An article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper this week, on the other noxious creeping things that are nibbling away at our museum heritage during lockdown, reminds readers that Lovecraft’s imagination would have seemed curiously validated shortly after his death. Namely, by the first magazine pictures arising from the use of the new electron microscope on biological specimens…
He imagined beings from unimaginable depths and realms who, with their proboscis, tentacles, suction cups, mandibles and multiple legs, could appear to us like microbes brought to human size — had the scanning electron microscope been used a year earlier in 1937, the year Lovecraft died.
Admittedly such imagery was coming through to the public from normal microscopes in the 1920s and 30s, and had existed as small engravings in encyclopaedias, but it was not quite so startlingly big and monstrously clear as the photographs seen from 1938 onward. This would have added an interesting visual layer to the initial reception of Lovecraft in the 1950s and 60s, and of course the visuals eventually found their horror form in the late 1950s atomic-mutant movies (The Fly and others).
So far as I’m aware, Lovecraftians do not know what “excellent microscope” Lovecraft owned, nor its magnification.