When H.P. Lovecraft Met Samuel Johnson

Well, this is a find: it isn’t often you encounter two of your favorite writers meeting face to face, especially when the one (supposedly) was born over a century after the other died.

A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson is one of Mr. Lovecraft’s earlier works (published in 1917, the same year as Dagon), in which he recalls his friendship with the late Dr. Johnson and his experience with the Literary Club of which the good Doctor was a premier member, along with Mr. Boswell, Mr. Burke, Mr. Goldsmith, and many other luminaries of the period. There’s no plot to it, and it’s not really a story at all; just a rather poignant reminiscence by a very, very old man of well-respected friends long gone.

Sometimes, when reading an author’s work or hearing of some creator’s life and methods, I feel a strong sense of kinship with them, as if I am looking through the intervening distances of time and place and the veil of the written word to see something of the man, and finding in him one like myself in some vital manner. I get that reading this story; almost as if I am sitting with Mr. Lovecraft and discussing our mutual admiration for the good Dr. Johnson.

That’s something that really stands out to me about Mr. Lovecraft in general: for all his grotesque and twisted nightmares, his work shows what I can only call an excellent taste and respect for art and literature and nobility, even as he presents these things as horribly overshadowed by madness and horror. That, I think, is one of the things that gives him his particular impact; the fact that his high understanding and sensitivity allows him to feel the full weight and meaning of the monstrously meaningless universe he conjures up.

Anyway, I recommend you check it out, as it isn’t long at all (and his excellent imitation of 18th century style and of Dr. Johnson’s particular wit is worth viewing for its own sake).

This website, by the way, is a real find: it seems to provide all of Mr. Lovecraft’s fiction to read for free! Granted, Lovecraft really wants the feel of the page, and the back-lit computer screen creates the wrong atmosphere for him, but still, if you can’t get it any other way, it’s an opportunity to explore the great author’s works.

A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson

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