Horror and literary fans gathered at the Jacobson Faculty Tower for the H.P. Lovecraft Forum to commemorate the influence of the eponymous author.
“Thirty years ago we decided to institute the forum because Lovecraft visited New Paltz, Hurley and Kingston as a tourist,” forum founder and emeritus English professor Robert Waugh said. “That first event was so successful we simply continued.”
On Thursday, Oct. 26, Waugh discussed his experiences as a professor at SUNY New Paltz.
Back in 1987, he was inspired by the passion of one student that demanded the forum should be held in Lovecraft’s honor. This led him to “Where Lovecraft Lost His Telescope.”
Lovecraft visited New Paltz in 1929 and fell in love with the beauty of the area, especially the stone houses on Huguenot Street. “Where Lovecraft Lost His Telescope” was written on his experiences traveling through New England.
“I think that lost telescope is the emblem for us of his love for learning, but learning is often a failure,” said Waugh. “The telescope has not been found to this day.”
Lovecraft is considered one of the foremost horror-fiction writers of the 20th century.
Some of his most famous works include “Call of Cthulhu” and “At the Mountains of Madness.” For his subject matter, Lovecraft drew from the horrors of everyday life.
“As the writer Fritz Leiber said, Lovecraft’s fiction brought horror fiction into the 20th century, which is to say he incorporated the scientific discoveries of his age to create terrors rooted in our understanding of the universe and our place in it,” adjunct instructor John Langan said.
“He was no longer interested in ghosts or vampires,” he continued. “Lovecraft wanted to write stories that responded to our sense of the universe as we now know it. Practically every writer in the field, like Stephen King, has been influenced by Lovecraft and said so.”
In addition to the discussion of Lovecraft’s work, the forum has debuted many Lovecraftian inspired works, some of which have gone to publication.
Much of the work that S.T. Joshi, who is a preeminent Lovecraft scholar, has done over the years was debuted at the Forum, including chapters from his definitive biography of Lovecraft,” Langan said. ‘“The Monster in the Mirror’ and ‘A Monster of Voices’ are among the best things available on Lovecraft.”
Langan himself shared one of his Lovecraft-inspired pieces called “The Open Mouth of Charybdis.”
Although Lovecraft has long since passed, his ideas and creations still inspire the horror genre and fiction writing today.