As Arcanum Correspondent and Resident Librarian of this site, I feel I must follow these wonderful Lovecraft Haiku posts with a reader’s advisory. Are you curious about Lovecraft? Did you like him, but find yourself disappointed by the putrid imitators and shabby modern scribes? Read on, oh ye fearless, and find the horrors you seek. . .
The Contrarian Guide to Horror in Literature, Part 1: The Triumvirate
H.P. Lovecraft: Considered by many to be the greatest horror writer to put word to page, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in 1890 to a largely tragic life. Frequently ill and terribly shy, Lovecraft always showed a passion for literature, especially the Arabian Nights, which led him to adopt the pseudonym Abdul Alhazred, who later became the fictional creator of Lovecraft’s equally fictional creation, The Necronomicon. Lovecraft also wrote extensively on the subject of horror fiction.
The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature, edited by S.T. Joshi. Lovecraft’s book about horror in literature, complete with his take on what was good. He was almost always right.
Algernon Blackwood: Two of Blackwood’s stories, “The Willows” and “The Wendigo” are considered by Lovecraft to be the best, and among the best such stories, respectively. Blackwood was raised Calvinist, which could easily help explain the incredibly ominous horror of his stories. Much less known now than Lovecraft, Blackwood is still considered by many to be his equal, if not his better.
Any collection that has the two stories mentioned above. I’ve never read a story I didn’t like. That said, S.T. Joshi also edited a collection of Blackwood; it is excellent. If you can find a copy of Pan’s Garden, buy it. It’ll cost you, but you won’t be disappointed.
Arthur Machen: By far the least known of the three, Machen may be my favorite. He wrote beautifully, prose echoing Robert Louis Stevenson. Much of his work is out of print, but many short stories are available, again thanks to S.T. Joshi. A native of Ireland, Machen wrote of the mystic nature of his homeland. Machen and Blackwood were also members of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
-The Great God Pan. Incredible novella about a man who discovers that small incision in the brain can allow people to “see the Great God Pan.”
-Collected volumes one and two: The Three Imposters and Other Stories & The White People and Other Stories. Volume three is inessential.
-The Hill of Dreams. Not a horror novel, but an amazing, mystical, semi-autobiographical novel.
Next time: M.R. James, William Hope Hodgson, J. Sheridan Le Fanu.