Prolific American horror, fantasy and Science Fiction author Howard Phillips Lovecraft tragically died on March 15, 1937, in Providence. He was born August 20, 1890, known as H. P. Lovecraft he wrote mostly horror, fantasy, poetry and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction. Lovecraft’s guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed “cosmicism” or “cosmic horror”, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind. As such, his stories express a profound indifference to human beliefs and affairs. Lovecraft is the originator of the Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional magical textbook of rites and forbidden lore.
Some of Lovecraft’s work was inspired by his own nightmares. His interest started from his childhood days when his grandfather would tell him Gothic horror stories. Lovecraft’s biggest influence was Edgar Allan Poe and forbidden knowledge Is often a central theme in many of Lovecraft’s works.Many of his characters are driven by curiosity or scientific endeavor, and in many of his stories the knowledge they uncover proves Promethean in nature, either filling the seeker with regret for what they have learned, destroying them psychically, or completely destroying the person who holds the knowledge. Some critics argue that this theme is a reflection of Lovecraft’s contempt of the world around him, causing him to search inwardly for knowledge and inspiration. The beings of Lovecraft’s mythos often have human (or mostly human) servants; Cthulhu, for instance, is worshiped under various names by cults amongst both the Eskimos of Greenlandand voodoo circles of Louisiana, and in many other parts of the world.
These worshippers served as inspiration for Lovecraft. Many beings of the Mythos were too powerful to be defeated by human opponents, and so horrific that direct knowledge of them meant insanity for the victim. When dealing with such beings, Lovecraft needed a way to provide exposition and build tension without bringing the story to a premature end. Human followers gave him a way to reveal information about their “gods” in a diluted form, and also made it possible for his protagonists to win paltry victories. Lovecraft, like his contemporaries, envisioned “savages” as closer to supernatural knowledge unknown to civilized man. Another recurring theme in Lovecraft’s stories is the idea that descendants in a bloodline can never escape the stain of crimes committed by their forebears, at least if the crimes are atrocious enough. Descendants may be very far removed, both in place and in time (and, indeed, in culpability), from the act itself, and yet, they may be haunted by the revenant past, e.g. “The Rats in the Walls”, “The Lurking Fear”, “Arthur Jermyn”, “The Alchemist”, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, “The Doom that Came to Sarnath” and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
Often in Lovecraft’s works the protagonist is not in control of his own actions, or finds it impossible to change course. Many of his characters would be free from danger if they simply managed to run away; but are being prevented by some outside force, such as in “The Colour Out of Space” and “The Dreams in the Witch House”. Often his characters are subject to a compulsive influence from powerful malevolent or indifferent beings. As with the inevitability of one’s ancestry, eventually even running away, or death itself, provides no safety (“The Thing on the Doorstep”, “The Outsider”, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, etc.). In some cases, humanity itself is doomed and no escape is possible (“The Shadow Out of Time”). Lovecraft was also familiar with the work of the German conservative-revolutionary theorist Oswald Spengler, whose pessimistic thesis of the decadence of the modern West formed a crucial element in Lovecraft’s overall anti-modern worldview. Spenglerian imagery of cyclical decay is present in At the Mountains of Madness. The book H. P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West, places Spengler at the center of his discussion of Lovecraft’s political and philosophical ideas.
H. P. Lovecraft’s writing, particularly the so-called Cthulhu Mythos, has influenced fiction authors including modern horror and fantasy writers such as Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little, Joe R. Lansdale, Alan Moore, Junji Ito, F. Paul Wilson, Brian Lumley, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Neil Gaiman, have cited Lovecraft as one of their primary influences. Beyond direct adaptation, Lovecraft and his stories have had a profound impact on popular culture. Some influence was direct, as he was a friend, inspiration, and correspondent to many of his contemporaries, such as August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber. Many later figures were influenced by Lovecraft’s works, including author and artist Clive Barker, prolific horror writer Stephen King, comics writers Alan Moore and Mike Mignola, film directors John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, Guillermo Del Toro and artist H. R. Giger.
Japan has also been significantly inspired and terrified by Lovecraft’s creations and thus even entered the manga and anime media. Chiaki J. Konaka is an acknowledged Lovecraft disciple and has participated in Cthulhu Mythos, expanding several Japanese versions. Anime scriptwriter Cascade also tends to add horror elements and is credited for spreading the popularity of Lovecraft among anime base. Manga artist Junji Ito is also inspired by Lovecraft.
Although Lovecraft’s readership was limited during his lifetime, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, an award-winning author, Lovecraft—as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century—has exerted “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction”. Science fiction and fantasy authorStephen King called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale. King has made it clear in his non-fiction book danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for King’s own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. Sadly though in 1936, Lovecraft was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine, and as a result he suffered from malnutrition and lived in constant pain until his death. However Lovecraft’s legacy lives on and his stories have been adapted into plays, films and games, such as Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and id Software’s Quake.