Tuesday, June 26, 2012
H.P. Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror,” 1929
"Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimaeras—dire stories of Celaeno and the Harpies—may reproduce themselves in the brain of superstition—but they were there before."
-- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror"
"The Dunwich Horror" is classic Lovecraft. It's a perfect example of the author's strong Naturalistic philosophies and self-proclaimed Irreligiosity. Despite such an approach to the laws of the universe, there is always something that remains...unexplainable.
The story puts us straight into the heart of the archetypal Lovecraftian milieu, Massachusetts, New England. Lovecraft's dreaded grimoire, the Necronomicon, features at the centre of the story. Genetics, sex and reproduction are all addressed. As such, "The Dunwich Horror" is also known for the fact that it's probably the only story of Lovecraft to feature a female character fairly prominently.
"The Dunwich Horror" is a Lovecraftian oddity, a story between good and evil in which good wins. But maybe there is more to the ending of this story, bearing in mind what Armitage says: "I'm going to burn his accursed diary, and if you men are wise you'll dynamite that altar-stone up there, and pull down all the rings of standing stones on the other hills." Taken in the context of Lovecraft's oeuvre of New England-based stories, we know that cursed texts and black stones all re-appear at intervals, in different places and different incarnations. What we say and what mean to do isn't always necessary what we end up doing. Despite its so-called "happy ending", "The Dunwich Horror" leaves the reader with the notion that, while disaster may have been averted for the time being, it's only a matter of time before it rears its tentacled, gooey head again.
Reviewed from The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, Eds. Anne and Jeff Vandermeer