H.P. Lovecraft, 120 años de horror sobrenatural

 

“La vida es una cosa espantosa, y desde ese fondo que subyace más allá de cuanto sabemos de ella, asoman demoniacos atisbos de verdad que la hacen mil veces más espantosa.”

Arthur Jermyn, 1920

Entre 1925 y 1927 H.P. Lovecraft escribió un influyente ensayo titulado “El horror sobrenatural en la literatura” en el cual disertaba sobre las características de la ficción de horror repasando la obra de los maestros del género desde la novela gótica del siglo XVIII hasta sus exponentes más cercanos: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Machen y Lord Dunsany. La primera frase del texto afirma: “El miedo es una de las emociones más antiguas y poderosas de la humanidad, y el tipo de miedo más viejo y poderoso es el temor a lo desconocido.” Lovecraft estaba llamado a ser la siguiente referencia en el género.

La ficción de horror americana en el siglo XX es inherente a Lovecraft. Todos los grandes exponentes se alimentan de su legado en los diversos soportes artísticos. De su trabajo se ha extraído obra plástica y literaria, cinematografía, viñetas de historieta y entretenimiento interactivo. El escritor estadounidense Stephen King, el cineasta mexicano Guillermo del Toro y el ilustrador suizo H.R. Giger reconocen en la narrativa de Lovecraft un punto de partida para el entendimiento del horror y una influencia personal para el desarrollo de su obra. Boom! Studios, editora de cómics norteamericana, incluso comenzó en 2007 una serie de historietas nombradas “Fall of Cthulhu” en honor al literato oriundo de Providence. Desde entonces cada número de la serie se ha agotado.

H.P. Lovecraft, artífice primigenio de “Los Mitos de Cthulhu”, marcó un hito en la forma de narrar ficción de horror, su estilo fue tan determinante en la creación artística contemporánea que ha fecundado su propio adjetivo: “lovecraftiano”, vocablo descriptivo de todo lo extraño, de todo lo oscuro y lo bizarre.

Hace 120 años en Providence, Rhode Island

Howard Philip Lovecraft nació el 20 de agosto de 1890 en el seno de una familia protestante radicada en el pequeño poblado de Providence en Rhode Island, Nueva Inglaterra. Las imágenes que tenemos de él se remontan a la tierna edad de los cuatro años. Se mira a Howard usando vestidos para niña y el cabello largo. Su padre murió de sífilis y su madre sufrió largo tiempo depresión e histeria.

Lovecraft tuvo una infancia desordenada. La invalidez de su madre lo transformó en una criatura solitaria y taciturna, impronta determinante en sus hábitos adultos ya que HL prefirió siempre la oscuridad de la noche para realizar actividades tradicionalmente diurnas, actividades tales como trabajar o salir a pasear.

Huésped en una casona victoriana, sin educación formal, encerrado en la gigantesca biblioteca de su abuelo, Lovecraft conoció la narrativa de H.G. Wells, la poesía de Poe y los relatos oscurantistas de Machen, y así, como uno aprende a leer, HL comenzó a escribir imitando el apesadumbrado estilo de sus maestros, historias que hablaban de atormentados personajes que perdían la razón al ser enfrentados con situaciones anómalas y entes extraordinarios, algo que él llamaba “horror primigenio”.

El joven Lovecraft quiso ir a la universidad, quiso enlistarse en la milicia al estallar la primera guerra mundial, sin embargo su precaria condición física y la falta de educación formal le condujeron hacia otro camino. Howard, como le nombraba todo mundo, estaba llamado a la posteridad como uno de los más influyentes literatos del siglo XX.

Se aficionó con rapidez a diversas publicaciones independientes de la época que llenaban sus páginas con osados relatos de suspenso, horror y ciencia ficción. Se unió a la Asociación de Prensa Amateur (APA) y comenzó a publicar en diversos fanzines o pulps ganando el respeto y admiración de sus correligionarios. Sin embargo, fue hasta 1923 cuando Farnsworth Wright, editor de la naciente revista Weird Tales en Chicago, decidió publicar su cuento “Dagon” lo que inauguró su carrera como escritor profesional.

Dicho salto cualitativo le acercó a su conocido círculo de amigos: Robert E. Howard (creador de Conan el Bárbaro), Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long y August Derleth, este último fundador del sello editorial Arkham House y quien se convirtiera, al morir Lovecraft, en celoso guardián de su legado.

A pesar de que HL se formó con tranquilidad en las filas del racismo, la homofobia, misoginia, antisemitismo y xenofobia, el autor siempre trató a su criada afroamericana como si fuese de la familia, entre sus mayores amistades se encontraban sujetos abiertamente homosexuales y contrajo nupcias con Sonia Green, una mujer siete años mayor, inmigrante ucraniana y de familia judía.

H.P. Lovecraft falleció el 15 de marzo de 1937 en una cama de hospital de su ciudad natal como resultado de una falla renal ocasionada por cáncer intestinal y una severa desnutrición. Tres días después fue enterrado en el panteón familiar junto a su abuelo sin que lápida alguna fuera erigida en su memoria. Años más tarde, un grupo de aficionados a su obra colocó una placa conmemorativa al centro del camposanto con su nombre y el siguiente epitafio: “I AM PROVIDENCE”.

RMM/IM

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