Lovecraft, The Uncanny, And The Sublime: A Psychoanalytic Critique Of H.P. Lovecrafts’ Fiction
This project will seek to analyze H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction through a critical psychoanalytical lens with particular attention paid to the uncanny and the sublime. H.P Lovecraft’s writing emphasizes horror in the face of a world that cannot be known. The characters’ encounters are thematically consistent in their incomprehensible grandeur: the sprawling metropolis, the arctic plane, the range of mountains – all literary elements that approach a concept of sublimity. In a traditional sense, the sublime is a mental state that swiftly alternates between feelings of pleasure anddispleasure in the face of something incomprehensibly large. Displeasure occurs in the realization that human reason cannot adequately describe or understand the infinite, and pleasure occurs in the ability of human reason to conceive of the infinite as a complete idea despite its transcendence beyond any human faculty of reason. In cadence with presentations of the sublime, Lovecraft imposes literary elements that create a distinct subconscious feeling of familiarity in the face of the utterly unfamiliar. It is precisely this feeling that characterizes Freud’s definition of the uncanny. Freud understands the uncanny as an ambiguous sense of familiarity coming from a person's subconsciously repressed ideas that underlays their perception of uncertainty. The fabric of reality in Lovecraft's fiction is a perpetual phantasmagoria of familiarity and oblivion that contextualizes sublime feelings of awe and grandeur. The direction of my inquiry in this project will be toward the nature of the uncanny as a context for sublime experiences and how the uncanny lends itself to a different interpretation of contemporary conceptions of reality as a product of the human need to build a home in the inhospitable: the human need to survive.
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences
Institutional Learning Goals
"Lovecraft, The Uncanny, And The Sublime: A Psychoanalytic Critique Of H.P. Lovecrafts’ Fiction" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 2813.