By Maurice Levy
Translated by S.T. Joshi
Back Cover Text
Maurice Levy’s book is a penetrating analysis of the themes
running through the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the writer of horror and
supernatural fiction. Broader than a thematic study, however, Levy’s
analysis is unique in his use of Lovecraft’s work as a model for fantastic
writing in general and in his provocative theory as to why Lovecraft wrote
the sort of works he did.
For Levy, Lovecraft’s fiction is a prototype for the
fantastic, whose central concern is the intrusion of the unreal into the
real. Lovecraft was a master of the realistic setting which makes the
eruption of the irrational that much more unnerving. It is precisely
because Lovecraft is a realist in every phase of writing—except for the
fantastic element—that his work is so powerful.
Additionally, Levy finds more in Lovecraft than a skilled
craftsman. At an early age, Lovecraft sloughed off all religious belief
and came to adopt a bleak and nihilistic philosophy where humans have no
importance in the cosmos but to serve as the playthings of
incomprehensible and uncaring forces. Levy sees Lovecraft’s works as an
attempt to purge himself of these feelings and to give himself a reason to
live in a universe that cares nothing for him or for human beings in
It is this view of Lovecraft the writer, the thinker, and the
man that sets Levy’s work apart from any Lovecraft criticism.
Lovecraft: A Study in the Fantastic. By Maurice Levy, Translated by S.T. Joshi.
Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press; 1988; ISBN 0-8143-1955-6 (hardback) 0-8143-1956-4
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