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  1. #1

    Default The works of HP Lovecraft and Race

    curious...

    http://www.playboy.com/articles/worl...vecraft-butler

    This fellow's works have largely escaped my notice over the years.. But you can't explore comics/sci-fi/fantasy/horror culture message boards without somebody referencing him in some way or another. Obviously he's a pulp-era pioneer.. So he's generally regarded as a big deal in horror fiction? Anyone read his books/novellas? What contemporary works (prose, tv, film) are assumed to be influenced by him?

  2. #2
    Ultimate Member t hedge coke's Avatar
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    I think it's a good move, retiring the bust. Erasing him entirely would be wrong, but moving beyond him as an image for horror fiction or "genre" enthusiasm is good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hypestyle View Post
    curious...

    http://www.playboy.com/articles/worl...vecraft-butler

    This fellow's works have largely escaped my notice over the years.. But you can't explore comics/sci-fi/fantasy/horror culture message boards without somebody referencing him in some way or another. Obviously he's a pulp-era pioneer.. So he's generally regarded as a big deal in horror fiction? Anyone read his books/novellas? What contemporary works (prose, tv, film) are assumed to be influenced by him?
    There is, in a sense, horror and supernatural genres before and after Lovecraft. Or, more fairly, before and after Lovecraft and associates. The mystique of a huge, interrelated universe of stories from the intimate to the cosmic. The indulgence of multiple layers of horror simultaneously existing, often in lush and deliberately obscure language. And, being fair as I can, his embracing of his racism, misogyny, gynophobia and paranoia boils up into something that has served a lot of writers, directors, painters, comics-makers, and so ever since, whether they were as earnest about it as he was or more socially aware but channeling it to effect.

    Which, at the same time, doesn't mean every story or poem is one hundred percent perfect or amazing. The mystique is the biggest draw, and I mean that as no slight. His work should, at this point, be all public domain everywhere (despite efforts by Arkham House), and yes, it's well worth seeking some stuff out, at least online, to read. Most of it's short fiction, so you'll be in and out of stories pretty quickly, be able to decide if it appeals to you or not.
    Last edited by t hedge coke; 11-14-2015 at 09:03 AM.
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    I'm too lazy to dig it out, but there's a Planetary/Authority crossover written by Warren Ellis where Ellis spoofs Lovecraft's racism in the opening pages.

    Having said that Ellis uses Lovecraftian images alot in his comics...

  4. #4
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    There was a pretty good article about Lovecraft's racism on Salon last year:

    http://www.salon.com/2014/09/11/its_...ft_was_racist/

  5. #5
    CBR's Good Fairy Kieran_Frost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypestyle View Post
    curious...

    http://www.playboy.com/articles/worl...vecraft-butler

    This fellow's works have largely escaped my notice over the years.. But you can't explore comics/sci-fi/fantasy/horror culture message boards without somebody referencing him in some way or another. Obviously he's a pulp-era pioneer.. So he's generally regarded as a big deal in horror fiction? Anyone read his books/novellas? What contemporary works (prose, tv, film) are assumed to be influenced by him?
    Lovecraft, as many have said, if like the grandfather of fantasy/horror; but he's also a giant racist f*ckwad. And one doesn't excuse the other. Similar to how Birth of a Nation (1915) is monumental work in terms of moving cinema technology and techniques forward... it's none the less a piece of sh*t story about how awesome KKK were; so it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

    I agree about retiring his bust, give a bust of a woman or man worthy of it. I would say Poe, but he already has an award given out with his name on it.
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  6. #6
    Veteran Member CSTowle's Avatar
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    Enjoying Alan Moore's "Providence" at the moment, which basically is a tour through Lovecraft's universe through the eyes of a reporter. I'd recommend it.
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  7. #7
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    I do not seek to defend Lovecraft's racism. He was, however, a literary trailblazer.

    Extending the logic of removing his name and face from that award, does that not imply that we should sandblast at least two of the faces off of Mount Rushmore?

    I don't say this to be flippant, or inflammatory. Is it right to minimize the contributions of the past based on the ethics of today? That's the same argument that some use to condemn Islam because (by their interpretation of facts and contemporary standards) Muhammad was a pedophile. Should Heinlein's name be stripped from the award for space commercialization because even his strong female character stories have been accused of misogyny?

  8. #8
    Ultimate Member t hedge coke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    I do not seek to defend Lovecraft's racism. He was, however, a literary trailblazer.

    Extending the logic of removing his name and face from that award, does that not imply that we should sandblast at least two of the faces off of Mount Rushmore?
    I'd like them to let the mountain go back to being a mountain, but then, I'm not so big on the Crazy Horse monument, either (nor, I suspect, would he have been).

    But, I think it is up to living people, always, to choose who they respect, for what, and also who the lionize and how. Those, to me, are different things. I respect Lovecraft, but I won't consciously be an apologist for him, and I think that the genres for which he is most an interest have grown beyond him enough that his face isn't necessarily the best to put forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    I don't say this to be flippant, or inflammatory. Is it right to minimize the contributions of the past based on the ethics of today?
    Lovecraft's hatred and paranoia weren't even "of his day." He was always an extremist.

    RE Howard almost shot his literary career in the foot (not that it lasted long, considering his suicide a few years later, after his mother died) when Lovecraft took an interest in him, and put him in his inner circle of letter-writers and Howard flat called him out on being a racist and a misogynist. The only ethics of "today," that are really challenged by the actions taken are the ethics of looking the other way when politically convenient, really.
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    Quote Originally Posted by t hedge coke View Post
    I'd like them to let the mountain go back to being a mountain, but then, I'm not so big on the Crazy Horse monument, either (nor, I suspect, would he have been).

    But, I think it is up to living people, always, to choose who they respect, for what, and also who the lionize and how. Those, to me, are different things. I respect Lovecraft, but I won't consciously be an apologist for him, and I think that the genres for which he is most an interest have grown beyond him enough that his face isn't necessarily the best to put forward.



    Lovecraft's hatred and paranoia weren't even "of his day." He was always an extremist.

    RE Howard almost shot his literary career in the foot (not that it lasted long, considering his suicide a few years later, after his mother died) when Lovecraft took an interest in him, and put him in his inner circle of letter-writers and Howard flat called him out on being a racist and a misogynist. The only ethics of "today," that are really challenged by the actions taken are the ethics of looking the other way when politically convenient, really.
    You make an excellent (and better informed) point. I cede to your argument and thank you for educating me.

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    I'm pretty sure most people understand that admiring the work of a talented artist and disagreeing with their personal opinions are not mutually exclusive options.

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    Astonishing Member Old Man Ollie 1962's Avatar
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    Yeah, like his contemporary Robert E. Howard, the cat was a racist. But I read him. I couldn't stand his clumsy syntax, stilted dialogue, verbose gothic affectations, or his rough approach to exposition. Reading him was a chore to say the least. But he influenced a generation of brilliant and talented writers from Joyce Carol Oates to Stephen King.
    Last edited by Old Man Ollie 1962; 11-14-2015 at 08:18 PM.

  12. #12
    DARKSEID LAUGHS... Crazy Diamond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lancerman View Post
    I'm pretty sure most people understand that admiring the work of a talented artist and disagreeing with their personal opinions are not mutually exclusive options.
    It's hard to do that when their views influence every part of their work. I mean, The Shadow over Innsmouth is a story about the "horrors" of miscegenation. Most of the villains in the works I've read were based on groups that Lovecraft hated in real life. Hell, one of the personifications of Nyarlathotep was a Black man who warped perceptions of reality so much with his science that everyone went insane. The last one was kinda strange because apparently that personfication was based on Lovecraft's fear of Nicola Tesla and modern technology. Not to mention things like having a cat called N*-man.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Old Man Ollie 1962's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Diamond View Post
    It's hard to do that when their views influence every part of their work. I mean, The Shadow over Innsmouth is a story about the "horrors" of miscegenation. Most of the villains in the works I've read were based on groups that Lovecraft hated in real life. Hell, one of the personifications of Nyarlathotep was a Black man who warped perceptions of reality so much with his science that everyone went insane. The last one was kinda strange because apparently that personfication was based on Lovecraft's fear of Nicola Tesla and modern technology. Not to mention things like having a cat called N*-man.
    Excellent post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Diamond View Post
    It's hard to do that when their views influence every part of their work. I mean, The Shadow over Innsmouth is a story about the "horrors" of miscegenation. Most of the villains in the works I've read were based on groups that Lovecraft hated in real life. Hell, one of the personifications of Nyarlathotep was a Black man who warped perceptions of reality so much with his science that everyone went insane. The last one was kinda strange because apparently that personfication was based on Lovecraft's fear of Nicola Tesla and modern technology. Not to mention things like having a cat called N*-man.
    Even if it permeates his work you can still admire the skill and craft of his work and disagree with the messages that are part of it. To a much lesser example, the old Bond books are completely sexist, mysognistic, and have a very unsophisticated position on race. They are also still great books and plenty of writers and filmmakers took inspiration from what was good about them.

    You can appreciate the quality of something and still have critiques about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CSTowle View Post
    Enjoying Alan Moore's "Providence" at the moment, which basically is a tour through Lovecraft's universe through the eyes of a reporter. I'd recommend it.
    It's a great series, but I found it quite tactless that he is painting the Yazidis as some kind of Satanist/Great Old ones cult, considering what ISIS is currently doing to them in real life.

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