A dark, ominous sense of dread. An ancient book with bizarre drawings and script. What’s this passage behind the walls? A staircase that travels down deep into the bowels of the earth. Something alien lurks in the darkness. Ancient and evil. A descent into madness.
Lovecraftian refers to a genre of fiction credited to H.P. Lovecraft during the 1920s and 30s. Rather than focusing of gore and shock, Lovecraftian horror focuses on a world-view called ‘cosmicism’ in which everyday life is believed to be just a veneer over a meaningless and alien reality that if fully revealed would drive a person insane.
Some of the most common tropes of Lovecraftian horror are:
Great Old Ones - The beings first appeared in Lovecraft’s novella ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ (1931) but were already hinted at in the early short story ‘Dagon.’
Cthulhu - Cthulhu is in many ways a personification of the extreme nihilist vision of cosmicism. Cthulhu was first introduced in his short story The Call of Cthulhu published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928. In the story he described it as ‘A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus- like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.’
Necronomicon - A fictional grimoire capable of awakening Cthulhu and bringing the apocalypse. It was first mentioned in Lovecraft’s 1924 short story ‘The Hound’, written in 1922. Though its purported author, the ‘Mad Arab’ Abdul Alhazred, had been quoted a year earlier in Lovecraft’s ‘The Nameless City’.
I highly recommend HP Lovecraft: The Mysterious Man Behind the Darkness by Charlotte Montague.