What Would H P Lovecraft Think Of Modern Horror Writers and Who Would he Like ?

I believe a big dollop is the difficulty of developing and communicating the magnitude of the difference in motivation (and actions) for those Things, as they represent the basest of drives and some don't even conform to our reality and the boundaries of what can be. Something simply sweeping you up like a prawn in a krill catch has two very different levels. To the whale, it's just gulping the good stuff. To the krill, it looks pretty much like "Aaaaaahhhhh!!", that "something entertaining". And, more relatable 'cause you ain't Cthulhu.

And, let's face it, that is how the cosmos works. If our sun goes nova next year, all of humanity save a tiny spacecraft - and maybe not even that - might as well have never existed. Not much of an ending for a novel or movie. And if you use it as an ending only the nihilist will like it, or as a segue, nobody but nobody will believe you.

For instance: take that idiotic scene written by people with no concept of magnitude depicting Geladriel eating a full-on pyroclastic blast that didn't even singe her hair or clothes. The Volcano was the whale, she was a prawn. Regardless of her being an elf she would have looked like a matchstick after it goes out when you hold it upright and everybody knows it.
And yet Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was arguably far more Nihilist than Lovecraft and far more successful.

Lets see:
Cats Cradle - all of mankind turned into popsicles
Galapagos - all of mankind killed except a small few that evolve into seals
Sirens of Titan - Aliens did far worse to humans than Cthulhu or anything dreamed by Lovecraft ever did.

And then there are:
Welcome to the Monkeyhouse - Another bleak future for mankind.
Player Piano - Another bleak future for mankind
 
Last edited:
I absolutely can see Lovecraft loving Umberto Eco.
Focult's Pendulum would absolutely be his thing.


Richard Mathesen's I am Legend
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
by Jack Finney and both the 1956 and 1978 film versions. I think he would liked the 78 version better.
 
And yet Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was arguably far more Nihilist than Lovecraft and far more successful.

Lets see:
Cats Cradle - all of mankind turned into popsicles
Galapagos - all of mankind killed except a small few that evolve into seals
Sirens of Titan - Aliens did far worse to humans than Cthulhu or anything dreamed by Lovecraft ever did.

And then there are:
Welcome to the Monkeyhouse - Another bleak future for mankind.
Player Piano - Another bleak future for mankind
Okay, but a bit of context. First, where Lovecraft was inspired by literary imaginations like Poe's, Ambrose Bierce's and H. G. Wells', much of Vonnegut's apocalyptic imagination was inspired by first hand observation of the bombing of Dresden in WWII.

Yes, in the long run Vonnegut was more successful, but for most of the 1960s he was seen as an underground/cult writer and, according to Wikipedia, there was a time when he had nothing in print and few prospects and considered quitting writing. His literary reputation and advance into the ranks of best-sellers didn't really happen until the 1970s. I recall reading Cat's Cradle for an English class, which I think would have been somewhere between '68 and '72, but I think his big breakout came with the one-two punch of Slaughterhouse 5 (1969) followed by Breakfast of Champions (1973). There's also a vast difference in attitude between the America of 1920 to '37 and the America post-WWII and, especially, between Lovecraft's America and 1960s America.

Note, too, that Lovecraft died at the age of 47, which didn't give the immediate world time to catch up with his brand of cosmic paranoia. Vonnegut stuck around long enough to gain a bit of a Mark Twain patina that helped keep him in the public eye.
 
Okay, but a bit of context. First, where Lovecraft was inspired by literary imaginations like Poe's, Ambrose Bierce's and H. G. Wells', much of Vonnegut's apocalyptic imagination was inspired by first hand observation of the bombing of Dresden in WWII.

Yes, in the long run Vonnegut was more successful, but for most of the 1960s he was seen as an underground/cult writer and, according to Wikipedia, there was a time when he had nothing in print and few prospects and considered quitting writing. His literary reputation and advance into the ranks of best-sellers didn't really happen until the 1970s. I recall reading Cat's Cradle for an English class, which I think would have been somewhere between '68 and '72, but I think his big breakout came with the one-two punch of Slaughterhouse 5 (1969) followed by Breakfast of Champions (1973). There's also a vast difference in attitude between the America of 1920 to '37 and the America post-WWII and, especially, between Lovecraft's America and 1960s America.

Note, too, that Lovecraft died at the age of 47, which didn't give the immediate world time to catch up with his brand of cosmic paranoia. Vonnegut stuck around long enough to gain a bit of a Mark Twain patina that helped keep him in the public eye.
We can do more of the comparisons of the authors. Vonnegut got his start writing short stories. Vonnegut's short stories were accepted by a wider variety of magazines and had a much larger readership of his short stories than Lovecraft ever had. (even by Vonnegut's 47th birthday).

The point I was making was regarding the nature of the stories. Cat's Cradle is the story of the end of mankind. And I love it. Over the years I have given out dozens of copies to friends and acquaintances. Vonnegut was able to write about the end of humanity with charm.

Lovecraft never wrote about the end of humanity. Each of his stories was very individual. The story of what happened when this individual or small group of people encountered these incomprehensible things. Taken very broadly, Lovecraft is writing horror on its most basic level.

Lovecraft was very familiar with mythology and horror tropes and loved them. But he generated his own set of monsters to avoid getting trapped by the rules of existing mythology. [Audience might complain - Vampires don't do that!] His creatures may have the theoretic power to do horrible things to all of mankind -- much like ancient Greek gods, titans (et al). However, like traditional mythology, the interactions of his creatures and humans was limited, mirroring the general indifference of the Gods toward mankind in traditional mythology. See the brilliant movie Erik the Viking for a lovely illustration thereof. Sure some Gods were horny as hell, but in general there is little evidence that any of the traditional Gods cared much for "Mankind" as a whole. Prometheus?

I love this Lovecraft quote from a letter to James Morton in 1930, "the only reason vast numbers of cultivated men stay cheerful is that they keep doped up on that same obsolete mythology." Lovecraft was offering a new mythology type for the modern age. A cautionary set of tales about mankind's place in the universe. He was not a nihilist. He didn't write about the downfall of mankind. If anything I'd say Lovecraft was an optimist.
[hmm... maybe I'll write that essay...]

Going back to my original point (in the prior post) Vonnegut did much more horrible things to "Mankind" than Lovecraft ever did.
[Then again, even with his deep cynicism, I'd say Vonnegut was an optimist, too]
 
And yet Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was arguably far more Nihilist than Lovecraft and far more successful.

Lets see:
Cats Cradle - all of mankind turned into popsicles
Galapagos - all of mankind killed except a small few that evolve into seals
Sirens of Titan - Aliens did far worse to humans than Cthulhu or anything dreamed by Lovecraft ever did.

And then there are:
Welcome to the Monkeyhouse - Another bleak future for mankind.
Player Piano - Another bleak future for mankind

Success is measured in many ways. Vonnegut - 10 derived movies. Lovecraft - 36 derived movies.

As I hopped into a thread about Lovecraft's imagined views on contemporary attempts at horror writing, I was using his stories as a framework and think he would favor the "unfathomable".

I don't perceive humans screwing up and causing great grief as horror per se as it's fairly common. It always felt to me that Vonnegut was trying to write SF and when he needed an explanation for an idea, he conjured. UWTB - ffs

An author Lovecraft read and commented on is Robert W. Chambers.
 
Success is measured in many ways. Vonnegut - 10 derived movies. Lovecraft - 36 derived movies.

As I hopped into a thread about Lovecraft's imagined views on contemporary attempts at horror writing, I was using his stories as a framework and think he would favor the "unfathomable".

I don't perceive humans screwing up and causing great grief as horror per se as it's fairly common. It always felt to me that Vonnegut was trying to write SF and when he needed an explanation for an idea, he conjured. UWTB - ffs

An author Lovecraft read and commented on is Robert W. Chambers.

The Yellow Sign and Other Stories The Complete Weed Tales of Robert W Chambers. Edited by S T Joshi His most famous creation, the King in Yellow which has become assisted with the Lovecraftain universe .
 
I wonder what he think of The Three Body Problem?
 
The Drowned World by J G Ballard

Cryptozoic by Brian Aldiss

He would probably like both of those novels.
 
He would have likens Karl Edward Wagner Kane stories because those most definitely have lovecratain elements and he also like his honor stories like Sticks.
 

Similar threads


Back
Top