Better not to have been
Thomas Ligotti and the ‘suicide’ of the human race
in Suicide and the Gothic
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Thomas Ligotti, who began writing in the 1980s, is perhaps Gothic's best-kept secret. Until the recent publication of his first two collections of short stories by Penguin, his Gothic work (reminiscent, but by no means derivative, of Poe and Lovecraft) has remained relatively obscure. This chapter explores what could be termed Ligotti's materialistic pessimism, or the belief that conscious and rational life is inherently tragic, as it is largely dominated by the experience of pain and the realisation of the inevitability of death. More specifically, the chapter focuses on one of Ligotti's recurring solutions to the quandary of existence, suicide, in selected stories from Songs of a Dead Dreamer (1986), Grimscribe (1991), Teatro Grottesco (2006) and The Spectral Link (2014), but also in his non-fiction treatise The Conspiracy against the Human Race (2010) and his interviews in Born to Fear (2014). For Ligotti, antinatalism, or mass suicide as a way of preventing future generations from suffering the same fate, becomes an appealing, perhaps even the only real, option for a human race who has, thus far, preferred to believe in the absurdity of futurity and the fallacy of persistence.

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