The Lovecraft series continues while I write up some new reviews.
Raw Feed (2005): “The Dunwich Horror“, H. P. Lovecraft, 1928.
This is at least the second time I’ve read this, one of Lovecraft’s more famous stories. I suspect that’s mostly because a not very good movie was made from it.
For the Lovecraft fan, it does contain mention of Miskatonic University professors, occult books including the Necronomicon, and Arkham, but I don’t think it’s one of Lovecraft’s better efforts.
I think it’s too long, and I think the part that’s too long is the lengthy descriptions of the havoc and evidence left by the invisible Dunwich horror when it finally bursts out of the Whateley house.
As with his “The Colour Out of Space“, written a year earlier in 1927, this is not a tale told in the first person by a highly distraught or doomed narrator. (It does share similar images of blasted heaths in rural New England.)
Lovecraft could get away with minute descriptions of events in the other tales because we are interested in watching intelligent, rationale men try to fit new horrors of the cosmos in their old paradigms. We cry in frustration at their refusal to see obvious — if novel — truths.
Here we have no scholar heroes to justify such a length.
Added to the problem is the surprise ending which was unexpected for me on the first reading but doesn’t buoy the story up on re-readings. That surprise ending, another legacy of his admiration for Poe, I suspect, is hardly unique to this story since most Lovecraft tales hinge on a final revelation. But those stories have other strengths that reward repeated exposure.
More reviews of Lovecraft are indexed on the Lovecraft page.