“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” – H.P. Lovecraft
20th of August marks the anniversary of the one and only H.P. Lovecraft. Often named ‘The father of Cosmic Horror’, Lovecraft was a real trailblazer in the world of horror literature.
Let’s take a deep dive into Lovecraft’s weird and unique work and explore why it still has such a huge impact on writers and storytellers around the world.
The Literary Legacy of H.P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft’s work is famous for its ability to conjure cosmic dread and unearthly horrors into the minds of his readers. Most often, he does that by tapping into the cosmic unknown, full of beings far beyond our comprehension. Another popular theme in his works is the inevitable madness that being exposed to such horrors leads to.
Lovecraft’s works were often set in the universe of the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’, named after his most famous creation, Cthulhu. In his mythology, Cthulhu is one of the Great Old Ones, powerful deities of unthinkable proportions that hide in the depths of the Universe. “The Call of Cthulhu” was the first story that expanded on this mythology, followed by others such as “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth”.
Lovecraft’s writing style was quite distinctive for his time, marked by intricate vocabulary, elaborate descriptions, and an uncanny atmosphere that you can’t help but get fully immersed in.
H.P. Lovecraft’s Influence on Modern Literature
Not a lot of writers can say that their own name defines an entire literary genre. The term ‘Lovecraftian’ defines any literature that takes inspiration from the author’s works. Oftentimes, that means depicting unearthly, Godlike horrors, and dealing with themes such as the insignificance of humans in the face of an uncaring universe.
But that’s definitely not all. Here are a few more things that Lovecraft definitely left his mark on in the world of literature:
Horror and Weird Fiction
Lovecraft’s work dealing with the frightening and uncanny has shaped a new genre of weird fiction. Writers like Stephen King were greatly influenced by Lovecraft’s love of the weird, and used it to extend the boundaries of this genre even further.
The most influential aspect of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror was the fragility of human minds, bound to fall into madness when exposed to such vast, incomprehensible cosmic forces. His work influenced authors like Caitlín R. Kiernan, who also delved into psychological, existential horror.
Some of the most impactful creations of Lovecraft, such as his Cthulhu Mythos or the Necronomicon, have become huge icons in today’s pop culture. You can find references to Lovecraft’s work in movies, video games, table-top RPGs and even music.
H.P. Lovecraft’s work undeniably left a huge mark on modern fiction, no matter the medium.
Although we can appreciate the influence of his literary work, we cannot gloss over the harmful views he held. His work often included implicit and explicit reflections of his racist, xenophobic and antisemitic views. It is important to acknowledge that, even though his literary work can be a huge inspiration for authors nowadays, Lovecraft as a person should not be thought of as a role model.
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