Friday, May 11, 2007

Lovecraft & 'The Awful'

The June issue of the Fortean Times (no. 223 in the UK) contains an article on p.10 drawn from a Vermont local newspaper, the County Courier. Said article reports on the return of a flying cryptid known locally as 'the Awful', and the author makes various claims that Lovecraft secretly visited Vermont in 1925 to investigate this monstrous entity. In fact, the article in its entirety can be found on-line here, where additional claims are made about the pervasive influence of 'the Awful' on Lovecraft's writing. Unsurprisingly no references are supplied for any of the supposed quotes, although the final quote of Lovecraft's cited in the comlete article comes from his short travelogue 'Vermont - A First Impression' (an account of his documented 1927 trip to Vermont and published in March 1928 - see Lovecraft's Collected Essays vol. 4 published by Hippocampus Press, 2005). Otherwise, there is no evidence (at least of which I am aware) to support the claim that Lovecraft went to Vermont in 1925. Of course, the trip being secret, we can presume that evidence is either non-existent or difficult to come by (which begs the question of exactly how the article's author uncovered these 'facts'!).

In any case, said author was probably banking on the association between Lovecraft and Vermont via 'The Whisperer in Darkness', working Lovecraft into the tale about 'the Awful' retrospectively. In any case it seems that what we are actually dealing with here is a case of a fiction being used authoritatively to support another fiction.

On a more conspiratorial note (those of us at Ghooric Zone central being partial to the occasional dissemination of conspiracies) the on-line context in which the article appears makes me wonder if 'the Awful' - sounding a little bit too Lovecraftian, perhaps, to constitute an piece of established local folklore - has been purposely manufactured to legitimise a particular reading of Lovecraft as occult/Fortean apologist?

What fascinates here is the cultural salience of Lovecraft's very name (especially, it seems, within Fortean and occultural circles) and the presumption that simply adding 'Lovecraft' to the mix implicitly validates the claims of the writer deploying it.


  1. H.P. Albarelli Jr.12:54 PM

    Banking on an "association" between HPL and Vermont????? What would be the reason????? I don't even care for the wrtings of Lovecraft; nor am I much a fan of the folklore related to his work. I was born and live in Vermont. There are a fair amount of odd happenings in Vermont that never see the light of the internet or media, and it's nice it stays that way.

  2. Dear Mr. Albarelli,

    I've (partially) responded to your comments in a more recent post on my blog.