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Lovecraftian horror is a subgenre of horror fiction that emphasizes the cosmic horror of the unknown (or unknowable) more than gore or other elements of shock.
It is named after American author H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937).
His work emphasizes a philosophy of cosmicism, the idea that the reality underlying the veneer of normality is so alien that seeing it would be harmful.
Some scholars use "Lovecraftian horror" and "cosmic horror" interchangeably.
Cosmic horror has been characterized as:
The "fear and awe we feel when confronted by phenomena beyond our comprehension, whose scope extends beyond the narrow field of human affairs and boasts of cosmic significance".
A "contemplation of mankind's place in the vast, comfortless universe revealed by modern science" in which the horror springs from "the discovery of appalling truth".
A naturalistic fusion of horror and science fiction in which presumptions about the nature of reality are "eroded".
Lovecraft refined this style of storytelling into his own mythos that involved a set of supernatural, pre-human, and extraterrestrial elements.
His work was inspired by and similar to previous authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Blackwood and Lord Dunsany.
The hallmark of Lovecraft's work is cosmicism: the sense that ordinary life is a thin shell over a reality that is so alien and abstract in comparison that merely contemplating it would damage the anity sof the ordinary person.
Lovecraft's work is also steeped in the insular feel of rural New England, and much of the genre continues to maintain this sense that "that which man was not meant to know" might be closer to the surface of ordinary life outside of the crowded cities of modern civilization.
However, Lovecraftian horror is not restricted to the countryside;
"The Horror at Red Hook", for instance, is set in a crowded ethnic ghetto.
Great Old One
The Great Old Ones are a group of unique, malignant beings of great power. They reside in various locations on Earth, and once presided over the planet as gods and rulers.
Classification (Creepy linked content warning!)
The Great Old Ones are to be distinguished from the more cosmically placed entities such as Azathoth,
and from races such as the Chthonians,
the Deep Ones,
the Elder Things
and the Mi-go.
Yet this distinction is unclear at times,
in part because the terminology is not always consistent;
for instance, Nyarlathotep,
despite his marked interest in Earth and its culture,
is generally considered to be one of the Outer Gods
instead of a Great Old One.
On the other hand, Hastur has several avatars and is generally based in outer space,
but he is still considered a Great Old One.
There are conflicting accounts on what the proper classification for
Shub-Niggurath would be.
Very few people dispute that Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth are Outer Gods instead of Great Old Ones,
although some accounts make them ancestors of a few Great Old Ones.
This has led to the theory that "Great Old One" is the term for everything younger than Cthulhu and Tsaggothua,
and "Other God" or "Outer God" to be everything older.