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Thread: Is Lovecraft perhaps the greatest horror writer who ever lived?

  1. #1
    Valued Senior Member Carcano's Avatar
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    Is Lovecraft perhaps the greatest horror writer who ever lived?

    Only the silent, sleepy, staring houses in the backwoods can tell all that has lain hidden since the early days; and they are not communicative, being loath to shake off the drowsiness which helps them forget. Sometimes one feels it would be merciful to tear down, for they must often dream.
    -The Picture in the House.

    In the tunnels of that twisted wood, whose low prodigious oaks twine groping boughs and shine dim with the phosphorescence of strange fungi, dwell the furtive and secretive zoogs; who know many obscure secrets of the dream-world and a few of the waking world, since the wood at two places touches the lands of men, though it would be disastrous to say where.
    -The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

    The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
    -The Call of Cthulhu.
    Last edited by Carcano; 01-07-07 at 12:00 AM.

  2. #2
    Lovecraft truly was a masterful writer. A shame that he was only seen as a pulp writer. He had a skill that most modern day writers seem to lack.

    I have a few web resources I've culled down the years.

    First, this site used to have all the works of Lovecraft available, but when I just checked it I got a forbidden error on it. I don't know if the owner of the site was violating copyright or if the error is temporary. Thus, I am posting the link in hopes that someday it will work again.

    http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary...aft/index.html

    (Luckily, I already downloaded all the stories to text with plans to proofread and convert to pdf. So, I now possess the complete Lovecraft. I truly am a Great One.)

    However, there is page on him at wikibooks which has many of his works, if not all:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:H._P._Lovecraft

    Also, over the holidays, I chanced across this which I find quite wonderful:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ftld7Ohojg
    http://www.cthulhulives.org/Solstice/


    Mod comment: Sorry about the confusion with the thread earlier. I deleted this thread as you made a duplicate. I now understand that you did so because of the mistake in the title. I would have deleted the other but it already had two posts in it. I've tried altering the title, but it doesn't seem to work for me. So, I've asked how I can change titles for future reference, but luckily, you had this thread here for me to reinstate with the proper title. Only missing your second quote from The Call of Cthulu.

    Sorry for the inconvience.

    *tips hat*
    Last edited by invert_nexus; 01-07-07 at 12:03 AM.

  3. #3
    Valued Senior Member Carcano's Avatar
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    Thanks for fixing the title Nexus. It seems we cant even edit our own thread titles...uhg!

    Have you read 'Lord of a Visible World'?

    Its a collection of his best letters, and gives a peek into his ideas on a wide range of topics, not just writing.

    Way too far ahead of his time...for his own good.

  4. #4
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    I have been meaning to read some Lovecraft for years. Any suggestions for a good book to start with? What is considered his best work?

    Have there been any good movies made from Lovecraft's writing? I have seen a couple of bad ones.

  5. #5
    Valued Senior Member Carcano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaman_ View Post
    Have there been any good movies made from Lovecraft's writing? I have seen a couple of bad ones.
    Thats an interesting question because you'd think that by now, a great film would have been made from one of his stories...'At the Mountains of Madness' for example.

    If any visual image is possible through digital technology...if Lord of the Rings is possible, why not Lovecraft?

    I think the difficulty lies in the fact that his work is so aesthetic, rather than being dialog or plot based.

    There are these huge byzantine descriptive paragraphs, but very little dialog, unlike modern novels, most of which read like film scripts.
    Last edited by Carcano; 01-07-07 at 10:52 AM.

  6. #6
    Valued Senior Member Carcano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaman_ View Post
    I have been meaning to read some Lovecraft for years. Any suggestions for a good book to start with? What is considered his best work?
    Lovecraft himself considered 'The Colour out of Space' to be his best work.

    I liked 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth'.

  7. #7
    Valued Senior Member Carcano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invert_nexus View Post
    Also, over the holidays, I chanced across this which I find quite wonderful:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ftld7Ohojg
    http://www.cthulhulives.org/Solstice/
    The youtube thing crashes Firefox for some reason??? Couldnt watch it.

    Those Lovecraftian carols are a hoot!

  8. #8
    Plutarch (Mickey's Dog)
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    Poe was better, but I need to read more Lovecraft.

  9. #9
    Valued Senior Member Carcano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prince_James View Post
    Poe was better, but I need to read more Lovecraft.
    Lovecraft considered Poe and Arthur Machen to be superior in his genre, although its difficult to say what exactly his genre is. One of the first to blend science fiction and horror, his aliens are nothing like the cartoon characters of his era.

    He was also one of the first to incorporate scientific pessimism into his works.

    "If the laws of the universe are kind...they will never be found."

  10. #10
    Carcano,

    Have you read 'Lord of a Visible World'?
    No, I haven't.
    Never read any of his letters, actually. There are some of his letters (perhaps all?) on the wikibooks site. Perhaps I should read them someday.

    The youtube thing crashes Firefox for some reason??? Couldnt watch it.
    That's a shame, it's the Carol of the Old Ones and is incredibly catchy. Reading the lyrics is nothing like hearing it performed.

    Thats an interesting question because you'd think that by now, a great film would have been made from one of his stories...'At the Mountains of Madness' for example.
    This would definitely be my first choice for a movie. So many others as well though....


    Shaman,

    Have there been any good movies made from Lovecraft's writing? I have seen a couple of bad ones.
    I always thought Re-animator was pretty good, but it doesn't really follow the story very well. Dreams in the Witch House was also done well, but it was only a short film, paired with Cigarette Burns on the Masters of Horror DVD. Apparently, a silent film of Call of Cthulu was made in 2005, I haven't seen it. The IMdB reviews aren't too kind. I thought a full length production of Call of Cthulu was in the works, but haven't been able to find it.

    There have been a million and one movies based on Lovecraft stories, but most of them have been altered beyond recognition. They mostly share a low budget theme and thus the imaginative horror that Lovecraft wrote into his stories were difficult to carry off so they changed the stories to be easier to convey. Read: cheap thrills.

    In the Mouth of Madness was an excellent movie based on Lovecraftian themes (although paying homage to Stephen King with the writer's name being Sutter Kane...) This was an excellent movie.


    As to which book, there are so many compilations of his stories, it's difficult to say which book... the wikisource link I posted has all his stories, I couldn't even think of one in particular to start with. I started reading them in chronological order.


    Prince James,

    Poe was better, but I need to read more Lovecraft.
    I prefer Lovecraft. Poe had some good stories, but he was more of a standard storyteller. He didn't create such a vivid and different mythos that Lovecraft was able to weave.

    Poe was perhaps better at putting words together, but its difficult to judge as they wrote in different eras. People spoke differently in Poe's time than they did in Lovecraft's. Of course, the same goes for my comparison of Lovecraft with modern authors. The language has become more brusque and thus Lovecraft's ability to put words together as he does not necessarily imply that he is a better writer than today's, just that he wrote in a different time with a different language.

    However, the stories he tells with that language stand miles taller than most such creations either before or after.

    Lovecraft is god.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Carcano View Post
    The youtube thing crashes Firefox for some reason??? Couldnt watch it.
    I'm pretty sure this is because of a virus not firefox, because it works for me. Happened to a lot of people but it goes away if you reformat everything. Reinstalling firefox won't help.

  12. #12
    The only worker in that genre that I enjoy at all is Dean Koontz.

  13. #13
    His writing style seems to stray into awkwardness, a bit like Tolkien. There is masterful writing and there is writing so awkwardly that the flow of text from the page into your brain is hindered, completely ruining immersion (with that style of writing and its twisty, awkward hurdles of text I often find myself reading an entire page and then realising I'm actually thinking about something else. It's like the open, perfectly flat 100m dash of something like "The Hobbit" compared to one strewn with potholes, hurdles and tripwire like something you'd encounter half way through "The Silmarillion" when Tolkien began to get a bit of an ego) and a balance has to be struck between style and readability. If you have to actually make an effort to read what you are reading then your immersion is suffering.

    I'm sure there will be several replies from those of you who believe that you are gifted or something (I am sure there will be many of you who think that), and you can just blast through writing like that, but if you even have to stop once in a paragraph to think "what does that word mean again?" then your immersion has been ruined already.
    Last edited by G. F. Schleebenhorst; 01-09-07 at 11:20 AM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker View Post
    The only worker in that genre that I enjoy at all is Dean Koontz.
    Me too. I like his clear writing style.

    I guess that almost every book features a dog as a hero is a bonus for fraggle.

  15. #15
    Registered Senior Member RoyLennigan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G. F. Schleebenhorst View Post
    His writing style seems to stray into awkwardness, a bit like Tolkien. There is masterful writing and there is writing so awkwardly that the flow of text from the page into your brain is hindered, completely ruining immersion (with that style of writing and its twisty, awkward hurdles of text I often find myself reading an entire page and then realising I'm actually thinking about something else. It's like the open, perfectly flat 100m dash of something like "The Hobbit" compared to one strewn with potholes, hurdles and tripwire like something you'd encounter half way through "The Silmarillion" when Tolkien began to get a bit of an ego) and a balance has to be struck between style and readability. If you have to actually make an effort to read what you are reading then your immersion is suffering.

    I'm sure there will be several replies from those of you who believe that you are gifted or something (I am sure there will be many of you who think that), and you can just blast through writing like that, but if you even have to stop once in a paragraph to think "what does that word mean again?" then your immersion has been ruined already.
    i want to completely disagree with you, but i partly agree.

    i have only read 'mountains of madness' but i loved it.

    the difficulty of his work is basically because of his motivation to include as many details or scientific explanations as possible--so that the image or concept in your mind can be closer to what it was in his mind. if you read it with deep concentration and with the foreknowledge of certain basic concepts, then it should suck you into the world he creates and leave your mind frantic.

    i remember one paragraph that was like a culmination of all the horror that had progressed in the story so far. it seemed long-winded and frantic, but its just another factor in the writing style that pulls you into the story without thinking. i found myself, by the end of that paragraph, hearing the narrator's frantic voice in my head, his words spilling out as fast as his plight. it really made me feel that a scientist under extreme and horrendous strain was telling this story firsthand.

    i love reading and a word that i don't know wont stop me or pull me out of the story. i either figure it out by reading the rest of the sentence, or forget it because it probably isn't that important anyway.

  16. #16
    His writing style seems to stray into awkwardness, a bit like Tolkien.
    The thing to remember about Lovecraft is that in the times he wrote, people spoke differently.

    Same goes for Tolkien.

    And Poe, as well.

    What can be said in today's books in two or three words, stretches out to half a paragraph in older writers.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by invert_nexus View Post
    The thing to remember about Lovecraft is that in the times he wrote, people spoke differently. Same goes for Tolkien. And Poe, as well.What can be said in today's books in two or three words, stretches out to half a paragraph in older writers.
    Tolkien isn't all that ancient. He wrote "The Hobbit" first, but "Lord of the Rings" came out in the 1950s. The era of Jack Kerouac and Vladimir Nabokov.

    I don't find concision to be all that appealing in literature. If I want thoughts expressed in three words I'll go read a billboard. I like James Michener and Jean Auel and J.K. Rowling.

  18. #18
    True, Tolkien wrote in the 50's. But he was old in the 50's too.
    The formative period of his writing skills took place much earlier.
    He began writing the poems and myths of his creation in WWI during calm moments.

    Lovecraft wrote in the 30's.

    Poe was a bit earlier.

    There was a shift in writing style... sometime after the 30's...
    Post war? Pre war? During the war?
    It's hard to say, exactly.

    Perhaps the shift is more complicated, as well.
    Lovecraft and Poe were both from New England. It's possible that the Victorian era lingered in their speech longer than the rest of the nation...


    By the way, back to stories for movies...
    The Nameless City would make an excellent movie. One of my favorites.

  19. #19
    Actually I think all of Tolkien's "fantasy" writing began with "In a hole, there lived a Hobbit"...."Hobbit" of course being a nonsense word, which he would later (laughably) claim actually meant something in Old English order to cover his ass.

  20. #20
    Hmm.
    I forget...
    I don't think so, though.
    He 'wrote' The Hobbit for his daughter, I'm pretty sure the poetry came first. ("Wrote" in quotes because it began as a bed time story.)
    It's been awhile since I've read the books about his writings though...

    If I remember right, it was a poem on Elbereth that came first.

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