This week, 119 years ago, master horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was born. Lovecraft believed imaginative fiction to be “art in its most essential sense.” While Lovecraft was an atheist, there are surprising commonalities between his own view of art and that of J.R.R. Tolkien, as brilliantly expounded by scholar Amy H. Sturgis in “New Shoggoth Chic: Why H.P. Lovecraft Now?“. Dr. Sturgis has a collection of Lovecraft links at her blog in honor of his birthday.
Lovecraft can be difficult to get into at first. Dr. Sturgis gives some helpful tips for “Getting into the Lovecraft Zone.” Some recommended starting places, in my view, are the shorter “The Outsider,” “The Music of Erik Zahn,” “The Rats in the Walls,” and “The Colour Out of Space,” as well as the lengthier “The Haunter of the Dark” and the novella “At the Mountains of Madness” (del Toro has plans to make a film version of this, though I’m guessing The Hobbit has much delayed his original plans to have it done by 2010). Lovecraft is best known for his Cthulhu stories, including “The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”
Our own Pete Peterson, you might remember, has been inspired by Lovecraft.
Lovecraft’s view of supernatural horror in literature informed my analysis of the theme of Fear in the Harry Potter stories in chapter three of Harry Potter & Imagination: The Way Between Two Worlds.