The Classic Horror Stories
Edited by Roger Luckhurst
H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937) was a reclusive scribbler of horror stories for the American pulp magazines that specialized in Gothic and science fiction in the interwar years. He often published in Weird Tales and has since become the key figure in the slippery genre of ‘weird fiction’. Lovecraft developed an extraordinary vision of feeble men driven to the edge of sanity by glimpses of malign beings that have survived from human prehistory or by malevolent extra-terrestrial visitations. The ornate language of his stories builds towards grotesque moments of revelation, quite unlike any other writer.
This new selection brings together nine of his classic tales, focusing on the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’, a cycle of stories that develops the mythology of the Old Ones, the monstrous creatures who predate human life on earth. It includes a vital extract from Lovecraft’s critical essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” in which he gave his own important definition of ‘weird fiction’. In a fascinating contextual introduction, Roger Luckhurst gives Lovecraft the attention he deserves as a writer who used pulp fiction to explore a remarkable philosophy that shockingly dethrones the mastery of man.
H. P. LOVECRAFT was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1890, and stayed close to his roots for most of his life. Burying himself in antiquarian studies of the inheritance of New England, he took the theme of ancestral horrors for many of his stories. He first began publishing his ‘weird tales’ in the pages of American pulp magazines in the 1920s and 1930s, but only established a lasting reputation after his death in 1937. Small press publication developed a cult following which in turn led to mainstream success for his unique brand of materialist horror. From dissident philosophy to rock music and film, Lovecraft’s influence pervades popular culture.
ROGER LUCKHURST has written widely on science-fiction and Gothic literature. He has edited Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stoker’s Dracula, and the anthology Late Victorian Gothic Tales for Oxford World’s Classics. His most recent book is The Mummy’s Curse: The True History of a Dark Fantasy (Oxford, 2012). He teaches modern literature at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Note that this book does not use S.T. Joshi’s corrected texts, instead using the texts as they originally appeared in pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s.
The Classic Stories. By H.P. Lovecraft, edited by Roger Luckhurst. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2013; ISBN 978-0-19-963957-1; hardcover; 496 pages.
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