H.P. Lovecraft: The Father of Modern Horror

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H.P. Lovecraft: The Father of Modern Horror

We explore the origin story of H.P. Lovecraft and delve into the psyche of the man who would horrify generations to come.

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"Legendary horror director John Carpenter's "The Thing" is an homage to Lovecraft's "Mountains of Madness," if not an outright rip off."

Um...while this is a very interesting article, I do feel the need to point out that this sentence is factually incorrect. John Carpenter's The Thing is a faithful adaptation of a story by John W. Campbell, and the only thing it shares with Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness is an Antarctic setting. Carpenter did do a Lovecraftian tribute movie, but it was called In the Mouth of Madness.

Interesting read about a very interesting writer/author!
I have to admitt I've been thinking about reading some of his work some time but never got around to it :/
It wouldn't be that difficult as a mate has a few of his books in the shelf...

Lol. and not one mention of Lovecraft's On the Creation of N****rs. Lovecraft was a hack and racist; his toxic legacy is proof enough of that. Honestly, the Espcapist is all the worse for even bringing him up like this. We all know that Baudelaire was the true inheritor of Poe's will, and no one with any real knowledge of literature even pays attention to Lovecraft nowadays. Just leave him and his work to rot like it deserves. Seriously, he wasn't even smart enough to realize that the Gaelic aspirated T is silent, lol.

Ryan Hughes:
Lol. and not one mention of Lovecraft's On the Creation of N****rs. Lovecraft was a hack and racist; his toxic legacy is proof enough of that. Honestly, the Espcapist is all the worse for even bringing him up like this. We all know that Baudelaire was the true inheritor of Poe's will, and no one with any real knowledge of literature even pays attention to Lovecraft nowadays. Just leave him and his work to rot like it deserves. Seriously, he wasn't even smart enough to realize that the Gaelic aspirated T is silent, lol.

That's quite an ax you have there, do you spend much time grinding it?

I have always believed that an artist's personal politics should have no bearing on the judgment of his work. Sure Lovecraft was a shortsighted xenophobe. But he sure knew how to write a compelling story.

And, for the record, I am also a big fan of Baudelaire. That doesn't preclude loving Lovecraft.

On topic, I am looking forward to the next two articles. I have spent the last few weeks at the persistent urging of a friend immersing myself in Lovecraft's mythos, and feel much the richer for it.

Good read, can't wait for the next two. I've been meaning to start reading some Lovecraft for quite some time now, just haven't gotten around to it.

Ryan Hughes:
Lol. and not one mention of Lovecraft's On the Creation of N****rs. Lovecraft was a hack and racist; his toxic legacy is proof enough of that. Honestly, the Espcapist is all the worse for even bringing him up like this. We all know that Baudelaire was the true inheritor of Poe's will, and no one with any real knowledge of literature even pays attention to Lovecraft nowadays. Just leave him and his work to rot like it deserves. Seriously, he wasn't even smart enough to realize that the Gaelic aspirated T is silent, lol.

Did Lovecraft jizz in your morning Cheerio's or something?

TheVampwizimp:
That's quite an ax you have there, do you spend much time grinding it?

I have always believed that an artist's personal politics should have no bearing on the judgment of his work. Sure Lovecraft was a shortsighted xenophobe. But he sure knew how to write a compelling story.

And, for the record, I am also a big fan of Baudelaire. That doesn't preclude loving Lovecraft.

On topic, I am looking forward to the next two articles. I have spent the last few weeks at the persistent urging of a friend immersing myself in Lovecraft's mythos, and feel much the richer for it.

No, I spend too much time wielding the axe to actually sharpen it much. The internet treats Lovecraft like he was Nicola Tesla. . . So, I have to set about chopping it all down.

Yeah, I get the idea of separating artist from their work. If we didn't, we'd throw out 85% of all the good books ever written. Dostoevsky was mildly anti-Semitic. Elliot and Pound called Hitler "misunderstood." (Though, in their defense they did voluntarily commit themselves to asylums shortly thereafter, so they knew something was wrong.) I could go on. I get it. Separate the artist from the art. There is just one serious problem with attempting to do that to Lovecraft: it cannot be done, because the racist belief is the art itself. "On the Creation" is not from personal correspondence, it is a published work. Lovecraft's wikia has a whole section on racist and veiled passages from a wide array of work he had published. It is not that he is a racist, it is that his work is racist. And I find it incredibly sad that people cannot see that.

Ryan Hughes:
Lol. and not one mention of Lovecraft's On the Creation of N****rs. Lovecraft was a hack and racist; his toxic legacy is proof enough of that. Honestly, the Espcapist is all the worse for even bringing him up like this. We all know that Baudelaire was the true inheritor of Poe's will, and no one with any real knowledge of literature even pays attention to Lovecraft nowadays. Just leave him and his work to rot like it deserves. Seriously, he wasn't even smart enough to realize that the Gaelic aspirated T is silent, lol.

I think Lovecraft is more famous for his ideas then he is for his actual writing.

His prose could be rather poor, and he certainly didn't have the mastery of symbolism that other writers had, but the reason I think Lovecraft matters is because he was tapping into something that society at large was only beginning to wake up to, and that's the existential horror of a world in which Nietzsche said God is Dead. There's a certain crisis of meaning that some people experienced then, and even now, that settled somewhere just below the collective unconscious during the eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. You can see it in the works of Tennyson and other writers as they struggled with their faith as a result of the enlightenment.

In that sense I think Lovecraft touched on nihilism in a way that other writers didn't. Even if he wasn't the best writer (and he really wasn't) he did have some important ideas, I think. His affect on popular culture, and on other, better writers, is really much more important then any individual story he wrote.

You could also call him the George R.R. Martin to Poe's Tolkien. He doesn't even begin to compare to him in quality, but he managed to do something completely different from the Gothic horror people were accustomed to.

Ryan Hughes:
I get it. Separate the artist from the art. There is just one serious problem with attempting to do that to Lovecraft: it cannot be done, because the racist belief is the art itself. "On the Creation" is not from personal correspondence, it is a published work. Lovecraft's wikia has a whole section on racist and veiled passages from a wide array of work he had published. It is not that he is a racist, it is that his work is racist. And I find it incredibly sad that people cannot see that.

I don't know if it's that people can't see it. Half of his stories are about either hereditary degeneration or illiterate hill folks scared of their own shadows. Jesus, he literally named a cat in one story after the most racist word in the English language. It would take some really heavy blinders to ignore his bigotry.

But I still don't think that hurts his work much. It may make us uncomfortable to see him use the N word so casually, but his gift for evokative prose is not harmed by it. It's really hard these days to escape the legacy of institutionalized racism, Lovecraft is not unique in that.

I just think that his ability as an artist deserves as much recognition as, say, Mel Gibson, who is an abhorrent person but still made some classic movies.

Lovecraft's "personal views" (i. e. racism) seeped into his works on numerous occasions. Just read his books and see how often he references lowly, ugly and dumb foreigners as minions of some big bad guy or half-breeds. He had a big thing for racial purity among humans (so mixed race individuals are usually portrayed as particularly sickening, again usually as the barely human minions of some big bad guy), which also informed some of his other stories about human hybridization with Deep Ones. I still like a lot of what he wrote (not all of it by far, though; there are lots of garbage there as well, among the gems), but it's really problematic to downplay these tendencies rather than acknowledge and criticize them. A lot of people who did or made great things were awful in any number of ways. Don't let their accomplishments blind you to their flaws, don't elevate them onto an altar, don't worship them as heroes but understand them in their entirety, warts and all.

"a loosely connected cannon"... I didn't know Lovecraft owned any artillery.

But seriously, I don't much care for his writing style, and the blatant racism, but you can't deny his vivid imagination or the impact it made on the horror genre.

Skeleon:
it's really problematic

The watchword of our times, "problematic".
"We don't wanna burn books, but .."
Fuck it.
You want to start at my house?
Drop me a PM, I'll give you the address.

Ryan Hughes:
Lol. and not one mention of Lovecraft's On the Creation of N****rs. Lovecraft was a hack and racist; his toxic legacy is proof enough of that. Honestly, the Espcapist is all the worse for even bringing him up like this. We all know that Baudelaire was the true inheritor of Poe's will, and no one with any real knowledge of literature even pays attention to Lovecraft nowadays. Just leave him and his work to rot like it deserves. Seriously, he wasn't even smart enough to realize that the Gaelic aspirated T is silent, lol.

"This highly celebrated author was a complicated human being... better condemn all his work and call him a hack cuz feels are more important!"

JustAnotherAardvark:
The watchword of our times, "problematic".
"We don't wanna burn books, but .."
Fuck it.
You want to start at my house?
Drop me a PM, I'll give you the address.

What the actual flying fuck. How dare you imply I'd want to "burn books"? Especially in light of what I wrote? I take issue with rewriting history and ignoring people's faults, including writers whose works I enjoy. That's doing the exact opposite of trying to erase what happened by burning it.

Skeleon:

JustAnotherAardvark:
The watchword of our times, "problematic".
"We don't wanna burn books, but .."
Fuck it.
You want to start at my house?
Drop me a PM, I'll give you the address.

What the actual flying fuck. How dare you imply I'd want to "burn books"? Especially in light of what I wrote? I take issue with rewriting history and ignoring people's faults, including writers whose works I enjoy. That's doing the exact opposite of trying to erase what happened by burning it.

How dare? How DARE? Seriously? It's a *thing* now, in case you missed it, to salt the ground old heroes trod.
It isn't courage, it isn't pragmatism, it isn't honestly, it's the *modern* cursing the *past* for not being *modern* enough, and ignore how they've moved us to the future.
You want to play the victim? Join the fucking queue.

JustAnotherAardvark:
You want to play the victim? Join the fucking queue.

Nah, you can keep that queue all to yourself, complaining about how awful everything is, because of people actually evaluating the past critically.

"Old heroes"? My very point is not to elevate people to hero-status to the point that it blinds us to their flaws.

How dare? How DARE? Seriously?

In case you're actually as historically illiterate as you've come off so far: You're basically calling me a Nazi, as that is what book burning most prominently implies. I think that warrants a "how dare you". It also warrants a big "fuck off".

To everyone debating the issue of Lovecraft's racism, is it really a topic worth talking about? While anyone with half a brain nowadays knows that racism is wrong, there is the fact that it was a common thing back in those days (hell, Dr. King's famous fight for equal rights wasn't until the 60s, and Lovecraft was a child of the 20s, yes?). Of course, if he was born nowadays, that'd be a different story, but should we really let values dissonance get in the way of appreciating the work of an undoubtedly influential author? (like him or not, he was a major pioneer of the Cosmic Horror subgenre of horror fiction).

Skeleon:
It also warrants a big "fuck off".

Have a good one!

DarklordKyo:
To everyone debating the issue of Lovecraft's racism, is it really a topic worth talking about? While anyone with half a brain nowadays knows that racism is wrong, there is the fact that it was a common thing back in those days (hell, Dr. King's famous fight for equal rights wasn't until the 60s, and Lovecraft was a child of the 20s, yes?).

I think it's worth talking about, in context. I mean, he was basically an misanthrope, at the very least. How does our view of our fellow man influence what we write? Why *does* 'the other' scare us so much? It's far, far too easy to dismiss 'lovecraft's quirks' as either inconsequential or, the more popular, 'evil racism'. Fuck that noise.

DarklordKyo:
Of course, if he was born nowadays, that'd be a different story,

Uh...what? Troubled young man who pisses his family fortune away and dedicates himself to his mother would ... be ... different ... now ... how? Sure, different things to be prejudiced about. Maybe he gets himself a twitter and a facebook ... but ...

JustAnotherAardvark:

Skeleon:

JustAnotherAardvark:
The watchword of our times, "problematic".
"We don't wanna burn books, but .."
Fuck it.
You want to start at my house?
Drop me a PM, I'll give you the address.

What the actual flying fuck. How dare you imply I'd want to "burn books"? Especially in light of what I wrote? I take issue with rewriting history and ignoring people's faults, including writers whose works I enjoy. That's doing the exact opposite of trying to erase what happened by burning it.

How dare? How DARE? Seriously? It's a *thing* now, in case you missed it, to salt the ground old heroes trod.
It isn't courage, it isn't pragmatism, it isn't honestly, it's the *modern* cursing the *past* for not being *modern* enough, and ignore how they've moved us to the future.
You want to play the victim? Join the fucking queue.

Yes, because the best reaction to people pretending that Lovecraft was the devil incarnate is to pretend that he was an angel. Surely both conclusions will lead us to the truth.

Skeleon is right, no one is above criticism, including your sacred cow. He was a complicated individual, and we should be able to objectively study and discuss his work from an academic standpoint (if he's as worthy as you say he is, and I would argue that he is). His views say a lot about the time in which he lived, both in regards to his views on race and on his views concerning the world at large. He wasn't perfect, not by a long shot. His prose could be shoddy at times, which many professional writers have pointed out, and his narratives were of varying quality. That said, the man had a knack for storytelling and suspense, and he's one of the few artists to truly come up with something wholly original.

Lets be reasonable when looking at the man, and not pretend that he's somehow above criticism. Faulkner, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and any other writer should be susceptible to criticism. Lovecraft isn't any better.

Fox12:
His views say a lot about the time in which he lived, both in regards to his views on race and on his views concerning the world at large. He wasn't perfect, not by a long shot. His prose could be shoddy at times, which many professional writers have pointed out, and his narratives were of varying quality. That said, the man had a knack for storytelling and suspense, and he's one of the few artists to truly come up with something wholly original.

Lets be reasonable when looking at the man, and not pretend that he's somehow above criticism. Faulkner, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and any other writer should be susceptible to criticism. Lovecraft isn't any better.

Well, y'see, if we're willing to start here, I'll even skip the 'sacred cow shit' that you were spouting a line up.
And it was shit. I disagree with painting HPL as the villian, so I must be painting him as the angel? Not so! ;)

"he's one of the few artists to truly come up with something wholly original."
Exactly! There are, at best, a handful of HPL's tales that are good, and those are extraordinary! The others are kinda ... 'wut?'

"Lets be reasonable when looking at the man, and not pretend that he's somehow above criticism. Faulkner, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and any other writer should be susceptible to criticism. Lovecraft isn't any better."

Here's the thing; no one was saying he should be shielded, just that he shouldn't be getting a special ration of shit.
It is a thing, these days, to dump on old authors, for not reason than being old.

JustAnotherAardvark:

Uh...what? Troubled young man who pisses his family fortune away and dedicates himself to his mother would ... be ... different ... now ... how? Sure, different things to be prejudiced about. Maybe he gets himself a twitter and a facebook ... but ...

I was talking primarily about his racism. As opposed to a few commentators above, I mostly contribute that to being a product of the times. Of course, I have a relatively casual knowledge of him, so I won't deny the idea of it being a product of being a misanthrope.

JustAnotherAardvark:

Fox12:
His views say a lot about the time in which he lived, both in regards to his views on race and on his views concerning the world at large. He wasn't perfect, not by a long shot. His prose could be shoddy at times, which many professional writers have pointed out, and his narratives were of varying quality. That said, the man had a knack for storytelling and suspense, and he's one of the few artists to truly come up with something wholly original.

Lets be reasonable when looking at the man, and not pretend that he's somehow above criticism. Faulkner, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and any other writer should be susceptible to criticism. Lovecraft isn't any better.

Well, y'see, if we're willing to start here, I'll even skip the 'sacred cow shit' that you were spouting a line up.
And it was shit. I disagree with painting HPL as the villian, so I must be painting him as the angel? Not so! ;)

"he's one of the few artists to truly come up with something wholly original."
Exactly! There are, at best, a handful of HPL's tales that are good, and those are extraordinary! The others are kinda ... 'wut?'

"Lets be reasonable when looking at the man, and not pretend that he's somehow above criticism. Faulkner, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and any other writer should be susceptible to criticism. Lovecraft isn't any better."

Here's the thing; no one was saying he should be shielded, just that he shouldn't be getting a special ration of shit.
It is a thing, these days, to dump on old authors, for not reason than being old.

Which isn't what anyone was doing. Me and Skeleon actually praised him, but said that it's unfair to ignore the negative aspects of his personality and writing. There's no need to be defensive just because someone dared to level a fair and well articulated criticism at him. That's not painting him as a villain, that's called behaving like a mature adult. Accusing people of censorship and book burning comes across as somewhat... deranged.

There's no need to have a knee jerk reaction every time someone criticizes an author you enjoy.

DarklordKyo:

JustAnotherAardvark:

Uh...what? Troubled young man who pisses his family fortune away and dedicates himself to his mother would ... be ... different ... now ... how? Sure, different things to be prejudiced about. Maybe he gets himself a twitter and a facebook ... but ...

I was talking primarily about his racism. As opposed to a few commentators above, I mostly contribute that to being a product of the times. Of course, I have a relatively casual knowledge of him, so feel free to correct me if it wasn't just a product of the times.

Lovely. Have a good evening. :)

Unsurprisingly I came into a Lovecraft thread and the comments are 5% about his works and 95% racist this and nazi that.

I enjoy practically all his stories, though I'm sure there are a few I haven't read that aren't in my various collections.

My favorites being The Silver Key, The Colour Out of Space, and At the Mountains of Madness. I also like the dreamworld stories like Celephais and The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, and his "revisions" such as The Mound, Winged Death, and Till 'A the Seas; Though the title confuses me, as it could just as easily be called Till All the Seas Run Dry or something (but he didn't pick the title obviously.)

Not too long ago I picked up collections of Clark Aston Smith and Robert E. Howard, Lovecraft's contemporaries. I wasn't really a fan of either, and if you (correctly) think Lovecraft was racist then give them a read. On a scale of 1-10 1 being least racist Smith would be a 3, Lovecraft a 5, and Howard at least an 8.

I know a bit about Lovecraft's life, times, and general mentality, so I don't get offended at his racist, paranoid, and xenophobic leanings. It kind of makes sense from his skewed perspective and the circumstances in his own little world.

I know little about the other two beyond the forwards of their anthologies, but unlike Lovecraft the racism wasn't couched inside a greater narrative, or an aside, it was the entire plot of the story in some cases.

Which arguably is the point of The Horror at Red Hook, but I didn't say he wasn't racist, just that if anything he has a few stories that are way LESS racist or not at all racist and the ones that are a bit, are still worth reading.

Now, one could debate lengthily whether or not he disliked black people or dogs more, because he REALLY didn't like dogs lol.

DarklordKyo:
To everyone debating the issue of Lovecraft's racism, is it really a topic worth talking about? While anyone with half a brain nowadays knows that racism is wrong, there is the fact that it was a common thing back in those days (hell, Dr. King's famous fight for equal rights wasn't until the 60s, and Lovecraft was a child of the 20s, yes?). Of course, if he was born nowadays, that'd be a different story, but should we really let values dissonance get in the way of appreciating the work of an undoubtedly influential author? (like him or not, he was a major pioneer of the Cosmic Horror subgenre of horror fiction).

Don't be absurd. There is a difference between capitulation to the overarching societal and systemic racism of one's day, and actively attempting to further it. Take a look at Poe, one of Lovecraft's heroes: Poe has been criticized -perhaps rightly- for his insensitive depictions of a black character in The Gold-Bug, but on the other hand, one can easily argue that in the course of the story, all the characters are deconstructed cliche in a sense. Many racist letters that were once attributed to Poe after his death have now been debunked by scholars. In terms of Poe and race, we have only one reliable instance: Poe inherited a slave from an uncle during his life, and he chose the only acceptable option open to himself, to sell that slave to a black slave owner for the token sum of one dollar. See, freeing slaves at the time was an expensive and lengthy bureaucratic process, specifically made so to discourage the practice, and Poe did not have enough money to free the slave outright. So, he did something rather common for poor whites wishing to free slaves: select "slave owners" would purchase slaves for a token fee (in order to fulfill bureaucratic obligation, all slaves had to be sold for monetary fees) then they would employ the slave in a job while paying for and working the process of freeing them. In the end, Poe freed a slave, or at least had a hand in doing so, instead of selling the slave for a large sum.

Contrast this and the attitude it implies with Lovecraft, who lived nearly one hundred years after Poe.

Nods Respectfully Towards You:
"This highly celebrated author was a complicated human being... better condemn all his work and call him a hack cuz feels are more important!"

See my above statement. Also, he wasn't "highly celebrated" in his day, which is all I really suggest we do: treat him as his contemporaries did: with silence. Also, he wasn't complicated, and that is part of my point: he -and his work- was simply too stupid to be complicated.

Fox12:
I think Lovecraft is more famous for his ideas then he is for his actual writing.

His prose could be rather poor, and he certainly didn't have the mastery of symbolism that other writers had, but the reason I think Lovecraft matters is because he was tapping into something that society at large was only beginning to wake up to, and that's the existential horror of a world in which Nietzsche said God is Dead. There's a certain crisis of meaning that some people experienced then, and even now, that settled somewhere just below the collective unconscious during the eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. You can see it in the works of Tennyson and other writers as they struggled with their faith as a result of the enlightenment.

In that sense I think Lovecraft touched on nihilism in a way that other writers didn't. Even if he wasn't the best writer (and he really wasn't) he did have some important ideas, I think. His affect on popular culture, and on other, better writers, is really much more important then any individual story he wrote.

You could also call him the George R.R. Martin to Poe's Tolkien. He doesn't even begin to compare to him in quality, but he managed to do something completely different from the Gothic horror people were accustomed to.

Don't even get me started on Martin and Tolkien. You don't want to have that long conversation. lol. You are not the first to point out the similarities between Nietzsche and Lovecraft. Though there is something important: it was Kant who said "God is Dead," which is often attributed to Nietzsche, but he added the more illuminating: "God is Dead, and we killed Him." That is, Nietzsche never ignored his and humanity's own agency in building its own problems. He never attributed things to race or "the progress of science," rather, there were only concrete acts leading to concrete outcomes. I am not a big fan of Nietzsche, but I often -like Rand, oddly- do find myself defending him.

The complaints about prose and symbolism could very well also be levied at George Orwell, too. However, there is no denying Orwell's contribution through his sheer insight and analysis. I just see nothing of the sort from Lovecraft, nothing of redeeming quality.

DarklordKyo:
Dr. King's famous fight for equal rights wasn't until the 60s, and Lovecraft was a child of the 20s, yes?

Nope, Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890... and yes, the whole discussion is somewhat ridiculous. The poem that keeps getting refered to was a work written in 1912, distributed to friends and family. Contrary to what has been suggested in this thread, it was never intended for wide publication.

Now, I think its time for a public service announcement: Quotations from the stories do not allow serious critics to draw conclusions about the views of Lovecraft himself. The stories are told by first-person narrators. This is not the same as Lovecraft speaking to the reader directly. When you attribute views to Lovecraft instead of the narrator, all you achieve is showing the world you're an amateur critic. Now with that out of the way...

Lovecraft's views were not extraordinary for his time, they are simply well documented as the man wrote nearly 100'000 letters in addition to his fiction, poetry and articles. Of these letters only a tiny fraction deals with issues of race. His views on blacks were nothing out of the mainstream and were supported by the flawed science of the time. Other letters are often mislabeled racism when they expressively have nothing to do with biological race but instead express Lovecraft's pessimism toward multiculturalism which he thought would inevitably lead to misunderstandings and conflict.

It is perhaps also important to point out that Lovecraft was a perfect gentleman. I dislike the tired claim that 'Lovecraft was an ass'. By all accounts Lovecraft was polite and helpful to everyone he met. He did not supress anyone, he did not harm anyone. But haters will hate I suppose.

I'll leave you with a reading of one of those 100'000 letters (with a very brief introduction written by the late, great Christopher Hitchens):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=835Obe_GRKM

This way everyone can form their own opinion on Lovecraft's intellect...

Ryan Hughes:
Lol. and not one mention of Lovecraft's On the Creation of N****rs. Lovecraft was a hack and racist; his toxic legacy is proof enough of that. Honestly, the Espcapist is all the worse for even bringing him up like this.

Someone being racist doesn't mean they're untalented and doesn't mean you can't admire anything they ever did.

Also as a slightly depressing newsflash: No one really liked or respected black people when that poem was published, practically every race and culture held black people in utter contempt and, frankly, most still do. Racism is involved in the cultural works of practically every culture at practically every point in their history, the first world today included. If I were to be too squeamish to experience art with racist messages I would barely find anything I could experience.

EDIT: It's also worth pointing out that Lovecraft was very mentally unwell and recanted a lot of his earlier views as he got older. Part of the problem is that it's very easy to see Lovecraft as all one thing because you don't often get to read his stuff in proper chronological order and with his life events spaced properly. In reality he, like a lot of people that suffered trauma, lashed out irrationally and found a figure to blame for their fears, then came to terms with it and had their extreme views fade.

Guys, if you like Shakespeare you are a terrible person because Taming of the Shrew was incredibly misogynistic and Shakespeare himself was a rampant misogynist.

Tolkien was racist, can' like LotR

Henry Ford was Anti-Semitic, can't buy Fords

Phil Fish is an ass, can't buy Fez

Robert Downey Jr is an addict, nobody go see the Avengers.

That's what y'all haters sound like.

OT: Excited to see where this series of articles leads, mildly disappointed that my favorite Lovecraft stry (Polaris) wasn't mentioned.

Clura:

Nope, Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890... and yes, the whole discussion is somewhat ridiculous. The poem that keeps getting refered to was a work written in 1912, distributed to friends and family. Contrary to what has been suggested in this thread, it was never intended for wide publication.

Now, I think its time for a public service announcement: Quotations from the stories do not allow serious critics to draw conclusions about the views of Lovecraft himself. The stories are told by first-person narrators. This is not the same as Lovecraft speaking to the reader directly. When you attribute views to Lovecraft instead of the narrator, all you achieve is showing the world you're an amateur critic. Now with that out of the way...

Lovecraft's views were not extraordinary for his time, they are simply well documented as the man wrote nearly 100'000 letters in addition to his fiction, poetry and articles. Of these letters only a tiny fraction deals with issues of race. His views on blacks were nothing out of the mainstream and were supported by the flawed science of the time. Other letters are often mislabeled racism when they expressively have nothing to do with biological race but instead express Lovecraft's pessimism toward multiculturalism which he thought would inevitably lead to misunderstandings and conflict.

It is perhaps also important to point out that Lovecraft was a perfect gentleman. I dislike the tired claim that 'Lovecraft was an ass'. By all accounts Lovecraft was polite and helpful to everyone he met. He did not supress anyone, he did not harm anyone. But haters will hate I suppose.

I'll leave you with a reading of one of those 100'000 letters (with a very brief introduction written by the late, great Christopher Hitchens):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=835Obe_GRKM

This way everyone can form their own opinion on Lovecraft's intellect...

Thank you for that well-written contribution to this discussion, and for properly correcting my flaw in knowledge.

DarklordKyo:
(hell, Dr. King's famous fight for equal rights wasn't until the 60s, and Lovecraft was a child of the 20s, yes?). Of course, if he was born nowadays, that'd be a different story, but should we really let values dissonance get in the way of appreciating the work of an undoubtedly influential author? (like him or not, he was a major pioneer of the Cosmic Horror subgenre of horror fiction).

Actually, He probably saw the 1920's as particularly decadent, being born in the 1890's.

I do find it interesting that he seemed to be getting slowly more tolerant as he got older and socialized more with others. Some of his last works("Mountains of Madness" and "Shadow out of time" in particular) had the Aliens as men of a different sort, rather then terrifying monsters, compared to his early stuff which is pretty much terrible elder gods, monsters and inbred hillbilles all around. Not to mention incredibly racist, shitty poetry.

Arguably some of that can also be attributed to the post-WW1 sense of Nihilism a lot of people had and I would have been curious to see how his stories would have changed if he had lived to see WW2 and the aftermath.

Man, if it we went by the opinions of a lot of people in this thread we would have to discard most inventions made by humans ever.

On Topic: The Colour from outer space is my favorite story of all time and I am encouraging absolutly everyone to read it.

Monoclebear:
Man, if it we went by the opinions of a lot of people in this thread we would have to discard most inventions made by humans ever.

On Topic: The Colour from outer space is my favorite story of all time and I am encouraging absolutly everyone to read it.

Eh. We've all seen worse.

I'm going through a collection of his works right now, and to deny its, well, racism is pointless. It's there. I acknowledge it exists and move on. Whenever people ask me about Lovecraft, I mention it when talking about his work among the rest of its qualities, because to ignore it would be disingenuous. I find it hard to make judgment calls about what his person may have been like because I don't find myself well-equipped to psychoanalyze a long-dead and troubled human almost 100 years post-mortem. Best I can do is just shake my head when I read the passages that involve it and move on. It sucks, really does, but... Well, so do a lot of things.

I should probably say something about the column, but it seems the discussion got derailed already, so: Yay column! :D

Also: His story, Azathoth, always makes me depressed. Not sure why.

I do not see Lovecraft as a racist... well he was, sort of. He hated small-minded uneducated fools. You could call him arrogant and completely enamored by family lineage and such. It is no wonder most of his tales talk about generational downfalls of various New England families. You could call him arrogant and classist at most, even though racism meant a whole different thing at that point in history. Hell, Lincoln nowadays would be seen as a racist. It is debatable if Lovecraft was a racist by his society's standards. Sure, he was not a progressive man in any was, shape or form, although his love for science is genuine. His worldview is a relic of the era and he wrote after witnessing the horrors of WW1. "Herbert West, reanimator" especially was about his mind trying to deal with a loss of faith in humanity and how the Great War would leave scars unnumerable on humanity.

And the word "n*gger" was quite standard in the late 19th century. Right now yes, it has negative connotations, but Joseph Conrad's book "The N*gger of the Narcissus" was about a black sailor suffering from tuberculosis. And it is a heartbreaking tale of loneliness and disease from the perspective of a black man. I know H.P. named his cat "N*ggerman", so if anyone can enlighten me: was the infamous word a slur in the '30s? Because if not it seems like the cat's name was a joke. If it was... well, I will refer you to my first paragraph.

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