Dread and portent: reading H. P. Lovecraft`s Necronomicon as social commentary

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
G. Warlock Vance (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Keith Cushman

Abstract: This dissertation explores the narratives of twentieth-century American author H. P. Lovecraft, focusing on those tales which feature his creation of a metafictional spellbook titled the Necronomicon. Relying on a close reading of the texts, critical materials, and Lovecraft's letters, I demonstrate how the use of the Necronomicon throughout Lovecraft's fiction reflects how clearly the author espouses the faddish ideas and prejudicial fears of his era. Use of the spellbook delineates the breadth of moral decline he perceived in the world, from such causes as miscegenation, physical and spiritual decadence, and incest. Additionally, the project provides evidence of how the Necronomicon functions as a tool for chronicling and interpreting scientific facts and discoveries popular in Lovecraft's lifetime, particularly advancements in theoretical physics, by scientists like Albert Einstein, and the exploration of the polar regions by adventurers such as Rear Admiral Richard Byrd. In many of these latter narratives where the Necronomicon plays such a role, readers encounter a strange dichotomy: the author's genuine love of and appreciation for the various sciences tempered by a fear of humanity's terrifying use of the knowledge it has gained. This results in the Lovecraft's perception of a universe wholly apathetic to the presence of mankind, a space of limitless dimensions which dwarf human perceptions. My project also discusses the influence of the Necronomicon on popular culture and on modern fiction, proving how the spellbook inspires current writers of genre fiction and those in the field of contemporary literature.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Horror, Lovecraft, Necronomicon, Pulp fiction, Science Fiction
Lovecraft, H. P. $q (Howard Phillips), $d 1890-1937 $x Criticism and interpretation.
Lovecraft, H. P. $q (Howard Phillips), $d 1890-1937 $x Philosophy.
Necronomicon (Imaginary book).

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