The American writer H.P. Lovecraft wrote weird fiction. His work is both weird, in the conventional sense of the word, and Weird, in a more specific sense. His tales are not typical horror stories, but instead invoke a type of cosmic terror, a slow realization that humanity is an insignificant afterthought in a vast universe of indescribably horrific creatures. Protagonists tend to write their stories on the verge of madness, or just before they commit suicide, having uncovered an unspeakable truth. His writing is all about atmosphere, not plot.
Lovecraft has been enormously influential on the development of genre fiction – science fiction, fantasy, and particularly horror. His is a world, a mythos, in which cosmic entities such as Cthulhu are terrifyingly revealed.
This all may seem incredibly niche, but Lovecraft has permeated popular culture in every form. Lovecraft's work is referenced, supplemented, parodied, critiqued, documented and dissected. Cthulhu, along with a pantheon of other cosmic creatures, is a source of fascination for huge numbers of people, especially online. It’s pretty safe to say the internet is a bit obsessed with HP Lovecraft.
And it is also all a bit, well, weird, if you haven’t really come across it before.
This episode explores the world of Lovecraft, Lovecraftian writing, and weird fiction. My guest is Dr Tim Jarvis, lecturer in English literature at the University of Bedfordshire, and an author of weird fiction himself. The story takes us from early 20th century America to contemporary writers, such as Jeff Vandermeer and China Mieville, writing weird fiction today.