Is Lovecraft A Good Writer?

Tanith

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Jun 17, 2019
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I think his prose, especially his descriptive prose, is excellent. "At the Mountains of Madness" comes to mind, as does the account of a certain gelatinous green immense fellow who lives under the sea.

Lovecraft's weakness seems to have been his treatment of dialogue (maybe because he was so reclusive?). To wit:

Haow’d ye like to be livin’ in a taown like this, with everything a-rottin’ an’ a-dyin’, an’ boarded-up monsters crawlin’ an’ bleatin’ an’ barkin’ an’ hoppin’ araoun’ black cellars an’ attics every way ye turn? Hey? Haow’d ye like to hear the haowlin’ night arter night from the churches an’ Order o’ Dagon Hall, an’ know what’s doin’ part o’ the haowlin’? Haow’d ye like to hear what comes from that awful reef every May-Eve an’ Hallowmass? Hey? Think the old man’s crazy, eh? Wal, Sir, let me tell ye that ain’t the wust!”
Ouch. Sets my teeth on edge every time. And also takes me right out of the story, unfortunately.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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Jun 29, 2014
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15,567
I think his prose, especially his descriptive prose, is excellent. "At the Mountains of Madness" comes to mind, as does the account of a certain gelatinous green immense fellow who lives under the sea.

Lovecraft's weakness seems to have been his treatment of dialogue (maybe because he was so reclusive?). To wit:



Ouch. Sets my teeth on edge every time. And also takes me right out of the story, unfortunately.
He was very good at conjuring images of horror. But at things like character development , he was not so good.
 

Extollager

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Aug 21, 2010
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Tanith, with reference to the passage you quote, I confess that the places in which Lovecraft actually sounds out the old man's screams have had me just about wheezing and weeping from mirth:

“Hey, d’ye hear me? I tell ye I know what them things beI seen ’em one night when . . . EH—AHHHH—AH! E’YAAHHHH. . . .”
The hideous suddenness and inhuman frightfulness of the old man’s shriek almost made me faint. His eyes, looking past me toward the malodorous sea, were positively starting from his head; while his face was a mask of fear worthy of Greek tragedy. His bony claw dug monstrously into my shoulder, and he made no motion as I turned my head to look at whatever he had glimpsed.
There was nothing that I could see. Only the incoming tide, with perhaps one set of ripples more local than the long-flung line of breakers. But now Zadok was shaking me, and I turned back to watch the melting of that fear-frozen face into a chaos of twitching eyelids and mumbling gums. Presently his voice came back—albeit as a trembling whisper.
Git aout o’ here! Git aout o’ here! They seen us—git aout fer your life! Dun’t wait fer nothin’—they know naow— Run fer it—quick—aout o’ this taown—”
Another heavy wave dashed against the loosening masonry of the bygone wharf, and changed the mad ancient’s whisper to another inhuman and blood-curdling scream.
“E—YAAHHHH! . . . YHAAAAAAA! . . .”

-----As I've said before, I like to imagine Lovecraft experimenting, audibly, with the best combination of letters to suggest the old man's screams, and his aunts are in the house with a guest for tea, and one of the aunts says, "Oh, pshaw, don't pay him any mind, that's just Howard writing one of his stories."
 
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