On H. P. Lovecraft

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Szerző: Jorge Luis Borges • Dátum: 2003-01-29

(From: Introduction to American Literature)  

 

Chapter 13, The Detective Story, Science Fiction and the Far West.  

 

„Howard Philips [sic] Lovecraft (1890-1937) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Very sensitive and of delicate health, he was educated by his widowed mother and aunts. Like Hawthorne he enjoyed solitude, and although he worked during the day, he did so with the shades lowered.  

In 1924 he married and moved to Brooklyn; in 1929 he was divorced and returned to Providence, where he went back to his life of solitude. He died of cancer. He detested the present and professed a fondness for the eighteenth century.  

Science attracted him: his first article had to do with astronomy. He published but a single book during his lifetime; after his death his friends brought together in book form the considerable body of his work, which had been dispersed in anthologies and magazines. He studiously imitated the style of Poe with its sonorities and pathos, and he wrote comic nightmares. In his stories one meets beings from remote planets and from ancient or future epochs who dwell in human bodies to study the universe, or, conversely, souls of our time who during sleep explore monstrous worlds, distant in time and space. Among his works we shall recall The Color from Space, [sic] The Dunwich Horror, and The Rats in the Wall.[sic]  

He also left a voluminous correspondence. To Poe's influence upon him one should also add that of the visionary storyteller Arthur Machen.”  

 

[It is obvious from this summary that Borges had read not only some of Lovecraft’s major works (The Shadow out of Time in particular) but also i an account of his life and a modicum of criticism about him. This fact is confirmed by Paul Theroux, who in a 1978 conversation with Borges "about horror stories in general" elicited the perverse revelation that I like Lovecraft's horror stories. His plots are very good, but his style is atrocious. I once dedicated a story to him.  

Ultimately, Borges’ attitude toward Lovecraft can only be described in terms of a syndrome of attraction-repulsion, an aesthetic of extreme polarities or a metaphysics of paradox, similar to the Mysterium tremendum as described by Rudolf Otto. Both horns of this dilemma demand their own special polishing.]  

 

Originally published in Buenos Aires in 1967 and resissued in English translation by the University Press of Kentucky four years later.

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