Horror. This particular genre of writing is especially tough as it focuses on making readers dwell in a world that nobody wants to explore. It brings out human’s darkest desires in the most unexpected ways. In the early 18th century, horror was the most popular genre among the readers as well as bidding writers. But since World War 1, people have seen so much bloodshed that they no longer fear the unknown. During this time, an emerging author appeared- H.P Lovecraft. He introduced a whole new genre called Cosmic horror. Set apart from all the subgenres, cosmic horror was perhaps the most popular genre of horror that plays with impending disaster; gothic horror focuses on killers or monsters who chase their prey without any survival hinges.
Who was H.P Lovecraft?
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an American writer of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction. Lovecraft is best known for his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos.
H.P Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island. His father Winfield Scott Lovecraft died in 1898 due to General paresis. Howard then moved to his maternal grandparent’s home and his grandfather became a father-like figure for him. However, with his grandmother’s death, a series of frequent nightmares began for Howard. Though he wasn’t close to his grandmother, Howard was left terrified seeing his mother and aunts mourning in black. He often had nightmares which he referred to as “night-gaunts”. This experience would later appear in his works.
Later, his grandfather’s business suffered from downturns and he died of a heart attack at the age of 70. Lovecraft’s mother Susie was left alone to feed Howard and the duo soon shifted to a small duplex. His mother was not able to support the financial upkeep and so Howard referred to this period as the darkest time of his life. He even thought of committing suicide. In 1904, he joined the high school but was often removed from the schools due to his “near breakdowns”. The same year he also started working for Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy and Scientific Gazette. It was during this time, that he published his first fictional collection named “The Beast in the Cave” and “The Alchemist”.
Howard Philips Lovecraft published several fictional works throughout his life like The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and The Shadow Out of Time. He remained active as a writer since his death from intestinal cancer at the age of 46, penniless and unrecognized. Though nobody recognized his works when he was alive, today he is considered as one of the most influential and significant 20th-century authors of supernatural horror fiction.
What’s so unique about Lovecraft’s writing style?
From every sense, H.P Lovecraft was a deeply flawed person especially when it comes to his racist views but his work endured the phase of time due to his extensive curious writing style. Lovecraft is the father of cosmic horror, a unique horror genre at that time. It shows the insignificance of humankind in a particularly big and unpredictably cold alien universe. The monsters he designed was ignorant and cold towards Humankind. Humanity is nothing but just a tiny meaningless species in a completely vast universe. Before him, it was mostly gothic horror surrounding vampires, ghosts, and curses, but he introduced a genre where a human wasn’t the center of the universe anymore.
Almost all of his novels never had a happy ending, in the end, humans would always perish at the hands of superior aliens or monsters. Because humans didn’t have the capacity to think beyond themselves, Lovecraft’s novel showed a completely different approach to the fate of survival. For instance, Dagon, The Call of Cthulhu, or The Whisperer in Darkness are all written by the cosmic current that pulls humans into situations they cannot avoid and can only either surrender or fight for survival. His idea though resonated with some people and they agreed to publish his works however throughout his life he never gained popularity or riches. His fame only came after his death when his followers and other writers inspired by him kept alive his idea of cosmic horror and his belief in the completely vast universe.
Drug use is central to Lovecraft’s works, especially opium and morphine. As his protagonists usually are rich or upper class, for them the drug use is recreational or revolting. When such protagonists turn drugs into coping mechanisms it demonstrates their deterioration in the face of the horrors they have glimpsed.
Thus, Lovecraft’s works do not fantasize about humanity rather show a very untidy yet realistic approach to life. They often have loose threads, he wrote things that logically should not be written in an era where he was born, but perhaps today that same writing is very integral in understanding that humans are not just about themselves, instead there is a whole vast world that needs to be recognized.