Lovecraft: The Great Tales
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) emerged from the American pulp magazines of the 1920s and 30s as the major writer of supernatural horror of the twentieth century. Today, his ideas permeate the culture—literature, film, graphic novels, and gaming all bear the signs of his Arkham cycle. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu”—taken alone—one of the most influential short stories of all time.
Tracing HPL’s fictional universe, John D. Haefele ranges from childhood readings of the Arabian Nights to the seismic encounter with Edgar Allan Poe. Lord Dunsany, the Welsh mystic Arthur Machen, and Robert W. Chambers with his noxious collection The King in Yellow hone Lovecraft’s sensibilities. Dreams and nightmares over his lifetime underlie the great tales, so much so that HPL wrote, “I wonder, though, if I have a right to claim authorship of things I dream?”
In pulps such as Weird Tales and Astounding Stories he spun his dark narratives alongside Clark Ashton Smith’s cycles of Zothique and Hyperborea—Robert E. Howard and the creation of the barbaric figure of Conan of Cimmeria—and a young acolyte of Lovecraft named Robert Bloch, today famed for the novel Psycho.
Haefele’s revolutionary look at HPL’s work defies critical orthodoxy. New ideas—but when you check the stories, suddenly evident and logical. His 2013 essay “Shadow out of Hodgson” broke the news that William Hope Hodgson inspired many aspects of HPL’s major story “The Shadow out of Time” The late Hodgson expert Sam Gafford conceded, “I am inclined to agree that Lovecraft revised some of his concepts for the story after reading Hodgson. . . a masterful case. . . .”
Lovecraft: The Great Tales. By John D. Haefele. USA: The Cimmerian Press; 2021; ISBN 979-8-55308-790-6; paperback, 762 pages.
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