Rather weird than…


The Three Weird Sisters

Weird Al Yankovich

Weird Tales

Also weird, as of today:

H.P. Lovecraft

– who, of course, happened to be the most important contributor to Weird Tales. When JC Henneberger founded the magazine in 1923, he likely didn’t have any categorical label in mind and used the term “weird” in one of its more neutral connotations – maybe strange, odd, or even bizarre?

It is only appropriate that Weird Tales doyen HPL should become the most significant player once the word is translated into genre terms – Weird Literature, as a generical term, cannot help but invoke, in some remove or other, Lovecraft.

K-punk shares an insightful analysis of the Weird, Lovecraft-style (also see the first part of it here) , and I quote here –

Thinking of the Weird as the ‘out of place’ or the ‘out of time’ will take us some way to distinguishing the Weird from both the Fantastic and the Uncanny. Lovecraft’s texts are not Fantastic in Todorov’s sense because in his ‘localised realism’ there is no sense of being suspended between naturalism and supernaturalism.

The shaking head in the direction of Todorov is very apt, of course – I remember meddling with Todorov and concepts of neo-fantastic in the early stages of my diss to somehow devise a generical-categorical container to store my discussion of HPL’s work in, and I also remember how that failed. While the Weird as a category is certainly helpful in that it gives Lovecraft’s species of horror a more detailed face, thereby drawing a line, as k-punk does, between and Freud’s notion of the uncanny, I’m still somewhat sceptical of it, not to say: I find it suspicious. It seems to reserve Lovecraft a unique, singular position when it makes him the founding godfather of the weird mode of writing out horror, and at the same time it creates a link between the nascent mode and its cradle, the most notorious pulp mag of the time. Somewhere along the logical line of Lovecraft founded Weird Literature – Weird Literature is Pulp Literature – Lovecraft wrote Pulp Literature, I start losing interest. Of course, he was publishing in a pulp venue, and his prose certainly shares some pulp characteristics – but it is not “the essence of pulp” (as David Punter has it: I’m quoting from memory and make no pretense at looking the passage up) – neither its didactic rhetorics, nor its consummately encyclopedic style, nor its intricate, almost obsessive devotion to atmosphere and, above all, place – are pulp-specific characteristics. The only obvious claim on the pulp label his stories pronounce are these ludicrously-couched inventory items that gloss some of the stories, though not all, with doses of nausea – the tentacle/tentacular being one of these – and, oh yeah, they were published in a pulp venue, that might also count.


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