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Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 July, 2017 10:02PM
Ancient History Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> G. K. Chesterton was a substantial influence on
> Robert E. Howard.

Do you mean "The Ballad of the White Horse"? I just read it. Yeah, I can see the echoes. I find Chesterton to be a clumsy poet. But for our purposes, I guess it's the ideas that count.

I also saw echoes of Lovecraftian ideas, such as "the gods behind the gods", who "are best unsung", who "would rend all gods and men" and are "weary to make an end". Also, the prophesy that modernity will be a destructive force.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 12 July, 2017 10:08PM
Platypus Wrote:
>
> Do you mean "The Ballad of the White Horse"?

Yes, REH was very fond of it.

> I also saw echoes of Lovecraftian ideas, such as
> "the gods behind the gods", who "are best unsung",
> who "would rend all gods and men" and are "weary
> to make an end". Also, the prophesy that
> modernity will be a destructive force.

That's something else again. Tolkien, Machen, Dunsany, William Morris, and to a lesser extant Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were part of a general movement in fantasy fiction that saw modernity as a not entirely positive development, and who held or portrayed a somewhat idealized vision of the past - specifically rural or gentry lifestyle: Machen's wild hills of Wales contrasted with London; Dunsany warned of the development of atomic power and lamented the spread of cities; Lovecraft idealized the British Colonialist "gentleman farmer"; Robert E. Howard the American frontier; Tolkien of course had his Shire as an echo of the idealized British agricultural community, etc. It was part of a trend of such thoughts in American and British thought and fiction.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 July, 2017 11:49AM
I'm not sure Lovecraft held such pessimistic ideas to a lesser extent. I think the distinction would be this: Lovecraft believed modern nihilism, the overturning of traditions, and the resulting societal degradation, to be inevitable, because he believed modern nihilism (etc.) was true and scientific. Chesterton and/or the Inklings would not have seen nihilistic ideas, nor the rejection of traditional moral/religious views, as true or scientific, and so, if anything, would have been less committed to the inevitability of the victory of these ideas, and of the dire results.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 13 July, 2017 03:28PM
Lovecraft was stuck between thinking civilization was superior to barbarism (re: his argument-in-letters with Robert E. Howard) and his many arguments about the coming "Machine Age" would would result in a Brave New World style shift in government; his happy middle ground was the aforementioned Colonial planter class. HPL's dire ruminations on the mechanized future of humanity doesn't come through in his fiction, pretty much only his letters.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 14 July, 2017 05:23PM
HPL's horror of modernity and the effects of modern science does come through in his fiction. See specifically, "Nyarlathotep", "Arthur Jermyn" (opening lines especially), "Herbert West -- Reanimator". More generally, any reference to the idea of "cosmic" horror, forbidden knowledge, and things man was not meant to know, etc.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 17 July, 2017 06:10PM
Thanks for further thoughts on HPL-CAS-REH as a sort of writers' group. I've been vacationing and wasn't able to acknowledge several posts; but thanks!

DN

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 23 July, 2017 10:27PM
Here's a nice article on Cosmic Horror in Tolkien's work

[phuulishfellow.wordpress.com]

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2017 11:28AM
Thanks, Platypus. I have left a comment there.

DN

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2017 11:49AM
On mention of these ideas surfacing in HPL's fiction, I would also cite such examples as portions of "The Mound" and "At the Mountains of Madness" as well; but I think that, in a less obvious way, this is a common thread throughout much of his fiction, and indeed one of the prime reasons for its creation. "Celephais", for instance (not to mention "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"), as well as the fragment "Azathoth", would likely either not exist or be quite different were it not for the idea that modernity, with all its attendant ills, is sterile and destructive of fulfilling human emotional needs. (By "Kadath", of course, he had learned a method of compromise by having traditional attachments be the center of one's life, but it was a tenuous thing nonetheless, easily disturbed or damaged.) And, of course, the entire thrust of the opening paragraph of "The Call of Cthulhu" is wholly on the idea of how advancing knowledge is likely to be the destroyer of our species, or at least of our sanity and any feeling of security or place in the universe: "The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but someday the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."

Thematically, this idea can be seen as emerging in at least nascent form as early as "Dagon", and it would last throughout his career.

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