Man’s Utter Insignificance

Of the various conceptions brought before the human mind by the advance of Science, what can be compared in strangeness and magnitude with that of eternity and infinity, as presented by modern astronomy? Nothing more deeply disturbs our settled egotism and self-importance than the realisation of man’s utter insignificance which comes with knowledge of his position in time and space.


DESCRIPTION: In his essay “Time and Space,” Lovecraft explains cosmicism, the view that the size and age of the universe render humanity insignificant.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Time and Space.” Collected Essays. Edited by S. T. Joshi, vol. 5, Hippocampus Press, 2006, pp. 30-1. (Lovecraft 30).

The Unnamed and Unnamable

Madness rides the star-wind … claws and teeth sharpened on centuries of corpses … dripping death astride a Bacchanale of bats from night-black ruins of buried temples of Belial. … Now, as the baying of that dead, fleshless monstrosity grows louder and louder, and the stealthy whirring and flapping of those accursed web-wings circles closer and closer, I shall seek with my revolver the oblivion which is my only refuge from the unnamed and unnamable.


DESCRIPTION: In this passage from the short story “The Hound” (1922), the narrator describes the horrors that compel him to commit suicide.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Hound.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 81-8.

The Fiend Strike Me Blue!

The fiend strike me blue! I’m scarce able to walk,
And damn me if I can stand upright or talk!
Here, landlord, bid Betty to summon a chair;
I’ll try home for a while, for my wife is not there!
So lend me a hand;
I’m not able to stand,
But I’m gay whilst I linger on top of the land!


DESCRIPTION: In this passage from the short story “The Tomb” (1917), Jervas Dudley recites the eighteenth-century drinking song that he sang in front of his family at breakfast.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “The Tomb.” The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 2001, pp. 1-10.

Life in an Asylum

I have said that I am a constant speculator concerning dream life, and from this you may judge of the eagerness with which I applied myself to the study of the new patient as soon as I had fully ascertained the facts of his case. He seemed to sense a certain friendliness in me; born no doubt of the interest I could not conceal, and the gentle manner in which I questioned him. Not that he ever recognised me during his attacks, when I hung breathlessly upon his chaotic but cosmic word-pictures; but he knew me in his quiet hours, when he would sit by his barred window weaving baskets of straw and willow, and perhaps pining for the mountain freedom he could never enjoy again. His family never called to see him; probably it had found another temporary head, after the manner of decadent mountain folk.


DESCRIPTION: In this passage from the short story “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” (1919), the narrator describes his relationship with Joe Slater, a sporadically violent mental patient.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Beyond the Wall of Sleep.” The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories. Edited by S. T. Joshi, Penguin Books, 2001, pp. 11-20.

A Reversion to Savagery

The most alarming tendency observable in this age is a growing disregard for the established forces of law and order. Whether or not stimulated by the noxious example of the almost sub-human Russian rabble, the less intelligent element throughout the world seems animated by a singular viciousness, and exhibits symptoms like those of a herd on the verge of stampeding. Whilst long-winded politicians preach universal peace, long-haired anarchists are preaching a social upheaval which means nothing more or less than a reversion to savagery or mediaeval barbarism. Even in this traditionally orderly nation the number of Bolsheviki, both open and veiled, is considerable enough to require remedial measures. The repeated and unreasonable strikes of important workers, seemingly with the object of indiscriminate extortion rather than rational wage increase, constitute a menace which should be checked.


DESCRIPTION: In his essay “Bolshevism,” Lovecraft recommends that the government suppress working-class agitation in order to prevent “social upheaval” and class warfare.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Bolshevism” Collected Essays. Edited by S. T. Joshi, vol. 5, Hippocampus Press, 2006, p. 37.