As many of you probably know, H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday was yesterday (August 20). To celebrate this venerable master of horror lit, I’ve compiled some quotes and links.
“I screamed aloud that I was not afraid; that I never could be afraid; and others screamed with me for solace. We swore to one another that the city was exactly the same, and still alive…”
– “Nyarlathotep” (1920)
“Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous. Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species — if separate species we be — for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world.”
– “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family” – written 1920; first published in The Wolverine, No. 9 (March 1921)
“No new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace.”
– “Ex Oblivione”
“Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.”
– “Herbert West : Re-Animator” in “Home Brew” Vol. 1, No. 1 (February 1922)
“From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent.”
― Tales of H.P. Lovecraft
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
– “Supernatural Horror in Literature” (1927)
“I am only about half alive—a large part of my strength is consumed in sitting up or walking. My nervous system is a shattered wreck, and I am absolutely bored & listless save when I come upon something which peculiarly interests me. However—so many things do interest me, & interest me intensely, in science, history, philosophy, & literature; that I have never actually desired to die, or entertained any suicidal designs, as might be expected of one with so little kinship to the ordinary features of life.”
– Letter to Alfred Galpin (27 May 1918), published in Letters to Alfred Galpin edited by S. T. Joshi, p. 18
“Good art means the ability of any one man to pin down in some permanent and intelligible medium a sort of idea of what he sees in Nature that nobody else sees. In other words, to make the other fellow grasp, through skilled selective care in interpretative reproduction or symbolism, some inkling of what only the artist himself could possibly see in the actual objective scene itself.”
– Letter to Woodburn Harris (25 February-1 March 1929), quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T. Joshi, p. 487
Check out 10 Things You Should Know about H.P. Lovecraft via The Guardian:
1. Both his mother and father were separately committed to the same mental institution
Winfield Scott Lovecraft was committed to Butler Hospital after being diagnosed with psychosis when HP Lovecraft was only three years old. He died in 1898, when HP was eight. To this day, rumours persist that Winfield had syphilis, but neither HP nor his mother ever displayed symptoms.
Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft was later committed to Butler in 1919. She remained in close correspondence with her son for two years, until she died of complications after surgery.
2. He wanted to be a professional astronomer but never finished high school
As a sickly child, Lovecraft only attended school sporadically and was essentially self-educated. He was drawn to astronomy and chemistry, and the writings of gothic authors such as Edgar Allan Poe. Due to what he termed a “nervous breakdown”, Lovecraft never finished high school and instead only dabbled informally in his passions.
Read a review of Eldritch Horror, a board game based on Lovecraft’s works.
Read some of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories via Project Gutenberg.