H.P. Lovecraft, the Unknown, and Foreign Countries

May 27th, 2010 by admin Leave a reply »

During my time in Spain, I have finally gotten around to reading the Library of America compilation of H.P. Lovecraft’s writings, titled Tales. I had been meaning to read the volume for some time, but I always seemed to have something more compelling to read. This is often the case with my reading habits, but was particularly acute in this case since Lovecraft wrote what was then (the early 20th century) called “weird fiction”, but is now be called “horror”. Horror is not the most versatile of genres, and the mood to read it never seemed to surface. Now, lack of alternatives have forced my hand, and I am quite happy they did, as I am really enjoying Lovecraft’s writing.

Horror is probably not the right word to capture the experience of reading the stories; suspense is a more fitting word. Lovecraft’s stories are typically structured like simple ghost stories, starting rather mundanely and finishing with a startling revelation.

What I really enjoy about the writing is that, despite being rather predictable, each story delves into our fear of the murky, silent, and unknown aspects of our world. Lovecraft’s horrors are mysterious, unknowable and vast, but they reside in our cellars, attics and dilapidated buildings. This combination of unknown and mundane is the central force of Lovecraft’s writing, inspiring readers to think twice before going down to the basement to get a new light bulb.

Going to a foreign country inspires in some people the same sense of mundane/horror as Lovecraft’s writing elicits. Not understand what people are saying, not knowing what the signs say, and not being able to communicate causes uneasiness, isolation, and panic in many travelers. My wife and I are intermediate Spanish speakers (though by no means fluent), and even we are apprehensive when approaching an important conversation here in Spain. Fortunately, we have found that the locals are relatively forgiving of our clumsy Spanish, and are grateful that we are making the effort and not merely speaking loud, slow English. Barcelona is a little trickier than the rest of Spain, since here the signs are are in Catalan (which bears a passing resemblance to Spanish), though all the locals speak at least Spanish as well. Even so, I do feel a bit lost at times when trying to decipher words with many more X’s than I am comfortable with.

I can’t imagine the moxie necessary to move to a country where you don’t speak the language, and the locals are not as forgiving. It gives me new respect for immigrants, who all had to face down the horror hiding behind every conversation and every street sign.



  1. kobe shoes says:

    Thanks so much for giving everyone an extremely nice chance to read in detail from this web site. It is usually very enjoyable plus stuffed with amusement for me personally and my office colleagues to visit your blog really three times in a week to read the new tips you have got. And of course, I am also certainly happy concerning the great methods you serve. Certain two points in this article are rather the most suitable we have had.

  2. jordan shoes says:

    I am glad for commenting to make you be aware of of the excellent experience my girl experienced studying your webblog. She came to understand a good number of things, with the inclusion of how it is like to have a great teaching nature to make certain people without problems thoroughly grasp specific tortuous subject areas. You actually did more than our own desires. Many thanks for presenting the warm and friendly, healthy, edifying and also easy tips about that topic to Jane.

  3. I wish to express thanks to you just for bailing me out of this scenario. After scouting through the search engines and coming across techniques which were not pleasant, I assumed my life was over. Being alive without the strategies to the difficulties you have solved through the blog post is a critical case, as well as those which could have badly affected my entire career if I hadn’t encountered your web blog. Your own personal know-how and kindness in dealing with every item was valuable. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t come across such a point like this. I am able to at this time look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time so much for this specialized and result oriented help. I won’t think twice to refer your blog post to any person who should get support about this subject.

Leave a Reply