Besides his authoritative early essay on "The Literature of Rome"other works condemn free verse and simple spelling, and devote attention to neglected poets. Discovering weird fiction as his chosen field, he produced such scintillating essays as "Lord Lovecraft's writings in the realm of literary criticism are unfailingly acute and cover a surprisingly wide range. Late in life Lovecraft codified his grasp of weird literature by writing such trenchant pieces as "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction" and "Some Notes on Interplanetary Fiction"
After all, Lovecraft was not the best of his era in any of the genres he wrote in. Clark Ashton Smith was a better stylist.
Algernon Blackwood wrote better horror. Olaf Stapledon wrote better science fiction. Yet it is Lovecraft who has been canonized with a Library of America edition, who has provided the source material for academic writings, comic books, and even game shows like Jeopardy, and who has been assimilated by capitalist culture to the point that there are plushies made of his characters.
One would never have guessed this fate for Lovecraft at the time of his death in He had had some success publishing his stories in the pulps, including Amazing Stories and Astounding Science Fiction, but he was poor, ailing, and obscure when stomach cancer took him.
Why not Smith, or Blackwood, or Fritz Leiber, or the many other, better writers of his time? What separates Lovecraft from Nictzin Dyalhis, to take one name among many from the Weird Tales stable?
But of course the first thing one turns to in a critical edition of an author as commented-upon as Lovecraft is the introduction. These repetitions build an incantatory rhythm, tying baroque literary form to philosophical content.
Conceptually, breaking open the world requires the breaking open of language and the conventions of realism. He spends little time in making the case that Lovecraft is actually worthy of a critical edition. Some of the reasons are obvious: Other reasons are less obvious: The question of why Lovecraft gained in popularity after his death and Clark Ashton Smith or Algernon Blackwood did not is slightly more complicated.
Lovecraft escaped the fate of the vast majority of writers — obscurity, to a greater or lesser degree — through several extra-literary events. Lovecraft was an extraordinary correspondent, writing an estimated hundred thousand letters in his lifetime, to fans and fellow writers, especially those working for the pulp Weird Tales.
Decades before the social media, Lovecraft used letter writing to create a presence for himself in the consciousness of fans and writers and to create the social capital that paid off after his death.
Too, Lovecraft was the first author to create an open-source fictional universe. The crossover, the meeting between two or more characters from discrete texts, is nearly as old as human culture, beginning with the Greeks if not the Sumerians.
The idea of a fictional universe open to any creator who wants to take part in it is considerably newer. It was Lovecraft who first created a fictional universe that anyone was welcome to take part in.
But locating Lovecraft in this way is unusual, to say the least. He is usually placed by critics in either the science fiction or the horror genres, or both. Describing Lovecraft as part of horror and science fiction renders him less unique, and more a significant but not singular author who is part of a tradition, not an establisher of one.
One is forced to ask, what is gained by removing Lovecraft from the genres of horror and science fiction and putting him into the Weird, except academic respectability? The concept was not original to him.
By the s Arthur Machen and Robert Chambers were both writing stories of cosmic horror, albeit ones whose ontological underpinnings were significantly different from what Lovecraft would write. Lovecraft did not create cosmic horror. Lovecraft desacralized cosmic horror, reinterpreting it through the lens of modern scientific theory and removing its Victorian moral assumptions.
What Lovecraft created was a specifically twentieth century idea: But in this Lovecraft would suffer an appropriately Lovecraftian fate. The typical Lovecraftian character is destroyed by too much knowledge of the real world.Lovecraft's writings in the realm of literary criticism are unfailingly acute and cover a surprisingly wide range.
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Besides his authoritative early essay on "The Literature of Rome" (), other works condemn free verse and simple spelling, and devote attention to neglected poets. Hippocampus Press Collected Essays 2: Literary Criticism by H P Lovecraft - Edited by S.
T. Joshi March pages ISBN Paper (Cloth out of print)Lovecraft's writings in the realm of literary criticism are unfailingly acute and cover.