Supernatural Horror in Literature

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Supernatural Horror in Literature is a long essay by the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft surveying the topic of horror fiction. It was written between November 1925 and May 1927 and revised during 1933–1934. It was first published in 1927 in the one-issue magazine The Recluse.[1] More recently, it was included in the collection Dagon and Other Macabre Tales (1965).

Lovecraft examines the beginnings of weird fiction in the gothic novel (relying greatly on Edith Birkhead's 1921 survey The Tale of Terror) and traces its development through such writers as Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe (who merits his own chapter). Lovecraft names as the four "modern masters" of horror: Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, M. R. James, and Arthur Machen.

An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia terms the work "HPL's most significant literary essay and one of the finest historical analyses of horror literature."[2] Upon reading the essay, M. R. James proclaimed Lovecraft's style "most offensive".[3] 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".[4] David G. Hartwell has called Supernatural Horror in Literature "the most important essay on horror literature".[5]


  1. ^ Joshi, S. T. Joshi & Schultz, David E. "Supernatural Horror in Literature". An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia: 255. 
  2. ^ Joshi and Schultz, p. 255.
  3. ^ Joshi and Schultz, p. 256.
  4. ^ Wilson, Edmund (1994). "Afterward". H. P. Lovecraft's Book of Horror. 
  5. ^ Hartwell, David G. (1989). The Dark Descent. Tor Books. p. 85. ISBN 0-312-93035-6. 

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