H P Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life by Michel Houellebecq - review by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare

The Dark Prince of Providence

H P Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 256pp £10 order from our bookshop
 

H P Lovecraft, the American horror writer and master of ‘weird fiction’, lived in poverty and died in obscurity. This homage was published in Paris in 1991, when Michel Houellebecq was relatively unknown himself and establishing himself as a poet. It would be another three years before he brought out his first novel, Whatever, and introduced his own brand of fictional nihilism to the world. Houellebecq, of course, has since become Lovecraft's antithesis – namely, rich and notorious. Which is presumably why his publisher has chosen to cash in on his infamy and reissue this early work with a new preface by Stephen King, a fellow admirer, along with two Lovecraft stories, ‘The Whisperer in Darkness’ and ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.

Lovecraft does not need to be rescued from oblivion, as much of his work is still in print, but Houellebecq makes extravagant claims that he is one of the great writers of the last century – which is high Gallic praise for a Yankee pulp writer. Do his claims stand

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