A favorite of many a disinfonaut, cult author HP Lovecraft is profiled in the Guardian as being more popular than ever although “[he had] one of the bleakest worldviews ever committed to paper, was racist – and could be a terrible writer”:
Not only was the work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft uniformly bleak, but what he did write was sometimes execrable. Take this random passage from a 1985 HP Lovecraft omnibus: “But oddly enough, the worthy gentleman owned himself most impalpably disquieted by a mere minor detail. On the huge mahogany table there lay face downward a badly worn copy of Borellus, bearing many cryptical marginalia and interlineations in Curwen’s hand.”
The American writer, who died in 1937, is also widely considered today to have had unacceptable racist views. And yet, despite his prejudices and stylistic shortcomings, his work remains insanely popular. AKickstarter appeal to fund a life-sized bust of the writer – for the Athanaeum Library, in his hometown of Providence in Rhode Island – roared past its target of $30,000 in a couple of days, closing at $55,000.
Meanwhile, the British graphic novel company Self Made Hero will this month publish the latest of many comic adaptations of Lovecraft’s novels and stories. Called The Shadow Out of Time, this 1936 story, one of Lovecraft’s last, tells of university professor Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee, who collapses one day in 1908 and doesn’t come to his senses until 1913 – though in the intervening five years, his body has certainly been active, powered by agencies from beyond our world. “In 1909,” says the professor, “I spent a month in the Himalayas, and in 1911 roused much attention through a camel trip into the unknown deserts of Arabia. What happened on those journeys I have never been able to learn.”
Ian Culbard, who also adapted At the Mountains of Madness (which won him a 2011 British Fantasy award), ably transforms Lovecraft’s somewhat lumpen and info-dumpy prose into a taut, chilling read, well-paced and illustrated with a suitably muted palette. It’s a prime example of how Lovecraft’s original ideas and concepts are all the more fascinating when placed in the hands of storytellers with a more contemporary narrative approach.
But perhaps the strangest Lovecraftian legacy is the range of stuffed “Cthulhu” toys and children’s books based on his work…
[continues in the Guardian]