H.P. Lovecraft republished eternal-lie

…and with strange aeons, even death may die

Tom Tordillo
2 min readApr 12, 2023

Our friends at Project Gutenberg released two more H.P. Lovecraft stories in April 2023, “The Lurking Fear” and “The Silver Key.” These join other classic horror staples,

Image from Project Gutenberg. Surely young men in 1920s America bought such magazines for the stories, not for the cover art…right?

Given the sound and fury over the new editions of works by Roald Dahl, you’d think someone would rewrite H.P. Lovecraft’s works to erase some of the more hateful components. Dahl though ugly and fat people were evil. If one really needs to see his original phrasing, it’s readily available.

Lovecraft, by contrast, regarded every non-white person as a ‘degenerate.’ And most white people too, a theme noted in passing in the remarkable series, “Lovecraft Country,” but then interrogated brutally.

The Lurking Fear

Given its egregious racism, I’ll spoil this one:

What I saw in the glow of my flashlight after I shot the unspeakable straggling object was…a filthy whitish gorilla thing with sharp yellow fangs and matted fur….the ultimate product of mammalian degeneration; the frightful outcome of isolated spawning, multiplication, and cannibal nutrition…

H.P. Lovecraft, “The Lurking Fear”

Imagine how 1920s Americans would respond to other “gorilla things.” Is it really so different from 2020s Americans?

After Darwin, notions of human descent from ape-like creatures raised a question — what if we ‘devolve’? What if they’re still out there?

H. P. Lovecraft read H. G. Wells “The Time Machine” in 1924. It’s possible the concept of Morlocks came straight out of Wells.
Who knows if some Lovecraftian fiend is responsible for the subterranean cannibals in this franchise?

Human degeneration terrifies, whether presented ironically (e.g., Jonathan Swift’s “Yahoos”) or entirely for purposes of evoking terror. I prefer “Lovecraft Country” to Lovecraft himself, first because it’s better written, and second, because discovering just how much ‘uncanny’ degeneration resides within the core of this world should scare us more than any “colour out of space.”



Tom Tordillo

Necromancer unleashing zombie hordes from Project Gutenberg to work literary atrocities. Also father/lawyer/commentator/ironic.