PopMatters: 'The Age of Lovecraft' Wonderfully Elucidates the Central Dilemma Posed by Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, born in Providence, Rhode Island, is perhaps the best known practitioner of “weird fiction”, which Lovecraft himself defined as “the literature of cosmic fear”, a literature that flouts the fixed laws of nature, that is infused with dread of the utter insignificance of humans in a universe populated with ancient gods and malign beings. His stories lurk in gothic terrain, many of them with a hint of science fiction. Across several of his stories, Lovecraft famously created the Cthulhu Mythos (see especially “The Call of Cthulhu”), which has enjoyed an enduring cult following in both written and visual media.
Carl Sederholm and Jeffrey Weinstock begin their excellent collection of scholarly essays, The Age of Lovecraft with an invaluable introduction that lays out evidence of the resurgence of interest (especially in academic circles) in the once scorned “pulp” writer. It’s a fount of information about available collections of Lovecraft’s fiction (there are now editions of his work from the Library of America, Penguin, and Oxford University Press, testament to Lovecraft’s new respectability), as well as recent scholarly works of criticism and proliferating pop culture adaptations. (Brian Johnson has a provocative essay on Lovecraft’s influence on Ridley Scott’s Alien films, especially the recent Prometheus.)