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lovecraft and goethe

Posted Over 2 Years ago by chiarizio

Were H.P. Lovecraft, in his Cthulhu Mythos, and J.W. von Goethe, in “The Erl-King”, making the same general point?
That there are things, forces and agencies, in this universe, that we have no hope of understanding, nor of defending ourselves against?

There are 7 Replies


Bump.

Over 1 Year ago
chiarizio
 

oooo fun question. i’ll reply to this later when i get off work.

Over 1 Year ago
poptart!
 

[scrubbed]

Over 1 Year ago
[scrubbed]

@9x19:
Thanks!

@poptart!:
I look forward to your remarks!

Over 1 Year ago
chiarizio
 

If you haven't heard Schubert's Erlkönig yet, you should definitely check it out!



I'm a little ketamine'd up, so apologies if this response is unorganized. I love questions that put my English major to good use, though, lol.

I agree with 9x19. I also want to say that this is very insightful:

I think that the things described in the son's dialogue are untrue but meaningful while the things described in the father's dialogue are true but meaningless.


What if we flipped this, though? If we accept that the son's dialogue is true — and we're not overstepping by doing so because we also get the Erlkönig's dialogue without any couching — then the father and his son are being pursued by a supernatural force, some sort of Grim Reaper figure, or maybe an elf king from the Otherworld (which calls to mind the Wild Hunt). So, how does that being compare to the Lovecraft mythos?

I haven't read as much Lovecraft as I'd like, but the unknown (or the unknowable) seems to be a theme. What do we know about the Erlkönig? We can only go by what it says and what it can do. If we believe it, it has a family (a mother and daughters — it's interesting that it only mentions women, but that's a tangent, or even an entire paper lol). It also has an understandable motivation: "I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!"

It may be lying or applying the abstract to concepts that the child can understand, but the Erlkönig has "human" qualities. A family, emotions, an appreciation for beauty, etc. These are all understandable to a human. On the other hand, Lovecraft's beings are incomprehensible and unknowable (correct me if I'm wrong, I don't have my book of Lovecraft stories with me, and it's been awhile). For example, just seeing Cthulhu would drive a man mad. It has incomprehensible motivations (afaik), and the human concept of family likely doesn't apply. The Erlkönig seems to be closer to the realm of human understanding than Lovecraft's creatures.

Hmm, I'm starting to drift off, so I'll have to think about this for awhile and come back to it.

Over 1 Year ago
poptart!
 

[scrubbed]

Over 1 Year ago
[scrubbed]

@poptart!:
Yes, I like the Schubert version!
Also I like the Italian version “Figlio Perduto”. I’m sorry I can’t remember the poetess. I think it was she who set it to Beethoven’s Seventh.
You can hear Sarah Brightman perform it.
....
@9x19:
Good discussions from both of you! Thanks!

Over 1 Year ago
chiarizio
 

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