j.k huysmans

anonymous asked:

I was going to say I'd love to have you show me your collection of books on mythology and cults and cosmic horror but then I realized- You kind of can do that. Do you have any book recs of the non-Lovecraft Lovecraftian sort?

Okay so I pulled some of my favourite things off my bookshelf which I think might appeal to people interested in Lovecraft. I tend to veer towards the more gothic of his tales so that’s what this collection reflects. There is a mixture of fiction and non fiction here so I hope this is useful!! 

1. The Hell-Fire Clubs by Evelyn Lord

A History of devil worshipping cults in the British Isles which supposedly operated from about the 16th-19th centuries. 

2. America Bewitched by Owen Davies

A history of witchcraft in America after the salem witch trials, really interesting to see how that initial incident affected the later ‘outbreaks’. 

3. Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell 

This is part one in a series of texts about the impact of mythology on the psychology/culture/identity of the human race. It reminds me a lot of the ideas Lovecraft explores about the idea of an ingrained fear that has been passed down through generations. 

4. The Devil Within by Brian Levak 

The best history of exorcism I have read, worth pointing out that is does only focus on Western history/concepts. 

5. Vampyres by Christopher Frayling 

Super comprehensive and very literary based, actually a really good reference text for people studying the gothic in any capacity. A social and anthropological history of the Vampyre in popular culture. 

6/7. The Blake and Avery Detective Series by M.J Carter 

Victorian detective series full of satanic cults, weird witch doctors, ancient symbolism and gruesome murders. 

8. Heavenly Bodies by Paul Koudounaris 

I have been obsessed with the Catholic practice of decorating the bodies of saints for ages and this is the definitive book on the subject. Full of gorgeous, fascinating photos and lots of insights into the ritual behind it all. 

9. This Way Madness Lies by Mike Jay 

A really well illustrated and gorgeously presented history of Bedlam in London. Any publication put out by the Wellcome Collection is always worth the money. 

10/11/12. The Annihilation Trilogy by Jeff Vandemeer 

My favourite weird fiction trilogy ever. Worth reading Annihilation on it’s own even if you don’t pick up the other two. Sort of like At the Mountains of Madness meets The X Files meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Also a nearly all female cast of characters. 

13. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

I’m an absolute sucker for things based on Russian Folklore and this is a bizarre fever dream of a narrative which never quite makes sense but the prose is insanely gorgeous. 

14. Satantango by Laszlo Kraszahorkai 

One to pick up if you like the Lovecraft stories like Dreams in the Witch House, The Colour out of Space and The Cats of Ulthar. Follows the impact of a group of uncanny individuals whose appearance in a rural town causes a slow descent into chaos. 

15. Moon Over Soho (The Rivers of London series) by Ben Aaronovitch 

The Rivers of London series is dark, funny and perfect as a light hearted monsters, girls and ghosts read. I love them because they are set around where I live which is always fun. 

16. The Wolves of London by Mark Morris 

Weirdly this series was released around the same time as the above one but has a much more overt Lovecraftian tone to it. I prefer the ideas and the bleakness of this series but the writing style of Aaronovitch. 

16. Q by Luther Blissett 

Tonally quite similar to Lovecraft’s work. It’s dense but worth the read if you can get through it as it’s a maze of religious fever, manic peasant revolts and political upheaval. 

17. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley 

One of my favourite books of the last year. Deeply unsettling and an amazing blend of supernatural and domestic horror where you can never tell who is reliable. 

18. Thin Air by Michelle Paver 

Perfect for fans of Algernon Blackwood, M.J James and all those wonderful classic ghost writers. Genuinely frightening with an excellent payoff. 

19/20/21. Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook 

Probably visually the most Lovecraftian of this list. A classic tale of supernatural happenings in an isolated rural area but the illustrations and creature designs are some of the most beautiful and horrifying I’ve ever seen. 

Not pictured because I couldn’t find my copy of it is Kraken by China Miéville which starts with a giant embalmed squid being stolen from the Natural History Museum and explodes into a story of cults, magical books, sea monsters and a chilling use of origami. 

I’m also half way through Là-Bas, by J.K Huysmans which follows a young man who becomes obsessed with Gilles de Rais and eventually pursues satanism in turn of the century France. It’s a morbid delight and the love story at it’s centre will really appeal to people who aren’t normally into that aspect of the narrative. Who doesn’t want to go to a black mass with your lover? 

Barbaric in its profusion, violent in its emphasis, wearying in its splendor, it is - especially in regard to things seen - extraordinarily expressive, with all the shades of a painter’s palette. Elaborately and deliberately perverse, it is in its very perversity that Huysmans’ work - so fascinating, so repellent, so instinctively artificial - comes to represent, as the work of no other writer can be said to do, the main tendencies, the chief results, of the Decadent movement in literature.

Arthur Symons, The Decadent Movement in Literature

The Middle Ages… knew that everything on earth is a sign, a figure, that the visible is only worth what it extracts from the invisible; the Middle Ages… which were not gullible, as we are, to appearances, closely studied this science and made it the caretaker and the servant of mysticism.
—  Joris-Karl Huysmans, excerpted from “The Cathedral”
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