East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Strange, far places

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Today is H.P. Lovecraft’s 125th birthday, and here on Karavansara HPL is sort of a patron saint.
Can we really say something new, original and interesting about the Old Gentleman?

Well, I just saw this, posted online, repeatedly.


That’s HPL’s most famous quote, probably.
And while I repeated it often, like some sort of mantra, there is another quote by the Master of Providence that really is my favorite.
The Lovecraft quote, as far as I’m concerned.

Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands.

Here, this is my Lovecraft.
And granted, the passage continues bringing us back home…

But the true epicure of the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteem most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous.

… But I am not an epicure of the terrible1, and therefore I’ll stick with the catacombs and the forgotten cities.1397723704606kzkmj

In that opening lines (from The Picture in the House), Lovecraft sums up a world that’s ancient, and vastly unknown.
This is the deep past that’s familiar both to paleontologists and writers of supernatural horror and pulp adventure.
This is a world in which stretches of nothing lay between cities and villages, and travelers huddle around caravanseray fires, sharing old stories, and keeping the dark and the night fears off.
This is my kind of world.

Happy birthday, HPL.
See you in strange, far places.

  1. I’m too much of a cheerful fellow, you see… 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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