Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Moby Dick and Call of Cthulhu

I happened to be thinking of a contemporary political comparison today when one of the collections of H.P. Lovercraft fell from the bookshelf, thanks to a cat. And that got me comparing the two works instead, mostly because the political one wasn't going anywhere.

It occurs to me that Cthulhu might've been Lovecraft's take on Moby Dick. In my own mind, I do not see his collected works as the works of a master, but as masterful work of a writer finding his voice. Once again, to me, he was something of a modernist to begin with. T
hough his language was rather romantic, he wrote of prevalent views going on around him, without being overly topical. Lovecraft ascribed a certain amount of technical detail to the nuts and bolts going on in his work-- from radios with microphones and receivers, to submarines, to gas masks.

Lovecraft did try for emulation of earlier authors, such as Edgar Allen Poe, Ambrose Bierce and Arthur Machen. The writers of "weird fiction" between the wars were prone to playing with each other, why shouldn't they borrow, err work from more widely known works such as The Scarlett Letter or say, I dunno, Moby Dick?

What is uniquely Lovecraftian though is HPL's angle. Instead of the reader being inspired with images of adventure and wanting to meet diverse and non-Christian cultures, the reader is supposed to know that going to the South Pacific, let alone anywhere in a boat, is dangerous. Ironically, while Moby Dick can be said to inspire people to read the Bible while considering the debate of god-worship and atheism, "The Call of Cthulhu" assumes that everyone pretty much avoids the discussion of religion and skirts sideways into superstition and cults.

1 comment:

Grandmaster Branderwydd said...

Interesting take on this.