Gazing into the Abyss: HP Lovecraft Analysis Part II

Written by Alexander Greco

May 29, 2020

This article is a continuation of my previous article on Lovecraft, and if you haven’t read that one yet, I would suggest you do. While this article can be read as a standalone, much of the context of Lovecraft’s writing and his life is detailed in that article. In addition, in the previous article, I outlined Lovecraft’s philosophy of Cosmic Horror, or Cosmicism, which is integral to understanding his work.

Lovecraft’s Late Writing

Throughout the rest of Lovecraft’s life, he continued writing, though saw only scraps of fame, and even less fortune.

Most notably during Lovecraft’s later life, he wrote:

  • “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” (1927)
  • “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” (1927)
  • “The Colour out of Space” (1927)
  • “The Dunwich Horror” (1928/1929)
  • “The Whisperer in Darkness” (1927-1930/1931)
  • “At the Mountains of Madness” (1928-1930/1936)
  • “The Shadow over Innsmouth” (1931/1936)
  • “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (1933/1934)

With these stories, Lovecraft continued to develop his Cthulhu Mythos and his Dream Cycle, while also introducing new elements of his own philosophy and thought.

“The Colour out of Space” is literally about a color that came from space—a color that does not exist in the known spectrum of light. Lovecraft doesn’t describe the “color” much—primarily because it falls under his “indescribable trope” and is a color that has never been perceived by humans before—except that it appears as some amorphous glob and seems to be sentient on some level. However, its motivations and purpose, as well as the substance it is made out of, are entirely unknown. It is a story about something we cannot technically understand, or even technically describe, because there isn’t a technical framework to understand or describe this thing.

Much of the story details the effects this color has on the surrounding countryside and the inhabitants of the area. Namely, this “color” seems to suck the life out of everything around it, and cause organisms to mutate and deteriorate. Considering that radiation is on the same electromagnetic spectrum as the color spectrum of light, it’s possible that this “color” Lovecraft invented is actually referring to radiation that came from outer space. However, at its core, this is another story of Lovecraft’s showing the absolute strangeness of reality and humanity’s inability to intuitively grasp so much about the reality we exist in.

Part of the beauty of this story is that the primary focus is something so simple and so nearly-universal to humans as color. Our entire visual reality is essentially a pattern of color, light and depth correlated in our minds as objects. Color is something incredibly simple and fundamental to our sense of reality, and yet color is almost impossible to describe. I can tell you “that object is red” or “the color of that object is purple with specks of yellow”, but that doesn’t mean I’m actually describing the colors. How do you describe the color red to someone who can’t see colors? Lovecraft uses this fundamental phenomenon of human existence—color—and turns it into something we can no longer understand. He turns it even into something threatening and deadly.

“The Whisperer in Darkness” coincided with the actual discovery of Pluto, and describes alien creatures who come to Earth from planets on the edge of our solar system. The story makes allusions to Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep, but also introduces a concept similar to the “brain-in-a-jar” thought experiment. In the story, the brains of various people are put into metal cannisters, which are then taken to the aliens’ home-world. The reader is left to speculate whether the aliens bring the jars to their home-world for good or bad intentions.

This story is about aliens, dubious cosmic forces, and the conflict between Earth and these forces, but it is also about our perception of reality. Philosophically, the brain-in-the-jar thought experiment asks us, “If we only know what reality is because our brains tell us what reality is, then how can we be sure the reality we perceive is real?” If physical reality is nothing but chemicals and electric impulses in our brains, then what if a brain in a jar was electro-chemically stimulated to perceive a false reality? Lovecraft asks a similar question in this story with his “brain-in-a-metal-cannister” trope.

To connect this concept back with the discovery of Pluto, we ourselves live in a sort of simulated reality, and the discovery of Pluto is like discovering that our simulated reality is not the true reality. Simulation Theory aside, our own brains simulate our realities. We perceive reality how our brains tell us to perceive reality. Stimulus enters via sensory organs, then get cycled through the nervous system, various autonomous or unconscious systems react to the stimulus, and then finally our brain constructs a model of reality. Everyone is walking around with their own model of reality inside of their heads. The discovery of Pluto is what happens when our model of reality is overruled with new stimulus.

Imagine if you lived your whole life not knowing the country Japan existed. It’s not even that you think it doesn’t exist, it’s that you’re wholly oblivious to any knowledge pertaining to Japan. Then, one day, you hear about this country that’s had humans living on it for thousands of years, which has its own government, its own culture, its own history and so forth. Your model of reality is now a faulty, incomplete model, and you must either alter your old model of reality or create a new model of reality.

“The Shadow over Innsmouth” is all at once a Kafka-esque work of existentialism, a social criticism of conservative New England communities, and possibly Lovecraft’s most exciting story. One of Lovecraft’s dozen or so faults (several pages could be written on these faults) is the dryness of much of his work.

This isn’t to say all of Lovecraft’s works are as dry as German Idealism. However, while many Lovecraft stories end with insane, reality-defying climaxes that shake the foundations of rational understanding, many of them also begin with a marathon of exposition and little to no character development. Other Lovecraft stories fall into the same camp of horror as Henry James, which can be frightening if you have a PhD in Literature and a love for rambling, bloated, vague and ambiguous decadent prose (I say this as a fan of Henry James, except I don’t have a PhD). However, in “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, Lovecraft’s story is eerie and unsettling from the very beginning, evolves through a disturbing labyrinth of mystery and investigation in an isolated community of religious zealots, and ends with a surprisingly thrilling climax.

The story is about a man investigating the town of Innsmouth—based on the actual city of Newburyport, a small coastal city in Massachusetts—and discovers that the town is filled with subtly fish-like people. Later, he discovers this town has made a pact with an underwater, reptilian civilization, and that the people of this town worship Dagon (the same Dagon from the story, “Dagon”). As the protagonist explores the town of Innsmouth, he is eventually beset upon by the inhabitants of the town because he is an outsider who will not convert to Dagon.

The Shadow over Innsmouth is about mutant fish-people hunting a man down, but it’s also about a religious witch hunt, and the witch is the well-educated protagonist. The story shows Lovecraft’s deep disdain towards puritan traditionalists, religious fundamentalists and other groups of people who didn’t share his urbanite outlook on life.

Though Lovecraft held several deeply conservative beliefs, Lovecraft, in practice, was actually quite the Cosmopolitan for his time. He was well read on texts from across the world. He travelled quite often, and quite often travelled with friends who were homosexual, were from other countries, or friends who held remarkably Liberal beliefs. In fact, despite Lovecraft’s anti-Semitic views (yes, he wasn’t a fan of Jewish people either), Sonia Greene, his wife and only romantic partner, was Jewish. Lovecraft is also known for having written a prodigious number of letters to hundreds of correspondents, who lived in a great variety of places and came from varying walks of life. On top of this, Lovecraft was an atheist, and likely considered himself to be a man of science, despite his wildly fictitious work. Overall, though Lovecraft held several wildly controversial views, especially by today’s standards, it’s difficult to say he was close-minded.

Whether he was right or not about it, Lovecraft looked down upon individuals with strict religious beliefs, individuals who upheld what he believed to be ignorant practices, and conservative communities of cultural traditionalists. In “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, Lovecraft compares a community of isolated Puritan-fundamentalists to a city of deformed amphibious humanoids who worship a reptilian alien-god. Though elements of this story are wildly fictitious, at their core they are based on Lovecraft’s real-life experiences, and express his own beliefs of society and religion.

Lovecraft Compared to other Modern and Early Modern Writers

Many of Lovecraft’s stories, are comparable in depth and quality to the works of contemporary modern writers. Sadly, though many of Lovecraft’s works ought to be spoken of in the same breath as other great modern writers, HP Lovecraft’s fiction has remained primarily in the genre sections of book stores and libraries (though his Penguin Classics Collection now sits near Jack London titles).

If “The Shadow over Innsmouth” was written by Franz Kafka, for example, we would be discussing how society contorts and morphs the individual into a grotesque abomination, rather than a sci-fi novella about cults from a 1930’s pulp magazine.  If “Call of Cthulhu” was written by any of the Beat Generation authors, we’d probably be talking about Iconoclasm, the deterioration of society by the constriction of religious or governmental orthodoxy, or the multi-cameral perceptions of the insane.

So, here, I would like to make arguments for why HP Lovecraft’s work should be considered of the same quality as his modern and post-modern contemporaries.

(In some cases, this is not necessarily a compliment, so those authors do not count *looking at T.S. Elliot*.)

I’ve previously made the case that “The Outsider” (1921) could be compared with Camus’ “The Stranger”. Both stories are about a man’s relationship with society—the people they interact with, the protagonist’s perception of reality vs. society’s perception of reality, and the protagonist’s perception of their self vs. society’s perception of the protagonist.

“The Outsider” is about a man emerging from the depths of a large, medieval building, and witnessing people fleeing in horror. The person tries to understand what is happening, why the people are fleeing in horror, and tries to communicate with these people. In the end, the protagonist looks at a mirror and realizes that he is the monster that all the people are fleeing in horror from. “The Stranger” is about a man going to his mother’s funeral, then returning to society and indifferently forming relationships with others. In the end of the story, the protagonist becomes the primary villain of everyone else in the story, and faces the absurdity of life with an indifferent conviction.

In “The Stranger”, the protagonist is an individual who simply lives life as he sees fit. He does not act either according to people’s wishes nor against them. He simply acts how he wants to. This indifference towards life and his unmoored morality turn him into a social pariah. However, even to the end—when he is sentenced to death for his beliefs and behavior—he maintains a sort of spiritual conviction in refusing to behave how society wants him to behave, even in the face of death.

“The Outsider” is quite a similar story, except it has much more neurotic and nihilistic themes. The protagonist emerging from the depths of a medieval building might be Lovecraft acknowledging his own conservative Anglo-European worldview, looking at a new world and finding himself inherently at odds with it. However, I think it is better represented as someone emerging from the depths of psychosis, from the depths of nihilism, and finding a bright, unfamiliar world. Lovecraft’s protagonist—enlightened by their time spent gazing into the Abyss—now returns to the society they had left (or perhaps had never been a part of), and finds a world of Normies and NPC’s, who can’t stand the sight of him.

While “The Stranger” is about the absurdity of reality and society, the oppressive demands of the society one is embedded in, to the point of death by punishment, “The Outsider” is the story of self-image. It is a story of how one is seen as a monster by others, which eventually leads one to view oneself as a monster. In many ways, “The Outsider” is an Existentialist bridge between Camus and Kafka.

Franz Kafka

However, I think a better comparison to Kafka’s work would be Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth” (1931) compared to Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” (1915). Both deal with the transformation of a human into something disgusting and monstrous, both have elements of existentialism, and both are about one’s relationship with society.

However, the key difference between the two is that “Metamorphosis” is about the transformation of the individual within society, whereas “The Shadow over Innsmouth” is about the individual within the transformed society. Kafka focuses on the effects society has on an individual, and how society transforms someone into a monstrosity. It is the internalization of external forces, altering and deforming the individual, and the death of individuality within collectivism. “The Shadow over Innsmouth” is Lovecraft viewing a deformed society, and seeing how a society is transformed by the ideas it has. It is the externalization of internalized beliefs.

While Lovecraft’s story has many direct parallels, he focuses on society as the monstrosity, rather than the individual becoming the monstrosity. However, as an interesting twist, “The Shadow over Innsmouth” could be viewed as a collective striving to become a single, homogenous individual. It is about a society that worships a singular identity/ideology/way of life (Dagon), and how that society transforms itself to conform with the identity and ideology of “Dagon”. So, where “Metamorphosis” is about the identity of an individual being destroyed by the collective, “The Shadow of Innsmouth” is about the identity of a society being destroyed by an individual—destroyed, you could say, by a Cult of Personality. In this way, one does not have to say that the Cult of Dagon is in fact a religious Cult, but you could view it as a Political Cult, a Cult of Nationalism, a Cult following a particular philosophy, or a Cult following an influential individual.

As a final line of thought here, and returning to the discussion of Dagon and Cthulhu in the first article, Dagon might not be real. Dagon could be the figment of the protagonist’s and the societies imagination. So, the warping of reality is centered on something that has no basis in reality. The town is not worshipping an idea with any grounding in reality, except perhaps that they might be worshipping the reptilian psyche of the brain.

The town may in fact be worshipping the unconscious mind (the monster lurking from the depths of the ocean), and the Id—the Freudian term for the instinctual, primal, animalistic part of the human psyche. This line of thought, however, is really a tangent from the primary point here. Whatever the town is worshipping, they are worshipping something that likely doesn’t exist as much more than a hallucination. They are not worshipping a tangible being, and they are warping their own reality and themselves around this entity which does not exist.

This could be Communism. You could say that the Marxist notion of humanity is not based in material reality, and that the Utopia promised by Communism does not exist, will not exist and cannot exist. This could be Capitalism. The money we use, our credit cards, the pixelated numbers on our banking app, and our direct-deposit checks have no real value other than the value we arbitrarily assign them. This could be an orthodox, fundamentalist religion. There might be no heaven above us, no hell below, and our Jihads dictated by our many messiahs might be political manipulations using a fictitious character. This could be our Material-Rationalist perspective of reality, and our self-assurance that we do indeed understand how reality works; that science and technology can solve all of our problems; and that we humans are rational and inherently good people capable of overcoming our own genetic programming.

Whatever the case—whatever the Cult may be—this is the madness of crowds. This is the insanity of society—the society which calls you the insane one.

This added layer of the story’s meaning compounds on Kafka’s idea, since this transformed society seeks to destroy the individuality of the protagonist in order to maintain its homogeny.

Not only does a society seek to crush and contort the individual, but, in doing so, they weaken and morph themselves. This was Kafka’s insight. Kafka saw that society, bureaucracy and culture turned you into an insect—into a cockroach. Lovecraft’s insight was that a society which turns its citizens into cockroaches turns themselves into cockroaches as well. In the act of destroying individuality in order to find homogeny, the society begins destroying itself, by turning itself into a lesser creature.

Lovecraft’s “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” could easily be compared to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” (1865) and Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” (1816). While “Alice in Wonderland” does employ a number of inventive devices, and acts, in an odd sense, as a platform for mathematical logic, “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” is an impressively unique and strange surrealist horror that dwarfs both “Kubla Khan” and “Alice in Wonderland” just in sheer scope of creativity. It could even be compared, in some ways, to the near-surreal and highly symbolic journey in Voltaire’s “Candide” (1759).

It involves a man journeying through his dreams, searching for a city he’d once dreamt of, and in the process is beset upon by dozens of surreal nightmares, many of which attempt to harm or enslave the protagonist. In the end, the protagonist realizes the city he had been looking for was his childhood home. The protagonist wakes up, and realizes he does in fact live in his childhood home once again. Psychoanalytically, one must then ask, “What were the monsters in his dream?”

Just as “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There” can be viewed as social critiques of Victorian Europe—a child and adolescent viewing the strange and nonsensical world of adulthood—in many ways, “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” can also be seen as another of Lovecraft’s critique of society. In “Dream-Quest” there are demonic slavers; night-gaunts, who are seen as both terrible and horrifying and benevolent, in that they assist the protagonist; a town occupied by cats, where the protagonist finds statues of gods whom the protagonist is searching for; a predatory rodent-race called Zoogs; and a malevolent god named Nyarlathotep, whom many believe is meant to represent Nikola Tesla.

The story is long—one of Lovecraft’s longest—so analyzing the story would take quite some time to do, but themes that are present in the story might be the dawning authoritarian-like control of science, technology and industry; the horror of facing the Truth of the nature of the Cosmos; the simultaneous beauty and horror of dreams or the unconscious and the fickle nature of the denizens who live there; and the search for meaning and goodness in the harsh, violent, enslaving reality of nature and society. In the end of the book, the protagonist realizes the city he had been searching for all along was his hometown, which gives the story the added theme of childhood vs adulthood, much like the Alice in Wonderland stories have.

Jamees Joyce, Madlad Extraordinaire

More and more comparisons like these could be made. Lovecraft’s literary study of the psyche and the objective/subjective reality of a human could be compared to the works of Henry James and James Joyce. Throughout many stories, Lovecraft’s intent seems to be describing an objective reality through an entirely subjective lens. Lovecraft’s stories are scattered and schizophrenic (such as in “The Call of Cthulhu”), but they are aimed at uncovering secrets and truths about an objective reality. Similarly, James and Joyce write highly subjective and abstract stories, though their intent is to uncover truths about reality.

Much of James’ writing seems to be centered on delving into the psyche, and the landscapes and transformations the psyche has on one. Much of Joyce’s writing similarly attempts to depict the reality of the human psyche and the human condition, an iconoclastic endeavor aimed at showing the disenchantment of the modern era and the juxtaposition of expectations vs reality. Just as Joyce shows the truth of the human condition as a reaction to the romanticized depictions of reality in mythology and literature, Lovecraft pulls back the veil on our preconceived notions of how our universe functions compared to the narratives we tell ourselves about how the world works.

The fragmented yet expansive scope of the Lovecraft Mythos could easily be compared to the near-biblical mythos of Tolkien’s fantasy world. If one took the time to piece together the stories, characters, entities, settings and events of Lovecraft’s stories (which many have done), you would find an even deeper, substructure to Lovecraft’s stories. We find societies of different alien races at war with each other, or societies of extra-planar/extra-dimensional beings, and the machinations and relationships of gods and other entities.

If one took the time then—once Lovecraft’s mythos had been pieced together into a cohesive narrative of cosmic history—to dissect and analyze the various gods, civilizations and alien species of Lovecraft’s universe, as well as their relationships with humanity, there’s no telling what volumes of deeper meaning you might find in the Lovecraft mythos.

Though I would say Tolkien’s mythos is far more developed and detailed—it’s certainly a far clearer mythos, especially with the posthumous “Silmarillion” book detailing Middle-Earth’s mythic history—Lovecraft’s mythos—in my opinion—is far more expansive in scope, and much more imaginative. Where Tolkien’s mythos draws much from Christianity, European Paganism, and potentially from Asian and Middle-Eastern mythology and cosmology, Lovecraft invents his own myths and his own cosmology. Moreover, Lovecraft’s mythic inventions do not reflect the older worldviews of Christianity and Paganism, they reflect the modern worldviews created out of science, the Enlightenment, psychoanalysis and modern philosophy.

Although the content of “Colour out of Space” (1927) is quite different in subject matter than Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Library of Babel” (1941), they share many of the same characteristics. Both are, at their core, hypothetical stories answering hypothetical questions. Lovecraft asks, “What would a color that existed outside of the known color spectrum look like?” and then Lovecraft uses his story as a device to answer that hypothetical question. Jorge Luis Borges asks, “What would the universe be like if it were an infinite library of every possible 410-page book?” and then Borges uses his story to answer that hypothetical question.

Both, in their own ways, are using their narratives to explore human understanding as well as the nature of information and knowledge. They do this because they ask questions that are far better answered with an imaginary experience, rather than formally answer the question. As Borges depicts the sum of all knowable information in the form of an infinite library, Lovecraft depicts phenomena outside the scope of human understanding with a color that does not exist in the known light spectrum.

Additionally, you can find Lovecraft using Postmodern tropes long before Postmodern writers (not to dis on Burroughs, Pynchon or Danielewski). In particular, Lovecraft has used shifts in POV, fragmented story structure, non-linear story-telling, unreliable narration, subjectivism, and occasional uses of stream of consciousness writing. Though Lovecraft did not employ (at least not consciously) the philosophic notions of the Postmodernists, Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu”—which I discussed in the previous article—was written 4 years before Derrida was born, and around the same time Michel Foucault was born.

Jacques Derrida

This is purely speculation, and admittedly a bit of a stretch, but it is not impossible that Lovecraft’s notions of intellectual anthropomorphizing, Cosmic Existentialism (fundamentally synonymous with Cosmic Horror), and the human inability to comprehend reality may have influenced Derrida’s ideas of Deconstruction and Phal-Logos-Centrism. Though Lovecraft himself was a proponent of much of the thinking Derrida opposed, Lovecraft did in many ways attack the notion of being able to understand or describe reality objectively.

Where Derrida took a more linguistic and philosophic approach, Lovecraft approached his criticism of rationality from the psyche and from the new discoveries of science, which revealed that reality is far stranger than fiction. Lovecraft additionally attacked ideologies and worldviews which he thought warped society into twisted versions of themselves, much how Derrida and other philosophers such as Jean Baudrillard criticized the very foundations of philosophy, nationality and even language as being constructions through which reality was warped into a false simulacrum of true reality.

Michel Foucault

It is also not impossible that Lovecraft’s use of historical and mythological allusions, along with Lovecraft’s almost-blatant satirizing of religion and society might have influenced Foucault’s concepts of historical uses of power (though this too is likely a stretch). Though Foucault similarly criticized the worldview Lovecraft largely espoused, Foucault and Lovecraft both often depict reality as a struggle between world powers and the philosophies and motivations of those powers. At a certain level of analysis, Lovecraft’s cosmic wars between alien gods could be seen as the struggle between opposing ideologies, especially when one considers than many of Lovecraft’s gods, such as Cthulhu, Dagon, Shub-Niggurath and Yog-Sothoth, exist both as physical and as psychological entities.

It is not impossible that Lovecraft’s considerations of epistemology, phenomenology and idealism—which Lovecraft, the Gothic bibliophile, likely discovered from Hegel, Heidegger, and Schopenhauer—influenced later ideas of Moral Relativity and Hyperreality.

Like I said, this is all speculation, and it would be an incredibly daunting task to credibly link Lovecraft to the birth of Postmodernism. Nonetheless, Lovecraft’s influence in the literary world did eventually grow, though it was not until after Lovecraft’s death in 1937 that his works would become commercially successful. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, Lovecraft has grown a literary cult-following of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror fans, and is now a major counter-cultural figure in the literary world.

Lovecraft’s Influence and Legacy

Ogdru Jahad, a creation of Mike Mignola

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
-Pablo Picasso

Lovecraft has been cited as an influence for Neil Gaiman (writer of the Sandman comics and the American Gods novel), Alan Moor (Watchmen and V for Vendetta), Mike Mignola (the Hellboy comics), Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Shape of Water”), and Stephen King. In fact, Stephen King cites HP Lovecraft as one of his primary literary influences (“The Mist” is all but a blatant rip-off of Lovecraft (but at least a good rip-off)).

The list goes on, even into popular media. Critically acclaimed “Rick and Morty” is essentially an absurdist-comdey take on Lovecraftian Cosmicism. Legendary Japanese comic books and anime series, “Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and “Neon Genesis Evangelion” are clear derivations of Lovecraftian subjects. And, I’ll say it again, Stephen King is a massive fan of HP Lovecraft, and has even said Lovecraft is “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale”.

The King has spoken.

Lovecraft likely possessed little to no chill, but how can you hate someone who loves cats?

Was Lovecraft a bit of a bigot? Did he think minority groups were corrupting society? Did he distrust Jewish people with his money? Did he compare African American people to groups of savage occultists worshipping demonic alien-gods? He sure did. He even went as far as naming his cat “Nigger Man”, which many take as the nail in the coffin regarding his racism. However, considering how much Lovecraft loved cats (he seriously loved cats, and he looked down on dogs as much as he looked down on people who couldn’t speak English) the name of Lovecraft’s cat might have been a sign of Lovecraft’s deeply hidden humanity.

However, this prejudice against race and ethnicity was only a small portion of Lovecraft’s much larger corpus of work. In addition to his short stories, his letter-writing and his amateur journalism, Lovecraft wrote about politics, metaphysics, science and philosophy, ranging from Idealism, Materialism, Time-Space, Realism, Bolshevism and Communism. Despite many of his conservative views, Lovecraft’s perspectives spanned across the political spectrum, and he remains one of many thinkers who is difficult to pin down to one political or philosophic affiliation. The fact that Lovecraft’s intellectual corpus has been largely reduced to Weird Horror and Racism is a tragedy.

And it’s a tragedy also that Lovecraft’s work has not seen the same levels of notoriety and literary appreciation as other authors.

Fullmetal Alchemist, both another source of deep philosophy and of nightmare fuel

All too often, great writers like Lovecraft, Tolkien, Alan Moore, and Neil Gaiman get thrown into the “genre fiction” category, without much thought to their literary quality. Much like Cthulhu is much more than “Cthulhu”, Lovecraft’s writing is much more than “Weird Fiction”. Lovecraft’s work is a misunderstood body of science, surrealism, Gothic horror, various philosophies conjoined under Cosmic Horror, and criticisms of Modernity.

Still, Lovecraft has seen increasing levels of fame and admiration from a growing, global fanbase. Although the majority of Lovecraft fans are fixated upon Lovecraft’s eldritch gods, and his daemonic sultans of the cosmos, rather than the underlying meanings of his work, it is still good that his work has become a household name in the world of counter-cultural literature. Lovecraft was simultaneously a Baroque gentleman pulled from the past, and a thinker beyond his time, but ultimately he was an unfortunate social pariah of the early 20th century. Hopefully his work will one day be widely appreciated for its full merit.

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