The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft

The weird realism that runs through his writings undermines any belief system – religious or humanist – in which the human mind is the centre of the universe. There is a tendency nowadays to think of the world in which we live as an artefact of mind or language: a human construction. For Lovecraft, human beings are too feeble to shape a coherent view of the universe. Our minds are specks tossed about in the cosmic melee; though we look for secure foundations, we live in perpetual free fall. With its emphasis on the radical contingency of the human world, this is a refreshing alternative to the anthropocentric philosophies in which so many find intellectual reassurance.

John Gray is a writer whose work and thought I tend to detest but he has produced a very interesting article on the occasion of a lavish new collection of the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft. Those familiar with Gray will easily imagine his affinity with Lovecraft’s cosmic pessimism, and in the above quote one can see how he manages to work a few strokes of his obsessive, anti-humanist ax grinding into what is ostensibly a review of some old horror stories. Nevertheless it’s a good review which Lovecraft fans will want to read.

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