Monday, August 20, 2012
Perhaps that's a small thing of which to be reminded, but I think doing so can serve a valuable purpose, especially today, on the 122nd anniversary of Lovecraft's birth. Like so many cultural icons, I think it's all too easy to forget that Lovecraft was a human being before he became a geek totem. He was born into a particular family at a particular place and time and he lived a life apart from his having been one of the supremely influential writers of the 20th century.
Too often, I feel, HPL the Man is forgotten in favor of HPL the Legend and, while I, of all people, certainly don't object to the lionization of Lovecraft, we must never lose sight of the person behind the writing. He had his virtues and his flaws, like all men do, and they both contributed to making him the writer that he was, a writer who continues to fascinate and frustrate more than a century after his birth. That's probably why, as I get older, I find myself reading and re-reading books about Lovecraft's life as much as books containing Lovecraft's stories. It's also probably Lovecraft's letters hold so much interest; even moreso than his stories, his correspondence opens windows into the man, warts and all.
None of this is meant to deny the lasting interest and power of Lovecraft's literary output, but I thought today, when so many of us will take a moment to praise HPL as the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos and the father of modern horror, it'd be appropriate to remember him as more than that: a human being.