Talking About H.P. Lovecraft's Racism with Professional Annotator Leslie Klinger

Comments

1
Great write-up, Paul. Thanks.
2


Lovecraft renounced racism and became liberal towards the end of his short (By modern standards) life.



Why does no one ever mention this? Does the racism make him "Edgy"? Do American like their narratives to feature people who are either pure good or absolute evil and they're uncomfortable with the idea of a racist not being punished but rather just growing out of it?
3
This is amazing, incredible reporting, reviewing, interviewing, and extrapolation! Superb work, Paul, and thank you!
4
46 is short by any standard, @2, except maybe for the Dark Ages.
5
Houllebecq (no stranger to charges of racism himself) has a long-form essay, "Against the World, Against Life" that goes fairly deeply into it. Good read.
6
@2: Perhaps because the bulk of his work was written before he renounced anything?
Frankly, I think his racism gets very little attention, so it's understandable that his renunciation would get less.
7
@2

No, Lovecraft never renounced racism or became a liberal, at least not from any source I can find. He remained a racist (but not anti-semite, because he married a Jew) But he never was a "lynch mob" type of guy (that was Robert E Howard) and just didn't care for minorities or race mixing, but wasn't a hardcore bigot in the sense that he was any different from other people of his time; i.e., he respected some blacks but held racist views as a whole.



And does it matter? I would MUCH RATHER read some bigoted white guy with talent than a liberal whinny black woman with now talent whatsoever who is only famous because of political correctness. Not to say that there aren't great black writers.



Jack London was also a racist, but he was one of the greatest American writers. I'm black and I would take him over some crazy liberal "post modern modernist, pro-feminists, loving goodness post-post-drama about the importance of people of color goddessing atheism".
8
@ 7, nobody cares about your opinion. You filter everything through your own brand of political correctness.
9
@7: I'm a little more principled than you on this. I'm not going to consider buying a Ford.

Also, you think it's racist to criticize a Republican without pointing out that the Republican is black.
10
@7: Just marrying (as he would have put it, I believe) a Jewess does not necessarily prove him free of anti-Semitism. A few points, not all irrelevant to each other:

0.) Racism, or in this case ethnism, can easily cohabit with sexual fascination with the deprecated group...Nazi and Southron propaganda about supposèd Jewish and Negro lust, both respectedly and jointly (that is, both targetted [sic] both groups, but with differing emphases), could get pretty hot and heavy.
1.) An inadequate-feeling racist man might believe that he could not rate any better than a member of a group he thought inferior; a racist man taught to be ashamed of sexual desire might think its expression appropriate only with an inferior.
2.) Most irrational bigots don't wish to believe that they are so, and making an exception or two helps to reässure that one is not unreasonable...or one of 'those lumpen racists'---Cash' s "The Soul of the South" discusses how the white Southern upper classes felt reäffirmed in their right to rule by the crudity of poorer whites' bigotry (say, even against a Negro seven-eighths' white!) and the savagery of its expression.
3.) A wag might say that some bigots can inflict maximal damage by marriage... this does not seem to be the case for Sonia Greene, though life took an hard turn for her after Howard moved in.
4.) Some bigots are grandly theoretical bigots but seem always to be willing to make an exception for actual people they know; H.L. Mencken appears to have been of this sort with regard to African-Americans and Jews---I'm that way about humans....
11
I will add: H.P.L. was a bad writer...a great bad writer. There is a story of Enrico Fermi's reading a paper by a young physicist, and telling them [sic] 'This isn't right...this is not even wrong.'.
12
I like Lovecraft because he was racist. His writings are a window into the mind of someone who just wasn't able to cope with the changes that the world was undergoing at the time. Very interesting stuff.