Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"My province is that dim realm where night clutches the worlds," or, Reading Lovecraft's letters

In this too-busy week, I've been finding time to dip into Lovecraft's letters. Dipping is the only sensible approach; spend too much time with Lovecraft and his less palatable side (thoroughgoing racism) starts to show. But a bit at a time, and skimmed for commentary on writers, writing, and horror, they can be quite rewarding.

Today I'll simply share a passage from a letter Lovecraft sent to Frank Belknap Long on May 3, 1922:
To me Poe is the apex of fantastic art--there was in him a vast and cosmic vision which no imitator has been able to parallel. It is no wonder that his work was totally devoid of the sensual, because his dominant excitant lay outside the domain of human relationships altogether. His was the true awe of the atom in the presence of the infinite--the essentially intellectual wonder of one who looks out upon the whirling, grotesque, and unfathomable abysses which engulf the entire world, yet of which the sensually-minded are utterly unconscious.
Later in the letter, Lovecraft hedges--but only a bit:
There may be something rather sophomoric in my intense and unalterable devotion to Poe; a devotion which has lasted for some twenty-five years without diminution; but I do not think it is so far amiss as the average ultra-modern would hasten to pronounce it. Poe was beyond anything this age can produce, and is so far America's sole contribution to the general current of world literature. He is the father of most of the redeeming features of decadent literature, and differs from the actual decadents in that they have failed to comprehend the magnificent and ultra-human point of view on which his unique writings are based.
It does remain fascinating how, after all these years, Poe remains sui generis. What other minds, for good or bad, have we seen like his?

No comments:

Post a Comment