A sickly child, a reclusive adult and a writer of weird, dime-store fiction. All of these are descriptions of H.P. Lovecraft, one of the most influential writers of the 20th century whose work shapes horror, science fiction and dark, literary fiction to this day. August 20 marks the 125th anniversary of his birth. Let's take a brief trip through The Dreamlands and wrap our tentacles around a few Lovecraftian works you can find in the dark realms of the library.
Perhaps you are already familiar with Cthulhu, Lovecraft's iconic tentacle-faced creature. Longtime admirers and curious initiates alike will be in awe of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, a massive 852-page volume that collects 22 of Lovecraft's best-known works along with essays, illustrations, chronologies and more. Horror fans should check it out for the foreword alone, which provides a history of the genre.
If 852 pages sounds overwhelming, focus on one of Lovecraft's best-known standalone works, At the Mountains of Madness. Geology professor Dr. William Dyer attempts to deter a large, Antarctic expedition by divulging the details of his own ill-fated exploration, which uncovered mysterious ancient beings, neither plant nor animal. Consider this novella a stepping stone into the vast Cthulhu Mythos, a fictional universe based on Lovecraft's work.
Lovecraft's writing often emphasizes the futility of human existence in relation to the cosmos at large, inherited guilt or disease and a fear of modern life. Where did such a dark worldview come from? Let his letters explain. Lord of A Visible World presents Lovecraft's own words to explore his upbringing, fraught relationships and even his highly problematic views on race.
H.P. Lovecraft didn't live to see success. He died, almost penniless, in 1937 at the young age of 46. His influence and legacy live on in too many works to list here, so I've made a list of some other works including movies and graphic novels that carry the Lovecraftian banner or directly refer to the Cthulhu Mythos. So, come, won't you? Let's delve into the deep and imagine what else the cosmos has in store for us.