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HP Lovecraft and His Work

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  • Originally posted by Octo Seven View Post
    Lovecraft's value as an author and inspiration to others should never be overllooked. I would have never heard of Clarke Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany, Ambrose Bierce or RW Chambers if not for his essays and influences. He also encouraged Robert E Howard constantly, an author who was certainly influential on Mike. This is his legacy to me, not his outdated xenophobia which by the way he had lost in his later years. Easy to pick on someone when they're already in the grave. I hate the constant pontification about CS Lewis too by modern authors and readers. If you don't like it, don't read it.

    Also, without Lovecraft's encouragement there may have never been a Conan and without Conan there would be no Elric.
    First off, your unsupported assertion about Lovecraft's lost xenophobia is highly questionable at best, and more than likely wholly false.

    He praised Hitler, apparently quite ardently and in many letters, until sometime in 1936. In the last year of his life his letters stopped mentioning Hitler, which some have taken to indicate he changed his mind. I'd say necessary but not sufficient.

    Beyond that there are the two surviving (and previously mentioned) letters from his ex-wife that contradict your opinion. And ST Joshi has gone on the record to say:
    ...this discussion emphatically refutes the claims of many of Lovecraft's apologists that he somehow "reformed" at the end of his life and shed many of the beliefs he had spouted in his Conservative essays twenty years before.
    The discussion being a debate between Lovecraft and one of his penpals about Hitler and Jewish influences in the US.

    But I guess this is picking on somebody already in their grave. Well, when people go on about how his "xenophobia" is the source of his writing's power then discussion of it is bound to come up, no matter how resolutely so many people in the sci-fi/fantasy community try to fence it off as inconsequential or excusable because like a major bank, or Cthulhu, Lovecraft's just too big to fail.

    As for Lovecraft's value as an author and inspiration, it's nice that Lovecraft brought you to Klarkash-Ton and Ambrose Bierce, but Harlan Ellison was the one who pointed the way for me. And regardless of Lovecraft anybody interested in the roots of fantasy is bound to encounter Dunsany. And the same goes for Chambers, except the genre is horror.

    And what gives you the idea that if not for Lovecraft, Howard would not have produced Conan? Their correspondence didn't even start until something like 5 or 6 years after Howard was first published. Howard said writing the Conan stories was like he was relating events told by somebody standing just behind his shoulder. Are you trying to say that that somebody was Lovecraft?

    The no Elric claim seems even more far fetched. Given that our esteemed host has said Elric, at least in the early stories, was in some sense himself, I imagine Elric was bound to come out no matter the existence or not of Conan and his gigantic melancholies.

    Finally, about that "If you don't like it, don't read it." This is the "America, love it or leave it" of this thread. It's as if any criticism must mean wholesale rejection.
    Last edited by Heresiologist; 11-06-2014, 09:59 AM.

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    • Speaking of Howard, I was at the local used book shop yeaterday where I found a volume titled t"The Hawks of Outremer" by Howard.

      More later......

      Xenophobia and racial hate were quite common in Lovecraft's time. And don't cry kiddies, they still are. Down at the bottom of society,everything is about race and ethnicity.

      Criminal gangs are ethnic. For one thing, it keeps police agents out. For another, it provides identity for people who have little else.

      Where do you think the Nazis came from? From pseudoscience and pure trashy spite. They were taught that Jews were less than human. That was handy when getting them out of the way was popular. This goes back a long way, Jews in Germany still sing hymns that mourn the deaths of victims of a pogrom in the 1200's-the Jewish Quarter was sacked to provide money for the Crusaders.

      (ever hear ''Goosey, goosey gander, whither do you wander? That refers to mobs following a goose into the homes of the Jews to rob and kill them.)

      This always lurks just under the surface. A n****r is an African American who just left the room. Ever hear, "There'll always be an England, gimmie a WOG to fry!'', or the European corwds that chanted ''Jews to the ovens!'' during the first oil embargo?

      It does not matter a diddly-damn if HPL was a racist(and he was), his many flaws as a writer are overshadowed by his great success in conjuring up a mood of gloom and dread.

      It's raining, so I'll drop this zozola brick-HPL was on the skids, in the sixties/seventies. A few like me kept the balefire burning-indeed, there were a very few. Gahan Wilson used to reference the Mythos in 'Playboy', most were mystified.

      Then came the Games. And a force of evil was needed. Thus did ol' calimari puss rise again to vex us. Nondenominational, multi-ethnic fictional
      Cthulhu, just the entetiy for the job!

      That guy Harms has a lot to answer for!

      Because it's all fiction....really. Yes, Master, I'm coming! Don't put me back in the Brain Cylinder again, please.....Ia,Ia!

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      • All this has me going to me Kindle for some HPL...to be honest, I've really given most horror a wide-berth cause I can get freaked out pretty easily by it.
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        • Heririsologist: Alan Moore has spent the last year studying Lovecraft meticulously along with Melinda Gebbie and reckons he knows more about the man than anyone else on earth, he's the one who suggested he mellowed with age.


          And please don't start a post with "first off", makes you look like an asshole. So you know more about the timelines than me and I made an assumption, my opinion has not changed. Moralizing about a long-dead author is just blowing off steam and comes across pathetic to me and many others who live in the real wold where prejudice is a nasty but true fact of life. The man died in 1937, get over it.
          Last edited by Octo Seven; 11-06-2014, 03:58 PM.

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          • Also, why do you guys give ERB a pass while demonizing lovecraft? Is his racism OK to you because it's not anti-Semitic? Some of his stories were extremely misogynistic too, Tarzan and the Ant Men is an example.

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            • Here's one for you Cthulhu/Harry Potter folks. Actress Emma Watson, who played Hermione, is attending Brown University in Providence, which was Lovecraft's model for Miskatonic University. I think that's kinda fun.

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              • Originally posted by Octo Seven View Post
                Heririsologist: Alan Moore has spent the last year studying Lovecraft meticulously along with Melinda Gebbie and reckons he knows more about the man than anyone else on earth, he's the one who suggested he mellowed with age.


                And please don't start a post with "first off", makes you look like an asshole. So you know more about the timelines than me and I made an assumption, my opinion has not changed. Moralizing about a long-dead author is just blowing off steam and comes across pathetic to me and many others who live in the real wold where prejudice is a nasty but true fact of life. The man died in 1937, get over it.
                ST Joshi has spent a few decades studying Lovecraft and written more than a half a dozen books on the man. And Sonia Greene, unlike Joshi, Moore or Gebbie, lived with Lovecraft.

                And where have I moralized about Lovecraft? Or does saying that I think he was an egregious racist somehow amount to moralizing?

                Between the two of us, the only one moralizing has been you. You're also the only one slinging mud.

                As for the real world, I live in a place where it's okay to like things that are problematic, or have problematic elements in them, and to discuss them. Apparently, you do not.
                Last edited by Heresiologist; 11-06-2014, 05:40 PM.

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                • Pace,pace, Mio Dio!

                  Lovecraft has been dead a LONG time,his faults died with him.

                  Dan Simmons has written sme of the best horror fiction in the English language. I wouldn't pee on the guy out of respect for my urine, his politics make Sarah the Impalin look like Mother Theresa. He banned me from his forum for disagreeing with his crazed, far right gibblings.

                  But, oh, my, can he write! I'll even buy his books-but he can go to Hell, for all I care.

                  We can easily ignore his opinions, and pick apart his prose.

                  His characters are wooden, the dialog stilted and lifeless. The Great Old Ones, Elder Gods and Elder Things get confused. His protags are whinging, cringing losers. Many of his plots are lifted(Herbert West is Frankenstein, "Out of the Aeons" is The Mummy...)

                  But for them wots like me, and likes things squamous and rugose under a gibbous moon, there is no substitute. Make mine eldrich.

                  Lovecraft uses the past, which is scary(why, I don't know, it's the future that kills you), and claustrophobia from strange settings and menacing people, to induce the fear of being alone in a hostile environment. Children in my generation knew this well-get a few blocks from home, and a beating was always possible. Anyone caught alone was fair game. I remember going to the movies in York PA(a VERY rough place, back then)and coming out into the night where crowds of ruffians waited to assault, rob or worse.

                  I also remember the numbers of horribly def0rmed people who lived there. Industrial city, lots of strange chemicals and heavy metals, retardation was commonplace.

                  No, I can see Lovecraft's sad point of view-having both parents in the loon room must have chafed, too. He was wrong, but let us not suffer from what Diana Gabaldon calls 'presentism', judging the actions in the past by today's standards.

                  Learn from them, yes. Condemn, no. Just try not t repeat them. .

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                  • Octo, to be fair, Heresiologist has been consistent about HPL, ERB and Howard and has given no one a pass. I've already said my piece on this a couple of times, but the fact is I don't read much HPL. I'd rather keep a fond childhood memory intact than spoil it altogether. Sadly, whenever I start reading him, I end up laughing. I know a lot of people like him but he's not for me.

                    Now, ERB I can talk about but my patience with his racialism expired when I was asked to believe that America staying out of WWI would lead to black people enslaving the primitive remnants of white Europe. His best written books were his earliest, I think.

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                    • RAH played the same card in "Farnam's Freehold". Keeping the n*****s down was very important in the XX Century.

                      But what the Hell has this got to do with the writings of HPL?

                      Lovecraft cast minorities as minions of Cthulhu. In that time, they were disadvantaged and despised(the more things change, the more they stay the same).

                      Paleo Mayombe voodoo is one of the most dangerous cults around. You can't make its adherants all WASPs. And there are stories there.

                      Damn all PC! Let's tell the stories!

                      I've heard many things said about Kenny G-that his work lacks merit.

                      It sure sounds good to me.

                      Now,back to Radio Cthulhu!

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                      • If Alan Moore says something about Lovecraft I would trust him. I wholeheartedly mean it.

                        At the end of his life nobody knew what Lovecraft really thought at the gist of his conscience. But then Heresiologist has a also a valid point on saying that we should be able to discuss the problems on an author.


                        I would not trust an ex partner for opinions to be honest.
                        Last edited by zlogdan; 11-06-2014, 11:55 PM.
                        "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
                        "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

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                        • Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
                          Originally posted by Octo Seven View Post
                          Heririsologist: Alan Moore has spent the last year studying Lovecraft meticulously along with Melinda Gebbie and reckons he knows more about the man than anyone else on earth, he's the one who suggested he mellowed with age.


                          And please don't start a post with "first off", makes you look like an asshole. So you know more about the timelines than me and I made an assumption, my opinion has not changed. Moralizing about a long-dead author is just blowing off steam and comes across pathetic to me and many others who live in the real wold where prejudice is a nasty but true fact of life. The man died in 1937, get over it.
                          ST Joshi has spent a few decades studying Lovecraft and written more than a half a dozen books on the man. And Sonia Greene, unlike Joshi, Moore or Gebbie, lived with Lovecraft.

                          And where have I moralized about Lovecraft? Or does saying that I think he was an egregious racist somehow amount to moralizing?

                          Between the two of us, the only one moralizing has been you. You're also the only one slinging mud.

                          As for the real world, I live in a place where it's okay to like things that are problematic, or have problematic elements in them, and to discuss them. Apparently, you do not.

                          I don't care. Simple fact is Lovecraft is one of the most influential authors of the 20th century and although racism was an unfortunate aspect of his personality it does not take away from his legacy or my enjoyment of his work. Stating he was racit is fine but it's stating the obvious and not helping anyone. Do you think someone is going to pick up Call of Cthulhui in 2014 and suddenly declare themselves a fascist? Do you believe you are a warrior for equality and social justice by talking down on a man who died 75 years ago? Well I'm not convinced. Your kind of attitude is what gets books banned.

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                          • So far, in all this furious debate, how little we have said about the work itself.

                            Lovecraft was seminal-he began a whole new way of looking at horror fiction.

                            In the end, all fiction is subject to the reductio ad absurdum. A measure of an author is what he can get you to believe and care about.

                            Stephen King-everyone despises him because he made a lot of money-gets by with some truly loony stuff. In ''Wolves of the Calla'' we get an attack on a farming community by horse mounted robots. They are opposed and defeated by farmers and a secret society of women who throw pottery. This is a lot like the Seven Samurai on LSD.

                            Lovecraft sounds the call of Cthulhu The whole, sprawling tale is resolved by a piece of paper lining a drawer.

                            Bull-jive, squared and cubed, but you buy it.

                            Read a Jerry Cornelius yarn-doesn't make a lick of sense, and yet, it's so much fun to read. Pynchon likewise.

                            So let's ask ourselves why Lovecraft has endured, and not if he was at heart, a busted burgeois, bitterly blaming the n*****s for his family's fall in the world.

                            Gee, I think I hear the muted strains of 'Dixie', far away...anybody else getting a similar idea? Is that a seque into the "Horst Wessel''?

                            What do you think?

                            And King gets you to buy it.

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                            • Chill folks!

                              It has been an interesting debate so far but one or two of the above posts have started to get a little "I'm better than you", which will mean an end to it should that vibe continue.

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                              • Originally posted by Heresiologist
                                He praised Hitler
                                Well, lots of people (Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mackenzie King, etc) were praising Adolf Hitler and/or Benito Mussolini at the time. And a lot of people lived long enough to say "hey, didn't mean a word of it", but Lovecraft died in 1937. For that matter, George Orwell and HG Wells are often accused of racist/antisemitic things. Seth McFarlane was accused of all sorts of awful things after he hosted the Academy Awards. (And while it could be reasonably argued that he is moderately to extremely dickish, the possibility exists that he is not in fact the reincarnation of Josef Mengele, or whatever.) A lot of people say a lot of things. For example, some guy once said, "Give me six pages a man has written, and I will therein find something to hang him." Or something like that, I could probably find the exact quote it anyone really wants it.
                                The Ralph Retort

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