Lovecraft’s tentacles

In an introduction to a Lovecraft collection, China Mieville points out that H. P. Lovecraft introduced tentacles – and indeed the squamous in general – into horror fiction. That squamousness signifies a wider fascination with negotiable identities. One of the key tropes of Lovecraftian horror is that your place in the cosmos – indeed, the very flesh of what you are – is always very mutable.

Which makes me wonder if part of his ongoing relevance comes from the importance of identity politics in the 20th and 21st century. His writing dramatises the horror and joy implicit in identity definition and transformation. His apparent racism has been widely commented on – but perhaps it’s balanced by a more constructive awareness of the problems and processes of identity in general?

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