Our Eyes are Yet to Open: H. P. Lovecraft and Modernist Horror
While Howard Phillips Lovecraft's popularity keeps growing in popular culture, mainstream literary academia hesitates to address his work. This reluctance stems from challenges associated with his controversial views and his significant presence in horror fiction. As a result, discussions about Lovecraft are mostly confined to specific academic journals. This essay suggests a reevaluation of Lovecraft's work within the context of literary modernism. Despite his criticisms of "the moderns," it becomes evident that Lovecraft's inclinations lean towards modernist aesthetics, not by choice but due to reluctance. To achieve this, the essay first examines Lovecraft's essays and correspondence to highlight his concerns and philosophical perspectives with his modernist contemporaries. Then, it delves into close readings of several of his works, such as "Nyarlathotep" (1920), “Pickman’s Model" (1927), and "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928). This analysis demonstrates how Lovecraft's fiction exhibits various themes and techniques associated with literary modernism more prominently than one might initially assume. Furthermore, building upon Brian Attebery's concept of forms and modes and analysis of his modern horror mythos (the “Cthulhu Mythos”), the essay argues that Lovecraft should be seen as a modernist through the lens of horror. This approach allowed him to express his fears and philosophical viewpoints about modernist concerns through terrifying and cosmic imagery. Consequently, this exploration reveals that Lovecraft deserves recognition as a modernist of horror.
Lovecraft, modernism, myth, horror, Joshi
Mueller, H. (2023). Our eyes are yet to open: H. P. Lovecraft and modernist horror (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.