Supernatural Horror in Literature
"Supernatural Horror in Literature" is a long essay by the celebrated horror writer H. P. Lovecraft surveying the field of horror fiction. It was written between November 1925 and May 1927 and revised in 1933–1934. It was first published in 1927 in the one-shot magazine The Recluse. More recently, it was included in the collection Dagon and Other Macabre Tales.
Lovecraft examines the roots of weird fiction in the gothic novel (relying heavily on Edith Birkhead's 1921 survey The Tale of Terror), and traces its development through such writers as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe (who merits his own chapter), and Ambrose Bierce. Lovecraft names as the four "modern masters" of horror Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood and M. R. James.
An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia calls the work "HPL's most significant literary essay and one of the finest historical analyses of horror literature." Upon reading the essay, M. R. James proclaimed Lovecraft's style "most offensive." However, Edmund Wilson, who was not an admirer of Lovecraft's fiction, praised the essay as a "really able piece of work...he had read comprehensively in this field — he was strong on the Gothic novelists — and writes about it with much intelligence". David G. Hartwell has called "Supernatural Horror in Literature" " the most important essay on horror literature".
- S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, "Supernatural Horror in Literature", An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, p. 255.
- Joshi and Schultz, p. 255.
- Joshi and Schultz, p. 256.
- Quoted in the Afterward to H.P. Lovecraft's Book of Horror, edited by Dave Carson and Stephen Jones,1994.
- David G. Hartwell, The Dark Descent. Tor Books, 1989, ISBN 0-312-93035-6. (p. 85)
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- "Supernatural Horror in Literature"—eText at the H. P. Lovecraft Archive