“Azathoth” is a nice representation of H.P. Lovecraft’s work. It’s full of long sentences, vivid description and celestial elements. In “Azathoth,” Lovecraft drastically shortens his work. Normally his pieces are novella length so you’re welcome for selecting a short one 😉
In this bit of microfiction, Lovecraft employs several techniques I personally don’t ever use! The most obvious one is his intentional leaving out of detail. Several times he says “It is enough to know…” and “Of the name and abode of this man nothing is written…” As a writer, shouldn’t that feel like a cop out? I mean, come on. The whole point of writing is to have fun with detail and characters and their backstories. So why did Lovecraft do it? I’m not sure, but we can look at the effects it leaves behind.
When he says things like I quoted above, drawing attention to the fact that he has intentionally not developed said details, we (as readers) are not really able to question it. We possibly don’t even think twice about the nameless face and location. All we need to know is what’s at the end, where his typical celestial influences rear their alien heads and they suck the old man out into space or whatever. But why leave out little fluffy detail morsels then?
I think one of Lovecraft’s most abused tactics is taking advantage of the ignorant reader. If you have read at least one of his other lengthy works (which I totally recommend you do, by the way) you are perhaps more familiar with his world and the common threads that sew his works together. If you truly have no idea, that’s ok too. You just get a tiny blended up taste of what Lovecraft is really about.
Somehow, in this short short length, he has managed to fold in brilliant characterization of the nameless man! In the second paragraph, we are given delicious little crumbs- just the right amount to create an idea- of character development through watching his actions. We know he is a dreamer, who likes to read, who likes to look at the stars and actually became quite fond of them. At the end, a magical gust of “violet midnight glittering with dust of gold” comes and sweeps him up, apparently without a fight. But we’ll never know.