The Love of Ruins

Letters on Lovecraft

By Scott Cutler Shershow & Scott Michaelsen

Subjects: Literature, Literary Criticism, Cultural Studies, Philosophy, American Literature
Series: SUNY series, Literature . . . in Theory
Paperback : 9781438465104, 206 pages, January 2018
Hardcover : 9781438465111, 206 pages, March 2017

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Table of contents


1. Prayers

2. Warnings

3. Psychonautics, Sublimity, Love

4. Love and Ruins

5. Ruins and Race

6. Ruins, Sublimity, Laughter

7. Race and Writing

8. Writing and the Love of Ruins

9. Race, the Fourth Dimension, Apophasis

10. Race, the Love of Wounds

11. Wounds, Race, Music, and Noise

12. Race, Orientalism, Writing

13. Time Travel, White Mythology, the Library

14. Cities in Ruins

15. The Late City, the Decline of the West

16. Basalt Towers, Trapdoors, Taboos, Nameless Beings

17. Apophasis, Science Fiction, Visibility and Racism, Im-Possible Politics

18. Archive, Irruption, Eruption, Basalt

19. The Great Race, the Archive

20. Comedy and Laughter

21. Class, Socialism, Politics

22. Doubling, Indirect Racism, the Gift of Vision, Nonknowledge

23. The Fourth Dimension, Community

24. The Fourth Dimension, Community, Unworking

25. Community, Sacrifice, Cults

26. Racial Degeneration, Police, Sacrifice

27. Sacrifice, Madness, One Blood, the Invention of the White Race, Frogs

28. Untimeliness, Sacrifice, Religion

29. Religion after Religion, Dread

30. Religion, the Wholesome, Faith and Knowledge

31. Kindness, Wonder, Horror

32. Hauntology, Religion, Science, Race, and Racism

33. Modern Apophasis

34. The Weird, the Future, the Open


Explores issues related to race and religion in Lovecraft criticism.


Today, H. P. Lovecraft is both more popular and controversial than ever: the influence of his "Cthulhu mythos" is everywhere in popular culture, his cosmic pessimism has reemerged as a major theme in contemporary philosophy, and his racism continues to spark controversy in the media. The Love of Ruins takes a fresh look at a figure widely acknowledged as the father of modern horror or "weird" fiction. In these pages, Lovecraft emerges not as the atheist and nihilist he is often claimed to be, but as a kind of "psychonaut" and mystic whose stories, through their own imaginative rigor, expose the intellectual bankruptcy of their author's racism. The Love of Ruins is itself written in the form of letters, in order to do homage to Lovecraft's love of the form of the personal letter (he wrote more than 100,000), and to emulate Lovecraft's lifetime practice of thinking-as-corresponding.

Scott Cutler Shershow is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis, and author of Deconstructing Dignity: A Critique of the Right-to-Die Debate Scott Michaelsen is Professor of English at Michigan State University and coauthor (with David E. Johnson) of Anthropology's Wake: Attending to the End of Culture.


"The Love of Ruins is an excellent study of Lovecraft's work and philosophy … Its tone and its method both refresh the reader." — Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

"This book is aimed at literary scholars or serious readers already familiar with Lovecraft … but will be of interest to scholars of fictional religions or philosophers of religion wishing to explore the constructive possibilities of Lovecraft's cosmic pessimism." — Religious Studies Review

"The Love of Ruins ranks among the small handful of the very best Lovecraftian analyses. Erudite, sophisticated, and insightful, this volume is a pure joy to read. A must have for anyone interested in Lovecraft or the field of dark fantasy." — Gary Hoppenstand, author of Clive Barker's Short Stories: Imagination as Metaphor in the Books of Blood and Other Works