On DVD: Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown

H.P. Lovecraft, one of the creators of horror literature as we know it, was a tall, skinny, long-faced racist/xenophobic recluse - a man who was demonstrably afraid of the world, and transmogrified that fear into stories of the uncanny that define "weird fiction." He lived in Providence, RI, for most of his life, often in long periods of solitude and seclusion. His stories pit protagonists of learning and science - often Providence-area natives - against unspeakably horrific creatures of godlike power and omnipotence. These creatures - who appear in a loosely connected group of stories known as "The Cthulhu Mythos" - observe humanity with utter dispassion, and Lovecraft's characters are powerless before them. In these stories, Lovecraft envisions a world where the ultimate terror goes hand-in-hand with the ultimate knowledge - the human confrontation with previously unknown powers that totally compromise and moot our Earth-bound concepts of human advancement and values. Is anything more frightening than the idea that individual human lives are insignificant and meaningless? It could be argued that this fear was the engine behind all human activity - and yet all human industry was threatened by the forces Lovecraft imagined. The consecration of this deeply existential neurosis in his short stories comprises a key contribution to literature - a body of work that maintains lasting philosophical immediacy.

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