- Poe, Edgar Allan
- (1809–1849),American author and predominant literary influence on HPL, who read him beginning at the age of eight. Poe pioneered the short story, the short horror tale, and the detective story; he was also an important poet, critic, and reviewer. In 1916 HPL referred to Poe as “my God of Fiction” ( SL1.20); only the subsequent influence of Lord Dunsany and Arthur Machen diluted the Poe influence on HPL’s early work. As late as 1929 HPL was lamenting: “There are my ‘Poe’ pieces & my ‘Dunsany’ pieces— but alas—where are any ‘Lovecraft’ pieces?” ( SL2.315, where “any” is misprinted as “my”). HPL’s “The Outsider” draws on “Berenice” and “The Masque of the Red Death”; “The Hound” is very Poesque in style; “The Rats in the Walls” shows the influence of “The Fall of the House of Usher”; “Cool Air” was perhaps influenced by “Facts in the Case of M.Valdemar,” although HPL believed Machen’s “Novel of the White Powder” to be a more central influence. At the Mountains of Madness draws slightly upon The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838). Poe’s poetry also influenced HPL (mostly in terms of metrical schemes) in such poems as “Nemesis,” “The City,” “The House,” “The Eidolon,” “The Nightmare Lake,” “Despair,” “Nathicana,” and others. HPL echoes Poe’s doctrine of the unity of effect in “Supernatural Horror in Literature” and exemplifies it in his tales. HPL saw Poe as the central figure in the development of horror fiction, modifying the moribund Gothic conventions so that they became capable of revealing psychological realities; accordingly, he devoted a substantial chapter to Poe in “Supernatural Horror in Literature.” HPL also wrote “Homes and Shrines of Poe,” a discursive survey of Poe’s residences in Virginia, Philadelphia, New York, and elsewhere (nearly all of which he had visited in person), for Hyman Bradofsky’s Californian(Winter 1934). In August 1936, he wrote an acrostic “sonnet” on Poe’s name, titling it (in the original ms.) “In a Sequester’d Providence Churchyard Where Once Poe Walk’d” (first published in Science-Fantasy Correspondent,March–April 1937).See T.O.Mabbott, “Lovecraft as a Student of Poe,” Fresco8, No. 3 (Spring 1958): 37–39; Robert Bloch, “Poe and Lovecraft” (1973; rpt. FDOC); Dirk W. Mosig, “Poe, Hawthorne and Lovecraft: Variations on a Theme of Panic,” Romantist Nos. 4–5 (1980–81): 43–45; Robert M.Price, “Lovecraft and ‘Ligeia,’” LS No. 31 (Fall 1994): 15–17.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.