Knights and the Horrors


“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.” G.K.C

I have always found the idea of Lovecraft’s monsters rather compelling and scary. I think its the fact they are so scary and so alien to our understanding is what makes people so interested in them. The elder monsters of  the HP Lovecraft mythos come in all maddening shapes and forms, filled with ooze, sprouting tentacles, alien eyes and strange sickening colors. These monsters appear in Lovecraft’s tales usually in his gloomy New England or in the far flung places of the world where people are driven mad and worship these terrible monsters in obscene blood cults. The protagonists are usually rational and scientific Americans who believe that the world makes sense and are driven mad by their encounters with these ancient ugly monsters who prove the chaos of the universe. It seems that Lovecraft is trying to say that modern man is incapable of dealing with monsters.  However there is a time and a people who would not be frightened by these monsters. The Crusaders 800 years ago.

I was browsing the web bored at work when I came across some great illustrations by Robert Altbauer. Who brilliantly imagined Knights of the Crusades battling the monsters of HP Lovecraft in the drawing style of the High Middle Ages. We see the Crusaders from the East and the West as well as the Saracens battling with swords and bows the monsters from an age long since gone. I think the illustrator discovered the differences between our ages and those of the Middle ages. Ultimately it has to do with our view of the world.

Lovecraft pointed out in his fiction, like his hero Edgar Allen Poe the insufficiency of our faith in our age. Lovecraft who lived and wrote in an era when technology was about to explain everything about the material world but that technology was also causing terror with the approach of the second world war. To him the world was a tapestry where the edge was fraying and when the unknown manifested itself like in his stories, the people would be driven mad since they had no way to explain or to grasp what they witnessed which is outside the material world they understand. The Materialist point of view is unable to grasp mystery and the horror that we thought we left behind. So, Who would be able to battle these monsters? The people from that era where monsters and fairies lived in every forest. The Middle Ages.

The Crusaders, the peasants and clergy of the middle ages would have been our most able civilization to take on the monsters from the darkness of Lovecraft’s fertile imagination. This was an age of people where the art of literacy was only confined to the priests and kings. Storytellers relied on songs and puppet shows to relate the stories of the great men fighting the monsters. Beowulf would have been unafraid of the Whisper in the Darkness, the Demons of the Deep, and all the other horrors. The heroes of this age were the dragon slayers, brave St George who slayed the Dragons, Beowulf the man who wanted a fair fight with a monster, The Maid of Orleans who went to war with only a banner, St Columba who drove away the sea beast by making the sign of the cross or St Patrick who drove all the snakes out of the emerald isle. This was an age that knew monster existed and knew people had to oppose them. our age believes there are no monsters theirs did and had the appropriate heroes.

I loved these illustrations and I will post the link to the creators website. The images are just too compelling especially with the popularity of the middle ages these days. It is nice to have scary monsters and heroism of the past heroic ages come together as they should. The images of mounted knights on chargers and destriers lances in hand battling scary monsters is a refreshing one. That is why I was so pleased to see them. There is so much more to say but no today. I am a believer in fairy tales. Because I am a believer in virtues. I believe like C.S. Lewis said how stories and literature are ways for us to experience a thousand lives and stay ourselves. We face terrible terrors in our own life and we are hard pressed to keep going and to maintain our courage in this crazy life.





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