Monday, March 07, 2011

Maximum Verbosity -- Why I Hate H.P. Lovecraft

There has always been a reason that I hated H.P. Lovecraft. If the densely packed paragraphs of prose, unbroken by any smidgen of dialog whatsoever wasn’t enough, the seemingly ham-handed attempts at creating an atmosphere of dread and foreboding didn’t do it… it was the vocabulary. For a “pulp” author, Lovecraft really hit the thesaurus hard. I actually had to look up the word effulgence in the dictionary because I had no idea what it meant. 

Yet, many authors such as Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Clive Barker and Alan Moore see him as a pioneer of the speculative fiction genre. He used the term cosmic horror to describe his work, which is according to his entry in Wikipedia: “the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity.”

His writing reminds me of a game mode you entered in the granddaddy of all text-based adventure games, Zork by typing the word “verbose:” Maximum Verbosity. That is what prose by Lovecraft sounds like to me. When was the last time you used one of these often repeated words on this list: Cyclopean (47), Accursed (76), or Daemoniac (55)?

I have never used any of these words in any of my writing until now, so anyone who wants to keep a tab, mark this: Cyclopean (1), Accursed (1) or Daemoniac (1)

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