it was good for only 28 years. After that point, a new copyright had to be filed, and any work that did not have its copyright renewed fell back into the public domain. The Copyright Act of 1976 retroactively extended this renewal period for all works to a period of 47 years[36] and the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 added another 20 years to that, for a total of 95 years from publication. If the works were renewed, the copyrights would still be valid in the United States.

The European Union Directive on harmonising the term of copyright protection of 1993 extended the copyrights to 70 years after the author's death. So, all works of Lovecraft published during his lifetime, became public domain in all 27 European Union countries on 1 January 2008. In those Berne Convention countries who have implemented only the minimum copyright period, copyright expires 50 years after the author's death.

Lovecraft protégés and part owners of Arkham House, August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, often claimed copyrights over Lovecraft's works. On October 9, 1947, Derleth purchased all rights to Weird Tales. However, since April 1926 at the latest, Lovecraft had reserved all second printing rights to stories published in Weird Tales. Hence, Weird Tales may only have owned the rights to at most six of Lovecraft's tales. Again, even if Derleth did obtain the copyrights to Lovecraft's tales, no evidence as yet has been found that the copyrights were renewed.[37]

S. T. Joshi concludes in his biography, H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, that Derleth's claims are "almost certainly fictitious" and that most of Lovecraft's works published in the amateur press are most likely now in the public domain. The copyright for Lovecraft's works would have been inherited by the only surviving heir of his 1912 will: Lovecraft's aunt, Annie Gamwell. Gamwell herself perished in 1941 and the copyrights then passed to her remaining descendants, Ethel Phillips Morrish and Edna Lewis. Morrish and Lewis then signed a document, sometimes referred to as the Morrish-Lewis gift, permitting Arkham House to republish Lovecraft's works but retaining the copyrights for themselves. Searches of the Library of Congress have failed to find any evidence that these copyrights were then renewed after the 28-year period and, hence, it is likely that these works are now in the public domain.

Chaosium, publishers of the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, have a trademark on the phrase "The Call of Cthulhu" for use in game products. Another RPG publisher, TSR, Inc., original publisher of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, included in one of that game's earlier supplements, Deities & Demigods (originally published in 1980 and later renamed to "Legends & Lore"), a section on the Cthulhu Mythos; TSR, Inc. later agreed to remove this section at Chaosium's request.

Regardless of the legal disagreements surrounding Lovecraft's works, Lovecraft himself was extremely generous with his own works and actively encouraged others to borrow ideas from his stories, particularly with regard to his Cthulhu mythos. He actively encouraged other writers to reference his creations, such as the Necronomicon, Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. After his death, many writers have contributed stories and enriched the shared mythology of the Cthulhu Mythos, as well as making numerous references to his work. (See Cthulhu Mythos in popular culture.)

Locations featured in Lovecraft stories

Lovecraft drew extensively from his native New England for settings in his fiction. Numerous real historical locations are mentioned, and several fictional New England locations make frequent appearances. (See Lovecraft Country.)

Historical locations

Fictional locations

Bibliography

Further reading

  • The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft ( ISBN 978-1847287762), written by Gary Hill
  • Lovecraft: Disturbing the Universe (ISBN 0813117283), by Donald R. Burleson, PhD, a longtime scholar on Lovecraft and acquaintance of S. T. Joshi, is probably the only book analyzing Lovecraft's literature from a deconstructionist standpoint. University Press of Kentucky, November 1990.
  • The Gentleman From Angell Street: Memories of H. P. Lovecraft ( ISBN 9780970169914), written by Muriel and C. M. Eddy, Jr. is a collection of personal remembrances and anecdotes from two of Lovecraft's closest friends in Providence. The Eddys were fellow writers, and Mr. Eddy was a frequent contributor to Weird Tales.
  • Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos (ISBN 0-586-04166-4), written by Lin Carter in 1972, is a survey of Lovecraft's work (along with that of other members of the Lovecraft Circle) with considerable information on his life.
  • The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos by S.T. Joshi (Mythos Books, 2008) is the first full-length critical study since Lin Carter's to examine the development of Lovecraft's Mythos and its outworking in the oeuvres of various modern writers.
  • The first full-length biography was Lovecraft: a Biography (ISBN 0-345-25115-6), written by L. Sprague de Camp; published in 1975, it is now out of print.
  • Frank Belknap Long's Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside (Arkham House, 1975, ISBN 0-87054-068-8) presents a more personal look at Lovecraft's life, combining reminiscence, biography, and literary criticism. Long was a friend and correspondent of Lovecraft, as well as a fellow fantasist who wrote a number of Lovecraft-influenced Cthulhu Mythos stories (including The Hounds of Tindalos).
  • A newer, more extensive biography is H. P. Lovecraft: A Life (ISBN 0-940884-88-7) written by Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi. An alternative is Joshi's abridged A Dreamer & A Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft in His Time (ISBN 0-85323-946-0). An unabridged reprint in two volumes of Joshi's biography is forthcoming in 2010 from Hippocampus Press.
  • An English translation of Michel Houellebecq's H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life (ISBN 1-932416-18-8) was published by Believer Books in 2005.
  • Other significant Lovecraft-related works are An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia by Joshi and David S. Schulz; Lovecraft's Library: A Catalogue (a meticulous listing of many of the books in Lovecraft's now scattered library), by Joshi; Lovecraft at Last, an account by Willis Conover of his teenage correspondence with Lovecraft; Joshi's A Subtler Magick: The Writings and Philosophy of H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Andrew Migliore and John Strysik's Lurker in the Lobby: The Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft and Charles P. Mitchell's The Complete H. P. Lovecraft Filmography both discuss films containing Lovecraftian elements.
  • Lovecraft's prose fiction has been published numerous times. The "corrected texts" were released by Arkham House in the 1980s, and many other collections of his stories have appeared, including Ballantine Books editions and three popular Del Rey editions. The three collections published by Penguin, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, and The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, incorporate the modifications made in the corrected texts as well as the annotations provided by Joshi.
  • Lovecraft's ghost-written works are compiled in The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions, edited again by Joshi.
  • Some of Lovecraft's writings, however, are annotated with footnotes or endnotes. In addition to the Penguin editions mentioned above and The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature, Joshi has produced The Annotated H. P. Lovecraft as well as More Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, both of which are footnoted extensively.
  • The Philosophy of H. P. Lovecraft by Timo Airaksinen is a study of Lovecraft's use of language to analyze the psychology of Lovecraft's writings.
  • An Epicure in the Terrible (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991), edited by David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi is an anthology of 13 essays on Lovecraft (excluding Joshi's lengthy introduction)on the centennial of Lovecraft's birth. The essays are arranged into 3 sections; Biographical, Thematic Studies and Comparative and Genre Studies. The authors include S. T. Joshi, Kenneth W. Faig, Jr, Jason C. Eckhardt, Will Murray, Donald R. Burleson, Peter Cannon, Stefan Dziemianowicz, Steven J. Mariconda, David E. Schultz, Robert H. Waugh, Robert M. Price, R. Boerem, Norman R. Gatford and Barton Levi St. Armand.
  • Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown is a feature length documentary that looks at the life, work and mind behind the Cthulhu mythos. The film features interviews with Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, John Carpenter, Peter Straub, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Ramsey Campbell, Stuart Gordon, S.T. Joshi, Robert M. Price and Andrew Migliore. Written & Directed by Frank H. Woodward. Produced by William Janczewski, James B. Myers, and Woodward. Lovecraft won Best Documentary at the 2008 Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Wilson, Colin. The Strength to Dream: Literature and the Imagination. p. 8. ISBN 1600250203. "He hated modern civilization, particularly its confident belief in progress and science." 
  2. ^ H.P. Lovecraft in Popular Culture by Don G. Smith, 2005, ISBN 078642091X,page 85, "Lovecraft never had much good to say about families either"
  3. ^ Joyce Carol Oates (October 31, 1996). "The King of Weird". The New York Review of Books 43 (17). http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1376. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 
  4. ^ King quoted on front cover of 1982 paperback edition of The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre published by Del Rey Books with introduction by Robert Bloch. Other sources quote King as calling this judgement of Lovecraft "undeniable"[1] or "beyond doubt."[2]
  5. ^ Wohleber, Curt (December 1995). The Man Who Can Scare Stephen King. American Heritage Magazine. http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1995/8/1995_8_82_print.shtml. 
  6. ^ Luc Sante, "The Heroic Nerd", in The New York Review of Books, October 10, 2006
  7. ^ This situation is closely paralleled in the semi-autobiographical "He", as noted by Michel Houellebecq in 'H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life
  8. ^ H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, Michel Houellebecq
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ Letter to Elizabeth Toldridge, March 8, 1929, quoted in Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos
  11. ^ "Out of Space, Out of Time: The Influence of Poe". Mythostomes.com. 2009-04-04. http://www.mythostomes.com/content/view/51/89/1/2/. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  12. ^ [4]
  13. ^ S. T. Joshi, H.P. Lovecraft: Decline of the West, (Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism, No. 37), Borgo Pr, 1991, ISBN-13: 978-1557422088.
  14. ^ See, for example, his poem "An American to Mother England"
  15. ^ "Beyond the Wall of Sleep", 1919
  16. ^ "S.T. Joshi Interview — Acid Logic e-zine". http://www.forbisthemighty.com/acidlogic/stjoshi.htm. 
  17. ^ Michael Gurnow. "Black Christ and His Invisible Brother on the Cross: Race and Religion in H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror"". http://www.lucreziamagazine.com/index.php/editorial/essays/38-essays/320-black-christ-and-his-invisible-brother-on-the-cross-race-and-religion-in-hp-lovecrafts-the-dunwich-horror. 
  18. ^ See letter to Lillian D. Clark, 6 January 1926, No. 60, H.P. Lovecraft Letters From New York, S.T. Joshi, ed. San Francisco:Night Shade.
  19. ^ See letter to J. Vernon Shea, September 25, 1933, No. 648, Selected Letters IV, Arkham House.
  20. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, "Herbert West — Reanimator", Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, p. 146.
  21. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Horror at Red Hook", Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, p. 258.
  22. ^ "Medusa's Coil", Zealia Bishop with H. P. Lovecraft, The Horror in the Museum, p, 200.
  23. ^ Joshi, p. 35.
  24. ^ "The Rats in the Walls", H. P. Lovecraft, "Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre", p, 8.
  25. ^ Quoted in Lovecraft, Carter, p. 45.
  26. ^ Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", p. 151.
  27. ^ H.P. Lovecraft Letter to Robert E. Howard (August 16, 1932), in Selected Letters 1932-1934 (Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1976), p.57.
  28. ^ "The Woman Who Invented Dark Fantasy" by Gary C. Hoppenstand from Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy by Francis Stevens, University of Nebraska Press, 2004, page xiv. ISBN 0803292988
  29. ^ Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965 by Eric Leif Davin, Lexington Books, 2005, pages 409-10.
  30. ^ "In this essay Lovecraft calls W.H. Hodgeson the second best writer of weird fictions behind Blackwood. Later, he says Blackwood's best work is "The Willows"". Gaslight.mtroyal.ca. 1988-01-01. http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/superhor.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  31. ^ Giger, Hansruedi (2005): Necronomicon I & II. Erftstadt: Area.
  32. ^ H. P. Lovecraft. "H.P Lovecraft: Tales (The Library of America)". Loa.org. http://www.loa.org/volume.jsp?RequestID=223. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  33. ^ "The Horror, the Horror!". The Weekly Standard. 2005-03-07. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/285tmhfa.asp. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  34. ^ Kenney, Michael (2005-02-15). "The Library of America scares up a collection of Lovecraft's local lore — The Boston Globe". Boston.com. http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2005/02/15/the_library_of_america_scares_up_a_collection_of_lovecrafts_local_lore/. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  35. ^ How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work- U.S. Copyright Office
  36. ^ Copyright Basics by Terry Carroll 1994
  37. ^ William Johns, 'Lovecraft Copyright', archived at http://phantasmal.sourceforge.net/Innsmouth/LovecraftCopyright.html

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.
Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal...

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (20 August 189015 March 1937) was an American author of fantasy, horror, and science fiction, noted for combining these three genres within single narratives. He is considered, along with Edgar Allen Poe, to be one of the greatest Horror writers.

Contents

Sourced

The poetical tendency of the present and of the preceding century has been divided in a manner singularly curious.
The Birth of a Nation, … is said to furnish a remarkable insight into the methods of the Ku-Klux-Klan, that noble but much maligned band of Southerners who saved half of our country from destruction at the close of the Civil War.
  • The poetical tendency of the present and of the preceding century has been divided in a manner singularly curious. One loud and conspicuous faction of bards, giving way to the corrupt influences of a decaying general culture, seems to have abandoned all the properties of versification and reason in its mad scramble after sensational novelty; whilst the other and quieter school constituting a more logical evolution from the poesy of the Georgian period, demands an accuracy of rhyme and metre unknown even to the polished artists of the age of Pope.
  • The best critics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries demand perfect rhyming, and no aspirant for fame can afford to depart from a standard so universal. It is evidently the true goal of the English, as well as of the French bard; the goal from which we are but temporarily deflected during the preceding age.
    But exceptions should and must be made in the case of a few who have somehow absorbed the atmosphere of other days, and who long in their hearts for the stately sound of the old classic cadences. Well may their predilection for imperfect rhyming be discouraged to a limited extent, but to chain them wholly to modern rules would be barbarous. Every limited mind demands a certain freedom of expression, and the man who cannot express himself satisfactorily without the stimulation derived from the spirited mode of two centuries ago should certainly be permitted to follow without undue restraint a practice so harmless, so free from essential error, and so sanctioned by precedent, as that of employing in his poetical compositions the smooth and inoffensive allowable rhyme.
    • The Allowable Rhyme (1915)
  • The negro is fundamentally the biological inferior of all White and even Mongolian races, and the Northern people must occasionally be reminded of the danger which they incur in admitting him too freely to the privileges of society and government. …The Birth of a Nation, … is said to furnish a remarkable insight into the methods of the Ku-Klux-Klan, that noble but much maligned band of Southerners who saved half of our country from destruction at the close of the Civil War. The Conservative has not yet witnessed the picture in question, but he has seen both in literary and dramatic form The Clansman, that stirring, though crude and melodramatic story by Rev. Thomas Dixon, Jr., on which The Birth of a Nation is based, and has likewise made a close historical study of the Klu-Klux-Klan, finding as a result of his research nothing but Honour, Chivalry, and Patriotism in the activities of the Invisible Empire. The Klan merely did for the people what the law refused to do, removing the ballot from unfit hands and restoring to the victims of political vindictiveness their natural rights. The alleged lawbreaking of the Klan was committed only by irresponsible miscreants who, after the dissolution of the Order by its Grand Wizard, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, used its weird masks and terrifying costumes to veil their unorganised villainies.
    Race prejudice is a gift of Nature, intended to preserve in purity the various divisions of mankind which the ages have evolved.
    • Response to observations made in In A Minor Key by Charles D. Isaacson, in The Conservative, Vol. I, No. 2, (1915), p.4
I am aware that my present position will create a natural doubt of the authenticity of my narrative....
  • In relating the circumstances which have led to my confinement within this refuge for the demented, I am aware that my present position will create a natural doubt of the authenticity of my narrative. It is an unfortunate fact that the bulk of humanity is too limited in its mental vision to weigh with patience and intelligence those isolated phenomena, seen and felt only by a psychologically sensitive few, which lie outside its common experience. Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal; that all things appear as they do only by virtue of the delicate individual physical and mental media through which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of the majority condemns as madness the flashes of super-sight which penetrate the common veil of obvious empiricism.
    • "The Tomb" - Written Jun 1917; first published in The Vagrant, No. 14 (March 1922)
  • I have dwelt ever in realms apart from the visible world; spending my youth and adolescence in ancient and little-known books, and in roaming the fields and groves of the region near my ancestral home. I do not think that what I read in these books or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what other boys read and saw there; but of this I must say little, since detailed speech would but confirm those cruel slanders upon my intellect which I sometimes overhear from the whispers of the stealthy attendants around me. It is sufficient for me to relate events without analysing causes.
    • "The Tomb" (1917)
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown...
  • I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone makes life endurable, I can bear the torture no longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window into the squalid street below.
    • "Dagon" - Written Jul 1917; First published in The Vagrant, No. 11 (November 1919)
  • The end is near. I hear a noise at the door, as of some immense slippery body lumbering against it. It shall not find me. God, that hand! The window! The window!
    • "Dagon" - Written Jul 1917; First published in The Vagrant, No. 11 (November 1919)
  • My opinion of my whole experience varies from time to time. In broad daylight, and at most seasons I am apt to think the greater part of it a mere dream; but sometimes in the autumn, about two in the morning when winds and animals howl dismally, there comes from inconceivable depths below a damnable suggestions of rhythmical throbbing ... and I feel that the transition of Juan Romero was a terrible one indeed.
  • Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.
    • "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" in Pine Cones, Vol. 1, No. 6 (October 1919)
  • Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous. Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species — if separate species we be — for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world.
    • "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" - written 1920; first published in The Wolverine, No. 9 (March 1921)
  • Of what use is it to please the herd? They are simply coarse animals — for all that is admirable in man is the artificial product of special breeding. We advocate the preservation of conditions favourable to the growth of beautiful things — imposing palaces, beautiful cities, elegant literature, resposeful art and music, and a physically select human type such as only luxury and a pure racial strain can produce. Thus we oppose democracy, if only because it would retard the development of a handsome Nordic breed. We realise that all conceptions of justice and ethics are mere prejudices and illusions — there is no earthly reason why the masses should not be kept down for the benefit of the strong, since every man is for himself in the last analysis.
    • Letter (10 February 1923), published in Selected Letters Vol. I (1965), p. 208
  • Our modern worship of empty ideals is ludicrous. What does the condition of the rabble matter? All we need do is to keep it as quiet as we can. What is more important, is to perpetuate those things of beauty which are of real value because involving actual sense-impressions rather than vapid theories. "Equality" is a joke — but a great abbey or cathedral, covered with moss, is a poignant reality. If it is for us to safeguard and preserve the conditions which produce great abbeys, and palaces, and picturesque walled town, and vivid sky-lines of steeples and domes, and luxurious tapestries, and fascinating books, paintings and statuary, and colossal organs and noble music, and dramatic deeds on embattled fields — these are all there is of life: take them away and we have nothing which a man of taste or spirit would care to live for. Take them away and our poets have nothing to sing — our dreamers have nothing to dream about. The blood of a million men is well shed in producing one glorious legend which thrills posterity and it is not at all important why it was shed.
    • Letter (10 February 1923), published in Selected Letters Vol. I (1965), p. 208
  • Nothing must disturb my undiluted Englishry — God Save The King! I am naturally a Nordic — a chalk-white, bulky Teuton of the Scandinavian or North-German forests — a Vikinga berserk killer — a predatory rover of Hengist and Horsa — a conqueror of Celts and mongrels and founders of Empires — a son of the thunders and the arctic winds, and brother to the frosts and the auroras — a drinker of foemen's blood from new picked skulls — a friend of the mountain buzzards and feeder of seacoast vultures — a blond beast of eternal snows and frozen oceans — a prayer to Odin and Thor and Woden and Alfadur, the raucous shouter of Niffelheim — a comrade of the wolves, and rider of nightmares — aye — I speak truly — for was I not born with yellow hair and blue eyes.
    • Letter to Frank Belknap Long (3 May 1923), published in Selected Letters Vol. I (1965), p. 227
  • It is only the inferior thinker who hastens to explain the singular and the complex by the primitive shortcut of supernaturalism.
    • "The Temple" - Written 1920; first published in Weird Tales, 6 No. 3 (September 1925)
We know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.
  • But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.
    • "Celephaïs" - Written early November 1920; first published in The Rainbow, No. 2 (May 1922)
  • There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street.
    • "The Street " - first published in The Wolverine, No. 8 (December 1920)
  • When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness like the small drops of water torturers let fall ceaselessly upon one spot of their victim's body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods.
    • "Ex Oblivione " - First published in The United Amateur, 20, No. 4 (March 1921)
  • It is good to be a cynic — it is better to be a contented cat — and it is best not to exist at all. Universal suicide is the most logical thing in the world — we reject it only because of our primitive cowardice and childish fear of the dark. If we were sensible we would seek death — the same blissful blank which we enjoyed before we existed.
    • "Nietzscheism and Realism" from The Rainbow, Vol. I, No. 1 (October 1921); reprinted in "To Quebec and the Stars"
  • Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.
The only saving grace of the present is that it's too damned stupid to question the past very closely.
  • Instead of the poems I had hoped for, there came only a shuddering blackness and ineffable loneliness; and I saw at last a fearful truth which no one had ever dared to breathe before — the unwhisperable secret of secrets — The fact that this city of stone and stridor is not a sentient perpetuation of Old New York as London is of Old London and Paris of Old Paris, but that it is in fact quite dead, its sprawling body imperfectly embalmed and infested with queer animate things which have nothing to do with it as it was in life.
    • "He" - Written 11 August 1925; first published in Weird Tales, Vol. 8, No. 3 (September 1926)
Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again...
  • Children will always be afraid of the dark, and men with minds sensitive to hereditary impulse will always tremble at the thought of the hidden and fathomless worlds of strange life which may pulsate in the gulfs beyond the stars, or press hideously upon our own globe in unholy dimensions which only the dead and the moonstruck can glimpse.
    • "Supernatural Horror in Literature" (1927)
  • The only saving grace of the present is that it's too damned stupid to question the past very closely.
    • "Pickman's Model " - written 1926; first published in Weird Tales, Vol. 10, No. 4 (October 1927)
  • Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth's fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.
    • "The Dunwich Horror " - Written Summer 1928; first published in Weird Tales, 13, No. 4, (April 1929)
It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self — not merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence's whole unbounded sweep...
  • It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self — not merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence's whole unbounded sweep — the last, utter sweep which has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike. It was perhaps that which certain secret cults of earth have whispered of as YOG-SOTHOTH, and which has been a deity under other names; that which the crustaceans of Yuggoth worship as the Beyond-One, and which the vaporous brains of the spiral nebulae know by an untranslatable Sign...
Behold great Whitman, whose licentious line
Delights the rake, and warms the souls of swine;
Whose fever'd fancy shuns the measur'd pace,
And copies Ovid's filth without his grace.
  • As for the Republicans — how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical 'American heritage'…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.
    • Letter to C.L. Moore (August 1936), quoted in "H.P. Lovecraft, a Life" by S.T. Joshi, p. 574
  • Behold great Whitman, whose licentious line
    Delights the rake, and warms the souls of swine;
    Whose fever'd fancy shuns the measur'd pace,
    And copies Ovid's filth without his grace.
    In his rough brain a genius might have grown,
    Had he not sought to play the brute alone;
    But void of shame, he let his wit run wild,
    And liv'd and wrote as Adam's bestial child.
    Averse to culture, strange to humankind,
    He never knew the pleasures of the mind.
    Scorning the pure, the delicate, the clean,
    His joys were sordid, and his morals mean.
    Thro' his gross thoughts a native vigour ran,
    From which he deem'd himself the perfect man:
    But want of decency his rank decreas'd,
    And sunk him to the level of the beast.
    Would that his Muse had dy'd before her birth,
    Nor spread such foul corruption o'er the earth.
    • Orignially written as part of an "Essay on Modern Poets" this was published as a "Fragment on Whitman” in The Ancient Track (2001) edited by S. T. Joshi, p. 192
I am Providence
  • I am Providence.
    • HIs epitaph, derived from a quote of St. Athanasius of Alexandria which he once used in a letter to James F. Morton (May 1926), from The Life of St. Anthony:
Once a demon exceeding high appeared with pomp, and dared to say, "I am the power of God and I am Providence, what dost thou wish that I shall give thee?"

At the Root (1918)

  • Four years ago a large part of the civilised world laboured under certain biological fallacies which may, in a sense, be held responsible for the extent and duration of the present conflict. These fallacies, which were the foundation of pacifism and other pernicious forms of social and political radicalism, dealt with the capacity of man to evolve mentally beyond his former state of subservience to primate instinct and pugnacity, and to conduct his affairs and international or interracial relations on a basis of reason and good-will. That belief in such capability is unscientific and childishly naive, is beside the question.
  • We must recognise the essential underlaying savagery in the animal called man, and return to older and sounder principles of national life and defense. We must realise that man's nature will remain the same so long as he remains man; that civilisation is but a slight coverlet beneath which the dominant beast sleeps lightly and ever ready to awake.
  • Man's respect for the imponderables varies according to his mental constitution and environment. Through certain modes of thought and training it can be elevated tremendously, yet there is always a limit. The man or nation of high culture may acknowledge to great lengths the restraints imposed by conventions and honour, but beyond a certain point primitive will or desire cannot be curbed. Denied anything ardently desired, the individual or state will argue and parley just so long — then, if the impelling motive be sufficiently great, will cast aside every rule and break down every acquired inhibition, plunging viciously after the object wished; all the more fantastically savage because of previous repression.

The Crawling Chaos (1921)

First published in The United Co-operative Vol. 1, No. 3 (April 1921)
  • Of the pleasures and pains of opium much has been written. The ecstasies and horrors of De Quincey and the paradis artificiels of Baudelaire are preserved and interpreted with an art which makes them immortal, and the world knows well the beauty, the terror and the mystery of those obscure realms into which the inspired dreamer is transported. But much as has been told, no man has yet dared intimate the nature of the phantasms thus unfolded to the mind, or hint at the direction of the unheard-of roads along whose ornate and exotic course the partaker of the drug is so irresistibly borne.
  • I took opium but once — in the year of the plague, when doctors sought to deaden the agonies they could not cure. There was an overdose — my physician was worn out with horror and exertion — and I travelled very far indeed. In the end I returned and lived, but my nights are filled with strange memories, nor have I ever permitted a doctor to give me opium again.
  • Slowly but inexorably crawling upon my consciousness and rising above every other impression, came a dizzying fear of the unknown; a fear all the greater because I could not analyse it, and seeming to concern a stealthily approaching menace; not death, but some nameless, unheard-of thing inexpressibly more ghastly and abhorrent.
  • I felt that some horrible scene or object lurked beyond the silk-hung walls, and shrank from glancing through the arched, latticed windows that opened so bewilderingly on every hand.
  • I beheld such a sight as I had never beheld before, and which no living person can have seen save in the delirium of fever or the inferno of opium. The building stood on a narrow point of land — or what was now a narrow point of land — fully three hundred feet above what must lately have been a seething vortex of mad waters. On either side of the house there fell a newly washed-out precipice of red earth, whilst ahead of me the hideous waves were still rolling in frightfully, eating away the land with ghastly monotony and deliberation.
  • Some terror in the swishing tall grass seemed added to that of the diabolically pounding sea, and I started up crying aloud and disjointedly, "Tiger? Tiger? Is it Tiger? Beast? Beast? Is it a Beast that I am afraid of?"
There now ensued a series of incidents which transported me to the opposite extremes of ecstasy and horror; incidents which I tremble to recall and dare not seek to interpret.
  • There now ensued a series of incidents which transported me to the opposite extremes of ecstasy and horror; incidents which I tremble to recall and dare not seek to interpret. No sooner had I crawled beneath the overhanging foliage of the palm, than there dropped from its branches a young child of such beauty as I never beheld before. Though ragged and dusty, this being bore the features of a faun or demigod, and seemed almost to diffuse a radiance in the dense shadow of the tree. It smiled and extended its hand, but before I could arise and speak I heard in the upper air the exquisite melody of singing; notes high and low blent with a sublime and ethereal harmoniousness. The sun had by this time sunk below the horizon, and in the twilight I saw an aureole of lambent light encircled the child's head. Then in a tone of silver it addressed me: "It is the end. They have come down through the gloaming from the stars. Now all is over, and beyond the Arinurian streams we shall dwell blissfully in Teloe." As the child spoke, I beheld a soft radiance through the leaves of the palm tree, and rising, greeted a pair whom I knew to be the chief singers among those I had heard. A god and goddess they must have been, for such beauty is not mortal; and they took my hands, saying, "Come, child, you have heard the voices, and all is well...."
  • I was obviously floating in the atmosphere; companioned not only by the strange child and the radiant pair, but by a constantly increasing throng of half-luminous, vine-crowned youths and maidens with wind-blown hair and joyful countenance. We slowly ascended together, as if borne on a fragrant breeze which blew not from the earth but from the golden nebulae, and the child whispered in my ear that I must look always upward to the pathways of light, and never backward to the sphere I had just left.
  • The ocean ate the last of the land and poured into the smoking gulf, thereby giving up all it had ever conquered. From the new-flooded lands it flowed again, uncovering death and decay; and from its ancient and immemorial bed it trickled loathsomely, uncovering nighted secrets of the years when Time was young and the gods unborn. Above the waves rose weedy remembered spires. The moon laid pale lilies of light on dead London, and Paris stood up from its damp grave to be sanctified with star-dust. Then rose spires and monoliths that were weedy but not remembered; terrible spires and monoliths of lands that men never knew were lands...

The Other Gods (1921)

Written on August 14, 1921, first published in The Fantasy Fan (November 1933)
  • Atop the tallest of earth's peaks dwell the gods of earth, and suffer not man to tell that he hath looked upon them. Lesser peaks they once inhabited; but ever the men from the plains would scale the slopes of rock and snow, driving the gods to higher and higher mountains till now only the last remains. When they left their old peaks they took with them all signs of themselves, save once, it is said, when they left a carven image on the face of the mountain which they called Ngranek. ... They are grown stern, and where once they suffered men to displace them, they now forbid men to come; or coming, to depart. It is well for men that they know not of Kadath in the cold waste; else they would seek injudiciously to scale it.
  • Sometimes when earth's gods are homesick they visit in the still of the night the peaks where once they dwelt, and weep softly as they try to play in the olden way on remembered slopes.
  • In cloud-ships the gods are wont to travel, and wise cotters have legends that keep them from certain high peaks at night when it is cloudy, for the gods are not lenient as of old.
  • Barzai knew so much of the gods that he could tell of their comings and goings, and guessed so many of their secrets that he was deemed half a god himself.
  • The moon is dark, and the gods dance in the night; there is terror in the sky, for upon the moon hath sunk an eclipse foretold in no books of men or of earth's gods...' There is unknown magic on Hatheg-Kla, for the screams of the frightened gods have turned to laughter, and the slopes of ice shoot up endlessly into the black heavens whither I am plunging... Hei! Hei! At last! In the dim light I behold the gods of earth!
  • The other gods! The other gods! The gods of the outer hells that guard the feeble gods of earth!... Look away... Go back... Do not see! Do not see! The vengeance of the infinite abysses... That cursed, that damnable pit... Merciful gods of earth, I am falling into the sky!
  • Above the mists on Hatheg-Kla, earth's gods sometimes dance reminiscently; for they know they are safe, and love to come from unknown Kadath in ships of clouds and play in the olden way, as they did when earth was new and men not given to the climbing of inaccessible places.
May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such, guard those hours when no power of the will, or drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep me from the chasm of sleep...

Hypnos (1922)

Written March 1922; First published in The National Amateur Vol. 45, No. 5 (May 1923)
  • May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such, guard those hours when no power of the will, or drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep me from the chasm of sleep. Death is merciful, for there is no return therefrom, but with him who has come back out of the nethermost chambers of night, haggard and knowing, peace rests nevermore. Fool that I was to plunge with such unsanctioned frensy into mysteries no man was meant to penetrate; fool or god that he was — my only friend, who led me and went before me, and who in the end passed into terrors which may yet be mine!
  • Of our studies it is impossible to speak, since they held so slight a connection with anything of the world as living men conceive it. They were of that vaster and more appalling universe of dim entity and consciousness which lies deeper than matter, time, and space, and whose existence we suspect only in certain forms of sleep — those rare dreams beyond dreams which come never to common men, and but once or twice in the lifetime of imaginative men. The cosmos of our waking knowledge, born from such an universe as a bubble is born from the pipe of a jester, touches it only as such a bubble may touch its sardonic source when sucked back by the jester's whim. Men of learning suspect it little and ignore it mostly. Wise men have interpreted dreams, and the gods have laughed. One man with Oriental eyes has said that all time and space are relative, and men have laughed. But even that man with Oriental eyes has done no more than suspect....
  • Among the agonies of these after days is that chief of torments — inarticulateness. What I learned and saw in those hours of impious exploration can never be told — for want of symbols or suggestions in any language. I say this because from first to last our discoveries partook only of the nature of sensations; sensations correlated with no impression which the nervous system of normal humanity is capable of receiving. They were sensations, yet within them lay unbelievable elements of time and space — things which at bottom possess no distinct and definite existence. Human utterance can best convey the general character of our experiences by calling them plungings or soarings...
  • There was a night when winds from unknown spaces whirled us irresistibly into limitless vacum beyond all thought and entity. Perceptions of the most maddeningly untransmissible sort thronged upon us; perceptions of infinity which at the time convulsed us with joy, yet which are now partly lost to my memory and partly incapable of presentation to others.
  • I found myself projected against an obstacle which I could not penetrate. It was like the others, yet incalculably denser; a sticky clammy mass, if such terms can be applied to analogous qualities in a non-material sphere.
    I had, I felt, been halted by a barrier which my friend and leader had successfully passed. Struggling anew, I came to the end of the drug-dream...
  • That was the end of our voluntary searchings in the caverns of dream. Awed, shaken, and portentous, my friend who had been beyond the barrier warned me that we must never venture within those realms again.
  • Never could I tell, try as I might, what it actually was that I saw; nor could the still face tell, for although it must have seen more than I did, it will never speak again. But always I shall guard against the mocking and insatiate Hypnos, lord of sleep, against the night sky, and against the mad ambitions of knowledge and philosophy.
  • They say that that haunting memory-face is modeled from my own, as it was at twenty-five; but upon the marble base is carven a single name in the letters of Attica — HYPNOS.

The Call of Cthulhu (1926)

Full text online at Wikisource
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents...
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
  • 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 light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
  • Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden eons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an accidental piecing together of separated things — in this case an old newspaper item and the notes of a dead professor....
  • It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.
  • The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside from a stack of press cuttings, in Professor Angell's most recent hand; and made no pretense to literary style. What seemed to be the main document was headed "CTHULHU CULT" in characters painstakingly printed to avoid the erroneous reading of a word so unheard-of.
  • Many of his questions seemed highly out of place to his visitor, especially those which tried to connect the latter with strange cults or societies; and Wilcox could not understand the repeated promises of silence which he was offered in exchange for an admission of membership in some widespread mystical or paganly religious body. When Professor Angell became convinced that the sculptor was indeed ignorant of any cult or system of cryptic lore, he besieged his visitor with demands for future reports of dreams.
  • My uncle, it seems, had quickly instituted a prodigiously far-flung body of inquires amongst nearly all the friends whom he could question without impertinence, asking for nightly reports of their dreams, and the dates of any notable visions for some time past. The reception of his request seems to have varied; but he must, at the very least, have received more responses than any ordinary man could have handled without a secretary.
  • It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came, and I know that panic would have broken loose had they been able to compare notes. As it was, lacking their original letters, I half suspected the compiler of having asked leading questions, or of having edited the correspondence in corroboration of what he had latently resolved to see.
  • The statuette, idol, fetish, or whatever it was, had been captured some months before in the wooded swamps south of New Orleans during a raid on a supposed voodoo meeting; and so singular and hideous were the rites connected with it, that the police could not but realise that they had stumbled on a dark cult totally unknown to them, and infinitely more diabolic than even the blackest of the African voodoo circles. Of its origin, apart from the erratic and unbelievable tales extorted from the captured members, absolutely nothing was to be discovered; hence the anxiety of the police for any antiquarian lore which might help them to place the frightful symbol, and through it track down the cult to its fountain-head.
  • No recognised school of sculpture had animated this terrible object, yet centuries and even thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and greenish surface of unplaceable stone.
  • What, in substance, both the Esquimaux wizards and the Louisiana swamp-priests had chanted to their kindred idols was something very like this: the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional breaks in the phrase as chanted aloud:
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." ... "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
  • They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died. This was that cult, and the prisoners said it had always existed and always would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark places all over the world until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city of R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneath his sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would always be waiting to liberate him.
  • There had been aeons when other Things ruled on the earth, and They had had great cities. Remains of Them, he said the deathless Chinamen had told him, were still be found as Cyclopean stones on islands in the Pacific. They all died vast epochs of time before men came, but there were arts which could revive Them when the stars had come round again to the right positions in the cycle of eternity. They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars, and brought Their images with Them.
    These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape — for did not this star-fashioned image prove it? — but that shape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die...
  • That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.
  • No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
  • The dream-narratives and cuttings collected by the professor were, of course, strong corroboration; but the rationalism of my mind and the extravagance of the whole subject led me to adopt what I thought the most sensible conclusions. So, after thoroughly studying the manuscript again and correlating the theosophical and anthropological notes with the cult narrative of Legrasse, I made a trip to Providence to see the sculptor and give him the rebuke I thought proper for so boldly imposing upon a learned and aged man.
  • What I now heard so graphically at first-hand, though it was really no more than a detailed confirmation of what my uncle had written, excited me afresh; for I felt sure that I was on the track of a very real, very secret, and very ancient religion whose discovery would make me an anthropologist of note. My attitude was still one of absolute materialism, as l wish it still were, and I discounted with almost inexplicable perversity the coincidence of the dream notes and odd cuttings collected by Professor Angell.
  • I thought with a shudder of what Old Castro had told Legrasse about the Old Ones; "They had come from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them."
  • Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city and the Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars which dream beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose them upon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to the sun and air.
  • The very sun of heaven seemed distorted when viewed through the polarising miasma welling out from this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense lurked leeringly in those crazily elusive angles of carven rock where a second glance shewed concavity after the first shewed convexity.
    Something very like fright had come over all the explorers before anything more definite than rock and ooze and weed was seen.
  • The odour rising from the newly opened depths was intolerable, and at length the quick-eared Hawkins thought he heard a nasty, slopping sound down there. Everyone listened, and everyone was listening still when It lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly squeezed Its gelatinous green immensity through the black doorway into the tainted outside air of that poison city of madness.
  • The Thing of the idols, the green, sticky spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right again, and what an age-old cult had failed to do by design, a band of innocent sailors had done by accident. After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.
  • The brave Norwegian drove his vessel head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean froth like the stern of a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came nearly up to the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen drove on relentlessly. There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler could not put on paper. For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern; where — God in heaven! — the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawn was nebulously recombining in its hateful original form...
  • I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me. But I do not think my life will be long. As my uncle went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much, and the cult still lives.
  • Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men.

The Colour Out of Space (1927)

It is not because of anything that can be seen or heard or handled, but because of something that is imagined. The place is not good for imagination, and does not bring restful dreams at night.
  • West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentle slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges; but these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumbling and the shingled sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs. The old folk have gone away, and foreigners do not like to live there. French-Canadians have tried it, Italians have tried it, and the Poles have come and departed. It is not because of anything that can be seen or heard or handled, but because of something that is imagined. The place is not good for imagination, and does not bring restful dreams at night.
  • Even the dry tips of the lingering hedge-mustard, grey and blighted, and the fringe on the roof of the standing democrat-wagon were unstirred. And yet amid that tense godless calm the high bare boughs of all the trees in the yard were moving....
  • What it is, only God knows. In terms of matter I suppose the thing Ammi described would be called a gas, but this gas obeyed the laws that are not of our cosmos. This was no fruit of such worlds and suns as shine on the telescopes and photographic plates of our observatories. This was no breath from the skies whose motions and dimensions our astronomers measure or deem too vast to measure. It was just a colour out of space — a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it; from realms whose mere existence stuns the brain and numbs us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws open before our frenzied eyes.
  • Something terrible came to the hills and valleys on that meteor, and something terrible — though I know not in what proportion — still remains.

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft
(1890–1937)
See biography, media, quotes, indexes. An American author of fantasy, horror and science fiction.
The icon Speaker Icon.svg identifies that the work includes a spoken word version.

Contents

Works

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Novellas

  • At the Mountains of Madness Written February–March 22, 1931, published February–April 1936 in Astounding Stories, 16, No. 6 (February 1936), 8–32; 17, No. 1 (March 1936), 125–155; 17, No. 2 (April 1936), 132–150
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward Written January–March 1, 1927, published May/July 1941 in Weird Tales, 35, No. 9 (May 1941), 8–40; 35, No. 10 (July 1941), 84–121
  • The Colour Out of Space Written March 1927, published September 1927 in Amazing Stories, Vol. 2, No. 6, 557–567
  • The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath Written c. autumn 1926–January 22, 1927, published January 1927
  • The Dreams in the Witch-House Written January–February 28, 1932, published July 1933 in Weird Tales, 22, No. 1, 86–111
  • The Dunwich Horror Written summer 1928, published April 1929 in Weird Tales, 13, No. 4, 481–508
  • Herbert West—Reanimator Written September 1921–mid-1922, published February–July 1922 in Home Brew, 1, No. 1 (February 1922), 19–25; 1, No. 2 (March 1922), 45–50; 1, No. 3 (April 1922), 21–26; 1, No. 4 (May 1922), 53–58; 1, No. 5 (June 1922), 45–50; 1, No. 6 (July 1922), 57–62 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Horror at Red Hook Written August 1–2, 1925, published January 1927 in Weird Tales, 9, No. 1, 59–73
  • The Shadow Out of Time Written November 1934–March 1935, published June 1936 in Astounding Stories, Vol. 17, No. 4, p. 110–154
  • The Shadow Over Innsmouth Written November–December 3, 1931, published 1936 in The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Everett, PA: Visionary Publishing Co., 13–158
  • The Shunned House Written October 16–19, 1924, published in The Shunned House, Athol, Ma: The Recluse Press, 1928, p. 9–59.
  • The Whisperer in Darkness Written February 24–September 26, 1930, published August 1931 in Weird Tales, Vol. 18, No. 1, 32–73

Short Stories

  • The Alchemist Written 1908, published November 1916 in The United Amateur, 16, No. 4, 53–57 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Azathoth Written June 1922, published 1938 in Leaves, 2, 107
  • The Beast in the Cave Written April 21, 1905, published June 1918 in The Vagrant, No. 7 , 113–120 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Beyond the Wall of Sleep Written 1919, published October 1919 in Pine Cones, 1, No. 6, 2–10 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Book (1934)
  • The Call of Cthulhu Written summer 1926, published February 1928 in Weird Tales, Vol. 11, No. 2, p. 159–178, 287
  • The Cats of Ulthar Written June 15, 1920, published November 1920 in The Tryout, 6, No. 11, 3–9 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Celephaïs Written early November 1920, published May 1922 in The Rainbow, No. 2, 10–12 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Cool Air Written March 1926, published March 1928 in Tales of Magic and Mystery, 1, No. 4, 29–34
  • Dagon Written July 1917, published November 1919 in The Vagrant, No. 11, 23–29 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Descendant Written c. 1926, published 1938 in Leaves, 2, 107–110
  • The Doom That Came to Sarnath Written December 3, 1919, published June 1920 in The Scot, No. 44, 90–98 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Evil Clergyman Written 1937, published April 1939 in Weird Tales, 33, No. 4, 135–137
  • Ex Oblivione Written 1920/1921, published March 1921 in The United Amateur, 20, No. 4, 59–60 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family Written 1920, published March 1921 in The Wolverine, No. 9, 3–11 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Festival Written October 1923, published January 1925 in Weird Tales, 5, No. 1, 169–174
  • From Beyond Written November 16, 1920, published June 1934 in The Fantasy Fan, 1, No. 10, 147–151, 160
  • The Haunter of the Dark Written November 1935, published December 1936 in Weird Tales, Vol. 28, No. 5, p. 538–553
  • He Written August 11, 1925, published September 1926 in Weird Tales, 8, No. 3, 373–380
  • History of the Necronomicon Written 1927, published 1938
  • The Hound Written September 1922, published February 1924 in Weird Tales, 3, No. 2, 50–52, 78
  • Hypnos Written March 1922, published May 1923 in The National Amateur, Vol. 45, No. 5, 1–3
  • Ibid Written 1927/1928, published January 1938 in O-Wash-Ta-Nong, 3, No. 1
  • In the Vault Written September 18, 1925, published November 1925 in The Tryout, 10, No. 6, 3–17
  • The Lurking Fear Written November 1922, published January–April 1923 in Home Brew, 2, No. 6 (January 1923), 4–10; 3, No. 1 (February 1923), 18–23; 3, No. 2 (March 1923), 31–37, 44, 48; 3, No. 3 (April 1923), 35–42
  • Memory Written 1919, published June 1919 in The United Co-operative, 1, No. 2, 8 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Moon-Bog Written March 1921, published June 1926 in Weird Tales, 7, No. 6, 805–810
  • The Music of Erich Zann Written December 1921, published March 1922 in The National Amateur, 44, No. 4, 38–40 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Nameless City Written January 1921, published November 1921 in The Wolverine, No. 11, 3–15 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Nyarlathotep Written early December 1920, published November 1920 in The United Amateur, 20, No. 2, 19–21 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Old Bugs Written c. July 1919
  • The Other Gods Written August 14, 1921, published November 1933 in The Fantasy Fan, 1, No. 3, 35–38
  • The Outsider Written 1921, published April 1926 in Weird Tales, 7, No. 4, 449–453
  • Pickman's Model Written 1926, published October 1927 in Weird Tales, Vol. 10, No. 4, p. 505–514
  • The Picture in the House Written December 12, 1920, published July 1919 in The National Amateur, 41, No. 6, 246–249 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Polaris Written c. May 1918, published December 1920 in The Philosopher, 1, No. 1 , 3–5 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Quest of Iranon Written February 28, 1921, published July–August 1935 in The Galleon, 1, No. 5, 12–20
  • The Rats in the Walls Written August–September 1923, published March 1924 in Weird Tales, 3, No. 3, 25–31
  • A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson Written 1917, published September 1917 in United Amateur Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Silver Key Written 1926, published January 1929 in Weird Tales, 13, No. 1, 41–49, 144
  • The Statement of Randolph Carter Written December 1919, published May 1920 in The Vagrant, No. 13, 41–48 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Strange High House in the Mist Written November 9, 1926, published October 1931 in Weird Tales, 18, No. 3, 394–400
  • The Street Written c. 1920, published December 1920 in The Wolverine, No. 8, 2–12 Speaker Icon.svg
  • Sweet Ermengarde Published 1917
  • The Temple Written 1920, published September 1925 in Weird Tales, 6, No. 3, 329–336, 429–431
  • The Terrible Old Man Written January 28, 1920, published July 1921 in The Tryout, 7, No. 4, 10–14 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Thing on the Doorstep Written August 21–24, 1933, published January 1937 in Weird Tales, 29, No. 1, 52–70
  • The Tomb Written June 1917, published March 1922 in The Vagrant, No. 14, 50–64 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Transition of Juan Romero Written September 16, 1919, published in Marginalia. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1944, 276–284
  • The Tree Written 1920, published October 1921 in The Tryout, 7, No. 7, 3–10 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Unnamable Written September 1923, published July 1925 in Weird Tales, 6, No. 1, 78–82
  • The Very Old Folk Written November 2, 1927, published summer 1940 in Scienti-Snaps, 3, No. 3
  • What the Moon Brings Written June 5, 1922, published May 1923 in The National Amateur, 45, No. 5, 9
  • The White Ship Written November 1919, published November 1919 in The United Amateur, 19, No. 2, 30–33 Speaker Icon.svg

Collaborations and Revisions

  • The Battle That Ended the Century With R.H. Barlow, written June 1934
  • The Challenge from Beyond With C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long, written August 1935
  • Collapsing Cosmoses With R.H. Barlow, written June 1935
  • The Crawling Chaos With Winifred V. Jackson, written 1920–21, published in The United Co-operative, April 1921, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 1–6 Speaker Icon.svg
  • The Curse of Yig With Zealia Bishop, written 1928, published November 1929 in Weird Tales, 14, No. 5, 625–36
  • The Diary of Alonzo Typer With William Lumley, written October 1935, published February 1938 in Weird Tales, 31, No. 2, 152–66
  • The Disinterment With Duane W. Rimel, written 1935, published summer 1935 in The Californian, 3, No. 1, 3–7
  • The Electic Executioner With Adolphe de Castro, written c. 1929, published August 1930 in Weird Tales, 16, No. 2, 233–236
  • The Green Meadow With Winifred V. Jackson, written 1918/1919, published spring 1927 in The Vagrant, 188–195
  • The Horror at Martin's Beach With Sonia H. Greene, written June 1922, published November 1923 in Weird Tales, 2, No. 4, 75–76, 83
  • The Horror in the Burying-Ground With Hazel Heald, written 1933–1935, published May 1937 in Weird Tales, 29, No. 5, 596–606
  • The Horror in the Museum With Hazel Heald, written October 1932, published July 1933 in Weird Tales, 22, No. 1, 49–68
  • In the Walls of Eryx With Kenneth Sterling, written January 1936, published October 1939 in Weird Tales, 34, No. 4, 50–68
  • The Last Test With Adolphe de Castro, written 1927, published November 1928 in Weird Tales, Volume 12, No. 5, 625–56
  • The Man of Stone With Hazel Heald, written 1932, published October 1932 in Wonder Stories, Volume 4, No. 5, 440–45, 470
  • Medusa's Coil With Zealia Bishop, written May 1930, published January 1939 in Weird Tales, 33, No. 1, 26–53
  • The Mound With Zealia Bishop, written December 1929–early 1930, published November 1940 in Weird Tales, 35, No. 6, 98–120
  • The Night Ocean With R.H. Barlow, written c. 1935, published winter 1936 in The Californian, 4, No. 3, 41–56
  • Out of the Aeons With Hazel Heald, written 1933, published April 1935 in Weird Tales, 25, No. 4, 478–496
  • Poetry and the Gods With Anna Helen Crofts, written 1920, published in The United Amateur, September 1920, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1–4
  • The Thing in the Moonlight With J. Chapman Miske, written November 24, 1927, published January 1941 in Bizarre
  • Through the Gates of the Silver Key With E. Hoffmann Price, written October 1932–April 1933, published July 1934 in Weird Tales, 24, No. 1, 60–85
  • Till A' the Seas With R.H. Barlow, written January 1935, published summer 1935 in The Californian, 3, No. 1, 3–7
  • The Trap With Henry S. Whitehead, written late 1931, published March 1932 in Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, 2, No. 1, 73–88
  • The Tree on the Hill With Duane W. Rimel, written May 1934, published September 1940 in Polaris, 4–11
  • Two Black Bottles With Wilfred Blanch Talman, written July–October 1926, published August 1927 in Weird Tales, 10, No. 2, 251–58
  • Under the Pyramids (also known as "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs") With Harry Houdini, written February–March 1924, published May 1924 in Weird Tales
  • Winged Death With Hazel Heald, written 1933, published March 1934 in Weird Tales, 23, No. 3, 299–315

Poetry

Essays

Letters

Legal Documents

Copyrights

  • For The Call of Cthulhu, the relevant records are in the years 1953, 1954 and 1955.
  • According to S.T. Joshi's "H.P. Lovecraft: A Life" (pp. 640-641): Much of Lovecraft's work is in the public domain. This is unquestionably so in terms of the tales, essays, and poems published in the amateur press. As for stories published in "Weird Tales", the six that the magazine owned outright should have had their copyrights renewed after twenty-eight years, but repeated searches in the Library of Congress have turned up no renewals of any kind. Of the stories Lovecraft himself controlled, by law only he, his heirs, or his executor could have renewed the rights, but this was never done.
  • Chris Karr has reviewed these documents and has published a report of his findings at http://www.aetherial.net/personal/files/lovecraft_renewals.pdf . In short, there are no copyright records that reference any of Lovecraft's original stories (only the Arkham House compilations), but the copyrights to "Weird Tales" were renewed properly, and works published prior to 1926 (when Lovecraft is thought to have sold full rights to "Weird Tales") in that magazine may be subject to protection IF they were published in "Weird Tales" for the first time. Joshi identifies thirteen works and believes that seven of those thirteen had been published elsewhere previously.

Simple English

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890March 15, 1937) was an American author of fantasy, horror and science fiction. Lovecraft was from Providence, Rhode Island.

He wrote many really scary short stories. These often were about weird creatures that Lovecraft made up by himself or with his friend, August Derleth, who wrote mysteries. The creatures did not really care about human people at all, so they were not out to hurt people, but if they did, they did not care. They looked at us like we would be ants. Their behaviour, attitude and look also tended to make people go crazy.

Lovecraft's stories were inspiration for lots of other authors and writers.

Works

  • The Alchemist
  • At the Mountains of Madness
  • Azathoth
  • The Beast in the Cave
  • Beyond the Wall of Sleep
  • The Book
  • The Call of Cthulhu
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
  • The Cats of Ulthar
  • Celephais
  • The Colour Out of Space
  • Cool Air
  • Dagon
  • The Descendant
  • The Doom That Came to Sarnath
  • The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath
  • Dreams in the Witch-House
  • The Dunwich Horror
  • The Evil Clergyman
  • Ex Oblivione
  • Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
  • The Festival
  • From Beyond
  • The Haunter Of The Dark
  • He
  • Herbert West: Reanimator
  • The Horror at Red Hook
  • The Hound
  • Hypnos
  • Ibid
  • Imprisoned with the Pharaos
  • In The Vault
  • The Lurking Fear
  • Memory
  • The Moon-Bog
  • Nyarlathotep
  • The Music of Erich Zann
  • The Nameless City
  • The Other Gods
  • The Outsider
  • Pickman's Model
  • The Picture in the House
  • Polaris
  • The Quest of Iranon
  • The Rats in the Walls
  • The Shadow Out of Time
  • The Shadow Over Innsmouth
  • The Shunned House
  • The Silver Key
  • The Statement of Randolph Carter
  • The Strange High House in the Mist
  • The Street
  • The Temple
  • The Terrible Old Man
  • The Thing on the Doorstep
  • The Tomb
  • The Transition of Juan Romero
  • The Tree
  • The Unnamable
  • The Very Old Folk
  • What the Moon Brings
  • The Whisperer in Darkness
  • The White Ship

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