The Shadow Over Innsmouth

lovecraftThroughout H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction, such as in what I consider his best story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the idea of racial integrity is at the forefront. Lovecraft’s pantheon of alien races, which intertextually appear and reappear in various short stories of his, are described in what can best be described as racialist terms.

A recurrent theme in Lovecraft’s fiction deals with the horrific consequences of miscegenation of humans with non-human lifeforms. Lovecraft spends much time giving us precise descriptions of the racially degenerate spawn of such miscegenation: stooped shoulders, bulging eyes; a furtive skittishness; asymmetrical grotesqueness.

Lovecraft himself was quite interested in racialist theories, and was a staunch opponent of wide-scale non-Western immigration into the U.S. Might the appeal of his fiction operate in such a way as to (like Tolkein) tap into a culturally-suppressed, white, anglo-saxon yearning for ancestral connections, a racial collective unconsciousness? 

We can also add Lovecraft to the quite long list of famous writers and thinkers who, in pointing out the historical non-assimilationist tendencies of jews, are therefore immediately tagged as “anti-semitic”. From his Letters:

“The mass of contemporary Jews [are] hopeless so far as America [because they are the] product of alien blood, and inherit alien ideals, impulses, and emotions which forever preclude the possibility of wholesale assimilation… The fact is, that an Asiatic stock broken and dragged through the dirt for untold centuries cannot possibly meet a Nordic race on an emotional parity. On our side there is a shuddering physical repugnance to most Semitic types, and when we try to be tolerant we are merely blind or hypocritical. Two elements so discordant can never build one society – no feeling of real linkage can exist where so vast a disparity of ancestral memories is concerned – so that wherever the Wandering Jew wanders, he will have to content himself with his own society till he disappears or is killed off in some sudden outburst of physical loathing on our part.”

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