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Feb 10, 2020

HPL assaults Catholicism and other intellectual outrages. This one may ruffle some feathers as Lovecraft lays it on thick in part three of his lengthy letter to his friend Frank Belknap Long. Includes a short and pleasant detour to Quebec!

Be sure to check out the website of The Museum of Jurassic Technology, and visit in person if you ever get the chance. In the gift shop they have the wonderful book No One May Ever Have the Same Knowledge Again.

Frank Belknap Long wrote a memoir of HPL entitled Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside. In that memoir, he mentions this letter and gives us some insight into what he had said to Lovecraft to provoke HPL's anti-Catholic diatribe. "At one point covering a period of several years," Long writes, "I came close to becoming a convert to a ritualistic Catholic mysticism, perhaps because I have always been in rebellion against what I felt was the beauty-ignoring aspect of Protestantism, even when it repudiated every kind of Bible Belt fundamentalism. Despite his atheism, HPL had a great admiration for the liberal Protestant tradition, as he made plain in one of his middle-period letters to me. It is included in the third volume of Arkham House correspondence and was just about the longest letter he ever wrote to anyone. What he failed to realize was that even at that period I had no real intention of becoming a Trappist monk, and it was only the aesthetic aspects of Roman or Anglo-Catholicism that had made me just a bit less of an agnostic than I had been earlier. Basically, I would never have been able to live for long with any kind of theological orthodoxy, but in challenging some of his most firmly held beliefs, I derived a certain pleasure in playing the part of a Devil's advocate." So it seems Long deliberately tried to get a rise out of HPL by suggesting he might become a monk!

Long's memoir was first published by Arkham House in 1975, but it has been recently released in paperback and digital versions by Wildside Press.

And drop by the website of our friends at Hippocampus Press to see HPL's lengthy essay about Quebec and other travel writing!