Terror Eternal: The enduring popularity of H.P. Lovecraft

By Stefan Dziemianowicz

For nearly a century, a formidable presence has cast its shadow over horror publishing. As protean as it is pervasive, it has insinuated itself into virtually all aspects of the genre's publishing platform: trade publishing, specialty press, comics and graphic novels, role-playing game scenarios, movie novelizations, audiobooks, Web zines, and now e-books. It's the spirit—or, if you will, the shade—of H.P. Lovecraft, and every decade it looms larger and darker.

Once the private worship of a small but dedicated congregation of devotees, Lovecraft has hit the big time in the first decade of the new millennium. In 1997, Ecco Press brought out Tales of H.P. Lovecraft, a selection of Lovecraft's tales of horror chosen and introduced by literary legend Joyce Carol Oates. It was followed, between 1999 and 2004, by three collections—The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, and The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories—all assembled by leading Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi for the prestigious Penguin Classics imprint. In 2008, Barnes & Noble brought out as part of its Library of Essential Writers series, H.P. Lovecraft: The Fiction, the first single-volume collection to feature all of Lovecraft's fiction. Any doubt these books may have left that Lovecraft, who was once demonized as a pulp writer of passing fancy, is anything less than a leading figure in American letters, was dispelled in 2005 when McSweeney's brought out H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, a study of the philosophy underlying Lovecraft's fiction by renowned French cultural critic Michel Houellebecq, with an introduction by Stephen King.

An even greater laurel, to some, is the Library of America's publication in 2005 of H.P. Lovecraft: Tales, a selection of Lovecraft's best fiction assembled by best-selling horror writer Peter Straub that now shares shelf space with books by other LoA icons, among them Henry James, Edith Wharton, John Cheever, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. To many, the LoA volume of Lovecraft officially signaled his induction into the American literary canon, although LoA editor-in-chief Geoffrey O'Brien notes that Lovecraft's literary credentials already were well established. "Lovecraft was a genuine original, with a rigorous sense of narrative form at the service of a coherent vision of the universe—a vision that happens to embody the most extreme paranoia and unblinking pessimism. He will, I think, figure as unavoidable mythologist of the 20th century."

Read the rest on Publisher's Weekly. This is somewhat geared towards the industry, but not so much so that the layperson would not enjoy reading it. The picture is not related to the article. It is just something I found online.  - DG


Tags: Cthulhu, Lovecraft, books, fiction, horror, short stories

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