The Reanimation of H.P. Lovecraft

In The Atlantic, Philip Eil writes on “The Unlikely Reanimation of H.P. Lovecraft”, which is seeing an explosion of popular culture interest in the master of horror.

Like virtually every modern appreciation of HPL, Eil frets over the author’s “racism”:

But, more broadly speaking, Lovecraft’s ascendance has also brought an uncomfortable truth into the spotlight: He was a virulent racist. The xenophobia and white supremacy that burble beneath his fiction (which may have gone unnoticed, had he remained anonymous) are startlingly explicit in his letters. Flip through them and you’ll find the author bemoaning Jews as “hook-nosed, swarthy, guttural-voiced aliens” with whom “association … was intolerable”; New York City’s “flabby, pungent, grinning, chattering niggers”; and New England’s “undesirable Latins—low-grade Southern Italians and Portuguese, and the clamorous plague of French-Canadians.” In 1922, he wrote that he wished “a kindly gust of cyanogen could asphyxiate the whole gigantic abortion” of New York City’s Chinatown, which he called “a bastard mess of stewing mongrel flesh.” In another letter, he wrote, “In general, America has made a fine mess of its population and will pay for it in tears amidst a premature rottenness unless something is done extremely soon.”…

My feelings on Lovecraft—as a bibliophile, a lover of Providence history, a Jew, a fan of his writing, a teacher who assigns his stories—are complicated. At their best, his tales achieve a visceral eeriness, or fling the reader’s imagination to the furthest depths of outer space. Once you develop a taste for his maximalist style, these stories become addictive. But my admiration is always coupled with the knowledge that Lovecraft would have found my Jewish heritage repugnant, and that he saw our shared hometown as a haven from the waves of immigrants he saw as infecting other cities. (“America has lost New York to the mongrels, but the sun shines just as brightly over Providence,” he wrote to a friend in 1926.)

I haven’t made peace with this tension, and I’m not sure I ever will. But I have decided that perhaps he’s the literary icon our country deserves. The stories he conjured, in many ways, say as much about his bigotry as they do his genius…

I encourage white identitarians to read Lovecraft, whom I discovered just a few years ago, for his fiction has a layer of concern with racial identity and racial antagonism. It’s my belief that the massive resurgence of interest in HPL’s work is partially due to these themes of racial consciousness, whether his new fans realize this or not. (See Jung on the role of the artist in society.)

Begin with “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”.

Here’s a poem by HPL:

When, long ago, the gods created Earth
In Jove’s fair image Man was shaped at birth.
The beasts for lesser parts were next designed;
Yet were they too remote from humankind.
To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,
Th’Olympian host conceiv’d a clever plan.
A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure,
Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.

— “On the Creation of Niggers” (1912), by H. P. Lovecraft


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