Sunday, November 1, 2009

"The Dunwich Horror" by H. P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft Week Continues!

So I decided that, for Halloween day, I'd read one of Lovecraft's most well-known creations, "The Dunwich Horror." However, I quickly afterwards decided that I should instead eat copious amounts of candy and drink some beer. So, it didn't get read until this morning, leaving me, once again, a day behind schedule. Luckily, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, I have an extra hour to catch up.

As I mentioned before, "The Dunwich Horror" is one of the best-know of Lovecraft's work, having been adapted into three movie adaptations, a radio play, a claymation short, the basis for a quest in the video game Fallout 3, and the inspiration for the song "Goin' Down to Dunwich" by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. I'm sure there are others as well. And, as I've found, it it well-known for good reason. It is probably the best of the Lovecraft stories I've read so far. It's dark, atmospheric, and creepy, although, I believe, it stops just short of causing a true feeling of horror in the reader. I think this might me because the horror of "The Dunwich Horror" is so alien, so otherworldly, that, while it could easily drive someone insane in real life, it has a bit of a distancing effect on the reader, allowing them to go "hey, that was weird," while keeping themselves far enough away from it to not truly be scared.

I think this distancing in relation to Lovecraft's work can possibly best be seen in the massive popularity of Chthulhu in pop culture, especially the proliferation of plush Chthulhus and "Little Chthulhus" out there. I think what happens here is that, while something like Chthulhu or the Dunwich Horror is terrifying to those that are actually experiencing them in the story, they just come across as weird, and perhaps even slightly fascinating, to the reader. Now, maybe I'm wrong here. Maybe what's really at work is the age and popularity of Lovecraft's works has made it such a part of popular culture that it is no longer particularly foreign or horrific to the modern reader. Kind of like how vampires have become so commonplace to popular fiction that they're no longer all that scary.

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