Edited by S. T. Joshi.
In 1913, a reclusive young man from Providence, Rhode Island, wrote a letter to The Argosy magazine. "I may with safety predict that no part of this... will appear in print," the correspondent concluded. But the young man was wrong: not only was his letter published, but a resultant invitation to join the United Amateur Press Association would forever alter the life of one Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
Although Lovecraft today is considered the most significant American horror writer between Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King, the astonishing range of his auctorial endeavors is documented for the first time in this volume, from surviving juvenilia through his aforementioned entree into the world of amateur journalism to a letter written during the final weeks of his life. Literary criticism and philosophical speculation, political jeremiads and inimitably eccentric travelogues – some of this material is of occasional interest, but much of the remainder is absolutely essential for a proper appreciation of Lovecraft the fantasist.
"Notes on Writing Weird Fiction" remains Lovecraft's central statement in illuminating his own creative aesthetic, while his commonplace book – aphoristic entries from the literary sorcerer's personal grimoire – is perhaps as close as we shall ever come to a real-life Necronomicon. The sprightly peregrinations of an unregenerate antiquarian through "His Majesty's Colonies" are detailed in "Observations on Several Parts of America," while "Cats and Dogs" – a tour-de-force fusion of metaphysics, politics, and aesthetics – is simply one of the great American essays.
Most moving is that final 1937 to Nils H. Frome in which Lovecraft, now aware that he is dying, strives nonetheless to disabuse his young correspondent of spurious supernatural and occult delusions. Even as a sojourner in Death's waiting room, listening for the knock on the door, H.P. Lovecraft remained faithful to his scientific beliefs, a seeker-after-truth to the end.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) is a well known American horror, fantasy and science fiction author. He is especially known for creating the Cthulhu Mythos.
H. P. Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, but his reputation has grown over the decades and he's regarded as one of the greatest and most influential horror writers of the 20th century. Lovecraft's short stories have inspired many authors, artists and directors.
Picture by Dominique Signoret. Source: Wikimedia Commons.