Lovecraft's Themes

  1. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    A couple of times lately I've found myself referring to Donald Burleson's wonderful essay, "On Lovecraft's Themes: Touching the Glass" (included in An Epicure in the Terrible); usually in response to someone who doesn't see much beyond the "tentacles" or the fact that HPL's menaces are "monsters from outer space". But even for those who appreciate Lovecraft on much subtler levels, I think there is much to enjoy in this essay; it is certainly one of the most insightful when it comes to this topic, and I would also say it is written very well indeed; at times it achieves an almost lyrical approach.

    At any rate, most recently the passages I quoted were as follows:
    I also have quoted here, as elsewhere, the final paragraph of this essay, which is phrased in such a poetic and powerful form that it remains a favorite passage among all my reading:

    I was wondering what others might think of the above, and if there are other themes which they see which should be included, and how they view them. Any thoughts?
     
    Jun 1, 2014
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  2. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    I could see four of the five themes, but the third one doesn't seem like a good match for HPL if we are talking about how his stories are written, as opposed to discursive passages here and there. Isn't it true to say that HPL's stories themselves tend to start right off with the idea of rumors and anomalous historical facts, etc. that immediately identify a given neighborhood or region as dreadful? For example, look at the opening of "Colour Out of Space" or "Dunwich Horror" -- I don't see the idea that things seem "normal" -- rather, these areas are presented to us as abnormal from the get-go, and then the narrator relates incidents that account for the bizarre phenomena, the rumors, etc. For contrast, try the opening of Philip K. Dick's Time Out of Joint. I don't have my copy at hand, but this would seem to be a typical example of a normal surface state of things that, only after that is evoked, begins to fray at the edges. Or what's the one with Ahriman and Ormazd (?)? -- He starts by evoking a small town, and then we see it turning into a cosmic battlefield -- Cosmic Puppets, is that the title?
     
    Jun 6, 2014
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  3. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    I would say that you're reading that a bit narrowly. It applies less to place than it does to other factors. For example, Burleson goes on to note as examples of this (and other themes, as several of these are often mingled within a single story) "The Terrible Old Man" (the titular character's appearance to those who are not a part of that "charmed circle" Lovecraft refers to in the tale, and who learn their mistake to their cost); "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family", with the opening "Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which sometimes make it a thousandfold more hideous", and which goes on to exemplify this statement (tied here to the theme of forbidden knowledge or merciful ignorance); "From Beyond", where our normal perceptions of everything around us is challenged; "The Nameless City", where what appears to be dead is shown to be anything but (his recurring theme of the past reaching out into and overwhelming the present); "The Music of Erich Zann"; "The Festival"' "The Shunned House"; "The Horror at Red Hook"; "He"; "The Call of Cthulhu"; "The Colour Out of Space" (recall the specious luxuriance of the fecundity of the Gardners' land); "The Whisperer in Darkness"; At the Mountains of Madness; "The Shadow Over Innsmouth"; and others. In other words, he used this theme in a variety of ways, in conjunction with other themes, through a fair amount of his fiction.
     
    Jun 7, 2014
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  4. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    I feel so intimidated by intellectual discussions such as this, because I am in many ways such a simpleton. Yet I feel that it's a great shame that this topic is not generating more discussion. I obtain'd an Advance Reading Copy of THE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT some weeks ago, and I am doing a very slow, studious reading of the entire book. (I'm now at page 251, at part 2 of Chapter IV in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.) I went back and reread Don's essay and that led to rereading half of An Epicure in the Terrible, such a great book. I have an old hardcover edition and haven't order'd ye newer edition that is selling at Hippocampus Press.

    One aspect of Lovecraft's fiction (it cannot really be called a Theme) is the allure of the Outside, something that I have try'd to express in my own weird fiction as an aspect of Lovecraftian art. We have two examples of Outsiders who come to accept their grotesque nature, to the point of almost celebrating it, in "The Outsider" and "The Shadow over Innsmouth." But we also have the hypnotic magnetism of the Outside itself, of Darkness, of the haunted hoary Past. We have it baldly, in the example of the men in "The Lurking Fear," "The Picture in the House," the Randolph Carter stories, "The Hound," who have made this allure into a lifestyle and a study. (It is true that we do not know if the chap in "The Picture in the House" is one of the searchers after horror he references in the story's opening line; but I am counting him as one nonetheless.)

    But we also have the very strange case of "The Music of Erich Zann." The narrator has suffered a nightmarish experience that has overwhelmed him with dread, that has forever haunted his soul, in which he has touched the face of a dead-yet-moving thing and witnessed the inexpressible void. And yet -- "I have examined maps of the city with the greatest care, yet have never again found the Rue d'Auseil"!!! He wants to return. His soul, his psyche, is pulled to the place of dark dream. But he cannot find it again, and this does not make him "wholly sorry," and yet he is filled with a queer regret, and one cannot imagine that he will ever completely terminate his seeking. Of course, he is going about it all wrong -- all he has to do is burn some curiously scented incense, dwell on some unfathomable passage from ye Necronomicon, and shut his eyes.

    Lovecraft's genius at evoking these Outside realms and their allure is one of the reasons I am an obsessed and continual reader of H. P. Lovecraft's excellent weird fiction.
     
    Jun 7, 2014
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  5. dask

    dask dark and stormy knight

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    Sometimes "intellectual discussion" sounds suspiciously like a euphemism for bashing Lovecraft by those incapable of producing a body of work greater than, let alone equal to, his own.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2014
    Jun 7, 2014
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  6. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Wilum: Have you a copy of R. Nemo Hill's The Strange Music of Erich Zann? He touches on that, through some rather subtle suggestions, including some statements of old Blandot:

    I agree that his handling of Outsiders is complex and multifaceted; he always blends in that attraction/repulsion, just as he mingles awe/wonder/terror throughout his work.
     
    Jun 8, 2014
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  7. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what you have in mind, but I expect that Lovecraft has been criticized by readers who know of his work by hearsay or who haven't read his better work attentively.

    On the other hand: can we grant that Lovecraft has "arrived"? It's nothing unusual now to see references to his writing in mainstream magazines and papers, and "Lovecraftian" is on its way to becoming an adjective like "Orwellian." This being so, perhaps people who like Lovecraft and who have the ability to do so can move beyond advocacy mode and try to work with what the author really accomplished.

    The advocacy period can be great fun for fans -- I'm thinking of the early days of the Tolkien groups, the fun of recognizing a fellow Tolkien devotee at school, etc. But Tolkien's writing now justifies the existence of at least two refereed journals (Tolkien Studies and The Journal of Tolkien Research*) and many books and articles, etc. -- though new readers keep discovering his books and enjoying them. Lest I be misunderstood: I anticipate that a fair amount of the academic writing on Tolkien is foolish stuff, since English departments have, for years, often opted for undue emphasis on fashionable theory. But a perusal of article titles in Tolkien Studies and examination of some of the books on JRRT will show that there really is much in his work to explore and that good readers are finding it.

    JD will argue that writers such as Burleson have moved into critical exploration that transcends what I've called "advocacy," but one swallow does not a summer make. Shall we see exploration of Lovecraft's writing by readers who are well-read -- I don't mean well-read in the horror genre, but who are well-read in great literature (which is not the same as having had a few college courses therein), and who discern depth and richness transcending horror in HPL's writings?

    I'm going to make a related point in a moment over at the Lovecraft's Excellence thread.

    *See here:
    Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR) | Valparaiso University
     
    Jun 9, 2014
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  8. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    I would argue yes. Less here in America (though even here there has been a fair amount of it, including discussions in such venues as The American Journal of Semiotics) but he has long since "arrived" in most of the rest of the world. He has been accepted by French critics and readers since at least the 1970s; Spanish and Italian at roughly the same time or shortly thereafter; German journals have included examinations o his work as a major literary figure of the stature of Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville; and so on. Professors of both literature and philosophy have issued quite strong books examining his works (Barton L. St. Armand and Timo Airaksinen as two examples).... Foreign editions have also long since included samples (sometimes fairly hefty ones) of his essays and letters, seeing them as well as worthwhile contributions to literature (some have argued that his letters are themselves perhaps his greatest contribution, even though they hold the fiction in high regard).


    A look at the recent edition of Joshi's H. P. Lovecraft: A Comprehensive Bibliography, reveals an astounding array of critical work from established academic and critical figures from a number of countries, the bulk of which take Lovecraft very seriously.


    And then there is the issuance of his works not only in the Penguin Modern Classics edition and the Library of America series, but even the Oxford University Press (a seriously flawed edition, that, but nonetheless a notable indication of how seriously he is being taken these days). Or editions of collections of his tales edited by such figures as Joyce Carol Oates....


    That's a lot more than a single swallow, or even a sizeable flock.


    So, yes, I'd say he has long since "arrived"; at this point, he is no longer seen as a "horror writer" by such, but as a notable figure in world literature whose chosen medium was the fantastic.
     
    Jun 9, 2014
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  9. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm... I'd have to ask: seen thus by whom? Are you suggesting that HPL is seen thus by a majority of readers of literary prose and poetry -- in any country?

    Just asking for a clarification of what is, for me, obscured by the passive voice in this sentence.

    But here's a further question. Here is the contents of the one-volume edition of the Norton Anthology of American Literature.

    Contents | The Norton Anthology of American Literature | W. W. Norton & Company

    Having benefited from multiple terms of American literature survey courses in the mid-1970s, I'm disposed to be an advocate of them. However, to make room, I guess, for other things, the chronological survey courses are often cut back these days. At the institution where I teach, the American Lit course is a one-semester (16-week) affair. That is, it meets twice a week for 75 minutes per period. Allowing for holidays and an introductory class at which the first reading assignment is given, that means about 30 class sessions.

    If you were going to teach a one-semester American Lit course, you would not be able to assign the complete contents of the Norton book. We may assume, though, that you'll include at least excerpts of Irving, Cooper, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Dickinson, Whitman, Twain, James, et al. You may supplement the Norton with a few duplicated odds and ends, but if you depart from it very often your students may object to having had to buy it in the first place.

    So: would you include Lovecraft as part of a course in American literature? If so, what would you include?

    We can leave the issue at that. However, just to stir the pot a little more, I invite you to imagine a scenario in which, if you want to depart from the syllabus that's been used (in order to include Lovecraft or whomever or whatever else), you will need to secure approval of a majority of your colleagues. Let us suppose your colleagues include (as they probably would), a young feminist professor, a professor who chairs the Diversity Council ["diversity" here referring overwhelmingly to ethnic diversity] and advises numerous minority students, a professor who teaches the course for English majors who will be high school teachers and who had a foot in the Education Department, and a self-pitying senior professor who grieves over the politicization of English studies, is doubtful about his university's open admissions policy, deplores administrative obsession with quantification of data for the purposes of "efficiencies" (thinking that perhaps Schiller's "Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens" would be a worthy new university motto), and who dreads what will happen to the department after he retires in a few years (musing, with tongue in cheek, "Après moi, le déluge"). Now: how would you makethe case for adding HPL and, if asked what would go to make room, what would you offer?
     
    Jun 9, 2014
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  10. yaxomoxay

    yaxomoxay Active Member

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    I think that several circumstances that lead to an easy misinterpretation of HPL’s work, especially since his readers are now of the most varied type but his fiction is actually almost static.

    HPL’s work fits with surprising capacity non-artistic themes such as those proposed by games such as FFG’s Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror,but at the same time collapses when, for example, movies are made.

    I believe this is one of the many proofs that HPL can be judged mainly on thematic rather than plot or characters. In HPL, everything serves a thematic end.

    One of the problems with the “casual” HPL readership is that the author by being considered a simple pulp writer is framed within a context that hinders a broader view. This “casual” readership reads about monsters, tentacles, angry flies, and whatever fits the concept of pulp. After all, what is more pulp than an ugly monster? However, the same concept is not applied to, let’s say, Dante Alighieri. In the Inferno, Dante shows us monsters, demons, blood and pain; in the story, he even collapses and passes out. Yet, a lot of people see in Dante’s work an almost supernatural experience, an existentialist point of view on life. No one would dare to say that Dante is a simple pulp author because his most beautiful work is full of ugly, immortal, and mythical beings. However, I bet that the “casual” HPL readership doesn’t read Dante at breakfast ,but keeps reading HPL while buying any Cthulhu item. In other words, they want HPL to be simple, they want HPL to simply say “here’s a lonesome dude, here’s the monster. The dude is devoured.”

    Then there is the informed HPL readership, usually people who have read not only his works but his letters and essays. They are completely separated by the “casual” readership and, I am sorry to say, HPL is prone to create such division because he has to be contextualized. Always.

    First and foremost, his language has to be put in context of the years he was living in, and the years of his highest popularity. It’s no secret that is language was conservative, almost unbearable. He was in the same age of Dashiell Hammett - just to say one – who helped “liberating” American English from old-English style. So, around HPL a language revolution was going on and he would’ve not accepted it. I believe HPL despised Whitman for his use of the language. So, by being conservative in his prose, he created a first decoy to the revolutionary themes he’s exposing to the reader.

    Second, his identity has to be put in context. HPL had many interests, all of them intellectual. He was probably the Sheldon Cooper of horror literature. The fact that he had a vast knowledge – but not many direct experiences - causes another issue: his writings are mostly packed. In At The Mountains of Madness we have science, proto-archeology, existentialism. In The Call of Cthulhu we have theology, philosophy, meditations on human nature and existentialism. In Dexter Ward we even have biology disguised in “curse” form. Therefore, it is impossible to sustain the theory that most of his writings don’thave high thematic content. For the love of Azathoth, we have stories about not only the most existential questions, but even on more modern questions like “are we alone?” (HPL’s answer: we better be!)



    It is asked what would we do with HPL in an American Literature Course. HPL is complex, but disguised. He masked himself due to necessity (he had to sell) and due to his upbringing. To teach HPL correctly it is necessary to show and discuss the themes first and then read his writings. His language is too far away from us, but the themes are so contemporary that it would be toeasy confusing pears and apples. The case for HPL is simple. He was a bridge between two eras, and by being so he started a literary movement that only later began making sense. He took Depression era ideas and brought them to a different level, to a cosmic level. He paved the way for many writers, includingStephen King. That’s a good reason to study HPL.

    I suppose that a teacher would be intelligent enough to understandthat every writer is somehow controversial. To go back to Dante, today we frown when we think who he “sent” to hell. He was controversial, and highly politicized. Should we remove him from literature history (as someone in Italy actually proposed) ?



    PS: sorry if the above is disjointed, I was interruptedtwenty times.
     
    Jun 9, 2014
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  11. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Dale: I'll have to tackle your current queries over the next few days, as they deserve some serious thought to answer fittingly.

    At the moment, however, I wish to add to my earlier post (which I put in while getting ready for work this morning, hence it being a bit rushed and perhaps a bit disjointed or even brusque in tone) the following:

    I think you make a good point about "advocacy"; I think that for most of us older readers, this is an unavoidable part of our response to these things, as we grew up admiring Lovecraft at a time when the literary establishment (here, at least, though in several other places it was not so much the case) was at best ambivalent toward him, usually actively hostile or dismissive. We saw something that went beyond simply the usual horror fodder into, as an early commenter on his work put it, feeling that when we read his work, we weren't just reading a good tale, but genuine literature. It resonated on much deeper levels than most work in the field of the weird or fantastic, and touched on important aspects of what it means to be human.

    Only gradually has this view come to be more widely accepted, until now there are a number of prominent figures who have given his work their "imprimatur" (if I may use that word in this context), some of whom are less than enthusiastic about the horror genre. Of course, there have always been the exceptions, such as Thomas Ollive Mabbott, who always supported HPL's work and admired it, several times writing about it in quite favorable terms as literature rather than generic reading matter; but until at least the 1970s these were rather few. Now, with the support of such figures as Joyce Carol Oates, Michel Houellebecq, Professor Airaksinen, etc., even the Americans are -- despite their long-held distrust of this type of material (consider, for instance, that to this day Poe is still often dismissed because of his connection with the horror tale) -- grudgingly coming to admit that Lovecraft may well be one of the major literary figures we have produced. Certainly he was almost unique for his time in the themes and philosophical ideas he expressed in his fiction -- so far ahead of his time that it took nearly four decades for the central tenets of his fictional work to even be recognized as something other than the simplistic Derlethian schema presented as far back as 1939. But the change is happening here, as it has happened elsewhere some time ago.

    On a more personal note, I suppose for me it is that I not only respond on the level of one who lived through that sort of reaction to my admiration for his work, but also my growing irritation, as I get older, when someone denies that which is supported by factual evidence, whether that be evolution or the rather less important matter of a particular writer having passed beyond the limited scope of genre literary adulation into much more sober critical and literary acceptance -- to the point where he can be honestly criticized and examined with as much breadth of scope and academic integrity as would be brought to, say, Melville, Goethe, Dante, or Milton (with all of whom he shares various traits). I think that, for me, it is the fact that he has for some time been, and continues to be, fruitful field for such searching examinations and deconstructions, the increasing number of which not only seem to not exhaust, but to further indicate the near-inexhaustibility of his work where such are concerned, which is such a strong indicator of how far Lovecraft is from simply a weaver of horror stories, and how much more accurate is the view of him as an extremely complex literary figure whose works, whether fictional or otherwise, are as richly interpretable and rewarding as any other writer of genuinely lasting merit.
     
    Jun 10, 2014
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  12. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    The language, his language, was so intellectual, to da average reader, that mayhap people presume that stories about discorporeal monstrosities are more than they actually are, which is what? - Scary monsters are real. Maybe they are.
    That's enough for me, I have to hide under the covers now with my cheap paperback crime fiction novel, about scary monsterpeople shooting and robbing and stuff, normal stuff.:confused:
     
    Jun 11, 2014
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  13. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Not if you know anything about Lovecraft. He made it plain in various places that his stories were a way to express his philosophy, meet his particular aesthetic desires, and to address various issues or concerns in symbolic fashion. Granted, the stories can certainly be enjoyed on the surface level, nor is there anything to be derided in that. But that is only one very small part of what they have to offer or are about. It is sort of like mistakenly viewing Sheridan Le Fanu as merely a writer of stereotypical ghost stories; read them with attention, and you'll find they are generally anything but....

    I also think I'd have to nit-pick about the term "discorporeal monstrosities"; with rare exceptions, his creations are decidedly corporeal; they definitely have substance and are material in nature. You can have invisible ones (Wilbur's brother, for instance), but even there it is very much a physical as well as psychic menace....

    The implications, however, go beyond the physical menace into an ontological terror....
     
    Jun 12, 2014
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  14. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    I am still curious about whether HPL's most devoted readers feel that his work should be represented in courses and histories of American literature. (You've mentioned Borges' book, but really that's an idiosyncratic piece.) One way of getting at that is to broaden the context and ask: Well, should Wells's sf be included in survey courses on British literature? If so, where, why, and who gets pushed off the raft if the course is already crowded? Likewise, to take an author flourishing after Wells and HPL, what about, say, Peake?

    I'm inclined to approve the typical approach, which is not to include these authors in survey courses at all, but to include them in courses on science fiction and fantasy. This procedure is liable to be decried as "ghettoization" by some of their readers.

    But it does seem to me that there's a narrative of American literature and a narrative of British literature in which, say, HPL's contemporary Hemingway, or Wells's contemporary Hardy, or Peake's contemporary Greene, belong more than they do. The burden of argument, I think, really does lie on the advocate of HPL, Wells, or Peake, although the debaters' trick will be to say, "By what criteria are HPL, Wells, and Peake excluded?," etc. I personally would not find that a convincing ploy, though I have been rereading Wells and HPL ever since I was a youngster and have included work by them and Peake in college courses I teach. Wells (War of the Worlds) and Peake (Titus Groan) were in courses on imaginative literature and Lovecraft ("Colour Out of Space") is in a unit on sf in an Intro to Literature course.

    Maybe someone will yet want to read what I copied above, and this message, and offer some thoughts.
     
    Jul 1, 2014
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  15. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    I am indifferent to Lovecraft's tales being taught in school, and would not expect such a thing except, perhaps, in a course on Gothic literature. But I have absolutely no idea what, if any, weird writers are actually "taught" is schools these days. Are there classes devoted to Poe or Hawthorne?

    I'm hoping that it won't be long before we hear of a potential Norton Classics edition of H. P. Lovecraft's tales, edited by S. T. Joshi.
     
    Jul 1, 2014
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  16. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    Wilum, I'm kind of out of the loop as regard what goes on in big universities, since I teach in a very small state university and avoid academic conferences, Publications of the Modern Language Association, etc. I glance at The Chronicle of Higher Education once in a while and get a few catalogs from academic-oriented publishers.

    My guesses would be along these lines:

    1.Poe and Hawthorne continue to be included in American literature surveys but probably get courses of their own relatively rarely. I personally regard Coleridge as more or less the founder of the modern weird tale, and I'm sure "Kubla Khan" and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner show up in lots of British lit survey courses; however, I doubt that Christabel, which is perhaps the most, of the three poems, like a classic weird tale, gets taught very often. I doubt that courses devoted to Coleridge occur more than very rarely, and, of course, his weird work is only a part of his amazing body of writing.

    2.I don't think courses in science fiction are very rare any more, and some of these might start with Frankenstein and go on to include a bit of Lovecraft, but probably not much and not usually; my guess is that most might pick up Wells and head pretty quickly into Campbell and Astounding.

    3.Lovecraft's best chance at inclusion in college courses would be in pop culture ones. Lots of academic people are fascinated by their own popular culture, and since vampire romances and so on are such a big deal now, they are probably exploring the background of modern horror/weird fiction and occasionally including Lovecraft in courses that are more weighted towards Stephen King and Stephanie Meyers, etc.

    These are guesses...

    I'm not sure how much of an impact Lovecraft's inclusion in the Library of America has had. First, my guess is that the main buyers of that book, other than libraries that buy the LoA releases as a matter of course, were people who already owned Lovecraft's writings. Second, his inclusion occurred in the context of the LoA going in for popular culture-type entries such as crime novels, etc. If Lovecraft had been added in the Library's first ten years or so, the book would have stood out much more as implying a claim for the literary merit of its contents. The Penguin Classics series has gone for a more "popular culture" idea of "classic" at the same time as it added HPL, e.g. Zane Grey in its Modern Classics line, or Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc.

    So,

    4.I would guess that HPL will appear a bit more often in academic literary offerings as time goes by; but I doubt that he will become really established therein. Fans of Lovecraft might not really want him to come to more academic attention, since literary studies are these days much preoccupied with matters of ethnicity and psychoanalytical-type theory -- and it would be easy to harp on familiar biographical issues relating to these when discussing the author. As it is, though, the greater visibility of HPL these days will probably result in more papers on him, and I'll bet that many of them will be on just those matters....
     
    Jul 1, 2014
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  17. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    I'm afraid I won't be able to give a proper response for some days (most likely)*, but... on your final point: Yes, an increasing number of academic papers have been coming out on HPL and his work over the past few decades (though it began in the 1950s or 1960s); but no, few of them deal with the aspects you mention (save where germane to the larger discussion or in the biographical section of such papers), as it was largely chewed over some three decades ago.

    S. T. Joshi's 2009 edition of H. P. Lovecraft: A Comprehensive Bibliography (already outdated as far as keeping abreast of such things) has six pages of listings of academic papers, and I've seen a few others since, such as Sean Elliot Martin's H. P. Lovecraft and the Modernist Grotesque (Ph.D. diss., 2008). I had entered a brief list, but there was a glitch, and all that got wiped (sigh), so I'll have to do a repeat of that later to give you an idea... but some of the things they tend to cover are: structuralist approaches; examinations of his use of language and the intentional ambiguities thereof; his placement in the literature of his time; the philosophical ramifications of his work; his importance on the evolution of the weird or fantastic tale (often grouping him with such writers as Poe, Hawthorne, Frank Norris, and Jack London, etc.); and even the theme of "Christian hope" (a paper submitted to Baylor university, which I would love to get my hands on, as it would be a very interesting look at HPL); and a host of others.

    Though the majority of European listings are from Italian sources (Padua, Rome, Catania, etc.), there are a few from Germany, France, the U.K., Poland, and Australia as well....

    *As I work at a Middle Eastern restaurant, and Ramadan has just begun, things are more hectic than usual; hence Sunday is likely to be the only day I have for lengthy posts, save by odd chance.
     
    Jul 2, 2014
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  18. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    I should make clear -- I'm not thinking that the academic papers that I anticipate would necessarily be primarily about Lovecraft himself, but would be "readings" of various works of his according to the fashionable, reductive theoretical "approaches" or "lenses" that are relentlessly inculcated today, e.g. Lacanian "psychoanalysis," etc. Where the supposed "uncovering" of fascination-repulsion with sexual or ethnic "Others" can be found -- especially in popular culture works -- many a modern student and prof are at their happiest. Stick in some remarks on the infinite "delay" of closure to certainty in the meaning of the diction and you've got a paper.

    Of course, I anticipate that some might say that in my remark above I am guilty of a leetle reductionism of my own. :rolleyes:
     
    Jul 2, 2014
    #18
  19. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Jest a touch.....;)

    And yes, there is certainly some of that; but Lovecraft's work has engendered an increasingly broad range of discussions in academic papers, as well as in Lovecraftian criticism in general.

    As for the subject of racism, etc.... perhaps the most thorough would be Barry L. Bender's "Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1890-1937: Xenophobia in His Life and Work" (B. A. thesis, University of Manchester, 1980), which was published in somewhat revised form in Lovecraft Studies numbers 4 & 5.

    Here's that brief list I mentioned:
    James Arthur Anderson, "Out of the Shadows: A Structuralist Approach to Understanding the Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft" (Ph.D. diss., University of Rhode Island, 1992)
    Massimo Berruti, "H. P. Lovecraft e l'anatomia del nulla: Il mito di Cthulhu" (M. A. thesis, University of Turin, 2002)
    Dean Bowers, "H. P. Lovecraft: A Shadow out of Modernism" (M. A. thesis, Southern Texas State University, 2000)
    Peter Cannon, "Lovecraft's New England" (M. A. thesis, Brown University, 1974)
    Giovanni Castrellano, "La tipologia del personaggio nella narrative di H. P. Lovecraft" (M. A. thesis, University of Rome, 1980)
    Patrick M. Chadwick, "Terror on the Ice: A Critical Analysis of the Relationship between Edgar Allen [sic] Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and Howard Phillips Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness" (M. A. thesis, University of South Dakota, 1995)
    David Cal (Nicholaus) Clements, "cosmic Psychoanalysis: Lovecraft, Lacan, and Limits" (Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1998)
    Richard E. Dansky, "H. P. Lovecraft: The Architecture of Horror" (B. A. thesis, Wesleyan University, 1992)
    Cecelia Drewer, "The Literary Manifesto of H. P. Lovecraft: A Writer in Search of a Theory" (M. A. thesis, University of New South Wales, 1993)
    Elaine Gillum Eitel, "The Sense of Place in H. P. Lovecraft" (M. A. thesis, Lamar State College of Technology [Beaumont, TX], 1970)
    Peter G. Epps, "A Knocking at the Door: Christian Hope in the Horror Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft" (M. A. thesis, Baylor University, 2002)
    Thomas M. Faust, "Forbidden Knowledge: The Ideas of H. P. Lovecraft" (B. A. thesis, Butler University, 1993)
    Bennett Graff, "Horror in Evolution: Determinism, Materialism, and Darwinism in the American Gothic (Edgar Allan Poe, Frank Norris, Jack London, H. P. Lovecraft)" (Ph. D. diss., City University of New York, 1995.
    Jeffrey Errold Long, "Unities of Opposites in H. P. Lovecraft's Fiction" (Independent studies paper, Brown Univeristy, 1977)
    Marco Mattiello, "'The Oldest and Strongest Kind of Fear Is Fear of the Unknown': Howard Phillips Lovecraft, dal romanzo gotico al Necronomicon" (M. A. thesis, University of Padova, 2003)
    Daniela Miglioli, "Lovecraft: Il fantastic come 'reale integrativo'" (M. A. thesis, University of Milan, 1990)
    Gregg Nelson, "Architecture in the Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft" (M. A. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 2002)
    Nicola Notarianni, "Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Meaning, Nightmare and Dreams" (M. A. thesis, University of Calabria, 2004)
    Tomasz Ostrafiński, "The Reversal of Values in the Prose of Howard Phillips Lovecraft" (M. A. thesis, Silesian School of Economics and Languages, 2004)
    Simone Penati, "Il metodo descrittivo nelle opera di Howard Phillips Lovecraft" (M. A. thesis, University of Milan, 2004)
    Franz Rossnagel, "Typische Strukturelemente und ihre Funktionen in den phantastischen Erzählungen H. P. Lovecrafts" (M. A. thesis, University of Stuttgart, 1990)
    William Schnabel, "Narrative Structures in Lovecraft's Works" (M. A. thesis, Université de Toulouse-le Mirail, 1989)
    John J. M. Selig, "H. P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury: A Comparison" (Honors thesis, Brown University, 1989)
    Bradley Allan Will, "The 'Supramundane': The Kantian Sublime in Lovecraft, Clarke, and Gibson" (Ph. D. diss., University of Oklahoma, 1998)
    David Zitelli, "L'esperienza onirica nell'opera lovecraftiana" (M. A. thesis, University of Catania, 2000)

     
    Jul 3, 2014
    #19
  20. Mirannan

    Mirannan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Messages:
    1,739
    I don't claim to be any sort of expert on Lovecraft. But one of his themes is that of vistas so incalculably remote (both in space and time) that the mind recoils in horror so great as to make one mad.

    I don't thing it is any sort of coincidence that the 1920s was roughly the time when the true scope of geological time and of the size of space was becoming known; both of these are completely beyond comprehension except by imperfect analogy. For example, I believe the 1920s was the decade when it became known through Hubble's work that the Andromeda "nebula" is a complete external galaxy, hundreds of times further away than previously thought.

    This process of realisation continues. The scale of the universe is now known to be a thousand times larger still than was known in Lovecraft's time. The apparent fact that on the very largest of scales, galaxies are organised into a structure that looks remarkably like the foam on a pint of bitter makes me wonder what Lovecraft would have done with this, which someone mentioned a while back (don't know who):

    Imagine being placed, wearing a spacesuit so the experience isn't over in seconds, completely at random in our universe. The chance of being able to see even the nearest galaxy with the naked eye is maybe 2%. You are likely going to be in the middle of one of the voids between superclusters...

    And now imagine being placed in a similar manner in time. According to the latest theories, you are overwhelmingly likely to be in an era when there probably isn't a single elementary particle within the radius of today's observable universe. And the temperature will be maybe a femtokelvin or so.
     
    Jul 3, 2014
    #20
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