The Love/Hate Relationship with HP Lovecraft

Yes, on one hand it is possible to love this man's works. Even if this looks like my passport photo.

Howard Philips Lovecraft is arguably the quintessential horror fiction author of the 20th century. Plus, he's also the only person from Rhode Island I can think off the top of my head aside from Peter Griffin. Lovecraft's works often times cross over into the world of the bizarre and require a particular taste in the genre to fully appreciate. It just so happens I enjoy a few works of weird fiction myself.

Let's look at his most famous works for the sake of brevity. The Call of Cthulhu and the surrounding mythos are the most recognizable works. Written in 1926, The Call of Cthulhu appeared in Weird Magazine. Cthulhu is a massive creature with an octopus head, rubbery body and immense claws. Cthulhu gets his jollies by convincing people to sway under his rule and unleashing mysterious creatures upon the world.

Lovecraft's strength was the ability to craft suspense at the same time building a believable world for the reader (as much as horror fiction would permit). The majority of his works were short stories, but expanded upon one another to string plots to a logical and often horrific conclusion.

At the Mountains of Madness was a novella that fleshed out the Cthulhu mythos and was an obvious influence for a variety of modern works. The plot of Madness follows a scientific endeavor in Antarctica that reveals an alien city beneath the surface filled with monstrous creatures. If that sounds familiar than that's because it's the plot of the 2004 fart festival, Alien vs. Predator. God that movie sucked. Any who, Lovecraft's universe and his monsters have been used in literature, video games and movies. His influence is undeniable.

So why should I hate him?

Well, the simple answer to that was he was a racist and ardent classist with a penchant for including the former in his writings. The first couple of times I read and listened to his works I cringed. In The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Lovecraft details the "ill-bred" denizens in a many reflective of his attitudes towards ethnic groups. If that isn't good enough for you there's a collection called On the Creation of Ni... well you get it. Suffice to say his opinions on the Jewish people weren't a whole ton better. The word "simplistic" is a common personal adjective.

I suppose the argument is going to be made that it was a different time. Yes, it was a different time, but rather than look on that time with a strange sense of nostalgia and fondness perhaps we should realize (as I imagine most do) the revulsion in such language instead of using the Looney Toons argument to dismiss it.

Look how folksy Bugs Bunny used to be. Those were the golden years off television.

Before you tell me that my belief that Lovecraft was a racist are unfounded and I'm making an odd connection between a vague quote and his supposed point of view just check out this quote:

"Here his only visible servants, farmers, and caretakers were a sullen pair of aged Narragansett Indians; the husband dumb and curiously scarred, and the wife of a very repulsive cast of countenance, probably due to a mixture of negro blood."

That is from the story The Case of Dexter Ward. There's a lot more from where that came from and trust me it doesn't take much to find it. There's been books written about his hate for anyone that was Anglo-Saxon.

Should we read his works?

That's up to you. He's dead and he's probably not too worried about what you think about it. His more popular (see non racist) works are undeniably influential and entertaining. On the other hand, his shadowy words linger behind his genius tainting it for the modern age.

It's a personal choice and I'll leave it up to you.

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