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Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) has been described variously as the successor to Edgar Allan Poe, a master of the Gothic horror tale, and one of the father of modern supernatural fantasy fiction. Published originally in pulp magazines, his works have grown in popularity since his death, so that more than thirty editions are currently in print.

Yet only recently has Lovecraft received serious attention from literary critics. And until now no one has examined his work from a post-structuralist perspective. Donald Burleson fills that void, for the first time in an extended study bringing the resources of deconstruction to bear on the works of this modern gothicist.

In an introductory overview, Burleson gives an unusually readable account of deconstruction theory and terminology, a field all too often discussed in densely opaque fashion. He goes on to deconstruct thirteen Lovecraft stories, delving into their fascinating etymological mazes, abundant ambiguities, and shifting levels of meanings. His lively and remarkably jargon-free readings explore Lovecraft’s rich figurality to unprecedented depths.

At the same time Burleson develops the view that in practicing self-subversion and structural displacement, literary texts perpetuate themselves. His final chapter explores the broad themes running though Lovecraft’s fiction, arguing that these themes in themselves prefigure the deconstructive gesture.

This insightful and provocative volume will go a long way toward displacing the label of popular writer and establishing Lovecraft as an important figure in American literature.

Donald R. Burleson, professor at Rivier College, is the author of H.P. Lovecraft: A Critical Study and many articles on Lovecraft.

This approach to Lovecraft is particularly appropriate since themes like forbidden knowledge and the rejection of humanity's primacy characterize Lovecraft's work. -- Choice

Burleson applies deconstructionism to the dark fantasy of H.P. Lovecraft -- Choice

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Fantasy fiction, Horror tales

Lovecraft: Disturbing the Universe
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