The theme this month was the Literary Movements of H.P. Lovecraft.
As always, I’ve made informal references in text, with full references listed at the end .
Aromatic Accompaniment: Black Birch by Chesapeake Bay Candle. (Sadly, this was the last meeting to be so accompanied, as the candle has finally given up the ghost.)
We’ve covered H.P. Lovecraft before here at the Spooky Society, but we decided that we want to cover H.P. Lovecraft for the majority of the fall, as one of our newer members has never been exposed to Lovecraft and wants to learn everything there is to know.
This post is going to be quite short as I am working on an academic paper and have been so absorbed that I have been completely remiss in posting at all, but I want to preserve our reading list and general method of selection.
H.P. Lovecraft likely needs little introduction here, but the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival 2016 Kickstarter is currently underway, and I would refer our readers to that website at the present.
Our newest member, Matt, was intrigued by the different movements within Lovecraft’s work. The Lovecraft Wikia generally groups his work into three different movements:
- Macabre stories (approximately 1905–1920). We read:
- “The Tomb” (Written 1917/First Published 1922)
- Dream Cycle stories (approximately 1920–1927)
- Cthulhu Mythos/Lovecraft Mythos stories (approximately 1925–1935)
- “Dagon” (1917/1923)
Generally, the selections I chose for the meeting were the earliest, rather than the most representative, of the different movements, opting for the prototypical rather than the developed forms, hence the disparity of dates.
My personal favorite are the macabre stories, because of their neo-classical influences (especially “The Tomb”). I enjoy “The Tomb” especially because it is very Poe-esque, and deals with a hidden crypt, mouldering graves, a supernatural vision born of distant familial relation, and the Spookiness of the woods, replete with their classical inhabitants: “Down its moss-covered slopes my first steps of infancy were taken, and around its grotesquely gnarled oak trees my first fancies of boyhood were woven. Well did I come to know the presiding dryads of those trees, and often have I watched their wild dances in the struggling beams of a waning moon—but of these things I must not now speak” (15). That single passage demonstrates the inherent mysterious possibilities of the mossy glen, and I love it. However, Matt was most interested in the Dream Cycle stories.
The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast (H.P. Podcraft) sometimes groups some of the Lord Dunsany Stories into the Dream Cycle, so that was where we started Matt. These stories typically deal with a far-off past that may or may not exist in our existing history. They are often somewhat Arabesque in tone, and resemble something of a blending in the mode of Gilgamesh and Vathek. They get the appellation “Dream Cycle” for the sense of dreamy possibility of a past not (or only partially) captured by history, that may in fact predate recorded history to such a degree that the story itself is the only remnant we have of it. They would thus constitute (or allude to) a pre-historic history that has since been lost.
The Mythos stories are what Lovecraft is most famous for. This is where you get your Cthulhu, your Mountains of Madness, Innsmouth, ETC. To pay homage to this, the most famous movement (and to introduce Matt to the topic), we read “Dagon,” which is almost a prototype for “The Call of Cthulhu.” Lovecraft needs little help from us here, so I’ll simply acknowledge the Mythos’ existence and conclude.
Content References from the April 2016 Literary Meeting (in the order in which they were read)
Lovecraft, Howard Phillips. “The Tomb.” H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2008, 14-22. Print.
———.”The White Ship.” H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2008, 60-64. Print.
———.”The Doom That Came to Sarnath.” H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2008, 70-75. Print.
———.”Dagon.” H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2008, 23-27. Print.
———.”The Lurking Fear.” Drabblecast Episode 291. Hosted by Norm Sherman, 6 Aug. 2013, podcast. http://www.drabblecast.org/.