Today We Celebrate the Short, Unhappy Life of H.P. Lovecraft
Today, “weird fiction” fans everywhere toast the birth of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, more commonly known as H.P. Lovecraft. Though Lovecraft left this world in 1937, his prolific short stories, poems and essays continue to feed the imagination and nightmares of readers around the world, including fanboy and author Stephen King, the creators of the Batman series and the band Metallica.
Just what makes that particular brand of Lovecraftian horror? Strange Horizons describes Lovecraft’s unique way of conveying fear on paper:
Drowning is scary, murderers are scary, and dead bodies are scary, but these are all perfectly natural occurrences. No, horror for Lovecraft involved the breaking, or disturbance, of cosmic law — in short, things that are against nature, or at least nature as humans conceive it.
As Lovecraft himself noted, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
Lovecraft’s sad, short life informed his now-considered-genius writing – the silver lining of nearly 5 decades of suffering. He was born 122 years ago today, on August 20, 1890, and life more or less went downhill from there. His father, who became “acutely psychotic” a few years after Lovecraft’s birth, died of syphilis when the young boy was only 8 years old, though Lovecraft – perhaps oblivious to his father’s true malady – maintained throughout his life that his dad died from “overwork.”
A sickly child, little Lovecraft hardly ever attended school. Around the age of 8, his mother pulled him out of organized education for good. Still, the boy was a voracious reader and would spend his days gobbling up whatever books he could get ahold of, especially those related to chemistry and astronomy. By the age of 9, Lovecraft was producing his own written musings on scientific topics.
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