H. P. Lovecraft and the Literature of the Fantastic: Explorations in a Literary Genre
GRIN Verlag, 2007 - 104 pages
Examination Thesis from the year 2005 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, Catholic University Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, 57 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: As the title suggests, this paper aims at pointing out the major characteristics of the literature of the fantastic and combining this theoretical approach with a study of the work of one of the most significant representatives of said genre, the American writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937). Consequently, the first major part of this paper is dedicated to a brief study of the genre of fantastic literature in general, particularly the very problematic task of defining its distinctive characteristics. By looking at the fantastic tradition in America (particularly that of New England), including the prevalent features and themes marking the American variety of the fantastic, and highlighting the contribution some eminent American authors have made to the genre, the second part then focuses on the fantastic in American literature. Finally, the third major section of this paper provides a detailed study of the life and work of one of the chief American writers of fantastic prose fiction, H. P. Lovecraft. After an account of Lovecraft's life and personality (including some of the countless misconceptions circulating since his death), a critical evaluation of his literary achievement and influences, and a short discussion of his impact on modern popular culture, a large part of this section is dedicated to a thorough analysis of his unique concept of fantastic fiction: while certain aspects of his work inevitably link him to his literary precursors, there are others clearly setting him apart from any writer of the fantastic that came before him. The paper is concluded by brief case studies of three of Lovecraft's most popular short stories.
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Page 90 - THE most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from...
Page 73 - To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all.
Page 38 - He will be wise, no doubt, to make a very moderate use of the privileges here stated, and, especially, to mingle the Marvellous rather as a slight, delicate, and evanescent flavor, than as any portion of the actual substance of the dish offered to the Public.
Page 85 - Dickensian". The population is a hopeless tangle and enigma; Syrian, Spanish, Italian, and negro elements impinging upon one another, and fragments of Scandinavian and American belts lying not far distant. It is a babel of sound and filth, and sends out strange cries to answer the lapping of oily waves at its grimy piers and the monstrous organ litanies of the harbour whistles. Here long ago a brighter picture dwelt, with clear-eyed mariners on the lower streets and homes of taste and substance where...
Page 73 - The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain — a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults...
Page 39 - A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man did he become from the night of that fearful dream.
Page 90 - Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones showed them ; idols brought in dim eras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones ; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men...
Page 28 - ... harassed by commands for theological self-examination, keyed to unnatural emotional repression, and forming above all a mere grim struggle for survival — all these things conspired to produce an environment in which the black whisperings of sinister grandams were heard far beyond the chimney corner, and in which tales of witchcraft and unbelievable secret monstrosities lingered long after the dread days of the Salem nightmare.
Page 18 - The one test of the really weird is simply this — whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe's utmost rim.