Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Nice Lovecraftian Visit


It remains a kind of miracle to me that S. T. Joshi, ye world's leading Lovecraft scholar & editor, came to dwell in my home town and is nigh one of my best buddies. For an obsess'd H. P. Lovecraft fan-boy, that is sweeter than ice cream. We spoke of many things, and S. T. encourag'd me to write a story for one of his forthcoming anthologies after I had determined I was unable to come up with anything original or interesting. H. P. Lovecraft is the source of my need to write, and S. T. is the potent alchemist who fuels my creative machine.

S. T. went to visit his mother and came home with some of his books that were in her possession, and he made these titles available for purchase. I snatch'd up ye moft sought-after prize, H. P. LOVECRAFT: FOUR DECADES OF CRITICISM, publish'd by ye Ohio University Press in 1980. And I was rather struck by ye opening essay, "H. P. Lovecraft: His Life and Work", by S. T. and Kenneth W. Faig, Jr. Here's that paragraph:

The criticism of the life and work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) represents a singular chapter in the history of of literature. Lovecraft the man has been labelled a "sexless misfit," an "eccentric recluse," a "horrifying figure," a "sick juvenile," or simply "strange;" but others (most of whom knew and met Lovecraft) have said that he was "a great gentleman, the the truest sense of that much abused term," a "rational man before anything else," a "fascinating companion, teacher, and guide," and "not freakish, simply different." Of his work still greater contradictions arise: he was a "ghastly writer," a "bad writer," "not a good writer," and an "atrocious writer;" yet on the other hand he was "the supreme master of the tale of horror," "one of the most sensitive and powerful writers of [his] generation," and "the greatest American author of horror tales since Poe;" his tales are "nearly always perfect in structure" and are "superbly written;" his style has been called both "distinguished" and "undistinguished." It is difficult to find an author in this century whose life, character, and mannerisms have been so minutely and voluminously documented; whose writings were so unrecognised in his lifetime, yet so widely known after his death. We must look  to Poe and LeFanu to find writers whose lives have accumulated such bizarre legendry; to Conan Doyle to find one whose work has inspired such blatant imitation; and to Nathanael West to find one whose work has suffered such vicissitudes in critical acceptance. The reasons for all these occurrences are many, and to explain them requires an exploration not only of Lovecraft's life, work, and character, but many aspects of literature itself."

That was written in 1980--and it seems more relevant to-day than any other decade; and, to me, that is simply incredible. I will confess that ye current bad-mouthing of HPL and S. T. that can be found online is one of ye main reasons I began this new blog. I find both men almost-entirely admirable. My criticism of HPL is his blatant and inexcusable racism, and his seemingly indifferent attitude toward the fate of his fiction. I mean. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward was left with his unpublish'd papers in an unpolish'd manuscript form, and we are lucky that HPL didn't destroy that manuscript as he did so many others. My main criticism of S. T. is more an expression of bafflement over his love of contact sports--he loves watching football on telly! (S. T. counters this by saying, "You're appalled at my love of sports, and I'm repulsed at your being a Mormon.")

I am as blatant an S. T. Joshi Enthusiast as I am an obsess'd H. P. Lovecraft fanatic--and that will no doubt be ye recurring theme of this blog.


1 comment:

  1. Being an intersectional feminist, I have very negative feelings towards Lovecraft's racism, and I can undestand backlash based on it, but I can't help thinking some of his critics are also annoyed by him being "sexless misfit", "eccentric recluse" and in general not a "normal person", whatever it means, and are using racism as an excuse for those negative feelings, or at least have their quite justified feelings of racism-provoked indignancy hightened by those less justified.

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