Old 04-21-2003, 09:54 PM
Is H.P Lovercraft a very overrated horror writer

Hi. I was wondering if anybody agreed with me on this. I know most people out there probably won't, but I thought I would ask as it has been on mind a lot since I decided to take up Lovecraft while I was on Spring Break. I have a feeling this will be very contraversial but it seems I have a knack at that. Go look over at the House of a Thousand Corpses Thread.

Well being that Ive been on these baords for a year and a half I think I had to take up Lovecraft at some point. Aside from Stephen King, Lovecraft seems to be one of the most celebrated writers on this board. Being that I haven't read one of his stories I picked up one of his anthologies and started reading.

I must say I was sorely dissapointed. The one thing I really didn't like and prevents me from getting into his stories is his very didatic writing. maybe its just me, but I feel at times his writing is more akin to a scientific journal than actual fiction writing. I read Dagon, The Beast in te Cave, and In the Mountians of Madness. None of them I could get through. The irionic thing is his writing is very descrptive, yet I don't feel they are descriptive in engaging ways. I felt he was relating events in a more newspaper like even Hemingway way. I really don't like Hemingway which may be the problem.

To me Stephen King, even Ray Bradbury, are better writers as they say more in fewer words. Now I know what youre going to say. How can King be concisely descriptive in his 1000 page novels. I believe he is. His plots may not be concsie, but I fell he can draw so much of characters and settings in few words. I ususally point out the few paragraphs in the first chapter of IT in which King describes a haunted city. Amazing writing.

I know there will probably be few who agree, but I was just curious if there any that were or anybody can see what I'm getting at.
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Old 04-21-2003, 10:08 PM
Sure, ol H.P. could have used an editor, and his elegaic writing is affected by his scientific background. Lovecraft is an acquired taste as far as reading goes.

Personally, his descriptive stories are fabulously moody. The Music of Erich Zahn is a short, sweet piece that chills when you visualize the words, and PIckman's Model just tickles my scary bone with its ending.

However, Lovecraft is not perfect. His dream narratives are difficult to make it through, and Herbert West, Re-=Animator was parodying his own earlier works.
My frustration at getting past the summations during each West serial was redundant to me. I cannot complain that Re-Animator is not an excellent tale.

Not everyone loves Lovecraft. I do, but I relish when I can curl up in a carrion abyss with Yog-Sothoth and the other Great Old Ones.
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Old 04-21-2003, 10:12 PM
Good topic!

You're dead-on about his sometimes didactic, very analytic style. However, I think that this kind of writing works pretty well for horror novels and short stories. Have you read Bram Stoker's Dracula? Almost the whole book is told in the form of very dry, almost prosaic diary entries. And that makes it so scary. IMO, the simple fact that you have to imagine which horrors lie beneath the surface of the cold, scientific descriptions make his works so frightening.

You should also post your thoughts in the books/comics forum for some more feedback!

Last edited by Ren Hoek; 04-21-2003 at 10:14 PM..
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Old 04-21-2003, 11:18 PM
i feel indeed,he is very overrated.
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Old 04-21-2003, 11:19 PM
good point Ren, should have thought of that
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Old 04-22-2003, 04:38 AM
Sadly its hard to find any of his books where i live but now i dont even know if ill bother, i really enjoyed Re-Animator and Dagon and will seek them out though
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Old 04-22-2003, 05:16 AM
I dont know. I`ve only read Herbert West, Re-Animator and I liked it. It was eerie and dark. I believe, I would like Lovecraft`s other stories too.
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Old 04-22-2003, 08:28 AM
I absolutely love his work. Too bad I haven't found any of his books for sale.

And Dagon is only a few pages(3-4) long. How could you not finish that?
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Old 04-22-2003, 09:03 AM
One thing to keep in mind about Lovecraft's works. Most of them were published in pulp magazines and you were paid by the word, so that might help you undrestand why he was a little long winded at times.

IMHO He is one of the Master of Horror Literature. I've never been able look at the ocean at night the same since reading his stories.
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Old 04-22-2003, 09:24 AM
If Lovecraft was overrated, I would've definitely come across his works at a young age when I learned of the other horror authors (Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, etc). It was only about 4 years ago when my cousin was telling me about the Necronomicon. He's very underrated because a lot of people do not know of his stories, nor the movies on which they are based. High schools make students read certain books required for thier literature class. There should also be one long Lovecraft story required IMO.
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Old 04-22-2003, 10:04 AM
Originally posted by Andrew Tom
And Dagon is only a few pages(3-4) long. How could you not finish that?
I was thinking the same thing!

I think Lovecraft was a genius. Overrated he most certainly is NOT. I think a lot of people have trouble reading his work simply because they can't take the time to really READ his stories. He is not the kind of writer who's stories you can just skim over like those of King's. His work requires your full attention and if you take the time to read it properly, you'll find his work VERY effective and haunting.
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Old 04-22-2003, 10:59 AM
He has a very very good imagination and is one of the most creative horror writers ever, but his style of writing is too flowery and lots of unecassary crap that makes it difficult and unenjoyable to read.
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Old 04-22-2003, 11:53 AM
As some of you might allready known Ive recently started reading Lovecraft.

And I absolutely love his stuff.

Yes he is wordy, yes he is overly descriptive at times, but hey thats part of his style. We cannot change that. That is what makes Lovecraft, Lovecraft. When you start reading the work of an author youve never read, you need some time to get adjusted to his or her style. After a while of actually reading some of his work, you will get a taste for it. Itll be like a new pair of underwear, at first its constrictive, but then if becomes a part of you. That is the style in wich he expresses himself, and we need to readjust our expectations to that. I think a lot of it has to do we the fact that some of todays readers are a tad lazy, myself included. Lovecrafts stories take sometime to actually get to the point. He will describe a place, until you actually feel like you are there, then WHAMO! he hits you with it. A good example of this is Imprisoned with the Pharaohs.

His work does have a few shortcomings, like the scientific jargon is sometimes outdated, but hey lets keep in mind, these stories were written in the 1930's. We cant expect him to go into details about DNA swapping and genetic alteration (well leave that to Mr. Crichton)

When reading Lovecraft I allways find it helpfull to get into the mindset of those times. Like when you watch an old Universal horror film. You cant go in expecting to see something similar to what we see in todays films. The technology and experience werent there. Such is the case with Lovecraft. Some of his stories are limited in terms of scientific knowledge and some of it is overly descriptive and even racist (thats a whole other subject we can tackle) but when it all comes down to it, all that matters is that the man could write one hell of a story and spook the hell out of us while doing it.

Spacemonkeys outta here!
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Old 04-22-2003, 03:21 PM
When reading Lovecraft I allways find it helpfull to get into the mindset of those times
Lovecraft actually captures the fears of a society coming to grips with the supernatural being valid, as well as new scientific ideas. That is hard to do when you have the problem of formula, like todays authors often adhere to.

His mood in lesser stories like COLOUR OUT OF SPACE is devastating when read under right circumstances. And his prose drags you into the events reluctantly, because attention to details is mucho important. You feel the tension when in one story there is a drop of blood on the page with ritual butcherings.
Or the voyage of The Outsider.
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Old 04-22-2003, 03:51 PM
I read the Terrible Old Man, it was only a couple pages and it was pretty darn "newspaper" like. Even though it was only a couple of pages it was pretty good.
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Old 04-22-2003, 06:32 PM
Lovecraft is, if anything, under-rated. The style that he writes in is a very formal, literary style. He blends an analytical mind with a flair for the darkly imaginative. His works are often terse, but if you find it hard to get through them, then it's a flaw of the reader, and not the read.
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Old 04-23-2003, 11:43 AM
Originally posted by The Delfonics
I read the Terrible Old Man, it was only a couple pages and it was pretty darn "newspaper" like. Even though it was only a couple of pages it was pretty good.
Just read this one too!

Heres another thing about Lovecraft:

Hell explain places and settings with great details...yet when it comes to the supernatural or the bizarre he will leave it to your own interpretation. When it comes to real fantastic things he will not give you its meaning or explain in great detail what it is, or where it came from or why its there...it just is.

In this aspect of his writing he leaves us in a shroud of mystery wich I like very much, because it makes us use our own imaginations...like for example The Terrible Old Man who the hell was he? What did he do talking to those bottles? Why did he have yellow eyes?

Who knows? But the story was spooky, and scary mainly because we dont know who this evil old man is.

Another story that is also like this is "The Evil Clergymen". i think this is a good part of his writing style because it sort of leaves us wanting for more, it leaves us in a whirlwind of mystery...and horror.
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Old 04-23-2003, 05:14 PM
It's hard to read stories from an author who was Stark Raving mad!!! I did a report on him in Eng. 101 and boy oh boy was he a nut case, almost all of his loved ones died or got stuck in a institution, but yeah it's understandable alot of people wouldn't like his work. Some of his stories are just absolutley unreadable, thats why I recommend his stories that are under 20 pages lol.
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Old 04-23-2003, 07:07 PM
H.P. Lovecraft was one of the worst stylists ever to set pen to paper. I couldn't write prose that purple if I tried.

H.P. Lovecraft is also, in my opinion, the greatest horror writer ever. The ideas! There is nothing *like* Lovecroft out there. When I've read Lovecraft, the stories will haunt my imagination all day long. I'll take substance over style any day.

H.P. Lovecraft is under-rated.

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Old 04-24-2003, 03:59 PM
I don't think there is any point in comparing Stephen King to H.P Lovecraft as good as king is he dosen't hold that flickering verve that Lovecraft let flow within his writting.

The wild ellectic rush of Lovecrafts art that was his written word ignited the page and yes it is easy for me to write an emotive reply but that is only because that is the emotion that shivers around my soul when I read his work.

To say Bardbury can say things in fewer words is true but Lovecraft used more words to explore avenues that are missed with a clinical discrption.
With his words he fires the mind with spices only discovered with the stroke of the ink on to paper I could be sharper and to the point but why when there are so many rich words to be plucked like ripe fruits.
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Old 04-25-2003, 10:04 AM
It's also important to remember that Lovecraft didn't write stories for plot or character, he wrote with the intention of instilling a sense of cosmic dread or wonder in the reader. You certainly don't read HPL just to "find out what happens." Read his stories more like you'd read poetry, or Poe (especially "The Fall of the House of Usher"), i.e., slowly, deliberately, and with your imagination fully dilated.
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Old 04-25-2003, 10:27 AM
I figured few people would agree with me on this. I especially thought my comment comparing Stphen King to Lovecraft would get people mad.

I still insist Kind is equla to Lovecraft in everyway. IT is one of the few books that I can open to at any place and find an invocative and creppy piece of writing.

Also I know that Lovecraft primary was to instill mood yet I it didn't instill me with anything. As sadi before I found his writings to be so didatic, overly-long, and too scientific that I felt like I was placed outside of the story. In the stories that I ahve read by him I never felt once that I was IN the story.

I know few people agree with me, but I just find his w ritings incredibly and a big dissapoint. I don't see why he is consdiered a classic writer. If you want to tlak classics Bradbury is a more worthy classic writer to me.

Andrew Tom

I couldn't finish Dagon becuase it was so dry and static. When I was readiung the first page I could actually feel myself reading each individual sentnce. Thats how didactic his writing is to me.

Sorry I just can't stand Lovecraft and I don;t know he is considered Classic.

By the way if were talking short stories I still feel King beats out Lovecraft. Quitters Inc. is one of the best short stories Ive ever read.
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Old 04-25-2003, 10:27 AM
Hey I just passed 500 on my posts. Just noticed that. YAY!!!!!
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Old 04-25-2003, 02:07 PM
First, HPL is not in the least didactic. His stories are not meant to instruct or impart any sort of morality. Second, King and HPL are worlds apart. King's stories and novels stress character and plot, and are didactic, at least in an EC Comics sort of way. His prose is direct and vernacular, and often refers to pop culture and modern contemporary issues. On the other hand, HPL, as I said in an earlier post, uses plot and character in purely functional ways. The characters are there to witness events, and rarely anything more, and his plots are structured specifically to the heighten dramatic impact of the revelations of the story (in fact, most of his stories are about people finding out things that have all ready happened, or are on-going), rather than the typical cause-and-effect, chronological structure. And lastly, is writing is deliberately antiquated, following in the style of the Victorian era Romance, which was considered way out-of-date by 1920 - 1930, when he did most of his writing.

Bradbury and King certainly have more in common, both in style and technique, then Lovecraft and King, so it's rather unfair to expect an HPL story to be a Stephen King story.
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Old 04-25-2003, 05:03 PM
I luv HPL, I just picked up Cabal at a yardsale the other day and finished it in three long nights.
BTW, does anyone here (Other than me, of course) wish Quentin Tarantino wrote novels.
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Old 04-25-2003, 05:07 PM
One of my favorite HPL stories is The Statement of Randolph Carter, that story scared the bajesus outta me. BTW if Tarentino wrote novels they would defenetly be Pulp novels and I would read them all.
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Old 04-26-2003, 01:05 AM
I never said that a King story has to be like a Lovecraft story. I really like King so I was making a comparison. Please don't think that I want everything to sound like a King story. Hell I think Poe is better than Lovecraft and he is much older then Lovecraft. Talk setting a mood in a few short words to me Poe will always be the master.

Also I don't need a cohesive story and I donít need action in my stories. I hope your not getting the feeling Night Watchman that I only like modern horror novelists because I can't take the older style Lovecraft is. I jus t think that Lovecraft is completely ineffective. You keep talking about how his stories primary goal is setting a mood and atmosphere. I don't get any mood or atmosphere form his short stories because his writing style is uninvolving.

Also he may not be teaching style but his writing sure sounds didactic. In his stories he seems to be more fond of telling then showing through visual representation. I think telling is a little bit more dry. Thatís all.
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Old 04-26-2003, 11:23 AM
Originally posted by chinton
I never said that a King story has to be like a Lovecraft story. I really like King so I was making a comparison. Please don't think that I want everything to sound like a King story.

I hope your not getting the feeling Night Watchman that I only like modern horror novelists because I can't take the older style Lovecraft is.
It did kind of seem like you were faulting Lovecraft for not successfully incorporating elements of King. I can certainly understand how HPL can be off-putting when first encountered; in fact someone said in an earlier post he was one of the worst stylists to put pen to paper. This is far from true; he was a very iconoclastic and idiosyncratic writer, and may not have been a stylistic genius like Poe or Bradbury, but he was very good even if he stumbled a few times, and had very specific notions about how a supernatural horror tale ought to be written. Lovecraft just went about things differently, and I think, once you glom onto it his style is just as effective as anyone else's, and sometimes moreso, in the genre.

If you're interested you can find a long essay on HPL by S.T. Joshi here.
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Old 04-26-2003, 05:11 PM
Night Watchman

I might try him again one of these days. Maybe over the summer. Sorry if I seemed I was faulting HL for not being more like King. I didn't mean that.

I have to say this is the most responses Ive getten f orm any one of my posts. very cool.
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Old 04-27-2003, 09:53 AM
I personally think Lovecraft is the greatest writer ever. I've read all his of his books from the local library and I absolutely love them. Sure, Lovecraft has his own style which requires much paying attention to the text. Funny, because right after I fetched a short story of collection of his stories (I've read that collection about five times), this topic was created.

And for the ones who wonder why someone hates Lovecraft, I think this is pretty much a same thing as the topic with people who hate The Evil Dead. Well, everybody has their taste.

And TATU, Cabal is Clive Barker's book, not H.P. Lovecraft's.
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Old 04-27-2003, 12:53 PM
I can't stand Lovecraft, King, Barker, or Bradbury. The only author for me is Michael Crichton!!!!!!!
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