H.P. Lovecraft and Gothic Literature

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H.P. Lovecraft
Gothic fiction has never been lacking in prolificacy. From Edgar Allen Poe to Stephen King, this haunting literary class has yielded innumerable works of timeless creativity and imagination. Just as works from all genres exploit some emotion of the reader, Gothic fiction utilizes horror and shock. Many writings of the genre play on substantial, concrete fears, like murder; however, the works of one agent of this dark literary philosophy go beyond specific, rationalizable phobias. This writer was Howard Philips Lovecraft, and the focus of his stories rarely consisted of the mundane and terrestrial. He employed a different kind of fear in his works; a fear of what the reader can’t, or possibly shouldn’t, understand. As he stated in his study of the Gothic Horror genre, Supernatural Horror in Literature, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Lovecraft is known for weaving stories with otherworldly elements, be it an immortal alien god (The Call of Cthulhu) or a reptilian precursor civilization (The Nameless City). He had a knack for reminding us that we are insignificant in the grand scheme of things; usually through the implication of unfathomable forces that wouldn’t think twice about eradicating mankind. These horrifying evils that act as hopelessly powerful antagonists are a common theme across Lovecraft’s tales, as are their obscurity to the general populace of his stories. Lovecraft’s portrayal of a society that is blissfully unaware of its own fragility is often paired with a single protagonist that is drawn into events that are incomprehensibly epic in scope. If this poor witness to Lovecraft’s horrors survives with some of their sanity intact, their attempts to warn civilization of those perils are met with ignorance and disbelief. In these stories, humanity has no hope for survival against the eldritch abominations that lie beneath the depths of the ocean...
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