Saturday, November 17, 2012

Some Thoughts on Lovecraft

 [ Originally written and posted on MySpace on November 7, 2008 ] 

As best I can recall,  I first heard of H. P. Lovecraft back in 1956 when a friend recommended to me a reading of his tale of horror "The Rats in the Walls."   He believed that Lovecraft was better than Poe, whom we had read a year before.  At the time, I sensed that he meant that Lovecraft was more horrifying than Poe, perhaps the reason that I delayed reading Lovecraft until 1962.   Even as early as 1956, I had the sense that some authors had more literary merit than others and somehow sensed that Lovecraft did not have greater merit than Poe.

In 1962 I was favorably impressed by the presentation of Lovecraft in the introductory pages to Colin Wilson's The Strength to Dream:  Literature and the Imagination, which had been published that year.   Wilson revealed an entirely different side of Lovecraft, portraying him as a combatant against facile and superficial rationalism.   Lovecraft, moreover, was, according to Wilson's account of him, among those who later would be deemed "politically incorrect."   Lovecraft belonged to the right end of the political spectrum,  a position he occupied for reasons quite other than veneration of the so-called free market economy.

I immediately began reading Lovecraft beginning with the tales in the collection which August Derleth edited entitled The Outsider and continuing with the little black books published by Derleth's Arkham House press in Sauk City, Wisconsin.   I eagerly awaited each new title and found of greatest interest the volumes of Lovecraft's selected letters which Derleth began to publish.   Lovecraft was slowly gaining attention outside the ranks of the enthusiasts for fantasy and science fiction.  Even then, however, his recognition seemed to be belated and lacking much significance.

Now, however, Lovecraft has arrived, perhaps assisted by the favorable reaction to his work by Jorge Luis Borges.   Today, S. T. Joshi has edited a series of five volumes of the essays of Lovecraft.  There are more volumes of his letters.   Barnes & Noble has recently published a weighty volume of his tales.  More significantly, Lovecraft's Tales now constitute a volume in the Library of America series.  Even specialized volumes of his letters have begun to appear.  In 2007, the University of Tampa Press published O Fortunate Floridian:   The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow

The late Samuel T. Francis, who was the most significant paleoconservative writer in the USA, is said to have left in manuscript some noteworthy essays on Lovecraft.   I can only hope that they will one day be published.   Francis appreciated Lovecraft both as a creative writer and as a combatant against what is today known as "political correctness."

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