An Ode to H. P. Lovecraft

All fantasy authors owe a piece of their soul to H. P. Lovecraft.

H. P. Lovecraft

Like Stephen King and so many other writers, I have always loved H.P. Lovecraft. I remember in college in the 1980’s stumbling on this books at an old used book store near campus. The Doom that Came to Sarnath was my first exposure to this colorful writer’s craft. That led to The Mountains of Madness, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, and many others. His books showed me as an early writer there really were no boundaries to one’s imagination, only boundaries tied to modern cultural expectations. It was the unfettered and wild, colorful and morose imagination of Lovecraft that attracted me to him.

But to me it was Lovecraft’s strange combination of ghoulish horror and Victorian flowery prose that set him apart from other authors. In some sense, he is very much like Poe. Today with all the dominant protagonist driven, hero-journey pulp fiction that’s out there (as well as the dry realism in books) we should look back to Lovecraft again and reconsider using richer language, writing with more poetic effect in our prose, and explore our nearly fathomless imaginations.

Lovecraft certainly knew how to dig deep into his own imagination. He pushed those boundaries as far as they could go. And we should too. If my Phantammeron fantasy novels owe anything to Lovecraft, it is his courage to explore worlds and rich prose beyond what Modern novels seem so cowardly to try. He taught me the irrational is ok. He taught me the poetic is ok. But most of all, he taught me that being authentic is essential. For if we do not allow ourselves to be ourselves, what kind of writer are we?

Sadly, Lovecraft has been criticized in recent Millennial social justice culture. Some have assigned Lovecraft the doom of being a hateful writer, a satanist, a racist, and even a plagiarist. But he is none of those things. Dead men may not be ever truly judged. For their crimes may be our crimes, too. None among us is without sin, therefore who may judge such a man today? Certainly we, ourselves, may not fully hide from judgement either. Therefore why judge a man but by his art alone?

If anything, I wish to say in Lovecraft’s defense, it is that his work rises above nearly all authors today in its grandeur, its depths, its heights, its horror, and its authenticity. It is his work that will stand the test of time, not his life or personal views.

Knowing that I leave this one Ode to Lovecraft and the younger generations to come in stating a simple message……judge his work carefully and with wonder and understanding, not with just condemnation. Do not trap yourself in your naive and arrogant Modern views of great men of the past that seem monsters to generations today but will be fleeting in the grand scheme of History tomorrow. For we but all pass through History briefly. Strive only to understand his work. For Lovecraft has left nearly all authors with unending awe of the workings of his mind and great gifts.

Willingly accept his wisdom and teachings as things to empower your own voice and words as an author of fantasy books, not as a person. Do not spend your time wasted on petty moral judgement no others today or in the future will care to read or accept.

Art for Art’s Sake alone should be every artist’s cause. If it is polluted by any other, it is not art, but petty allegory. For Lovecraft and his dark books will yet survive us all through all moral universes known to Mankind until there remains no minds left alive to cherish them.

– the Author

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