It’s October. Autumn is here. Colored leaves are falling. Pumpkins are appearing. There’s a chill in the air. What better time to curl up with a book by one of the great masters of horror: H. P. Lovecraft?
This is actually the first time I’ve read anything by Lovecraft. When I was in college, his books were quite popular, especially with the geeky set. I wasn’t a big fan of horror, however. In fact, I’m still not. But Lovecraft and his creations have gotten so deeply embedded in the pop culture landscape that I decided to give him a try. I picked up a couple volumes from a used bookstore and decided to start with The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
Well, I was not impressed. Lovecraft certainly has a large vocabulary and a penchant for images. He has some skill for devising gothic-sounding names. Nonetheless, his writing is packed with stuff like this:
In light slumber he descended the seventy steps to the cavern of flame and talked of this design to the bearded priests Nasht and Kaman-Thah. And the priests shook there pshent-bearing heads and vowed it would be the death of his soul. They pointed out that the Great Ones had shown already their wish, and that it is not agreeable to them to be harassed by insistent pleas. They reminded him, too, that not only had no man ever been to Kadath, but no man had ever suspected in what part of space it may lie; whether it be in the dreamlands around our own world, or in those surrounding some unguessed companion of Fomalhaut or Aldebaran. If in our dreamland, it might conceivably be reached, but only three human souls since time began had ever crossed and recrossed the black impious gulfs to other dreamlands, and of that three, two had come back quite mad. There were, in such voyages, incalculable local dangers; as well as that shocking final peril which gibbers unmentionably outside the ordered universe, where no dreams reach; that last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the centre of all infinity–the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and thin, monotonous whine of accursed flutes; to which detestable pounding and piping dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic Ultimate gods, the blind, voiceless , tenebrous, mindless Other gods whose soul and messenger is the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep.
Either you can take such stuff seriously or you can’t. I can’t, so no more Lovecraft for me.