Evil Hat posts about Lovecraft. Angers trolls.

I remember reading At the Mountains of Madness a few years back for the first time in over a decade, knowing HP was racist but not remembering anything explicit in that one. Reading Lovecraft go on about the enslaved, dirty, mud-like creatures that revolted against their oppressors, gained their freedom, and destroyed the wondrous civilization that the oppressors had built disabused that notion. Dude writes like a Lost Cause author or one of the Southern Agrarians, except the motherfucker was from New England.

Aspects of his worldbuilding are interesting, but the racism is so deeply encoded in it I’m not sure how successfully one can divorce it.

Its definitely a case by case thing. You can divert or reinterpret the bigotry from the generally acceptable horror-trope xenophobia in Innsmouth for example, but it’s almost impossible to separate in others where he’s attacking “feral foreigners” or “mongoloid races”.

I think the out and out explicit racism is only a few (e.g. Horror at Red Hook), but it’s heavy subtext in a lot of others.

I have used “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” in a class on community, precisely because of its very thinly veiled racism, which gives some insight into a particular type of viewpoint that is all too common still, and because the horror in the story is largely vested in the reveal that the narrator, good New England white boy that he is, is (gasp!) becoming one of THEM!. If it wasn’t so nasty it would almost be hilarious.

As to the writings, while I’ve read all of his stuff, these days I read the stuff that others have written inspired by his world building. Some of the contemporary Lovecraftian stuff is very good, some isn’t, but there is a lot of great writing out there that uses much of what made Lovecraft’s stories work, but does it in a modern, inclusive, and far more convincing (and often terrifying) way.

Yeah, the racism, classism, bigotry, and just plain fear of everyone else in Lovecraft’s work is pretty easy to spot once you know about it. Almost every story is steeped in it. The guy wasn’t subtle.

Still, I enjoy his prose, and it’s easy for me to separate myself from his views on Asians (or “mongoloid races” as he’d put it) because that BS is goofball racism to me now. His outspoken hatred of black people though… Woof.

Read Richard Corben’s great Lovecraftian graphic novel “The Rat God” for more inversion of racism. (The central character is racist against Native Americans, in denial of his own very obvious ancestry.)

I am from the region where Tolkien is from, the Midlands. I wouldn’t under estimate how much of his lore is UK based regional bias rather than racism. EG: The Hobbits are the people of the West Midlands (take a trip to any Village pub in Worcestershire for example and see, they are still the same.) Gondor is the more sophisticated south of England. The scouring of the Shire is the industrial revolution and how our area became known as the Black Country etc. As for Mordor I read it far more as a cultural memory of the hordes from the east EG: Huns, Mongols etc. rather than anything related to other more distant parts of the world. It was still commonplace in Tolkien’s time to refer to Germans as “The Hun”.

In Europe the ghosts of history are always present, we never forget, we just add more ghosts. Its one of the reasons I left.

Keeping in mind the old saying “The English hate foreigners and foreigners begin at the end of the street” is helpful when reading Tolkien.

As for Lovecraft, yeah racist af. I come down on the putting an asterisk next to his work. A great mythos builder BUT* kind of thing. But I can afford to do that, he wasnt racist against people like me after all. I dont blame others for not wanting anything to do with him.

Maybe I am wrong. I will read Lovecraft and trip over blatant racism like a big rock in front of me, in the dark, and say Damn I knew that was there, how did I forget. But I will move on. Because he is long dead. And I grew up on his stories.

OTOH I will no longer read Orson Scott Card because he is still alive and I will not pay him a dime.

Lovecraft is free online. Card is not. Does that make any sense?

When I try to read Lovecraft, it’s usually a race to see whether I’m going to remember why Lovecraft sucks: it’s either going to be something racist or xenophobic, or just really terrible writing mistakes and flaws. It’s a coinflip on which it will be, depending on the story.

Lovecraft: sucks.
Lovecraftian: Love it

This is well stated. I love his writing in spite of all the bullshit. I would have posted something along these lines if you hadn’t already done so, Nick.

We had a QT3 sized argument over this because yes someone on this site was pretty much opposed to calling him the racist that he was.


I remember that thread. It was a good discussion I thought.

Well apart from the one dude losing 100% of his shit declaring that interpreting text wasn’t allowed until enough people just posted enough direct literal racism that he shut up and quit the entire forum.

Which, I mean net win for us there, I guess, so maybe it was a good discussion!

There’s probably a still a few running around with the he wasn’t that racist… for his time umbrella which is total bull.

But hey this company, Evil Hat, is doing exactly as they should. They’re acknowledging the issues with their source material, not hiding it, not softening it, and basically going with the non-racist versions other individuals have been building on for some time now.

I see on their Twitter account there are some mad that they know he was bad and use his stuff anyway, which is a fair criticism really, but he’s dead, and now people who play freely in that space include individuals from all walks of life and origins.

True, but changing the opinions of someone who thinks that way isn’t how I measure a good discussion. I mean its not my job to help racists get better, they are not worth my time I just blank them.

I just enjoyed what you and Nesrie and Nav all had to say among others and I learnt a few things. That’s what I meant. I got a lot out of it.

I also don’t get it.
Haven’t seen many people (or any?!) claiming Lovecraft was not a racist, he just was, as were many others in his time. It was kinda the default back then.
That doesn’t make it better, but it puts it into context.

I guess some are upset because they are addressing it to begin with? Kind of a weak thing to be offended by.
Also, funny how the word “problematic” became in itself problematic. One of those red flags to some.

That’s because you haven’t looked. At all. If you had, you’d have found that his peers- people in his writing circle like Robert E Howard (who’s stories had some pretty damn racist shit, too) were like ‘dude, Howard, tone down the racism’. Do your homework before speaking up with this crap, ok?

On a side note, as I was mentioning (derailing) in the Kickstarter thread just yesterday, peeps should check out Thomas Ligotti as a modern HPL replacement. He writes weird-ass cosmic horror short stories, but as far as I know, never mentions the Mythos or anything. He does the idea and style (the important parts to my mind), but not the trappings.

He said he doesn’t get how people can say he was NOT racist…

Ah, maybe I read it the wrong way. Sorry, Sheeeeep, if so.