On “The Doom that came to Sarnath” by H.P. Lovecraft

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

Everything louder than everything else.

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On “The White Ship” by H.P. Lovecraft

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

I am too principled to experience happiness.

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On “The Transition of Juan Romero” by H.P. Lovecraft

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

Sometimes an evocative title goes a long way.

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On “Old Bugs” by H.P. Lovecraft

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

When you try to mock your friends only to wind up making a mockery of yourself.

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On “Memory” by H.P. Lovecraft

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

“Memory” is only about four paragraphs long.

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On “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” by H.P. Lovecraft

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

Some folks’ll never be possessed but then again some folks’ll… like Cletus the slack-jawed Yokel.

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On “The Green Meadow” by H.P. Lovecraft and Winifred V. Jackson

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

Imagine yourself at a dinner party that never ends.

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REVIEW: H.P Lovecraft – A Short Biography by S.T. Joshi

I did not know which direction I was going to go when I first started working my way through all of Lovecraft’s stories. I started out by thinking of them as sources of ideas for games but the more I read, the more interested I became in Lovecraft as a creator. To become interested in Lovecraft is to become interested in his sensibility and one cannot engage with Lovecraft’s sensibility without knowing a little bit about his personal history and the social context in which he was writing.

Having read some commentary on Lovecraft’s stories and a lot of the discourse surrounding his racism, I already knew a few bits and pieces about his personal history. However, if I was going to work my way through all of Lovecraft’s stories and engage with Lovecraft the man, then I needed to make sure that I had at least most of the facts straight in my head.

The problem with this approach to the study of Lovecraft is that is a lot of scholarship out there. Joshi estimates that Lovecraft may have written upwards of 80,000 letters in his life and while most of them are lost, a lot of them remain and they are full to bursting with personal details, evolving ideas, and background details on his life and the creation of stories. Little wonder then that there is a real cottage industry when it comes to writings about Lovecraft the man. In principle, all you need is some of his published correspondence and a few ideas and you too can come up with a fresh biographically-inspired interpretation of the man’s work!

The problem with taking this approach to Lovecraft’s work is that a lot of people got there before you and so many biographical details will have been mined for literary significance. For example, back when I was writing about “Polaris”, I came across a reference to someone suggesting that the story might have been inspired by lingering guilt over Lovecraft’s failure to fight in World War I. To my mind, this seems utterly ludicrous as Lovecraft had not only failed to bear the emotional burdens of high school; he also tended to be remarkably downbeat when it came to recognising of his own limits. A young man who struggled with high-school and beat himself up about it would not then think that he could have made a meaningful contribution on the Western Front. This being said, the person who made that claim about “Polaris” could probably point to Lovecraft’s repeated attempts to join the Rhode Island National Guard as well as a number of letters as proof that he had serious martial ambitions. Now… as someone who has always been more interested in critical interpretation than in biographical trainspotting, I would argue that regretting that one did not have the chance to become a celebrated soldier is not the same thing as seriously entertaining fighting in World War I but it would be interesting to know what Lovecraft actually said or did about serving in the military.

The problem with taking an interest in a historical figure whose life has already been subjected to serious scrutiny is where to start. At first, I thought that I might take a run at Joshi’s big biography but that thing is about as thick as a phonebook and full of footnotes. Similarly, if I wanted to wade into the correspondence then I would be confronted with a series of books, all quite thick and often collected according to the person with whom Lovecraft happened to be corresponding. All of these texts may be available, but I all I want is a means of putting meat on the bones of psychological speculation. I want to know more about Lovecraft but I’m not sure I’m ready to learn everything about him just yet. Thankfully, Joshi has written a book providing newbs like me with a short, engaging and accessible on-ramp to the world of Lovecraft scholarship.

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On “Polaris” by H.P. Lovecraft

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

Pity those whose sense of self-worth dependent upon the history of people with a particular skull shape.

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On “A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson” and “Sweet Ermengarde” by H.P. Lovecraft

Canon Fodder is an occasional series in which I write about classic works of horror fiction. This particular part of the series is devoted to the complete published works of H.P. Lovecraft, which I will slowly be working my way through.

Please forgive this brief divergence from standard format but our chronology has brought us to the point where Lovecraft decided to try his hand at satirical parody. Most collections tend to gloss over these stories as they aren’t particularly Lovecraftian, but I would argue they both deserve attention, if only for what they suggest about HPL’s creative process and self-perception at the time.

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