Edited with a Foreword by Alex Kurtagić
London: The Palingenesis Project, 2013
hardcover only: $35
Originally published in 1927 in W. Paul Cook’s The Recluse, a small-circulation amateur magazine, H. P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature remains unparalleled as a survey of horror literature in the West, spanning the period from antiquity until the 1930s, and covering both the Anglo-American world and Continental Europe.
Particularly interesting about horror literature is that its emergence as a genre coincided with the establishment and institutionalization of liberalism, the latter of which represents a diametrically opposed worldview. This would suggest that horror literature, even if inadvertently or subconsciously, represents an attempt at escaping the limitations of the secular, materialist, rationalist liberal Weltanschauung, as well as a desire for meaning in a world rendered meaningless through ‘liberation’ from hierarchies, folk traditions, the occult, and the supernatural.
Also interesting is the fact that the aesthetics of Gothic horror are invariably and luxuriantly beautiful (if in a dark way), whereas the logical extreme of rationality (utilitarianism, standardization) is inherently anti-aesthetic. Would this not indicate, then, that the Age of Reason marked the beginning of a process that concluded in late modernity with the wholesale destruction of beauty, except where it, or the counterfeiting of it, was dictated by economic necessity?
If so, we may view Lovecraft’s essay not merely as a resource for those seeking entertainment within a genre of literature, but also for those seeking to escape, and begin to transcend, liberal modernity. It is perhaps no coincidence that Lovecraft’s innate sensibility was elitist and aristocratic; or that he in many ways revolted against the modern world (even though he was scientifically minded); or that he was maddened by the cosmopolitan city (in 1925!), repeatedly referring to the need for roots and tradition; or that he rejected humanism and humanist conceits in both his thought and fiction.
This fully annotated edition aims at a recuperation, revision, and restatement of the importance of one of the most intriguing areas of the Western literary tradition.
Note on the Text
II. The Dawn of the Horror Novel
III. The Early Gothic Novel
IV. The Apes of Gothic Romance
V. The Aftermath of Gothic Fiction
VI. Spectral Literature on the Continent
VII. Edgar Allan Poe
VIII. The Weird Tradition in America
IX. The Weird Tradition in the British Isles
X. The Modern Masters
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) was an American writer. An heir of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne and a pioneer of supernatural and science fiction, Lovecraft was a master of the short story, but also wrote novellas, poems, essays, criticism, and countless letters.
hardcover only: $35