You are on page 1of 37

H. P.

Lovecraft

Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction
betwixt the real and the unreal...

and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life
which lie close at hand yet can never be detected
with the senses we have.
• "From Beyond" Written November 16, 1920,
published June 1934 in The Fantasy Fan, 1
There is no field other than the weird in which I have any aptitude
or inclination for fictional composition. Life has never interested
me so much as the escape from life.

• Disintegration is quite painless, I assure you.
• “From Beyond”

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (20 August 1890 – 15
March 1937) was an American author of fantasy, horror, and science fiction, noted for combining these three
genres within single narratives and most famous for the
creation of the Cthulhu Mythos. He is considered, along
with Edgar Allan Poe, to be one of the greatest Horror
writers.

1

• In relating the circumstances which have led to
my confinement within this refuge for the demented, I am aware that my present position will
create a natural doubt of the authenticity of my
narrative. It is an unfortunate fact that the bulk
of humanity is too limited in its mental vision to
weigh with patience and intelligence those isolated
phenomena, seen and felt only by a psychologically
sensitive few, which lie outside its common experience. Men of broader intellect know that there
is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the
unreal; that all things appear as they do only
by virtue of the delicate individual physical and
mental media through which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of
the majority condemns as madness the flashes
of super-sight which penetrate the common veil
of obvious empiricism.

Quotes

1.1

Fiction

• What do we know … of the world and the universe
about us? Our means of receiving impressions
are absurdly few, and our notions of surrounding objects infinitely narrow. We see things only
as we are constructed to see them, and can gain
no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with wider,
stronger, or different range of senses might not only
see very differently the things we see, but might see

• "The Tomb" - Written Jun 1917; first published in The Vagrant, No. 14 (March 1922)
1

2

1

QUOTES

I am aware that my present position will create a natural doubt
of the authenticity of my narrative....

• I have dwelt ever in realms apart from the visible No new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the
world; spending my youth and adolescence in an- commonplace.
cient and little-known books, and in roaming the
fields and groves of the region near my ancestral
• My opinion of my whole experience varies from
home. I do not think that what I read in these books
time to time. In broad daylight, and at most seasons
or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what
I am apt to think the greater part of it a mere dream;
other boys read and saw there; but of this I must
but sometimes in the autumn, about two in the mornsay little, since detailed speech would but confirm
ing when winds and animals howl dismally, there
those cruel slanders upon my intellect which I somecomes from inconceivable depths below a damnable
times overhear from the whispers of the stealthy atsuggestions of rhythmical throbbing … and I feel
tendants around me. It is sufficient for me to relate
that the transition of Juan Romero was a terrible one
events without analysing causes.
indeed.
• “The Tomb” (1917)
• "The Transition of Juan Romero" - Written 16
Sep 1919; first published in Marginalia (1944)
• I am writing this under an appreciable mental
strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which
alone makes life endurable, I can bear the torture no
longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window
into the squalid street below.
• "Dagon" - Written Jul 1917; First published in
The Vagrant, No. 11 (November 1919)
• The end is near. I hear a noise at the door, as of
some immense slippery body lumbering against it.
It shall not find me. God, that hand! The window!
The window!
• “Dagon” - Written Jul 1917; First published in
The Vagrant, No. 11 (November 1919)

• Sometimes I believe that this less material life
is our truer life, and that our vain presence on
the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or
merely virtual phenomenon.
• “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” in Pine Cones, Vol.
1, No. 6 (October 1919)
• I screamed aloud that I was not afraid; that I never
could be afraid; and others screamed with me for
solace. We swore to one another that the city was
exactly the same, and still alive...
• "Nyarlathotep" (1920)
• Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of

1.1

Fiction

3

truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more
hideous. Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species — if separate species
we be — for its reserve of unguessed horrors could
never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the
world.
• “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and
His Family” - written 1920; first published in
The Wolverine, No. 9 (March 1921)
• It is only the inferior thinker who hastens to explain
the singular and the complex by the primitive short- Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.
cut of supernaturalism.
• "The Temple" - Written 1920; first published
in Weird Tales, 6 No. 3 (September 1925)

• No new horror can be more terrible than the daily
torture of the commonplace.
• “Ex Oblivione”
• There are not many persons who know what
wonders are opened to them in the stories and
visions of their youth; for when as children
we listen and dream, we think but half-formed
thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of
life. But some of us awake in the night with strange
phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging
murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses
along the edges of thick forests; and then we know
that we have looked back through the ivory gates into
that world of wonder which was ours before we were
wise and unhappy.

We know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into
that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and
unhappy.

• "Celephaïs" - Written early November 1920;
first published in The Rainbow, No. 2 (May
1922)

• There be those who say that things and places have
souls, and there be those who say they have not; I
dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street.

• Madness rides the star-wind... claws and teeth
sharpened on centuries of corpses... dripping death
astride a bacchanale of bats from nigh-black ruins
of buried temples of Belial...

• "The Street" - first published in The Wolverine,
No. 8 (December 1920)
• When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness like
the small drops of water torturers let fall ceaselessly
upon one spot of their victim’s body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of
the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered
through old gardens and enchanted woods.
• "Ex Oblivione" - First published in The United
Amateur, 20, No. 4 (March 1921)

• "The Hound" Written September 1922, published February 1924 in Weird Tales, 3, No.
2, 50–52, 78
• Memories and possibilities are ever more
hideous than realities.
• "Herbert West : Re-Animator" in “Home
Brew” Vol. 1, No. 1 (February 1922)
• Instead of the poems I had hoped for, there came
only a shuddering blackness and ineffable loneliness;

4

1

QUOTES

The only saving grace of the present is that it’s too damned stupid
to question the past very closely.

and I saw at last a fearful truth which no one had
ever dared to breathe before — the unwhisperable
secret of secrets — The fact that this city of stone
and stridor is not a sentient perpetuation of Old New
York as London is of Old London and Paris of Old
Paris, but that it is in fact quite dead, its sprawling
body imperfectly embalmed and infested with queer
animate things which have nothing to do with it as it Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where
the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break
was in life.
through again...

• “He” - Written 11 August 1925; first published
in Weird Tales, Vol. 8, No. 3 (September
1926)
There are black zones of shadow close to our daily paths,
and now and then some evil soul breaks a passage through.
When this happens the man who knows must strike before
• The only saving grace of the present is that it’s too reckoning the consequences.
damned stupid to question the past very closely.
• "Pickman’s Model " - written 1926; first published in Weird Tales, Vol. 10, No. 4 (October
1927)
• One of those creatures wrote you once, ‘do not call
up any that you can not put down’.
• (often phrased as “Do not call up that which you cannot put down.”)
• "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", written
1927, first published in Weird Tales, July 1941
• Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the
gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the
gate. Past, present, future, all are one in YogSothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke
through of old, and where They shall break
through again. He knows where They have trod
earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and
why no one can behold Them as They tread.
• "The Dunwich Horror " - Written Summer
1928; first published in Weird Tales, 13, No.
4, (April 1929)

• The Thing on the Doorstep (1937), first published in Weird Tales

• It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self — not merely a thing of one
Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence’s whole unbounded sweep — the last, utter sweep which
has no confines and which outreaches fancy and
mathematics alike. It was perhaps that which certain secret cults of earth have whispered of as YOGSOTHOTH, and which has been a deity under other
names; that which the crustaceans of Yuggoth worship as the Beyond-One, and which the vaporous
brains of the spiral nebulae know by an untranslatable Sign...
• "Through the Gates of the Silver Key " - written with E. Hoffman Price, October 1932 Apr 1933; first published in Weird Tales, Vol.
24, No. 1 (July 1934)

1.1

Fiction

5
• I felt that some horrible scene or object lurked beyond the silk-hung walls, and shrank from glancing
through the arched, latticed windows that opened so
bewilderingly on every hand.
• I beheld such a sight as I had never beheld before, and which no living person can have seen save
in the delirium of fever or the inferno of opium.
The building stood on a narrow point of land — or
what was now a narrow point of land — fully three
hundred feet above what must lately have been a
seething vortex of mad waters. On either side of the
house there fell a newly washed-out precipice of red
earth, whilst ahead of me the hideous waves were
still rolling in frightfully, eating away the land with
ghastly monotony and deliberation.

It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self
— not merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied
to the ultimate animating essence of existence’s whole unbounded
sweep...

1.1.1

• Some terror in the swishing tall grass seemed added
to that of the diabolically pounding sea, and I started
up crying aloud and disjointedly, “Tiger? Tiger? Is
it Tiger? Beast? Beast? Is it a Beast that I am afraid
of?"

The Crawling Chaos (1921)
First published in The United Co-operative Vol. 1,
No. 3 (April 1921)

• Of the pleasures and pains of opium much has
been written. The ecstasies and horrors of De
Quincey and the paradis artificiels of Baudelaire
are preserved and interpreted with an art which
makes them immortal, and the world knows well
the beauty, the terror and the mystery of those
obscure realms into which the inspired dreamer
is transported. But much as has been told, no man
has yet dared intimate the nature of the phantasms
thus unfolded to the mind, or hint at the direction There now ensued a series of incidents which transported me to
of the unheard-of roads along whose ornate and ex- the opposite extremes of ecstasy and horror; incidents which I
otic course the partaker of the drug is so irresistibly tremble to recall and dare not seek to interpret.
borne.
• I took opium but once — in the year of the plague,
when doctors sought to deaden the agonies they
could not cure. There was an overdose — my physician was worn out with horror and exertion — and I
travelled very far indeed. In the end I returned and
lived, but my nights are filled with strange memories, nor have I ever permitted a doctor to give me
opium again.
• Slowly but inexorably crawling upon my consciousness and rising above every other impression, came
a dizzying fear of the unknown; a fear all the greater
because I could not analyse it, and seeming to concern a stealthily approaching menace; not death,
but some nameless, unheard-of thing inexpressibly
more ghastly and abhorrent.

• There now ensued a series of incidents which
transported me to the opposite extremes of ecstasy and horror; incidents which I tremble to
recall and dare not seek to interpret. No sooner
had I crawled beneath the overhanging foliage of
the palm, than there dropped from its branches a
young child of such beauty as I never beheld before.
Though ragged and dusty, this being bore the features of a faun or demigod, and seemed almost to
diffuse a radiance in the dense shadow of the tree.
It smiled and extended its hand, but before I could
arise and speak I heard in the upper air the exquisite
melody of singing; notes high and low blent with
a sublime and ethereal harmoniousness. The sun
had by this time sunk below the horizon, and in the
twilight I saw an aureole of lambent light encircled

6

1
the child’s head. Then in a tone of silver it addressed me: “It is the end. They have come down
through the gloaming from the stars. Now all is
over, and beyond the Arinurian streams we shall
dwell blissfully in Teloe.” As the child spoke, I beheld a soft radiance through the leaves of the palm
tree, and rising, greeted a pair whom I knew to be
the chief singers among those I had heard. A god
and goddess they must have been, for such beauty is
not mortal; and they took my hands, saying, “Come,
child, you have heard the voices, and all is well....”
• I was obviously floating in the atmosphere; companioned not only by the strange child and the radiant
pair, but by a constantly increasing throng of halfluminous, vine-crowned youths and maidens with
wind-blown hair and joyful countenance. We slowly
ascended together, as if borne on a fragrant breeze
which blew not from the earth but from the golden
nebulae, and the child whispered in my ear that I
must look always upward to the pathways of light,
and never backward to the sphere I had just left.
• The ocean ate the last of the land and poured into
the smoking gulf, thereby giving up all it had ever
conquered. From the new-flooded lands it flowed
again, uncovering death and decay; and from its ancient and immemorial bed it trickled loathsomely,
uncovering nighted secrets of the years when Time
was young and the gods unborn. Above the waves
rose weedy remembered spires. The moon laid pale
lilies of light on dead London, and Paris stood up
from its damp grave to be sanctified with star-dust.
Then rose spires and monoliths that were weedy but
not remembered; terrible spires and monoliths of
lands that men never knew were lands...

1.1.2

The Other Gods (1921)
Written on August 14, 1921, first published in The
Fantasy Fan (November 1933)

• Atop the tallest of earth’s peaks dwell the gods
of earth, and suffer not man to tell that he hath
looked upon them. Lesser peaks they once inhabited; but ever the men from the plains would scale
the slopes of rock and snow, driving the gods to
higher and higher mountains till now only the last
remains. When they left their old peaks they took
with them all signs of themselves, save once, it is
said, when they left a carven image on the face of
the mountain which they called Ngranek. … They
are grown stern, and where once they suffered men
to displace them, they now forbid men to come; or
coming, to depart. It is well for men that they know
not of Kadath in the cold waste; else they would seek
injudiciously to scale it.

QUOTES

• Sometimes when earth’s gods are homesick they
visit in the still of the night the peaks where once
they dwelt, and weep softly as they try to play in the
olden way on remembered slopes.
• In cloud-ships the gods are wont to travel, and wise
cotters have legends that keep them from certain
high peaks at night when it is cloudy, for the gods
are not lenient as of old.
• Barzai knew so much of the gods that he could tell
of their comings and goings, and guessed so many of
their secrets that he was deemed half a god himself.
• The moon is dark, and the gods dance in the
night; there is terror in the sky, for upon the
moon hath sunk an eclipse foretold in no books
of men or of earth’s gods...' There is unknown
magic on Hatheg-Kla, for the screams of the frightened gods have turned to laughter, and the slopes of
ice shoot up endlessly into the black heavens whither
I am plunging... Hei! Hei! At last! In the dim light
I behold the gods of earth!
• The other gods! The other gods! The gods of the
outer hells that guard the feeble gods of earth!...
Look away... Go back... Do not see! Do not see!
The vengeance of the infinite abysses... That cursed,
that damnable pit... Merciful gods of earth, I am
falling into the sky!
• Above the mists on Hatheg-Kla, earth’s gods sometimes dance reminiscently; for they know they are
safe, and love to come from unknown Kadath in
ships of clouds and play in the olden way, as they
did when earth was new and men not given to the
climbing of inaccessible places.

1.1.3

Hypnos (1922)

Written March 1922; First published in The National Amateur Vol. 45, No. 5 (May 1923)

• May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such,
guard those hours when no power of the will, or
drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep
me from the chasm of sleep. Death is merciful,
for there is no return therefrom, but with him
who has come back out of the nethermost chambers of night, haggard and knowing, peace rests
nevermore. Fool that I was to plunge with such unsanctioned frensy into mysteries no man was meant
to penetrate; fool or god that he was — my only
friend, who led me and went before me, and who in
the end passed into terrors which may yet be mine!

1.1

Fiction

7
manity is capable of receiving. They were sensations, yet within them lay unbelievable elements of
time and space — things which at bottom possess
no distinct and definite existence. Human utterance
can best convey the general character of our experiences by calling them plungings or soarings...
• There was a night when winds from unknown spaces
whirled us irresistibly into limitless vacum beyond
all thought and entity. Perceptions of the most maddeningly untransmissible sort thronged upon us; perceptions of infinity which at the time convulsed us
with joy, yet which are now partly lost to my memory and partly incapable of presentation to others.

May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such, guard those hours
when no power of the will, or drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep me from the chasm of sleep...

• I found myself projected against an obstacle which
I could not penetrate. It was like the others, yet
incalculably denser; a sticky clammy mass, if such
terms can be applied to analogous qualities in a nonmaterial sphere.
I had, I felt, been halted by a barrier which my friend
and leader had successfully passed. Struggling anew,
I came to the end of the drug-dream...
• That was the end of our voluntary searchings in
the caverns of dream. Awed, shaken, and portentous, my friend who had been beyond the barrier
warned me that we must never venture within those
realms again.

• Of our studies it is impossible to speak, since
they held so slight a connection with anything of
the world as living men conceive it. They were
of that vaster and more appalling universe of
• Never could I tell, try as I might, what it actually was
dim entity and consciousness which lies deeper
that I saw; nor could the still face tell, for although it
than matter, time, and space, and whose exismust have seen more than I did, it will never speak
tence we suspect only in certain forms of sleep —
again. But always I shall guard against the mocking
those rare dreams beyond dreams which come
and insatiate Hypnos, lord of sleep, against the night
never to common men, and but once or twice
sky, and against the mad ambitions of knowledge
in the lifetime of imaginative men. The cosmos
and philosophy.
of our waking knowledge, born from such an
universe as a bubble is born from the pipe of
a jester, touches it only as such a bubble may
• They say that that haunting memory-face is modeled
touch its sardonic source when sucked back by
from my own, as it was at twenty-five; but upon the
the jester’s whim. Men of learning suspect it litmarble base is carven a single name in the letters of
tle and ignore it mostly. Wise men have interAttica — HYPNOS.
preted dreams, and the gods have laughed. One
man with Oriental eyes has said that all time and
space are relative, and men have laughed. But even 1.1.4 The Shunned House (1924)
that man with Oriental eyes has done no more than
suspect....
Full text online at Wikisource
• Among the agonies of these after days is that
• From even the greatest of horrors irony is selchief of torments — inarticulateness. What I
dom absent.
learned and saw in those hours of impious exploration can never be told — for want of symbols
or suggestions in any language. I say this because 1.1.5 The Call of Cthulhu (1926)
from first to last our discoveries partook only of the
Full text online at Wikisource
nature of sensations; sensations correlated with no
impression which the nervous system of normal hu-

8

1

QUOTES

of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that
we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee
from the light into the peace and safety of a new
dark age.
• Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur
of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human
race form transient incidents. They have hinted at
strange survivals in terms which would freeze the
blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it
is not from them that there came the single glimpse
of forbidden eons which chills me when I think of it
and maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse,
like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an
accidental piecing together of separated things — in
this case an old newspaper item and the notes of a
dead professor....

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of
the human mind to correlate all its contents...

• It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol
representing a monster, of a form which only
a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that
my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded
simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon,
and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled
head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body
with rudimentary wings; but it was the general
outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.
• The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside
from a stack of press cuttings, in Professor Angell’s
most recent hand; and made no pretense to literary
style. What seemed to be the main document was
headed “CTHULHU CULT” in characters painstakingly printed to avoid the erroneous reading of a
word so unheard-of.

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

• The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is
the inability of the human mind to correlate all
its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance
in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not
meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each
straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed
us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas

• Many of his questions seemed highly out of place
to his visitor, especially those which tried to connect the latter with strange cults or societies; and
Wilcox could not understand the repeated promises
of silence which he was offered in exchange for an
admission of membership in some widespread mystical or paganly religious body. When Professor
Angell became convinced that the sculptor was
indeed ignorant of any cult or system of cryptic lore, he besieged his visitor with demands for
future reports of dreams.
• My uncle, it seems, had quickly instituted a prodigiously far-flung body of inquires amongst nearly all
the friends whom he could question without impertinence, asking for nightly reports of their dreams, and
the dates of any notable visions for some time past.
The reception of his request seems to have varied;
but he must, at the very least, have received more responses than any ordinary man could have handled
without a secretary.

1.1

Fiction

• It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came, and I know that panic would
have broken loose had they been able to compare notes. As it was, lacking their original letters, I
half suspected the compiler of having asked leading
questions, or of having edited the correspondence
in corroboration of what he had latently resolved to
see.
• The statuette, idol, fetish, or whatever it was, had
been captured some months before in the wooded
swamps south of New Orleans during a raid on
a supposed voodoo meeting; and so singular and
hideous were the rites connected with it, that the police could not but realise that they had stumbled on
a dark cult totally unknown to them, and infinitely
more diabolic than even the blackest of the African
voodoo circles. Of its origin, apart from the erratic
and unbelievable tales extorted from the captured
members, absolutely nothing was to be discovered;
hence the anxiety of the police for any antiquarian
lore which might help them to place the frightful
symbol, and through it track down the cult to its
fountain-head.
• No recognised school of sculpture had animated
this terrible object, yet centuries and even thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and
greenish surface of unplaceable stone.
• What, in substance, both the Esquimaux wizards
and the Louisiana swamp-priests had chanted to
their kindred idols was something very like this:
the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional
breaks in the phrase as chanted aloud:
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl
fhtagn." … “In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu
waits dreaming.” .
• They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old
Ones who lived ages before there were any men,
and who came to the young world out of the sky.
Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and
under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their
secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a
cult which had never died. This was that cult, and
the prisoners said it had always existed and always
would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark places
all over the world until the time when the great priest
Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city of
R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the
earth again beneath his sway. Some day he would
call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult
would always be waiting to liberate him.
• There had been aeons when other Things ruled on
the earth, and They had had great cities. Remains

9
of Them, he said the deathless Chinamen had told
him, were still be found as Cyclopean stones on islands in the Pacific. They all died vast epochs of
time before men came, but there were arts which
could revive Them when the stars had come round
again to the right positions in the cycle of eternity.
They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars,
and brought Their images with Them.
These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were
not composed altogether of flesh and blood.
They had shape — for did not this star-fashioned
image prove it? — but that shape was not made
of matter. When the stars were right, They could
plunge from world to world through the sky; but
when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But
although They no longer lived, They would never really die...
• That cult would never die till the stars came right
again, and the secret priests would take great
Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and
resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to
know, for then mankind would have become as the
Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and
evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men
shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the
liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to
shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and
all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy
and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate
rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient
ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.
• No book had ever really hinted of it, though the
deathless Chinamen said that there were double
meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab
Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as
they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:
That is not dead which can eternal
lie,
And with strange aeons even death
may die..
• The dream-narratives and cuttings collected by
the professor were, of course, strong corroboration; but the rationalism of my mind and the extravagance of the whole subject led me to adopt
what I thought the most sensible conclusions.
So, after thoroughly studying the manuscript again
and correlating the theosophical and anthropological notes with the cult narrative of Legrasse, I made
a trip to Providence to see the sculptor and give him
the rebuke I thought proper for so boldly imposing
upon a learned and aged man.
• What I now heard so graphically at first-hand,
though it was really no more than a detailed confirmation of what my uncle had written, excited me

10

1

QUOTES

afresh; for I felt sure that I was on the track of a very
real, very secret, and very ancient religion whose
discovery would make me an anthropologist of note.
My attitude was still one of absolute materialism, as
l wish it still were, and I discounted with almost inexplicable perversity the coincidence of the dream
notes and odd cuttings collected by Professor Angell.

sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and
a sound that the chronicler could not put on paper.
For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and
blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern; where — God in heaven! —
the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawn
was nebulously recombining in its hateful original
form...

• I thought with a shudder of what Old Castro had told
Legrasse about the Old Ones; “They had come from
the stars, and had brought Their images with Them.”

• I have looked upon all that the universe has to
hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and
the flowers of summer must ever afterward be
poison to me. But I do not think my life will be
long. As my uncle went, as poor Johansen went,
so I shall go. I know too much, and the cult still
lives.

• Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even
though he saw the city and the Thing, but I shall
never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in
space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from
elder stars which dream beneath the sea, known and
favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to
loose them upon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to
the sun and air.

• Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and
what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and
dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men.
1.1.6

The Colour Out of Space (1927)

• The very sun of heaven seemed distorted when
viewed through the polarising miasma welling out
from this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense lurked leeringly in those crazily
elusive angles of carven rock where a second glance
shewed concavity after the first shewed convexity.
Something very like fright had come over all the explorers before anything more definite than rock and
ooze and weed was seen.
• The odour rising from the newly opened depths was
intolerable, and at length the quick-eared Hawkins
thought he heard a nasty, slopping sound down
there. Everyone listened, and everyone was listening still when It lumbered slobberingly into sight and
gropingly squeezed Its gelatinous green immensity
through the black doorway into the tainted outside
air of that poison city of madness.
• The Thing of the idols, the green, sticky spawn of
the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars
were right again, and what an age-old cult had failed
to do by design, a band of innocent sailors had
done by accident. After vigintillions of years great
Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.
It is not because of anything that can be seen or heard or handled,

• The brave Norwegian drove his vessel head on but because of something that is imagined. The place is not good
against the pursuing jelly which rose above the un- for imagination, and does not bring restful dreams at night.
clean froth like the stern of a daemon galleon. The
awful squid-head with writhing feelers came nearly
• West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there
up to the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen
are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever
drove on relentlessly. There was a bursting as of an
cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees
exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven

1.2

Non-Fiction

11

slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle
without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On
the gentle slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky,
with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally
over old New England secrets in the lee of great
ledges; but these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumbling and the shingled sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs. The old folk have
gone away, and foreigners do not like to live there.
French-Canadians have tried it, Italians have tried
it, and the Poles have come and departed. It is not
because of anything that can be seen or heard or
handled, but because of something that is imagined. The place is not good for imagination, and
does not bring restful dreams at night.
• Even the dry tips of the lingering hedge-mustard,
grey and blighted, and the fringe on the roof of the
standing democrat-wagon were unstirred. And yet
amid that tense godless calm the high bare boughs
of all the trees in the yard were moving....
• What it is, only God knows. In terms of matter I
suppose the thing Ammi described would be called
a gas, but this gas obeyed the laws that are not of
our cosmos. This was no fruit of such worlds and
suns as shine on the telescopes and photographic The poetical tendency of the present and of the preceding century
plates of our observatories. This was no breath has been divided in a manner singularly curious.
from the skies whose motions and dimensions our
astronomers measure or deem too vast to measure.
It was just a colour out of space — a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity
beyond all Nature as we know it; from realms
whose mere existence stuns the brain and numbs
us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws
open before our frenzied eyes.
• Something terrible came to the hills and valleys on
that meteor, and something terrible — though I
know not in what proportion — still remains.

1.2

Non-Fiction

• Behold great Whitman, whose licentious line
Delights the rake, and warms the souls of swine;
Whose fever'd fancy shuns the measur'd pace,
And copies Ovid's filth without his grace.
In his rough brain a genius might have grown,
Had he not sought to play the brute alone;
But void of shame, he let his wit run wild,
And liv'd and wrote as Adam’s bestial child.
Averse to culture, strange to humankind,
He never knew the pleasures of the mind.
Scorning the pure, the delicate, the clean,
His joys were sordid, and his morals mean.
Thro' his gross thoughts a native vigour ran,
From which he deem'd himself the perfect man:

Behold great Whitman, whose licentious line
Delights the rake, and warms the souls of swine;
Whose fever'd fancy shuns the measur'd pace,
And copies Ovid's filth without his grace.

12

1

QUOTES

demands an accuracy of rhyme and metre unknown
even to the polished artists of the age of Pope.
• The Allowable Rhyme (1915)

The Birth of a Nation, … is said to furnish a remarkable insight
into the methods of the Ku-Klux-Klan, that noble but much maligned band of Southerners who saved half of our country from
destruction at the close of the Civil War.

• The best critics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries demand perfect rhyming, and no aspirant for
fame can afford to depart from a standard so universal. It is evidently the true goal of the English, as
well as of the French bard; the goal from which we
are but temporarily deflected during the preceding
age.
But exceptions should and must be made in the case
of a few who have somehow absorbed the atmosphere of other days, and who long in their hearts
for the stately sound of the old classic cadences.
Well may their predilection for imperfect rhyming
be discouraged to a limited extent, but to chain them
wholly to modern rules would be barbarous. Every limited mind demands a certain freedom of expression, and the man who cannot express himself
satisfactorily without the stimulation derived from
the spirited mode of two centuries ago should certainly be permitted to follow without undue restraint
a practice so harmless, so free from essential error,
and so sanctioned by precedent, as that of employing
in his poetical compositions the smooth and inoffensive allowable rhyme.
• The Allowable Rhyme (1915)

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the
oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown...

But want of decency his rank decreas’d,
And sunk him to the level of the beast.
Would that his Muse had dy'd before her birth,
Nor spread such foul corruption o'er the earth.
• Orignially written as part of an “Essay on
Modern Poets” this was published as a “Fragment on Whitman” (c. 1912) in The Ancient
Track (2001) edited by S. T. Joshi, p. 192
• The poetical tendency of the present and of the
preceding century has been divided in a manner
singularly curious. One loud and conspicuous faction of bards, giving way to the corrupt influences
of a decaying general culture, seems to have abandoned all the properties of versification and reason
in its mad scramble after sensational novelty; whilst
the other and quieter school constituting a more logical evolution from the poesy of the Georgian period,

• The negro is fundamentally the biological inferior of
all White and even Mongolian races, and the Northern people must occasionally be reminded of the
danger which they incur in admitting him too freely
to the privileges of society and government. …The
Birth of a Nation, … is said to furnish a remarkable insight into the methods of the Ku-Klux-Klan,
that noble but much maligned band of Southerners
who saved half of our country from destruction at
the close of the Civil War. The Conservative has
not yet witnessed the picture in question, but he has
seen both in literary and dramatic form The Clansman, that stirring, though crude and melodramatic
story by Rev. Thomas Dixon, Jr., on which The
Birth of a Nation is based, and has likewise made
a close historical study of the Klu-Klux-Klan, finding as a result of his research nothing but Honour,
Chivalry, and Patriotism in the activities of the Invisible Empire. The Klan merely did for the people what the law refused to do, removing the ballot from unfit hands and restoring to the victims of
political vindictiveness their natural rights. The alleged lawbreaking of the Klan was committed only
by irresponsible miscreants who, after the dissolution of the Order by its Grand Wizard, Gen. Nathan
Bedford Forrest, used its weird masks and terrifying
costumes to veil their unorganised villainies.

1.2

Non-Fiction
Race prejudice is a gift of Nature, intended to preserve in purity the various divisions of mankind
which the ages have evolved.
• Response to observations made in In A Minor
Key by Charles D. Isaacson, in The Conservative, Vol. I, No. 2, (1915), p. 4

• Four years ago a large part of the civilised world
laboured under certain biological fallacies which
may, in a sense, be held responsible for the extent
and duration of the present conflict. These fallacies,
which were the foundation of pacifism and other
pernicious forms of social and political radicalism,
dealt with the capacity of man to evolve mentally
beyond his former state of subservience to primate
instinct and pugnacity, and to conduct his affairs and
international or interracial relations on a basis of reason and good-will. That belief in such capability is
unscientific and childishly naive, is beside the question.
• At the Root (1918)
• We must recognise the essential underlaying savagery in the animal called man, and return to older
and sounder principles of national life and defense.
We must realise that man’s nature will remain the
same so long as he remains man; that civilisation
is but a slight coverlet beneath which the dominant
beast sleeps lightly and ever ready to awake.
• At the Root (1918)
• Man’s respect for the imponderables varies according to his mental constitution and environment. Through certain modes of thought and
training it can be elevated tremendously, yet
there is always a limit. The man or nation of high
culture may acknowledge to great lengths the restraints imposed by conventions and honour, but beyond a certain point primitive will or desire cannot
be curbed. Denied anything ardently desired, the
individual or state will argue and parley just so long
— then, if the impelling motive be sufficiently great,
will cast aside every rule and break down every acquired inhibition, plunging viciously after the object
wished; all the more fantastically savage because of
previous repression.
• At the Root (1918)
• The opinions of the masses are of no interest to me,
for praise can truly gratify only when it comes from
a mind sharing the author’s perspective. There are
probably seven persons, in all, who really like my
work; and they are enough. I should write even
if I were the only patient reader, for my aim is

13
merely self-expression. I could not write about “ordinary people” because I am not in the least interested in them. Without interest there can be no
art. Man’s relations to man do not captivate my
fancy. It is man’s relation to the cosmos—to the
unknown—which alone arouses in me the spark of
creative imagination. The humanocentric pose is
impossible to me, for I cannot acquire the primitive myopia which magnifies the earth and ignores
the background. Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden
and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial
mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate;
the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present;
the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs
of delight and beauty. Like the late Mr. Wilde, “I
live in terror of not being misunderstood.”
• “The Defence Remains Open!" (April 1921),
published in Collected Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy edited by S. T. Joshi, p. 53
• Moreover, humour is itself but a superficial view of
that which is in truth both tragic and terrible—the
contrast between human pretence and cosmic mechanical reality. Humour is but the faint terrestrial
echo of the hideous laughter of the blind mad gods
that squat leeringly and sardonically in caverns beyond the Milky Way. It is a hollow thing, sweet on
the outside, but filled with the pathos of fruitless aspiration. All great humorists are sad—Mark Twain
was a cynic and agnostic, and wrote “The Mysterious Stranger” and “What Is Man?" When I was
younger I wrote humorous matter—satire and light
verse—and was known to many as a jester and parodist. … But I cannot help seeing beyond the tinsel of humour, and recognising the pitiful basis of
jest—the world is indeed comic, but the joke is
on mankind.
• “The Defence Remains Open!" (April 1921),
published in Collected Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy edited by S. T. Joshi, p. 54
• It must be remembered that there is no real
reason to expect anything in particular from
mankind; good and evil are local expedients—or
their lack—and not in any sense cosmic truths or
laws. We call a thing “good” because it promotes
certain petty human conditions that we happen to
like—whereas it is just as sensible to assume that
all humanity is a noxious pest and should be eradicated like rats or gnats for the good of the planet
or of the universe. There are no absolute values
in the whole blind tragedy of mechanistic nature—
nothing is good or bad except as judged from an absurdly limited point of view. The only cosmic reality
is mindless, undeviating fate—automatic, unmoral,
uncalculating inevitability. As human beings, our

14

1
only sensible scale of values is one based on lessening the agony of existence. That plan is most
deserving of praise which most ably fosters the creation of the objects and conditions best adapted to
diminish the pain of living for those most sensitive to
its depressing ravages. To expect perfect adjustment
and happiness is absurdly unscientific and unphilosophical. We can seek only a more or less trivial
mitigation of suffering. I believe in an aristocracy,
because I deem it the only agency for the creation of
those refinements which make life endurable for the
human animal of high organisation.
• “Nietzscheism and Realism” from The Rainbow, Vol. I, No. 1 (October 1921); reprinted
in “To Quebec and the Stars”, and also in Collected Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy edited by
S. T. Joshi, p. 70

• It is good to be a cynic—it is better to be a contented cat — and it is best not to exist at all.
Universal suicide is the most logical thing in the
world—we reject it only because of our primitive cowardice and childish fear of the dark. If
we were sensible we would seek death—the same
blissful blank which we enjoyed before we existed.
• “Nietzscheism and Realism” from The Rainbow, Vol. I, No. 1 (October 1921); reprinted
in “To Quebec and the Stars”, and also in Collected Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy edited by
S. T. Joshi, p. 71
• The undesirability of any system of rule not tempered with the quality of kindness is obvious; for
“kindness” is a complex collection of various impulses, reactions and realisations highly necessary
to the smooth adjustment of botched and freakish
creatures like most human beings. It is a weakness basically—or, in some cases, and ostentation
of secure superiority—but its net effect is desirable;
hence it is, on the whole, praiseworthy. Since all
motives at bottom are selfish and ignoble, we
may judge acts and qualities only be their effects. Pessimism produces kindness. The disillusioned philosopher is even more tolerant than the
priggish bourgeois idealist with his sentimental and
extravagant notions of human dignity and destiny.
• “Nietzscheism and Realism” from The Rainbow, Vol. I, No. 1 (October 1921); reprinted
in “To Quebec and the Stars”, and also in Collected Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy edited by
S. T. Joshi, p. 71
• The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is
fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is
fear of the unknown.

QUOTES

• "Supernatural Horror in Literature" (1927)
• Children will always be afraid of the dark, and men
with minds sensitive to hereditary impulse will always tremble at the thought of the hidden and fathomless worlds of strange life which may pulsate in
the gulfs beyond the stars, or press hideously upon
our own globe in unholy dimensions which only the
dead and the moonstruck can glimpse.
• “Supernatural Horror in Literature” (1927)
• Inconceivable events and conditions form a class
apart from all other story elements, and cannot be
made convincing by any mere process of casual
narration. They have the handicap of incredibility to overcome; and this can be accomplished only
through a careful realism in every other phase of the
story, plus a gradual atmospheric or emotional buildup of the utmost subtlety. The emphasis, too, must
be kept right—hovering always over the wonder of
the central abnormality itself. It must be remembered that any violation of what we know as natural
law is in itself a far more tremendous thing than any
other event or feeling which could possibly affect
a human being. Therefore in a story dealing with
such a thing we cannot expect to create any sense of
life or illusion of reality if we treat the wonder casually and have the characters moving about under
ordinary motivations. The characters, though they
must be natural, should be subordinated to the central marvel around which they are grouped. The true
“hero” of a marvel tale is not any human being, but
simply a set of phenomena. Over and above everything else should tower the stark, outrageous monstrousness of the one chosen departure from Nature. The characters should react to it as real people
would react to such a thing if it were suddenly to confront them in daily life; displaying the almost soulshattering amazement which anyone would naturally
display instead of the mild, tame, quickly-passedover emotions prescribed by cheap popular convention. Even when the wonder is one to which the
characters are assumed to be used, the sense of awe,
marvel, and strangeness which the reader would feel
in the presence of such a thing must somehow be
suggested by the author. . . . Atmosphere, not action, is the thing to cultivate in the wonder story.
We cannot put stress on the bare events, since the
unnatural extravagance of these events makes them
sound hollow and absurd when thrown into too high
relief. Such events, even when theoretically possible or conceivable in the future, have no counterpart or basis in existing life and human experience,
hence can never form the groundwork of an adult
tale. All that a marvel story can ever be, in a serious way, is a vivid picture of a certain type of human
mood. The moment it tries to be anything else it

1.2

Non-Fiction

15

becomes cheap, puerile, and unconvincing. Therefore a fantastic author should see that his prime emphasis goes into subtle suggestion—the imperceptible hints and touches of selective and associative detail which express shadings of moods and build up a
vague illusion of the strange reality of the unreal—
instead of into bald catalogues of incredible happenings which can have no substance or meaning
apart from a sustaining cloud of colour and moodsymbolism. A serious adult story must be true to
something in life. Since marvel tales cannot be true
to the events of life, they must shift their emphasis
toward something to which they can be true; namely,
certain wistful or restless moods of the human spirit,
wherein it seeks to weave gossamer ladders of es- I am Providence
cape from the galling tyranny of time, space, and
natural laws.
1.2.1 Letters
• “Some Notes on Interplanetary Fiction”, Californian 3, No. 3 (Winter 1935): 39-42. Published in Collected Essays, Volume 2: Literary
Criticism edited by S. T. Joshi, p. 178
• There are, without doubt, great possibilities in the
serious exploitation of the astronomical tale; as a
few semi-classics like "The War of the Worlds",
"The Last and First Men", "Station X", "The Red
Brain", and Clark Ashton Smith's best work prove.
But the pioneers must be prepared to labour without financial return, professional recognition, or the
encouragement of a reading majority whose taste
has been seriously warped by the rubbish it has devoured. Fortunately sincere artistic creation is its
own incentive and reward, so that despite all obstacles we need not despair of the future of a fresh literary form whose present lack of development leaves
all the more room for brilliant and fruitful experimentation.
• “Some Notes on Interplanetary Fiction”, Californian 3, No. 3 (Winter 1935): 39-42. Published in Collected Essays, Volume 2: Literary
Criticism edited by S. T. Joshi, p. 178

• My theological beliefs are likely to startle one who
has imagined me as an orthodox adherent of the Anglican Church. My father was of that faith, and was
married by its rites, yet, having been educated in
my mother’s distinctively Yankee family, I was early
placed in the Baptist sunday school. There, however,
I soon became exasperated by the literal Puritanical
doctrines, and constantly shocked my preceptors by
expressing scepticism of much that was taught me.
It became evident that my young mind was not of a
religious cast, for the much exhorted “simple faith”
in miracles and the like came not to me. I was not
long forced to attend the Sunday school, but read
much in the Bible from sheer interest. The more I
read the Scriptures, the more foreign they seemed
to me. I was infinitely fonder on the Graeco-Roman
mythology, and when I was eight astounded the family by declaring myself a Roman pagan. Religion
struck me so vague a thing at best, that I could perceive no advantage of any one system over any other.
I had really adopted a sort of Pantheism, with the
Roman gods as personified attributes of deity. . . .
My present opinions waver betwixt Pantheism and
rationalism. I am a sort of agnostic, neither affirming nor denying anything.
• Letter to Maurice W. Moe (16 January 1915),
in Selected Letters I, 1911-1924 edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 10

• I am Providence.
• Epitaph on his headstone, which he used in
letters to Lillian D. Clark (March 1926) and
James F. Morton (May 1926) around the time
of his April 1926 return to Providence after
living for two years in New York City. Originally Lovecraft was buried without his own
separate grave marker, his name simply carved
into the family’s obelisk, but in 1977 a network
of fans paid to add this headstone.

• Frankly, I cannot conceive how any thoughtful man
can really be happy. There is really nothing in
the universe to live for, and unless one can dismiss
thought and speculation from his mid, he is liable to
be engulfed by the very immensity of creation. It is
vastly better that he should amuse himself with religion, or any other convenient palliative to reality
which comes to hand. … There is much relief from
the burden of life to be derived from many sources.
To the man of high animal spirits, there is the mere

16

1
pleasure of being alive; the Joi de vivre, as our Gallick friends term it. To the credulous there is religion and its paradisal dreams. To the moralist, there
is a certain satisfaction in right conduct. To the scientist there is the joy in pursuing truth which
nearly counteracts the depressing revelations of
truth. To the person of cultivated taste, there are
the fine arts. To the man of humour, there is the
sardonic delight of spying out pretensions and incongruities of life. To the poet there is the ability
and privilege to fashion a little Arcadia in his fancy,
wherein he may withdraw from the sordid reality of
mankind at large. In short, the world abounds
with simple delusions which we may call “happiness”, if we be but able to entertain them.
• Letter to “The Keicomolo”—Kleiner, Cole,
and Moe (October 1916), in Selected Letters I,
1911-1924 edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp. 26-27

• Everything I loved had been dead for two
centuries—or, as in the case of Graeco-Roman
classicism, for two milenniums. I am never a part
of anything around me—in everything I am an
outsider. Should I find it possible to crawl backward
through the Halls of Time to that age which is
nearest my own fancy, I should doubtless be bawled
out of the coffee-houses for heresy in religion,
or else lampooned by John Dennis till I found
refuge in the deep, silent Thames, that covers many
another unfortunate. Yes, I seem to be a decided
pessimist!—But pray do not think, gentlemen, that
I am utterly forlorn and misanthropick creature.
… Despite my solitary life, I have found infinite
joy in books and writing, and am by far too much
interested in the affairs of the world to quit the
scene before Nature shall claim me. Though not
a participant in the Business of life; I am, like the
character of Addison and Steele, an impartial (or
more or less impartial) Spectator, who finds not
a little recreation in watching the antics of those
strange and puny puppets called men. A sense of
humour has helped me to endure existence; in fact,
when all else fails, I never fail to extract a sarcastic
smile from the contemplation of my own empty and
egotistical career!
• Letter to “The Keicomolo”—Kleiner, Cole,
and Moe (October 1916), in Selected Letters I,
1911-1924 edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 27
• Your wonderment 'what I have against religion' reminds me of your recent Vagrant essay . . . To my
mind, that essay misses one point altogether. Your
“agnostic” has neglected to mention the very crux of
all agnosticism—namely that the Judaeo-Christian
mythology is NOT TRUE. I can see that in your

QUOTES

philosophy truth per se has so small a place, that
you can scarcely realise what it is that Galpin and
I are insisting upon. In your mind, MAN is the
centre of everything, and his exact conformation
to certain regulations of conduct HOWEVER EFFECTED, the only problem in the universe. Your
world (if you will pardon my saying so) is contracted.
All the mental vigour and erudition of the ages fail
to disturb your complacent endorsement of empirical doctrines and purely pragmatical notions, because you voluntarily limit your horizon—excluding
certain facts, and certain undeniable mental tendencies of mankind. In your eyes, man is torn between only two influences; the degrading instincts
of the savage, and the temperate impulses of the
philanthropist. To you, men have but two types of
emotion—lovers of the self and lovers of the race.
. . . You are forgetting a human impulse which,
despite its restriction to a relatively small number of
men, has all through history proved itself as real and
as vital as hunger—as potent as thirst or greed. I
need not say that I refer to that simplest yet most
exalted attribute of our species—the acute, persistent, unquenchable craving TO KNOW. Do you realise that to many men it makes a vast and profound difference whether or not the things about
them are as they appear? . . . If TRUTH amounts
to nothing, then we must regard the phantasma of
our slumbers just as seriously as the events of our
daily lives. . . . I recognise a distinction between
dream life and real life, between appearances and
actualities. I confess to an over-powering desire to
know whether I am asleep or awake—whether the
environment and laws which affect me are external and permanent, or the transitory products of my
own brain. I admit that I am very much interested
in the relation I bear to the things about me—the
time relation, the space relation, and the causative
relation. I desire to know approximately what my
life is in terms of history—human, terrestrial, solar,
and cosmical; what my magnitude may be in terms
of extension,—terrestrial, solar, and cosmical; and
above all, what may be my manner of linkage to the
general system—in what way, through what agency,
and to what extent, the obvious guiding forces of
creation act upon me and govern my existence. And
if there be any less obvious forces, I desire to know
them and their relation to me as well.
• Letter to Maurice W. Moe (15 May 1918), in
Selected Letters I, 1911-1924 edited by August
Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 60
• I am only about half alive—a large part of my
strength is consumed in sitting up or walking. My
nervous system is a shattered wreck, and I am absolutely bored & listless save when I come upon something which peculiarly interests me. However—so
many things do interest me, & interest me intensely,

1.2

Non-Fiction
in science, history, philosophy, & literature; that I
have never actually desired to die, or entertained any
suicidal designs, as might be expected of one with so
little kinship to the ordinary features of life.
• Letter to Alfred Galpin (27 May 1918), published in Letters to Alfred Galpin edited by S.
T. Joshi, p. 18

• As you are aware, I have never been able to soothe
myself with the sugary delusions of religion; for
these things stand convicted of the utmost absurdity
in light of modern scientific knowledge. With Nietzsche, I have been forced to confess that mankind as
a whole has no goal or purpose whatsoever, but is a
mere superfluous speck in the unfathomable vortices
of infinity and eternity. Accordingly, I have hardly
been able to experience anything which one could
call real happiness; or to take as vital an interest in
human affairs as can one who still retains the hallucination of a “great purpose” in the general plan of
terrestrial life. … However, I have never permitted
these circumstances to react upon my daily life; for it
is obvious that although I have “nothing to live for”,
I certainly have just as much as any other of the insignificant bacteria called human beings. I have thus
been content to observe the phenomena about me
with something like objective interest, and to feel
a certain tranquillity which comes from perfect acceptance of my place as an inconsequential atom.
In ceasing to care about most things, I have likewise
ceased to suffer in many ways. There is a real restfulness in the scientific conviction that nothing matters very much; that the only legitimate aim of humanity is to minimise acute suffering for the majority, and to derive whatever satisfaction is derivable
from the exercise of the mind in the pursuit of truth.
• Letter to Reinhardt Kleiner (14 September
1919), in Selected Letters I, 1911-1924 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp.
86-87
• I should describe mine own nature as tripartite, my
interests consisting of three parallel and dissociated
groups—(a) Love of the strange and fantastic. (b)
Love of the abstract truth and of scientific logick.
(c) Love of the ancient and the permanent. Sundry
combinations of these three strains will probably account for all my odd tastes and eccentricities.
• Letter to Reinhardt Kleiner (7 March 1920), in
Selected Letters I, 1911-1924 edited by August
Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 110
• Oh, yes ... I'm really frightfully human and love all
mankind, and all that sort of thing. Mankind is truly
amusing, when kept at the proper distance. And

17
common men, if well-behaved, are really quite useful. One is a cynick only when one thinks. At such
times the herd seems a bit disgusting because each
member of it is always trying to hurt somebody else,
or gloating because somebody else is hurt. Inflicting
pain seems to be the chief sport of persons whose
tastes and interests run to ordinary events and direct
pleasures and rewards of life—the animalistic or (if
one may use a term so polluted with homoletick associations) worldly people of our absurd civilisation.
....... I may be human, all right, but not quite human
enough to be glad at the misfortune of anybody. I am
rather sorry (not outwardly but genuinely so) when
disaster befalls a person—sorry because it gives the
herd so much pleasure. ... The natural hatefulness
and loathsomeness of the human beast may be overcome only in a few specimens of fine heredity and
breeding, by a transference of interests to abstract
spheres and a consequent sublimation of the universal sadistic fury. All that is good in man is artificial;
and even that good is very slight and unstable, since
nine out of ten non-primitive people proceed at once
to capitalise their asceticism and vent their sadism
by a Victorian brutality and scorn towards all those
who do not emulate their pose. Puritans are probably more contemptible than primitive beasts, though
neither class deserves much respect.
• Letter to James F. Morton (8 March 1923), in
Selected Letters I, 1911-1924 edited by August
Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp. 211-212
• One can't write a weird story of real power without perfect psychological detachment from the human scene, and a magic prism of imagination which
suffuses them and style alike with that grotesquerie
and disquieting distortion characteristic of morbid
vision. Only a cynic can create horror—for behind
every masterpiece of the sort must reside a driving
daemonic force that despises the human race and its
illusions, and longs to pull them to pieces and mock
them.
• Letter to Weird Tales editor Edwin Baird
printed in Weird Tales 3, no. 3 (March 1924),
pp. 89-92. Quoted in Lord of a Visible World:
An Autobiography in Letters edited by S. T.
Joshi, p. 122
• I am essentially a recluse who will have very little
to do with people wherever he may be. I think that
most people only make me nervous—that only by
accident, and in extremely small quantities, would I
ever be likely to come across people who wouldn't.
It makes no difference how well they mean or how
cordial they are—they simply get on my nerves unless they chance to represent a peculiarly similar
combination of tastes, experiences, and heritages;

18

1
as, for instance, Belknap chances to do . . . Therefore it may be taken as axiomatic that the people of
a place matter absolutely nothing to me except as
components of the general landscape and scenery.
Let me have normal American faces in the streets to
give the aspect of home and a white man’s country,
and I ask no more of featherless bipeds. My life lies
not among people but among scenes—my local affections are not personal, but topographical and architectural. No one in Providence—family aside—
has any especial bond of interest with me, but for
that matter no one in Cambridge or anywhere else
has, either. The question is that of which roofs and
chimneys and doorways and trees and street vistas
I love the best; which hills and woods, which roads
and meadows, which farmhouses and views of distant white steeples in green valleys. I am always
an outsider—to all scenes and all people—but outsiders have their sentimental preferences in visual
environment. I will be dogmatic only to the extent
of saying that it is New England I must have—in
some form or other. Providence is part of me—I
am Providence—but as I review the new impressions which have impinged upon me since birth, I
think the greatest single emotion—and the most permanent one as concerns consequences to my inner
life and imagination—I have ever experienced was
my first sight of Marblehead in the golden glamour
of late afternoon under the snow on December 17,
1922. That thrill has lasted as nothing else has—a
visible climax and symbol of the lifelong mysterious
tie which binds my soul to ancient things and ancient
places.
• Letter to Lillian D. Clark (29 March 1926),
quoted in Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography in Letters edited by S. T. Joshi, p.
186

• Personally, I feel more irritated by a challenge to
an accepted scientific theory than I do by an act of
so-called “evil” or “injustice” among mankind; although I never allow my irritation to hamper my acceptance of the new theory as soon as positive evidence warrants it. Thus I have reluctantly exchanged
the old nebular for the planetesimal hypothesis, and
am beginning to accept the main points of relativity despite a profound intellectual distaste. What is,
is—and our emotions regarding the cosmos and its
phenomena are of no significance whatever, being
wholly subjective matters dependent on individual
accidents of neural and glandular physiology and of
experience and environment.
• Letter to Woodburn Harris (25 February-1
March 1929), in Selected Letters II, 1925-1929
edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp. 287-288

QUOTES

• About my own attitude toward ethics—I thought I
made it plain that I object only to (a) grotesquely
disproportionate indignations and enthusiasms, (b)
illogical extremes involving a reductio ad absurdum, and (c) the nonsensical notion that “right” and
“wrong” involve any principles more mystical and
universal than those of immediate expedience (with
the individual’s own comfort as a criterion) on the
other hand. I believe I was careful to specify that
I do not advocate vice and crime, but that on the
other hand I have a marked distaste for immoral and
unlawful acts which contravene the harmonious traditions and standards of beautiful living developed
by a culture during its long history. This, however,
is not ethics but aesthetics—a distinction which you
are almost alone in considering negligible. … So
far as I am concerned—I am an aesthete devoted
to harmony, and to the extraction of the maximum
possible pleasure from life. I find by experience
that my chief pleasure is in symbolic identification
with the landscape and tradition-stream to which
I belong—hence I follow the ancient, simple New
England ways of living, and observe the principles of
honour expected of a descendant of English gentlemen. It is pride and beauty-sense, plus the automatic
instincts of generations trained in certain conductpatterns, which determine my conduct from day to
day. But this is not ethics, because the same compulsions and preferences apply, with me, to things
wholly outside the ethical zone. For example, I
never cheat or steal. Also, I never wear a tophat with a sack coat or munch bananas in public
on the streets, because a gentleman does not do
those things either. I would as soon do the one as
the other sort of thing—it is all a matter of harmony
and good taste—whereas the ethical or “righteous”
man would be horrified by dishonesty yet tolerant of
course personal ways. If I were farming in your district I certainly would assist my neighbours—both
as a means of promoting my standing in the community, and because it is good taste to be generous
and accommodating. Likewise with the matter of
treating the pupils in a school class. But this would
not be through any sense of inner compulsion based
on principles dissociated from my personal welfare
and from the principle of beauty. It would be for the
same reason that I would not dress eccentrically or
use vulgar language. Pure aesthetics, aside from the
personal-benefit element; and concerned with emotions of pleasure versus disgust rather than of approval versus indignation.
• Letter to Woodburn Harris (25 February-1
March 1929), in Selected Letters II, 1925-1929
edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp. 288-289
• I am distinctly opposed to visibly arrogant and arbitrary extremes of government—but this is sim-

1.2

Non-Fiction
ply because I wish the safety of an artistic and intellectual civilisation to be secure, not because I
have any sympathy with the coarse-grained herd
who would menace the civilisation if not placated by
sops. Surely you can see the profound and abysmal
difference between this emotional attitude and the
attitude of the democratic reformer who becomes
wildly excited over the “wrongs of the masses”. This
reformer has uppermost in his mind the welfare of
those masses themselves—he feels with them, takes
up a mental-emotional point of view as one of them,
regards their advancement as his prime objective independently of anything else, and would willingly
sacrifice the finest fruits of the civilisation for the
sake of stuffing their bellies and giving them two
cinema shows instead of one per day. I, on the
other hand, don't give a hang about the masses except so far as I think deliberate cruelty is coarse
and unaesthetic—be it towards horses, oxen, undeveloped men, dogs, negroes, or poultry. All that I
care about is the civilisation—the state of development and organisation which is capable of gratifying the complex mental-emotional-aesthetic needs
of highly evolved and acutely sensitive men. Any
indignation I may feel in the whole matter is not
for the woes of the downtrodden, but for the threat
of social unrest to the traditional institutions of the
civilisation. The reformer cares only for the masses,
but may make concessions to the civilisation. I care
only for the civilisation, but may make concessions
to the masses. Do you not see the antipodal difference between the two positions? Both the reformer
and I may unite in opposing an unworkably arrogant piece of legislation, but the motivating reasons
will be absolutely antithetical. He wants to give the
crowd as much as can be given them without wrecking all semblance of civilisation, whereas I want to
give them only as much as can be given them without
even slightly impairing the level of national culture.
... He works for as democratic a government as possible; I for as aristocratic a one as possible. But both
recognise the limitations of possibility.
• Letter to Woodburn Harris (25 February-1
March 1929), in Selected Letters II, 1925-1929
edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp. 289-290

• good art means the ability of any one man to pin
down in some permanent and intelligible medium a
sort of idea of what he sees in Nature that nobody else
sees. In other words, to make the other fellow grasp,
through skilled selective care in interpretative reproduction or symbolism, some inkling of what only the
artist himself could possibly see in the actual objective
scene itself.
• Letter to Woodburn Harris (25 February-1
March 1929), quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a

19
Life” by S.T. Joshi, p. 487
• I am no less impressed than you by the magnitude,
complexity and essential beauty of the cosmos; nor
am I less sensible to the veil which separates us from
the grasping of ultimate reality. The great difference between us in these matters is that you like
to colour your philosophical-scientific speculations
with your aesthetic feelings; whilst I feel a great
cleavage betwixt emotion and perceptive analysis,
and never try to mix the two. Emotionally I stand
breathless at the awe and loveliness and mystery of
space with its ordered suns and worlds. In that mood
I endorse religion, and people the fields and streams
and groves with the Grecian deities and local spirits
of old—for at heart I am a pantheistic pagan of the
old tradition which Christianity has never reached.
But when I start thinking I throw off emotion as excess baggage, and settle down to the prosaic and exact task of seeing simply what is, or probably is, and
what isn't, or probably isn't. I love to dream, but I
never try to dream and think at the same time.
• Letter to Woodburn Harris (25 February-1
March 1929), in Selected Letters II, 1925-1929
edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 312
• It delights me even more, though, to hear that my
nameless cosmic monsters have an air of originality about them! Shapeless, unheard-of creatures
are not original with me; for although Poe did not
use them, they figure quite widely in minor horrorwriting since his time. Usually they tend to be exaggerations of certain known life-forms such as insects, poisonous plants, protozoa, & the like, although a few writers break away wholly from terrestrial analogy & depict things as abstractly cosmic
as luminous protoplasmic globes. If I have gone beyond these, it is only subtly & atmospherically—in
details, & in occasional imputations of geometrical,
biological, & physico-chemical properties definitely
outside the realm of matter as understood by us.
Most of my monsters fail altogether to satisfy my
sense of the cosmic—the abnormally chromatic entity in The Colour Out of Space being the only one
of the lot which I take any pride in.
• Letter to Elizabeth Toldridge (8 March 1929),
in Selected Letters II, 1925-1929 edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 316
• In my actual imaginative contact with life, I am
vastly more responsive to beauty than to horror—
indeed, I never experience real cosmic horror except
in infrequent nightmares. However, when I come to
record my various imaginative experiences, I generally find that only the horror items have any uniqueness or originality. Others have seen the same beautiful things that I have seen, & have sung them more

20

1
nobly. Dunsany, indeed, has said exquisitely almost
everything I could possibly wish to say; so that when
I indulge in sheer phantasy I can do no more than imitate him. Thus horror alone is left as my peculiar
kingdom, & in it I must hold my lowly reproduction
of a Plutonian court.
• Letter to Elizabeth Toldridge (8 March 1929),
in Selected Letters II, 1925-1929 edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp. 316317

• My conception of phantasy, as a genuine art-form, is
an extension rather than a negation of reality. Ordinary tales about a castle ghost or old-fashioned werewolf are merely so much junk. The true function
of phantasy is to give the imagination a ground
for limitless expansion, and to satisfy aesthetically the sincere and burning curiosity and sense
of awe which a sensitive minority of mankind
feel toward the alluring and provocative abysses
of unplumbed space and unguessed entity which
press in upon the known world from unknown
infinities and in unknown relationships of time,
space, matter, force, dimensionality, and consciousness. This curiosity and sense of awe, I believe, are quite basic among the sensitive minority
in question; and I see no reason to think that they
will decline in the future—for as you point out, the
frontier of the unknown can never do more than
scratch the surface of eternally unknowable infinity. But the truly sensitive will never be more than
a minority, because most persons—even those of
the keenest possible intellect and aesthetic ability—
simply have not the psychological equipment or adjustment to feel that way. I have taken pains to
sound various persons as to their capacity to feel
profoundly regarding the cosmos and the disturbing
and fascinating quality of the extra-terrestrial and
perpetually unknown; and my results reveal a surprisingly small quota. In literature we can easily see
the cosmic quality in Poe, Maturin, Dunsany, de la
Mare, and Blackwood, but I profoundly suspect the
cosmicism of Bierce, James, and even Machen. It is
not every macabre writer who feels poignantly and
almost intolerably the pressure of cryptic and unbounded outer space.
• Letter to Clark Ashton Smith (17 October
1930), quoted in Lord of a Visible World: An
Autobiography in Letters edited by S.T. Joshi,
p. 213
• I do differ from you radically in respect to familiar
things & scenes; for I always demand close correlation with the landscape & historic stream to which I
belong, & would feel completely lost in infinity without a system of reference-points based on known &
accustomed objects. I take complete relativity so

QUOTES

much for granted, that I cannot conceive of anything
as existing in itself in any recognisable form. What
gives things an aspect & quasi-significance to us is
the fact that we view things consistently from a certain artificial & fortuitous angle. Without the preservation of that angle, coherent consciousness & entity itself becomes inconceivable. Thus my wish for
freedom is not so much a wish to put all terrestrial
things behind me & plunge forever into abysses beyond light, matter, & energy. That, indeed, would
mean annihilation as a personality rather than liberation. My wish is perhaps best defined as a wish
for infinite visioning & voyaging power, yet without loss of the familiar background which gives all
things significance. I want to know what stretches
Outside, & be able to visit all the gulfs & dimensions
beyond Space & Time. I want, too, to juggle the
calendar at will; bringing things from the immemorial past down into the present, & making long journeys into the forgotten years. But I want the familiar
Old Providence of my childhood as a perpetual base
for these necromancies & excursions—& in a good
part of these necromancies & excursions I want certain transmuted features of Old Providence to form
part of the alien voids I visit or conjure up. I am
as geographic-minded as a cat—places are everything to me. Long observation has shewn me that
no other objective experience can give me even a
quarter of the kick I can extract from the sight of
a fresh landscape or urban vista whose antiquity &
historic linkages are such as to correspond with certain fixed childhood dream-patterns of mine. Of
course my twilight cosmos of half-familiar, fleetingly remembered marvels is just as unattainable as
your Ultimate Abysses—this being the real secret
of its fascination. Nothing really known can continue to be acutely fascinating—the charm of many
familiar things being mainly resident in their power
to symbolise or suggest unknown extensions & overtones.
• Letter to Clark Ashton Smith (7 November
1930), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
214
• There is no field other than the weird in which
I have any aptitude or inclination for fictional
composition. Life has never interested me so
much as the escape from life.
• Letter to J. Vernon Shea (7 August 1931),
quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T.
Joshi, p. 579
• As for New England as a seat of weirdness—a little historic reflection will show why it is more naturally redolent of the bizarre & the sinister than any
other part of America. It was here that the most

1.2

Non-Fiction
gloomy-minded of all the colonists settled; & here
that the dark moods & cryptic hills pressed closest.
An abnormal Puritan psychology led to all kinds of
repression, furtiveness, & grotesque hidden crime,
while the long winters & backwoods isolation fostered monstrous secrets which never came to light.
To me there is nothing more fraught with mystery
& terror than a remote Massachusetts farmhouse
against a lonely hill. Where else could an outbreak
like the Salem witchcraft have occurred? Rhode Island does not share these tenedencies—its history &
settlement being different from those of other parts
of New England—but just across the line in the old
Bay State the macabre broods at its strongest.
• Letter to Elizabeth Toldridge (9 October
1931), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
423

• All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that
anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or
an eternal survival of personality exist. They are the
most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses
which can be made about the universe, and I am not
enough of a hair-splitter to pretend that I don't regard them as arrant and negligible moonshine. In
theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance
of radical evidence I must be classed, practically and
provisionally, as an atheist.
• Letter to Robert E. Howard (16 August 1932),
in Selected Letters 1932-1934 edited by August
Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 57
• I never take offence at any genuine effort to wrest
the truth or deduce a rational set of values from the
confused phenomena of the external world. It never
occurs to me to look for personal factors in the agelong battle for truth. I assume that all hands are really trying to achieve the same main object—the discovery of sound facts and the rejection of fallacies—
and it strikes me as only a minor matter that different
strivers may happen to see a different perspective
now and then. And in matters of mere preference,
as distinguished from those involving the question of
truth versus fallacy, I do not see any ground whatever
for acrimonious feeling. Knowing the capriciousness and complexity of the various biological and
psychological factors determining likes, dislikes, interests, indifferences, and so on, one can only be
astonished that any two persons have even approximately similar tastes. To resent another’s different
likes and interests is the summit of illogical absurdity. It is very easy to distinguish a sincere, impersonal difference of opinion and tastes from the
arbitrary, ill-motivated, and irrational belittlement
which springs from a hostile desire to push another
down and which constitutes real offensiveness. I

21
have no tolerance for such real offensiveness—but
I greatly enjoy debating questions of truth and value
with persons as sincere and devoid of malice as I
am. Such debate is really a highly valuable—almost
indispensable—ingredient of life; because it enables
us to test our own opinions and amend them if we
find them in any way erroneous or unjustified.
• Letter to Robert E. Howard (7 November
1932), in Selected Letters 1932-1934 edited by
August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 102
• We know today that nothing will restore the premachine condition of reasonably universal employment save an artificial allocation of working hours
involving the use of more men than formerly to perform a given task. . . . The primary function of
society, in spite of all the sophistries spurred of selfishness, is to give men better conditions than they
could get without it; and the basic need today is jobs
for all—not for “property” for a few of the luck and
the acquisitive. . . . In view of the urgent need
for change, there is something almost obscene in
the chatter of the selfish about various psychological evils allegedly inherent in a New Deal promising
decent economic security and humane leisure for all
instead of for a few. . . . What is worth answering is
the kindred outcry about “regimentation”, “collective slavery”, “violation of Anglo-Saxon freedom”,
“destruction of the right of the individual to make
his own way” and so on; with liberal references to
Stalin, Hitler, Mustapha Kemal, and other extremist dictators who have sought to control men’s personal, intellectual, and artistic lives, and traditional
habits and folkways, as well as their economic fortunes. Naturally the Anglo-Saxon balks at any programme calculated to limit his freedom as a man and
a thinker or to disturb his inherited perspectives and
daily customs—and need we say that no plan ever
proposed in an Anglo-Saxon country would conceivably seek to limit such freedom or disturb such
perspectives and customs? Here we have a deliberate smoke-screen—conscious and malicious confusion of terms. A decent planned society would
indeed vary to some extent the existing regulations
(for there are such) governing commercial and economic life. Yet who save a self-confessed Philistine
or Marxist (the plutocrat can cite “Das Kapital” for
his purpose!) would claim that the details and conditions of our merely economic activities form more
than a trivial fraction of our whole lives and personalities? That which is essential and distinctive about
a man is not the routine of material struggle he follows in his office; but the civilised way he lives, outside his office, the life whose maintenance is the object of his struggle. So long as his office work gains
him a decently abundant and undisputedly free life,
it matters little what that work is—what the ownership of the enterprise, and what and how distributed

22

1
its profits, if profits there be. We have seen that
no system proposes to deny skill and diligence an
adequate remuneration. What more may skill and
diligence legitimately ask? Nor is any lessening in
the pride of achievement contemplated. Man will
thrill just as much at the overcoming of vast obstacles, and the construction of great works, whether
his deeds be performed for service or for profit. As
it is, the greatest human achievements have never
been for profit. Would Keats or Newton or Lucretius
or Einstein or Santayana flourish less under a rationally planned society? Any intimation that a man’s
life is wholly his industrial life, and that a planned
economic order means a suppression of his personality, is really both a piece of crass ignorance and
an insult to human nature. Incidentally, it is curious
that no one has yet pointed to the drastically regulated economic life of the early Mass. Bay colony as
something “American"!
• Unpublished (and probably unsent) letter to
the Providence Journal (13 April 1934),
quoted in Collected Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy, edited by J. T. Joshi, pp. 115-116

• I have never believed that the securing of material
resources ought to form the central interest of human life—but have instead maintained that personality is an independent flowering of the intellect and
emotions wholly apart from the struggle for existence. Formerly I accepted the archaic dictum that
only a few can be relieved of the engulfing waste of
the material struggle in its bitterest form—a dictum
which is, of course, true in an agricultural age having scanty resources. Therefore I adopted an aristocratic attitude; regretfully arguing that life, in any
degree of fulness, is only for the fortunate few whose
ancestors’ prowess has given them economic security and leisure. But I did not take the bourgeois
position of praising struggle for its own sake. While
recognising certain worthy qualities brought out by
it, I was too much impressed by its stultifying attributes to regard it as other than a necessary evil.
In my opinion, only the leisured aristocrat really had
a chance at adequate life—nor did I despise him because he was not forced to struggle. Instead, I was
sorry that so few could share his good fortune. Too
much human energy was wasted in the mere scramble for food and shelter. The condition was tolerable
only because inevitable in yesterday’s world of scanty
resources. Millions of men must go to waste in order
that a few might really live. Still—if those few were
not upheld, no high culture would ever be built up. I
never had any use for the American pioneer’s worship of work and self-reliance for their own sakes.
These things are necessary in their place, but not
ends in themselves—and any attempt to make them
ends in themselves is essentially uncivilised. Thus
I have no fundamental meeting-ground with the

QUOTES

rugged Yankee individualist. I represent rather the
mood of the agrarian feudalism which preceded the
pioneering and capitalistic phases. My ideal of life
is nothing material or quantitative, but simply the security and leisure necessary for the maximum flowering of the human spirit. . . . Well—so much for
the past. Now we live in an age of easy abundance
which makes possible the fulfilment of all moderate human wants through a relatively slight amount
of labour. What shall be the result? Shall we still
make resources prohibitively hard to get when there
is really a plethora of them? Shall we allow antique notions of allocation—"property,” etc.—to interfere with the rational distribution of this abundant stock of resources among all those who require
them? Shall we value hardship and anxiety and uncertainty so fatuously as to impose these evils artificially on people who do not need to bear them,
through the perpetuation of a set of now irrelevant
and inapplicable rules of allocation? What reasonable objection is there to an intelligent centralised
control of resources whose primary object shall be
the elimination of want in every quarter—a thing
possible without removing comfortable living from
any one now enjoying it? To call the allocation of
resources something “uncontrollable” by man—and
in an age when virtually all natural forces are harnessed and utilised—is simply infantile. It is simply
that those who now have the lion’s share don't want
any fresh or rational allocation. It is needless to say
that no sober thinker envisages a workless equalitarian paradise. Much work remains, and human
capacities differ. High-grade service must still receive greater rewards than low-grade service. But
amidst the present abundance of goods and minimisation of possible work, there must be a fair and allinclusive allocation of the chances to perform work
and secure rewards. When society can't give a man
work, it must keep him comfortable without it; but it
must give him work if it can, and must compel him
to perform it when it is needed. This does not involve interference with personal life and habits (contrary to what some reactionaries say), nor is the absence of insecurity anything to deplore. . . . But
of course the real need of change comes not from
the mere fact of abundant resources, but from the
growth of conditions making it impossible for millions to have any chance of getting any resources under the present outworn set of artificial rules. This
development is no myth. Machines had displaced
900,000 men in the U. S. before the crash of '29,
and no conceivable regime of “prosperity” (where
by a few people will have abundant and flexible resources and successfully exchange them among one
another) will ever make it possible to avoid the permanent presence of millions of unemployed, so long
as old-fashioned laissez-faire capitalism is adhered
to. . . . And so I have readjusted my ideas.

1.2

Non-Fiction
… I have gone almost reluctantly—step by step, as
pressed by facts too insistent to deny—and am still
quite as remote from Belknap’s naive Marxism as
I am from the equally naive Republican orthodoxy
I have left behind. I am as set as ever against any
cultural upheaval—and believe that nothing of the
kind is necessary in order to achieve a new and feasible economic equilibrium. The best of culture has
always been non-economic. Hitherto it has grown
out of the secure, non-struggling life of the aristocrat. In future it may be expected to grow out of
the secure and not-so-struggling life of whatever citizens are personally able to develop it. There need
be no attempt to drag culture down to the level of
crude minds. That, indeed, would be something
to fight tooth and nail! With economic opportunities artificially regulated, we may well let other interests follow a natural course. Inherent differences
in people and in tastes will create different socialcultural classes as in the past—although the relation
of these classes to the holding of material resources
will be less fixed than in the capitalistic age now closing. All this, of course, is directly contrary to Belknap’s rampant Stalinism—but I'm telling you I'm no
bolshevik! I am for the preservation of all values
worth preserving—and for the maintenance of complete cultural continuity with the Western-European
mainstream. Don't fancy that the dethronement of
certain purely economic concepts means an abrupt
break in that stream. Rather does it mean a return to
art impulses typically aristocratic (that is, disinterested, leisurely, non-ulterior) rather than bourgeois.
• Letter to Clark Ashton Smith (28 October
1934), in Selected Letters V, 1934-1937 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp.
60-64

• I do not regard the rise of woman as a bad sign.
Rather do I fancy that her traditional subordination was itself an artificial and undesirable condition based on Oriental influences. Our virile Teutonic ancestors did not think their wives unworthy
to follow them into battle, or scorn to dream of
winged Valkyries bearing them to Valhalla. The
feminine mind does not cover the same territory as
the masculine, but is probably little if any inferior
in total quality. To expect it to remain perpetually
in the background in a realistic state of society is
futile—despite the most feverish efforts of Nazis
and Fascisti. However—it will be some time before women are sufficiently freed from past influences to form an active factor in national life. By
the time they do gain influence, they will have lost
many of the emotional characteristics which now
impair their powers of judgment. Many qualities
commonly regarded as innate—in races, classes, and
sexes alike—are in reality results of habitual and imperceptible conditioning.

23
• Letter to Clark Ashton Smith (28 October
1934), in Selected Letters V, 1934-1937 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 64
• Of the complete biological inferiority of the negro
there can be no question—he has anatomical features consistently varying from those of other stocks,
& always in the direction of the lower primates .
. . Equally inferior—& perhaps even more so—
is the Australian black stock, which differs widely
from the real negro . . . In dealing with these
two black races, there is only one sound attitude for
any other race (be it white, Indian, Malay, Polynesian, or Mongolian) to take—& that is to prevent
admixture as completely & determinedly as it can
be prevented, through the establishment of a colourline & the rigid forcing of all mixed offspring below
that line. I am in accord with the most vehement
& vociferous Alabaman or Mississippian on that
point … Other racial questions are wholly different
in nature—involving wide variations unconnected
with superiority or inferiority. Only an ignorant dolt
would attempt to call a Chinese gentleman—heir to
one of the greatest artistic & philosophic traditions
in the world—an “inferior” of any sort . . . & yet
there are potent reasons, based on wide physical,
mental, & cultural differences, why great numbers
of the Chinese ought not to mix into the Caucasian
fabric, or vice versa. It is not that one race is any
better than any other, but that their whole respective
heritages are so antipodal as to make harmonious adjustment impossible. Members of one race can fit
into another only through the complete eradication
of their own background-influences—& even then
the adjustment will always remain uneasy & imperfect if the newcomer’s physical aspect froms a constant reminder of his outside origin. Therefore it is
wise to discourage all mixtures of sharply differentiated races—though the color-line does not need to
be drawn as strictly as in the case of the negro, since
we know that a dash or two of Mongolian or Indian
or Hindoo or some such blood will not actually injure a white stock biologically. . . . As a matter
of fact, most of the psychological race-differences
which strike us so prominently are cultural rather
than biological. If one could take a Japanese infant,
alter his features to the Anglo-Saxon type through
plastic surgery, & place him with an American family in Boston for rearing—without telling him that he
is not an American—the chances are that in 20 years
the result would be a typical American youth with
very few instincts to distinguish him from his pure
Nordic college-mates. The same is true of other superior alien races including the Jew—although the
Nazis persist in acting on a false biological conception. If they were wise in their campaign to get rid
of Jewish cultural influences (& a great deal can be
said for such a campaign, when the dominance of

24

1
the Aryan tradition is threatened as in Germany &
New York City), they would not emphasize the separatism of the Jew but would strive to make him give
up his separate culture & lose himself in the German people. It wouldn't hurt Germany—or alter its
essential physical type—to take in all the Jews it now
has. (However, that wouldn't work in Poland or New
York City, where the Jews are of an inferior strain,
& so numerous that they would essentially modify
the physical type.)
• Letter to Natalie H. Wooley (22 November
1934), in Selected Letters V, 1934-1937 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 77

• The very fact that religions are not content to stand
on their own feet, but insist on crippling or warping
the flexible minds of children in their favour, forms
a sufficient proof that there is no truth in them. If
there were any truth in religion, it would be even
more acceptable to a mature mind than to an infant mind—yet no mature mind ever accepts religion unless it has been crippled in infancy. … The
whole basis of religion is a symbolic emotionalism
which modern knowledge has rendered meaningless
& even unhealthy. Today we know that the cosmos
is simply a flux of purposeless rearrangement amidst
which man is a wholly negligible incident or accident. There is no reason why it should be otherwise,
or why we should wish it otherwise. All the florid romancing about man’s “dignity”, “immortality”, &c.
&c. is simply egotistical delusions plus primitive ignorance. So, too, are the infantile concepts of “sin”
or cosmic “right” & “wrong”. Actually, organic life
on our planet is simply a momentary spark of no importance or meaning whatsoever. Man matters to
nobody except himself. Nor are his “noble” imaginative concepts any proof of the objective reality
of the things they visualise. Psychologists understand how these concepts are built up out of fragments of experience, instinct, & misapprehension.
Man is essentially a machine of a very complex sort,
as La Mettrie recognised nearly 2 centuries ago. He
arises through certain typical chemical & physical
reactions, & his members gradually break down into
their constituent parts & vanish from existence. The
idea of personal “immortality” is merely the dream
of a child or savage. However, there is nothing
anti-ethical or anti-social in such a realistic view of
things. Although meaning nothing in the cosmos as
a whole, mankind obviously means a good deal to
itself. Therefore it must be regulated by customs
which shall ensure, for its own benefit, the full development of its various accidental potentialities. It
has a fortuitous jumble of reactions, some of which
it instinctively seeks to heighten & prolong, & some
of which it instinctively seeks to shorten or lessen.
Also, we see that certain courses of action tend to
increase its radius of comprehension & degree of

QUOTES

specialised organisation (things usually promoting
the wished-for reactions, & in general removing the
species from a clod-like, unorganised state), while
other courses of action tend to exert an opposite effect. Now since man means nothing to the cosmos,
it is plan that his only logical goal (a goal whose sole
reference is to himself) is simply the achievement
of a reasonable equilibrium which shall enhance his
likelihood of experiencing the sort of reactions he
wishes, & which shall help along his natural impulse to increase his differentiation from unorganised force & matter. This goal can be reached only
through teaching individual men how best to keep
out of each other’s way, & how best to reconcile the
various conflicting instincts which a haphazard cosmic drift has placed within the breast of the same
person. Here, then, is a practical & imperative system of ethics, resting on the firmest possible foundation & being essentially that taught by Epicurus
& Lucretius. It has no need of supernatualism, &
indeed has nothing to do with it.
• Letter to Natalie H. Wooley (2 May 1936), in
Selected Letters V, 1934-1937 edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp. 240241
• I used to be a hide-bound Tory simply for traditional
and antiquarian reasons—and because I had never
done any real thinking on civics and industry and the
future. The depression—and its concomitant publicisation of industrial, financial, and governmental
problems—jolted me out of my lethargy and led me
to reëxamine the facts of history in the light of unsentimental scientific analysis; and it was not long
before I realised what an ass I had been. The liberals at whom I used to laugh were the ones who were
right—for they were living in the present while I had
been living in the past. They had been using science
while I had been using romantic antiquarianism. At
last I began to recognise something of the way in
which capitalism works—always piling up concentrated wealth and impoverishing the bulk of the population until the strain becomes so intolerable as to
force artificial reform.
• Letter to Jennie K. Plaiser (8 July 1936),
quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T.
Joshi, p. 564
• As for the Republicans — how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of
tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to
history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial
ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd,
dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dreamcosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and at-

1.2

Non-Fiction
titudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft
world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously)
mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that
real liberty is synonymous with the single detail
of unrestricted economic license or that a rational
planning of resource-distribution would contravene
some vague and mystical 'American heritage'…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one
gives to the dead.
• Letter to C.L. Moore (August 1936), quoted in
“H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T. Joshi, p. 574

• [W]hat I used to respect was not really aristocracy,
but a set of personal qualities which aristocracy then
developed better than any other system . . . a set
of qualities, however, whose merit lay only in a psychology of non-calculative, non-competitive disinterestedness, truthfulness, courage, and generosity fostered by good education, minimum economic stress,
and assumed position, AND JUST AS ACHIEVABLE THROUGH SOCIALISM AS THROUGH
ARISTOCRACY.
• Letter to C.L. Moore (c. mid-October 1936),
quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T.
Joshi, p. 566
• As for the general idea of what one would do if certain of death in an hour—I fancy most persons in
normal health tend to sentimentalise and romanticise a bit about it. For my part—as a realist beyond the age of theatricalism and naive beliefs—I
feel quite certain that my own known last hour would
be spent quite prosaically in writing instructions for
the disposition of certain books, manuscripts, heirlooms, and other possessions. Such a task would—
in view of the mental stress—take at least an hour—
and it would be the most useful thing I could do
before dropping off into oblivion. If I did finish
ahead of time, I'd probably spend the residual minutes getting a last look at something closely associated with my earliest memories—a picture, a library table, an 1895 Farmer’s Almanack, a small
music-box I used to play with at 2 ½, or some kindred symbol—completing a psychological circle in
a spirit half of humour and half of whimsical sentimentality. Then—nothingness, as before Aug. 20,
1890.
• Letter to a round-robin letter-writing group
called “the Coryciani” (14 July 1936), quoted
in Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography
in Letters edited by S.T. Joshi, p. 339
• I am probably the least sensuous of all living beings;
being almost exclusively visual and quasi-abstract in

25
imagination, and tending to view and enjoy all things
as a passive, detached, and sometimes remote spectator. Those arts which appeal most to the ideational
imagination—the sense of drama, pageantry, historic flux, collective organisation, or escape from the
natural limitations of time, space, and natural law—
are undoubtedly those which appeal chiefly to me.
Even my strong love of architectural and decorative
beauty is probably largely dependent upon the historical bearings of the forms and motifs in which I
delight. I am not wholly insensible to abstract form,
but seem to relish the associative element in art more
instantly and acutely than the lyrical or mathematical element . . . I don't really revel in anything
unless it reminds me of something else either real
or visionary—unless it opens up visual avenues of
linked pseudo-recollections leading to sensations of
ego-expansion and liberation . . . usually bringing
in the element of time, somehow based on the past,
and harbouring hints of an elusive, intangible kind
of adventurous expectancy.
• Letter to Virgil Finlay (25 September 1936),
in Selected Letters V, 1934-1937 edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 310
• I can better understand the inert blindness & defiant ignorance of the reactionaries from having been
one of them. I know how smugly ignorant I was—
wrapped up in the arts, the natural (not social) sciences, the externals of history & antiquarianism, the
abstract academic phases of philosophy, & so on—
all the one-sided standard lore to which, according
to the traditions of the dying order, a liberal education was limited. God! the things that were left
out—the inside facts of history, the rational interpretation of periodic social crises, the foundations of
economics & sociology, the actual state of the world
today … & above all, the habit of applying disinterested reason to problems hitherto approached only
with traditional genuflections, flag-waving, & callous shoulder-shrugs! All this comes up with humiliating force through an incident of a few days
ago—when young Conover, having established contact with Henneberger, the ex-owner of WT, obtained from the latter a long epistle which I wrote
Edwin Baird on Feby. 3, 1924, in response to a request for biographical & personal data. Little Willis
asked permission to publish the text in his combined
SFC-Fantasy, & I began looking the thing over to see
what it was like—for I had not the least recollection
of ever having penned it. Well …. I managed to
get through, after about 10 closely typed pages of
egotistical reminiscences & showing-off & expressions of opinion about mankind & the universe. I
did not faint—but I looked around for a 1924 photograph of myself to burn, spit on, or stick pins in!
Holy Hades—was I that much of a dub at 33 …

26

1

QUOTES

only 13 years ago? There was no getting out of it—
I really had thrown all that haughty, complacent,
snobbish, self-centred, intolerant bull, & at a mature age when anybody but a perfect damned fool
would have known better! That earlier illness had
kept me in seclusion, limited my knowledge of the
world, & given me something of the fatuous effusiveness of a belated adolescent when I finally was
able to get around more in 1920, is hardly much of
an excuse. Well—there was nothing to be done …
except to rush a note back to Conover & tell him
I'd dismember him & run the fragments through a
sausage-grinder if he ever thought of printing such a
thing! The only consolation lay in the reflection that
I had matured a bit since '24. It’s hard to have done
all one’s growing up since 33—but that’s a damn
sight better than not growing up at all.

rent touches of the ancient fear—& as late as 1919
I had some that I could use in fiction without much
change. The Statement of Randolph Carter is a literal
dream transcript. Now, in the sere & yellow leaf (I
shall be 47 in August), I seem to be rather deserted
by stark horror. I have nightmares only 2 or 3 times
a year, & of these none even approaches those of my
youth in soul-shattering, phobic monstrousness. It is
fully a decade & more since I have known fear in its
most stupefying & hideous form. And yet, so strong
is the impress of the past, I shall never cease to be
fascinated by fear as a subject for aesthetic treatment. Along with the element of cosmic mystery
& outsideness, it will always interest me more than
anything else. It is, in a way, amusing that one of my
chief interests should be an emotion whose poignant
extremes I have never known in waking life!

• Letter to Catherine L. Moore (7 February
1937), in Selected Letters V, 1934-1937 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp.
407-408

• Letter to Harry O. Fischer (late February
1937), in Selected Letters V, 1934-1937 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, pp.
416-417

• In infancy I was afraid of the dark, which I peopled
with all sorts of things; but my grandfather cured me
of that by daring me to walk through certain dark
parts of the house when I was 3 or 4 years old. After that, dark places held a certain fascination for me.
But it is in dreams that I have known the real clutch
of stark, hideous, maddening, paralysing fear. My
infant nightmares were classics, & in them there is
not an abyss of agonising cosmic horror that I have
not explored. I don't have such dreams now—but
the memory of them will never leave me. It is undoubtedly from them that the darkest & most gruesome side of my fictional imagination is derived. At
the ages of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 I have been whirled
through formless abysses of infinite night and adumbrated horrors as black & as seethingly sinister
as any of our friend Fafhrd’s [a nickname Lovecraft
used for Fritz Leiber] “splatter-stencil” triumphs.
That’s why I appreciate such triumphs so keenly, I
have seen these things! Many a time I have awaked in
shrieks of panic, & have fought desperately to keep
from sinking back into sleep & its unutterable horrors. At the age of six my dreams became peopled
with a race of lean, faceless, rubbery, winged things
to which I applied the home-made name of nightgaunts. Night after night they would appear in exactly the same form—& the terror they brought was
beyond any verbal description. Long decades later
I embodied them in one of my Fungi from Yuggoth
pseudo-sonnets, which you may have read. Well—
after I was 8 all these things abated, perhaps because
of the scientific habit of mind which I was acquiring
(or trying to acquire). I ceased to believe in religion or any other form of the supernatural, & the
new logic gradually reached my subconscious imagination. Still, occasional nightmares brought recur-

I am perfectly confident that I could never adequately convey to
any other human being the precise reasons why I continue to refrain from suicide—the reasons, that is, why I still find existence
enough of a compensation to atone for its dominantly burthensome quality.

to August Derleth
• I can look back . . . at two distinct periods of
opinion whose foundations I have successively come
to distrust—a period before 1919 or so, when the

1.2

Non-Fiction
weight of classic authority unduly influenced me,
and another period from 1919 to about 1925, when
I placed too high a value on the elements of revolt,
florid colour, and emotional extravagance or intensity.
• Letter to August Derleth (1929), quoted in
“H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T. Joshi, p. 307

• Time, space, and natural law hold for me suggestions of intolerable bondage, and I can form
no picture of emotional satisfaction which does
not involve their defeat—especially the defeat of
time, so that one may merge oneself with the
whole historic stream and be wholly emancipated from the transient and the ephemeral. Yet
I can assure you that this point of view is joined
to one of the plainest, naivest, and most unobtrusively old-fashioned of personalities—a retiring old
hermit and ascetic who does not even know what
your contemporary round of activities and “parties”
is like, and who during the coming winter will probably not address two consecutive sentences to any
living person—tradesmen apart—save a pair of elderly aunts! Some people—a very few, perhaps—
are naturally cosmic in outlook, just as others are
naturally 'of and for the earth'. I am myself less exclusively cosmic than Klarkash-Ton and Wandrei. .
. I begin with the individual and the soil and think
outward—appreciating the sensation of spatial and
temporal liberation only when I can scale it against
the known terrestrial scene. They, on the other hand,
are able to think of wholly non-human abysses of
ultimate space—without reference-points—as realities neither irrelevant nor less significant than immediate human life. With me, the very quality of
being cosmically sensitive breeds an exaggerated
attachment to the familiar and the immediate—
Old Providence, the woods and hills, the ancient
ways and thoughts of New England—whilst with
them it seems to have the opposite effect of alienating them from immediate anchorages. They despise
the immediate as trivial; I know that it is trivial, but
cherish rather than despise it—because everything,
including infinity itself, is trivial. In reality I am
the profoundest cynic of them all, for I recognize
no absolute values whatever.
• Letter to August Derleth (21 November
1930), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
220

27
are strongly linked with architecture, scenery, and
lighting and atmospheric effects, and take the form
of vague impressions of adventurous expectancy
coupled with elusive memory—impressions that
certain vistas, particularly those associated with sunsets, are avenues of approach to spheres or conditions of wholly undefined delights and freedoms
which I have known in the past and have a slender possibility of knowing again in the future. Just
what those delights and freedoms are, or even what
they approximately resemble, I could not concretely
imagine to save my life; save that they seem to concern some ethereal quality of indefinite expansion
and mobility, and of a heightened perception which
shall make all forms and combinations of beauty simultaneously visible to me, and realisable by me. I
might add, though, that they invariably imply a total defeat of the laws of time, space, matter, and
energy—or rather, an individual independence of
these laws on my part, whereby I can sail through
the varied universes of space-time as an invisible
vapour might … upsetting none of them, yet superior to their limitations and local forms of material
organisation. … Now this all sounds damn foolish
to anybody else—and very justly so. There is no reason why it should sound anything except damn foolish to anyone who had not happened to receive precisely the same series of inclinations, impressions,
and background-images which the purely fortuitous
circumstances of my own especial life have chanced
to give me.
• Letter to August Derleth (25 December 1930),
quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T.
Joshi, p. 584
• It’s not a bad idea to call this Cthulhuism & YogSothothery of mine “The Mythology of Hastur"—
although it was really from Machen & Dunsany &
others, rather than through the Bierce-Chambers
line, that I picked up my gradually developing hash
of theogony—or daimonogony. Come to think of it,
I guess I sling this stuff more as Chambers does than
as Machen & Dunsany do—though I had written a
good deal of it before I ever suspected that Chambers ever wrote a weird story!
• Letter to August Derleth (16 May 1931), responding to Derleth’s suggestion that he call
the interconnected mythology of his stories
(what would later be known as the Cthulhu
Mythos) “The Mythology of Hastur”, quoted
in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T. Joshi, p.
505

• I am perfectly confident that I could never adequately convey to any other human being the
precise reasons why I continue to refrain from to Frank Belknap Long
suicide—the reasons, that is, why I still find ex• Nothing must disturb my undiluted Englishry —
istence enough of a compensation to atone for its
God Save The King! I am naturally a Nordic —
dominantly burthensome quality. These reasons

28

1
a chalk-white, bulky Teuton of the Scandinavian or
North-German forests — a Vikinga berserk killer
— a predatory rover of Hengist and Horsa — a conqueror of Celts and mongrels and founders of Empires — a son of the thunders and the arctic winds,
and brother to the frosts and the auroras — a drinker
of foemen’s blood from new picked skulls — a friend
of the mountain buzzards and feeder of seacoast vultures — a blond beast of eternal snows and frozen
oceans — a prayer to Odin and Thor and Woden
and Alfadur, the raucous shouter of Niffelheim — a
comrade of the wolves, and rider of nightmares —
aye — I speak truly — for was I not born with yellow
hair and blue eyes.
• Letter to Frank Belknap Long (3 May 1923),
published in Selected Letters Vol. I (1965), p.
227

• It is just as ridiculous to get excited & hysterical
over a coming cultural change as to get excited &
hysterical over one’s physical aging . . . There is legitimate pathos about both processes; but blame &
rebellion are essentially cheap, because inappropriate, emotions . . . It is wholly appropriate to feel a
deep sadness at the coming of unknown things & the
departure of those around which all our symbolic associations are entwined. All life is fundamentally &
inextricably sad, with the perpetual snatching away
of all the chance combinations of image & vista &
mood that we become attached to, & the perpetual
encroachment of the shadow of decay upon illusions
of expansion & liberation which buoyed us up &
spurred us on in youth. That is why I consider all
jauntiness, & many forms of carelessly generalised
humour, as essentially cheap & mocking, & occasionally ghastly & corpselike. Jauntiness & nonironic humour in this world of basic & inescapable
sadness are like the hysterical dances that a madman might execute on the grave of all his hopes.
But if, at one extreme, intellectual poses of spurious happiness be cheap & disgusting; so at the
other extreme are all gestures & fist-clenchings of
rebellion equally silly & inappropriate—if not quite
so overtly repulsive. All these things are ridiculous
& contemptible because they are not legitimately
applicable . . . The sole sensible way to face
the cosmos & its essential sadness (an adumbration of true tragedy which no destruction of values can touch) is with manly resignation—eyes open
to the real facts of perpetual frustration, & mind
& sense alert to catch what little pleasure there is
to be caught during one’s brief instant of existence.
Once we know, as a matter of course, how nature inescapably sets our freedom-adventure-expansion desires, & our symbol-&-experience-affections, definitely beyond all zones of possible fulfilment, we are
in a sense fortified in advance, & able to endure the

QUOTES

ordeal of consciousness with considerable equanimity . . . Life, if well filled with distracting images
& activities favourable to the ego’s sense of expansion, freedom, & adventurous expectancy, can be
very far from gloomy—& the best way to achieve
this condition is to get rid of the unnatural conceptions which make conscious evils out of impersonal
and inevitable limitations . . . get rid of these, &
of those false & unattainable standards which breed
misery & mockery through their beckoning emptiness.
• Letter to Frank Belknap Long (27 February
1931), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
291
• I really agree that Yog-Sothoth is a basically immature conception, & unfitted for really serious
literature. The fact is, I have never approached
serious literature yet. But I consider the use of actual folk-myths as even more childish than the use
of new artificial myths, since in the former one is
forced to retain many blatant peurilities & contradictions of experienced which could be subtilised
or smoothed over if the supernaturalism were modelled to order for the given case. The only permanently artistic use of Yog-Sothothery, I think, is in
symbolic or associative phantasy of the frankly poetic type; in which fixed dream-patterns of the natural organism are given an embodiment & crystallisation . . . But there is another phase of cosmic phantasy (which may or may not include frank
Yog-Sothothery) whose foundations appear to me as
better grounded than those of ordinary oneiroscopy;
personal limitations regarding the sense of outsideness. I refer to the aesthetic crystallisation of that
burning & inextinguishable feeling of mixed wonder
& oppression which the sensitive imagination experiences upon scaling itself & its restrictions against
the vast & provocative abyss of the unknown. This
has always been the chief emotion in my psychology; & whilst it obviously figures less in the psychology of the majority, it is clearly a well-defined
& permanent factor from which very few sensitive
persons are wholly free. . . . Reason as we may,
we cannot destroy a normal perception of the highly
limited & fragmentary nature of our visible world
of perception & experience as scaled against the
outside abyss of unthinkable galaxies & unplumbed
dimensions—an abyss wherein our solar system is
the merest dot . . . The time has come when the
normal revolt against time, space, & matter must assume a form not overtly incompatible with what is
known of reality—when it must be gratified by images forming supplements rather than contradictions
of the visible & measurable universe. And what,
if not a form of non-supernatural cosmic art, is to

1.2

Non-Fiction
pacify this sense of revolt—as well as gratify the
cognate sense of curiosity?
• Letter to Frank Belknap Long (27 February
1931), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
293

• All I want is to know things. The black gulph of the
infinite is before me . . . I have no use for the machine age or any of its conceptions, methods, &
ideals. I have use only for abstract cognition without social or utilitarian connotations; the thing which
Thales & Anaxagoras & Heraclitus went after, &
which was clearly definable by the word philosophy
until those pragmatical puffballs Socrates & Plato
threw a monkey-wrench into the works & crippled
human thought for the next two millennia. Now it
is a matter of perfect indifference to me whether
or not baser interests cluster round the search for
truth & lick the molasses-drops that ooze out of
the fact-barrel. This apelike parasitism of the herd
means nothing either for or against the abstract isor-isn't quest which Thales began, Democritus continued, & Einstein prolongs. If machine-culture
chooses to worship “science”, that’s its own business. It doesn't imply that the abstract process of
cognition-craving turns about & reciprocally worships machine-culture! . . . Cognition, as such, is
completely without social or aesthetic implications
except so far as it places certain obvious contradictions of natural laws, & certain pointless exaltations
of empty trivialities, in a light so unfavourable as
to encourage obsolescence. It is nobody’s tool or
handmaiden—it is itself alone. Practically speaking, the mind likely to worship pure cognition most
sincerely is that most of all opposed to industrialism
& standardisation. Cognition is that branch of human desire & celebration most antipodally removed
from anything envisaged or wished by Thomas A.
Edison, Henry Ford, & the late Charles P. Steinmetz. It is the enemy of urban civilisation as it is
the enemy of all handicaps which cripple the free individualistic excursions of the disinterested intellect
into unknown cosmic space. It is the sworn ally of
beauty because it is itself one of the supreme forms of
beauty—the catharsis of a primal, titanic urge which
links man to the uttermost gulfs of dramatic immensity. It is one with the greatest music & the loftiest
poetry—being perhaps a glimpse of the liberating &
expanding reality which both are blindly seeking.
• Letter to Frank Belknap Long (27 February
1931), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
300
• As for your artificial conception of “splendid & traditional ways of life”—I feel quite confident that you

29
are very largely constructing a mythological idealisation of something which never truly existed; a
conventional picture based on the perusal of books
which followed certain hackneyed lines in the matter of incidents, sentiments, & situations, & which
never had a close relationship to the actual societies they professed to depict . . . In some ways
the life of certain earlier periods had marked advantages over life today, but there were compensating disadvantages which would make many hesitate about a choice. Some of the most literarily attractive ages had a coarseness, stridency, & squalor
which we would find insupportable . . . Modern neurotics, lolling in stuffed easy chairs, merely
make a myth of these old periods & use them as
the nuclei of escapist daydreams whose substance
resembles but little the stern actualities of yesterday. That is undoubtedly the case with me—only
I'm fully aware of it. Except in certain selected circles, I would undoubtedly find my own 18th century
insufferably coarse, orthodox, arrogant, narrow, &
artificial. What I look back upon nostalgically is
a dream-world which I invented at the age of four
from picture books & the Georgian hill streets of
Old Providence. . . . There is something artificial
& hollow & unconvincing about self-conscious intellectual traditionalism—this being, of course, the
only valid objection against it. The best sort of traditionalism is that easy-going eclectic sort which indulges in no frenzied pulmotor stunts, but courses
naturally down from generation to generation; bequeathing such elements as really are sound, losing
such as have lost value, & adding any which new
conditions may make necessary. . . . In short,
young man, I have no quarrel with the principle of
traditionalism as such, but I have a decided quarrel
with everything that is insincere, inappropriate, &
disproportionate; for these qualities mean ugliness &
weakness in the most offensive degree. I object to
the feigning of artificial moods on the part of literary moderns who cannot even begin to enter into the
life & feelings of the past which they claim to represent . . . If there were any reality or depth of feeling
involved, the case would be different; but almost invariably the neotraditionalists are sequestered persons remote from any real contacts or experience
with life . . . For any person today to fancy he can
truly enter into the life & feeling of another period
is really nothing but a confession of ignorance of the
depth & nature of life in its full sense. This is the
case with myself. I feel I am living in the 18th century, though my objective judgment knows better, &
realises the vast difference from the real thing. The
one redeeming thing about my ignorance of life &
remoteness from reality is that I am fully conscious
of it, hence (in the last few years) make allowances
for it, & do not pretend to an impossible ability to
enter into the actual feelings of this or any other age.

30

1

QUOTES

The emotions of the past were derived from expeby August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
riences, beliefs, customs, living conditions, historic
312
backgrounds, horizons, &c. &c. so different from
our own, that it is simply silly to fancy we can duplicate them, or enter warmly & subjectively into all to James Ferdinand Morton, Jr.
phases of their aesthetic expression.
• Of what use is it to please the herd? They are
simply coarse animals — for all that is admirable
• Letter to Frank Belknap Long (27 February
in man is the artificial product of special breed1931), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
ing. We advocate the preservation of conditions
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
favourable to the growth of beautiful things — im307
posing palaces, beautiful cities, elegant literature,
resposeful art and music, and a physically select hu• You & James Ferdinand simply can't learn to
man type such as only luxury and a pure racial strain
distinguish betwixt intellectual opinion & irrelevant
can produce. Thus we oppose democracy, if only
instinctive emotion . . . For instance, he has the idea
because it would retard the development of a handthat I place an exaggerated intellectual valuation
some Nordic breed. We realise that all conceptions
on the 18th century merely because my chance
of justice and ethics are mere prejudices and illuemotions have given me a strong but irrational
sions — there is no earthly reason why the masses
subjective sense of belonging to it. I've told that bird
should not be kept down for the benefit of the strong,
dozens of times that I have no especial intellectual
since every man is for himself in the last analysis.
brief for Georgian days . . . He can't understand
my ability to class as merely one period among
others an age to which random early impressions
have so closely bound my emotions & sense of
identity . . . the point is that my own personal mess
of subjective emotions has nothing whatever to do
with my intellectual opinions. I have freely declared
myself at all times (like everybody else in his
respective way) a mere product of my background,
& do not consider the values of that background
as applicable to outsiders. The only way for the
individual to achieve any contentment or harmonic
relationship to a pattern is to adhere to the background naturally his; & that is what I am doing.
Others I urge to adhere to their own respective
backgrounds & traditions, however remote from
mine these may be. When I venture now & then to
suggest values of a more general kind, I approach
the problem in an entirely different way—speaking
not as Old Theobald of His Majesty’s Rhode-Island
Colony, but as the cosmic & impersonal Ec'h-Pi-El,
denizen of the invisible world 'Ui-ulh in the second
zone of curved space outside angled space . .
. If there is any approach to an absolute value
in the cosmos—or at least on this planet—then
this is it. Sincerity—is-or-isn't-ness—technical
perfection—harmony—coherence—consistency—
symmetry—all these things are obviously aspects
of one single property of space, energy, & general
mathematical harmonics whose universality gives
it the deepest possible significance. I have thought
this all my life, & that is why to me one Newton or
Einstein, one M. Atilius Regulus, M. Porcius Cato,
or P. Cornelius Scipio, seems to me in certain ways
worth a full dozen of your prattling little Keatses &
Baudelaires.
• Letter to Frank Belknap Long (27 February
1931), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited

• Letter to James F. Morton (10 February
1923), published in Selected Letters Vol. I
(1965), p. 208
• Our modern worship of empty ideals is ludicrous.
What does the condition of the rabble matter? All
we need do is to keep it as quiet as we can. What
is more important, is to perpetuate those things of
beauty which are of real value because involving
actual sense-impressions rather than vapid theories.
“Equality” is a joke — but a great abbey or cathedral, covered with moss, is a poignant reality. If it
is for us to safeguard and preserve the conditions
which produce great abbeys, and palaces, and picturesque walled town, and vivid sky-lines of steeples
and domes, and luxurious tapestries, and fascinating
books, paintings and statuary, and colossal organs
and noble music, and dramatic deeds on embattled
fields — these are all there is of life: take them away
and we have nothing which a man of taste or spirit
would care to live for. Take them away and our poets
have nothing to sing — our dreamers have nothing
to dream about. The blood of a million men is well
shed in producing one glorious legend which thrills
posterity and it is not at all important why it was
shed.
• Letter to James F. Morton (10 February
1923), published in Selected Letters Vol. I
(1965), p. 208
• I am Providence, and Providence is myself—
together, indissolubly as one, we stand thro' the ages;
a fixt monument set aeternally in the shadow of Durfee’s ice-clad peak!
• Letter to James F. Morton (16 May 1926),
quoted in Lord of a Visible World: An Auto-

1.2

Non-Fiction
biography in Letters edited by S. T. Joshi, p.
192

• Contrary to what you may assume, I am not a pessimist but an indifferentist—that is, I don't make the
mistake of thinking that the resultant of the natural
forces surrounding and governing organic life will
have any connexion with the wishes or tastes of any
part of that organic life-process. Pessimists are just
as illogical as optimists; insomuch as both envisage the aims of mankind as unified, and as having
a direct relationship (either of frustration or of fulfilment) to the inevitable flow of terrestrial motivation and events. That is—both schools retain in a
vestigial way the primitive concept of a conscious
teleology—of a cosmos which gives a damn one way
or the other about the especial wants and ultimate
welfare of mosquitos, rats, lice, dogs, men, horses,
pterodactyls, trees, fungi, dodos, or other forms of
biological energy.
• Letter to James F. Morton (1929), quoted in
“H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T. Joshi, p. 483
• No one thinks or feels or appreciates or lives a
mental-emotional-imaginative life at all, except in
terms of the artificial reference-points supply'd him
by the enveloping body of race-tradition and heritage into which he is born. We form an emotionally realisable picture of the external world, and
an emotionally endurable set of illusions as to values and directions in existence, solely and exclusively through the arbitrary concepts and folkways
bequeathed to us through our traditional culturestream. Without this stream around us we are absolutely adrift in a meaningless and irrelevant chaos
which has not the least capacity to give us any satisfaction apart from the trifling animal ones . .
. Without our nationality—that is, our culturegrouping—we are merely wretched nuclei of agony
and bewilderment in the midst of alien and directionless emptiness . . . We have an Aryan
heritage, a Western-European heritage, a TeutonicCeltic heritage, an Anglo-Saxon or English heritage,
an Anglo-American heritage, and so on—but we
can't detach one layer from another without serious
loss—loss of a sense of significance and orientation
in the world. America without England is absolutely
meaningless to a civilised man of any generation yet
grown to maturity. The breaking of the saving tie
is leaving these colonies free to build up a repulsive
new culture of money, speed, quantity, novelty, and
industrial slavery, but that future culture is not ours,
and has no meaning for us . . . Possibly the youngest
generation already born and mentally active—boys
of ten to fifteen—will tend to belong to it, as indeed
a widespread shift in their tastes and instincts and
loyalties would seem to indicate. But to say all this

31
has anything to do with us is a joke! These boys are
the Bedes and Almins of a new, encroaching, and
apparently inferior culture. We are the Boëthii and
Symmachi and Cassiodori of an older and perhaps
dying culture. It is to our interest to keep our own
culture alive as long as we can—and if possible to reserve and defend certain areas against the onslaughts
of the enemy.
• Letter to James F. Morton (6 November
1930), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
207
• It is because the cosmos is meaningless that we must
secure our individual illusions of values, direction,
and interest by upholding the artificial streams which
give us such worlds of salutary illusion. That is—
since nothing means anything in itself, we must preserve the proximate and arbitrary background which
makes things around us seem as if they did mean
something. In other words, we are either Englishmen or nothing whatever.
• Letter to James F. Morton (6 November
1930), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited
by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p.
208
• No anthropologist of standing insists on the uniformly advanced evolution of the Nordic as compared with that of other Caucasian and Mongolian
races. As a matter of fact, it is freely conceded that
the Mediterranean race turns out a higher percentage of the aesthetically sensitive and that the Semitic
groups excel in sharp, precise intellectation. It may
be, too, that the Mongolian excels in aesthetick capacity and normality of philosophical adjustment.
What, then, is the secret of pro-Nordicism among
those who hold these views? Simply this—that ours
is a Nordic culture, and that the roots of that culture
are so inextricably tangled in the national standards,
perspectives, traditions, memories, instincts, peculiarities, and physical aspects of the Nordic stream
that no other influences are fitted to mingle in our
fabric. We don't despise the French in France or
Quebec, but we don't want them grabbing our territory and creating foreign islands like Woonsocket
and Fall River. The fact of this uniqueness of every separate culture-stream—this dependence of instinctive likes and dislikes, natural methods, unconscious appraisals, etc., etc., on the physical and historical attributes of a single race—is to obvious to
be ignored except by empty theorists.
• Letter to James F. Morton (18 January 1931),
quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by S.T.
Joshi, p. 587

32

1

QUOTES

• Now the trickiest catch in the negro problem is the
ameliorate such difficulties as they have without imfact that it is really twofold. The black is vastly inperilling the structure of the dominant fabric. It is
ferior. There can be no question of this among cona fact, however, that sentimentalists exaggerate the
temporary and unsentimental biologists—eminent
woes of the average negro. Millions of them would
Europeans for whom the prejudice-problem does
be perfectly content with servile status if good physinot exist. But, it is also a fact that there would be
cal treatment and amusement could be assured them,
a very grave and very legitimate problem even if the
and they may yet form a well-managed agricultural
negro were the white man’s equal. For the simple fact
peasantry. The real problem is the quadroon and
is, that two widely dissimilar races, whether equal or
octoroon—and still lighter shades. Theirs is a sorry
not, cannot peaceably coexist in the same territory
tragedy, but they will have to find a special place.
until they are either uniformly mongrelised or cast
What we can do is to discourage the increase of their
in folkways of permanent and traditional personal
numbers by placing the highest possible penalties on
aloofness. No normal being feels at ease amidst a
miscegenation, and arousing as much public sentipopulation having vast elements radically different
ment as possible against lax customs and attitudes—
from himself in physical aspect and emotional reespecially in the inland South—at present favoursponses. A normal Yankee feels like a fish out of
ing the melancholy and disgusting phenomenon. All
water in a crowd of cultivated Japanese, even though
told, I think the modern American is pretty well on
they may be his mental and aesthetic superiors; and
his guard, at last, against racial and cultural monthe normal Jap feels the same way in a crowd of
grelism. There will be much deterioration, but the
Yankees. This, of course, implies permanent assoNordic has a fighting chance of coming out on top
ciation. We can all visit exotic scenes and like it—
in the end.
and when we are young and unsophisticated we usu• Letter to James F. Morton (January 1931), in
ally think we might continue to like it as a regular
Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited by Authing. But as years pass, the need of old things and
gust Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 253
usual influences—home faces and home voices—
grows stronger and stronger; and we come to see
that mongrelism won't work. We require the envito E. Hoffmann Price
roning influence of a set of ways and physical types
like our own, and will sacrifice anything to get them.
• When I say that I can write nothing but weird ficNothing means anything, in the end, except with reftion, I am not trying to exalt that medium but am
erence to that continuous immediate fabric of apmerely confessing my own weakness. The reason
pearances and experiences of which one was origiI can't write other kinds is not that I don't value
nally part; and if we find ourselves ingulphed by alien
& respect them, but merely that my slender set of
and clashing influences, we instinctively fight against
endowments does not enable me to extract a comthem in pursuit of the dominant freeman’s average
pellingly acute personal sense of interest & drama
quota of legitimate contentment. . . . All that any
from the natural phenomena of life. I know that
living man normally wants—and all that any man
these natural phenomena are more important & sigworth calling such will stand for—is as stable and
nificant than the special & tenuous moods which so
pure a perpetuation as possible of the set of forms
absorb me, & that an art based on them is greater
and appearances to which his value-perceptions are,
than any which fantasy could evoke—but I'm simfrom the circumstances of moulding, instinctively
ply not big enough to react to them in the sensitive
attuned. That is all there is to life—the preservaway necessary for artistic response & literary use.
tion of a framework which will render the experiGod in heaven! I'd certainly be glad enough to be
ence of the individual apparently relevant and signifa Shakespeare or Balzac or Turgeniev if I could! .
icant, and therefore reasonably satisfying. Here we
. . I respect realism more than any other form of
have the normal phenomenon of race-prejudice in a
art—but must reluctantly concede that, through my
nutshell—the legitimate fight of every virile personown limitations, it does not form a medium which I
ality to live in a world where life shall seem to mean
can adequately use.
something. . . . Just how the black and his tan
penumbra can ultimately be adjusted to the Ameri• Letter to E. Hoffman Price (29 September
can fabric, yet remains to be seen. It is possible that
1933), quoted in “H.P. Lovecraft, a Life” by
the economic dictatorship of the future can work
S.T. Joshi, p. 579
out a diplomatic plan of separate allocation whereby
the blacks may follow a self-contained life of their
• However—the crucial thing is my lack of interest in
own, avoiding the keenest hardships of inferiority
ordinary life. No one ever wrote a story yet without
through a reduced number of points of contact with
some real emotional drive behind it—and I have not
the whites . . . No one wishes them any intrinsic
that drive except where violations of the natural orharm, and all would rejoice if a way were found to
der . . . defiances and evasions of time, space, and

33
cosmic law . . . are concerned. Just why this is so
list—Mahomet himself, Richelieu, Poe, Baudelaire.
I haven't the slightest idea—it simply is so. I am in. . one could catalogue them endlessly. Certainly, I
terested only in broad pageants—historic streams—
ask no greater honour than to be accounted a citizen
orders of biological, chemical, physical, and astroof Ulthar beyond the River Skai!
nomical organisation—and the only conflict which
• Letter to E. Hoffmann Price (29 July 1936),
has any deep emotional significance to me is that of
published in Selected Letters Vol. V, p. 290
the principle of freedom or irregularity or adventurous opportunity against the eternal and maddening
rigidity of cosmic law . . . especially the laws of
to Robert E. Howard
time. . . . Hence the type of thing I try to write.
Naturally, I am aware that this forms a very lim• It is the night-black Massachusetts legendry which
ited special field so far as mankind en masse is conpacks the really macabre 'kick', Here is the matecerned; but I believe (as pointed out in that Recluse
rial for a really profound study in group neurotiarticle) that the field is an authentic one despite its
cism; for certainly, no one can deny the existence
subordinate nature. This protest against natural law,
of a profoundly morbid streak in the Puritan imagand tendency to weave visions of escape from orination....The very pre-ponderance of passionately
derly nature, are characteristic and eternal factors
pious men in the colony was virtually an assurance
in human psychology, even though very small ones.
of unnatural crime; insomuch as psychology now
They exist as permanent realities, and have always
proves the religious instinct to be a form of transexpressed themselves in a typical form of art from
muted eroticism precisely parallel to the transmutathe earliest fireside folk tales and ballads to the lattions in other directions which respectively produce
est achievements of Blackwood and Machen or de la
such things as sadism, hallucination, melancholia,
Mare or Dunsany. That art exists—whether the maand other mental morbidities. Bunch together a
jority like it or not. It is small and limited, but real—
group of people deliberately chosen for strong reand there is no reason why its practitioners should
ligious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee
be ashamed of it. Naturally one would rather be a
of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion,
broad artist with power to evoke beauty from every
and insanity. This was aggravated, of course, by the
phase of experience—but when one unmistakably
Puritan policy of rigorously suppressing all the natisn't such an artist, there’s no sense in bluffing and
ural outlets of excuberant feeling--music, laughter,
faking and pretending that one is.
colour, pageantry, and so on. To observe Christmas
Day was once a prison offence....
• Letter to E. Hoffmann Price (15 August 1934)
, quoted in Lord of a Visible World: An Autobi• Letter to Robert E. Howard, (October 4,
ography in Letters edited by S.T. Joshi, p. 268
1930),
• I endorse all that you say of the superior intelligence
of the felidae. Never have I been able to associate
the docile servility and satellitism of the canidae
with mental power. Zoölogists seem to consider the
cerebration of cats and dogs about 50-50—but my
respect always goes to the cool, sure, impersonal,
delicately poised feline who minds his business and
never slobbers—the aristocratic, epicurean philosopher who knows what he wants and tells interlopers to go to hell. There is no credit in having a dog
attached to one—for a dog can be conditioned to
become anybody’s slave and property. But a cat is
nobody’s slave. You do not own a cat. If one lives
in your home, it is because he regards your way of
life favourably, and accepts you as a friend, as one
gentleman accepts another. He takes no kicks or insolence from anyone. If you are not worthy to associate with him, he will depart to seek an environment more suited to a gentleman’s taste. Therefore
he who retains the respect and companionship of
a feline has proven himself to be essentially a superior citizen. For a human being, membership in
the Kappa Alpha Tau forms a badge of distinction.
Many are the eminent names on that member ship

2 Quotes about Lovecraft
• He’s incredibly imaginative. But also, the thing I’ve
found, looking at his work, is that he’s primarily a
science fiction writer. And all the science stuff that’s
in his stories is fairly accurate - he did a lot of research. For example, in From Beyond, he did a lot
of research into the pineal gland; in Reanimator, he
almost gives you the formula for bringing the dead
back to life. I think he was very interested in how
things actually worked.
• Stuart Gordon
• …H.P Lovecraft hints at the existence of nonhuman beings that tread the deeps of space between
the stars.
• Kenneth Grant, interpreting Lovecraft’s fiction in an occult context, in Cults of the
Shadow, 1975 Frederick Muller Limited,
ISBN 0584100589, p. 166

34

3

• H.P. Lovecraft was a genius when it came to tales
of the macabre, but a terrible dialogue writer. He
seems to have known it, too, because in the millions of words of fiction he wrote, fewer than five
thousand are dialogue. [...] Lovecraft was, by all
accounts, both snobbish and painfully shy [...] the
kind of writer who maintains a voluminous correspondence but gets along poorly with others in person -- if he were alive today, he'd likely exist most
vibrantly in various Internet chatrooms. Dialogue
is a skill best learned by people who enjoy talking
and listening to others -- particularly listening, picking up accepts, rhythms, dialect and slang of various
groups. Loners like Lovecraft often write it badly,
or with the care of someone who is composing in a
language other than his or her native tongue.
• Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the
Craft (2000), Scribner, pp. 181-183
• Lovecraft opened the way for me, as he had done for
others before me.
• Stephen King, quoted in Necronomicon: The
Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft, Victor
Gollancz, 2008.
• Lovecraft’s narrative is not only modern, it also
emerged from an imagination that was deferential
to no dogma that may be dated, one that assimilated
what had come before and envisioned what might
come to be in the evolution of human consciousness, deliberating with a fearsome honesty until it
settled on a position it could hold in good faith and
was ready to jettison as dictated by evidence or cerebration. Lovecraft drew upon and extended the
most advanced thought of his time as well as all
previous scientific and philosophical developments
that tended to disenchant the human species with
itself. In that sense, he really went the limit of
disillusionment in assuming the meaningless, disordered, foundationless universe that became the
starting point for later figures in science and philosophy....Although Lovecraft did have his earthbound
illusions, at the end of the day he existed in no man’s
land of nihilism and disillusionment. As a fiction
writer, he will ever be a contemporary of each new
generation of mortals...
• Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy against the
Human Race (2010).
• I'd first read Lovecraft when I was a young adolescent, which is perhaps the best time to read Lovecraft. Now, I admire him for his style, his monomaniacal precision, the 'weirdness’ of his imagination, and the underlying, intransigent tragic vision
that informs all of his work. He’s an American
original, whose influences on subsequent writers

EXTERNAL LINKS

in the field (Stephen King, for instance) is allpervasive.
• Joyce Carol Oates, Interview with “DarkEcho
Horror Online”, 1999.
• I must confess that my estimate of Lovecraft would
not have pleased his most ardent admirers. The
view I expressed in that book [i.e., The Strength to
Dream: Literature and the Imagination (1961)] was
that, while Lovecraft was distinctly a creative genius
in his own way, his pessimism should not be taken
too seriously: that it was the pessimism of a sick
recluse and had about an element of ressentiment, a
kind of desire to take revenge on a world that rejected him. In short, Lovecraft was a 19th century
romantic, born in the wrong time. Most men of genius dislike their own age, but the really great ones
impose their own vision on the age. The weak ones
turn away into a world of gloomy fantasy.
• Colin Wilson, preface to his Lovecraftian
novel The Mind Parasites, p. 2 (1967)
• I suppose what makes Lovecraft both good and bad
is the fact that he was an obsessed writer. And this
is also the reason that so few of the works in the
Lovecraft tradition have touched the same level of
imaginative power. August Derleth or Robert Bloch
can capture the Arkham atmosphere and style excellently, but it doesn't express their true centre of
gravity as writers. [...] This explains why Lovecraft
has remained unique, in spite of the number of writers who have been fascinated by his mythical world
and by his style. He created the Cthulhu Mythos out
of inner necessity.
• Colin Wilson, preface to his Lovecraftian
novel The Mind Parasites, p. 4 (1967)

3 External links
• The H. P. Lovecraft Archive
• The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
• H.P. Lovecraft Quotes
• Essay on Lovecraft by S. T. Joshi
• Master of Disgust - Salon.com
• Existential Sadness in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Outsider”
• The HP Lovecraft Historical Society
• A Pictorial Bibliography
• Selected works online at Dagonbytes

35
• Observer review of Houellebecq’s HP Lovecraft:
Against the World, Against Life + Extract
• Call of Cthulhu online at Inkitt

36

4 TEXT AND IMAGE SOURCES, CONTRIBUTORS, AND LICENSES

4

Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

4.1

Text

• H. P. Lovecraft Source: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft?oldid=2188849 Contributors: Kalki, Jeffq, Quoth-22, Tobin
Richard~enwikiquote, FinalGamer, Eustace Tilley, BD2412, UDScott, LeonardoRob0t, InvisibleSun, Tregonsee, Skeptict, Cbrown1023,
CommonsDelinker, Jusjih, ChtitBot, Mdd, Night Stalker~enwikiquote, AnankeBot, DragonflySixtyseven, Ningauble, RogDel, Hypnosifl,
Lord Mrakainus~enwikiquote, Adam Cuerden, Dark Shadow, Mathonius, Darker Dreams, WOSlinker, Abramsky, DanielTom, Charles
Ben Ami, CensoredScribe, Allixpeeke, Dexbot, ZeppoShemp, DarkPsalms, Vizslah, Wamadahama, Amazingpotatos888, Ranger6342 and
Anonymous: 50

4.2

Images

• File:1922-A.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/1922-A.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: http:
//www.hplovecraft.com/life/gallery.aspx?PhotoID=24 Original artist: Donovan K. Loucks.
• File:2003-32-GravitationalLens.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ad/2003-32-GravitationalLens.jpg
License: Public domain Contributors: http://spacetelescope.org/images/heic0312a/ (direct link) Original artist: European Space Agency,
NASA and Robert A.E. Fosbury (European Space Agency/Space Telescope-European Coordinating Facility, Germany)
• File:Birth-of-a-nation-klan-and-black-man.jpg
Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/
Birth-of-a-nation-klan-and-black-man.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
• File:Commons-logo.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Commons-logo.svg License: Public domain
Contributors: This version created by Pumbaa, using a proper partial circle and SVG geometry features. (Former versions used to be
slightly warped.) Original artist: SVG version was created by User:Grunt and cleaned up by 3247, based on the earlier PNG version,
created by Reidab.
• File:Cthulhu_and_R'lyeh.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Cthulhu_and_R%27lyeh.jpg License:
CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: authorupload Original artist: BenduKiwi
• File:H.P._Lovecraft’{}s_grave.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/H.P._Lovecraft%27s_grave.jpg License: CC BY-SA 2.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
• File:H.P._Lovecraft_plaque_(close_up).jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ea/H.P._Lovecraft_plaque_
%28close_up%29.jpg License: CC BY-SA 2.0 Contributors: originally posted to Flickr as H.P. Lovecraft plaque (close up) Original artist:
James Spurrier
• File:H._P._Lovecraft,_June_1934.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/H._P._Lovecraft%2C_June_
1934.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: Original publication: 1934
Immediate source: http://www.hplovecraft.com/life/gallery.aspx Original artist: Lucius B. Truesdell
(Life time: Unknown)
• File:HP_Lovecraft_(par_Dominique_Signoret).jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/HP_Lovecraft_
%28par_Dominique_Signoret%29.jpg License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
• File:Howard_Phillips_Lovecraft.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/95/Howard_Phillips_Lovecraft.jpg
License: Public domain Contributors: here Original artist: Unknown<a href='//www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q4233718' title='wikidata:
Q4233718'><img
alt='wikidata:Q4233718'
src='https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Wikidata-logo.
svg/20px-Wikidata-logo.svg.png'
width='20'
height='11'
srcset='https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/
Wikidata-logo.svg/30px-Wikidata-logo.svg.png 1.5x, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Wikidata-logo.svg/
40px-Wikidata-logo.svg.png 2x' data-file-width='1050' data-file-height='590' /></a>
• File:Howard_Phillips_Lovecraft_-_circa_1900.jpg
Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/41/
Howard_Phillips_Lovecraft_-_circa_1900.jpg License:
Public domain Contributors:
De Chepachet.com, página en
http://www.chepachet.com/lovecraft.htm e imagen en http://www.chepachet.com/Lovecraft-1900-200.jpg Original artist: Unknown<a
href='//www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q4233718'
title='wikidata:Q4233718'><img
alt='wikidata:Q4233718'
src='https:
//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Wikidata-logo.svg/20px-Wikidata-logo.svg.png'
width='20'
height='11'
srcset='https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Wikidata-logo.svg/30px-Wikidata-logo.svg.png
1.5x,
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Wikidata-logo.svg/40px-Wikidata-logo.svg.png 2x' data-file-width='1050'
data-file-height='590' /></a>
• File:Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_016.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Johann_Heinrich_F%C3%
BCssli_016.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN
3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. Original artist: Henry Fuseli
• File:Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_017.jpg Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Johann_Heinrich_F%C3%
BCssli_017.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN
3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. Original artist: Henry Fuseli
• File:Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_041.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Johann_Heinrich_F%C3%
BCssli_041.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN
3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. Original artist: Henry Fuseli
• File:Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_053.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/Johann_Heinrich_F%C3%
BCssli_053.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN
3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. Original artist: Henry Fuseli
• File:John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare.JPG Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/John_Henry_
Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare.JPG License: Public domain Contributors:
• wartburg.edu Original artist: Henry Fuseli

4.3

Content license

37

• File:Shub-Niggurath.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8f/Shub-Niggurath.jpg License: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Contributors: http://signodom.club.fr/ Original artist: Dominique Signoret
• File:SépultureCathelineau.JPG Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/S%C3%A9pultureCathelineau.JPG License: CC BY 2.5 Contributors: No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims). Original artist:
No machine-readable author provided. Kirtap assumed (based on copyright claims).
• File:The_Door_to_Hell.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/The_Door_to_Hell.jpg License: CC BYSA 2.0 Contributors: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flydime/4671890969/ Original artist: flydime
• File:Walt_Whitman_-_George_Collins_Cox.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/Walt_Whitman_-_
George_Collins_Cox.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints
and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.07549.
This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.

Original artist: George C. Cox (1851–1903, photo)
• File:Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg License: CC BYSA 3.0 Contributors: File:Wikipedia-logo.svg as of 2010-05-14T23:16:42 Original artist: version 1 by Nohat (concept by Paullusmagnus);
Wikimedia.
• File:Wikisource-logo.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Contributors: Rei-artur Original artist: Nicholas Moreau
• File:Yog-Sothoth_couleur.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Yog-Sothoth_couleur.jpg License: CCBY-SA-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?

4.3

Content license

• Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0