Sunday, September 19, 2010

Theodora Goss On Lovecraft

Theodora Goss, a writer whose stories I've enjoyed a lot, shares why she likes Lovecraft. An excerpt:

"The Shadow over Innsmouth" exemplifies why I adore Lovecraft so much. The scholarly consensus seems to be that Lovecraft was essentially a fearful man, which is sort of what "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" is about. Lovecraft was afraid of New York, of the immigrant population that surrounded him, and so he recast what he feared as monstrous. Aliens became Aliens. At least, that's what the scholarship, based largely on biographical material, implies. But what I see in Lovecraft is a staging of fear. I think he takes great delight in making us afraid, and so I see him as a particularly conscious artist rather than as an unconscious, fearful author.

For example, have you ever noticed that the Virginia estate of the Delapores, in "The Rats in the Walls," is named Carfax? Carfax is also the name of Dracula's London house. Lovecraft may not have intended the reference consciously, but because he's the author of Supernatural Horror in Literature and knew his precursors so well, it can't be ignore. At some level, he's identifying the slave-owning Delapores as vampires – even before we discover that they had a history of eating people. He's as much an unconscious author, who simply channeled his fears into his fiction, as Poe or Stoker – who were also conscious artists. (All right, Stoker wasn't necessarily an artist. But Dracula is one of the most carefully structured novels I've read.)


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