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Author Topic: The 'racist Lovecraft' thread  (Read 54313 times)
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« Reply #60 on: August 26, 2011, 09:50:46 PM »

Genus:--

The Nazis around here commented furiously that he was a gay Freemasonic Zionist, not worthy of the title neo-Nazi, and not even of cutural conservative or right-winger. He seems like another mind-controlled patsy to me, capable of instant stereotyping in a variety of milieux. Whoever "ran" him left too many loose ends, he just covers too broad a territory of potential extremism in his media roll-out. imho.
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« Reply #61 on: September 24, 2011, 09:39:56 AM »

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Hi Ruth, I think I saw some comments by you about the racism in HPL’s work, which is really noticeable in “The Rats In The Walls”. I had an idea: what if someone simply made a “corrected text” version of this story for inclusion in the “Complete Works” with the cat’s offensive name removed and replaced by something like “Blackie” While any of us would hesitate to edit HPL, I think it may be justified in this case. For myself, I hate to have my favorite HPL story tainted by the cat’s name, which I deem inconsequential to the plot. What do you think?

Sorry to revive this thread, but I just got this comment on my complete works post. Methinks this guy hasn't read much Lovecraft if he thinks "Rats" is the worst offender. It's certainly in your face and might be the easiest to fix, but yeah....

My response:

Quote
As a librarian-in-training, I would never put out a text like that. One might as well redact the whole story “The Street,” whose entire premise is racism. One would have to cut out large portions of “The Horror at Red Hook” and probably the Louisiana bits of “Call of Cthulhu.” I don’t mind seeing it done in audio or other adaptations where they’re not doing a straight-up reading but rather a drama, since that changes things anyway, but I’m not going to alter that any more than I’d alter Huck Finn. One just doesn’t do that to books.
  Undecided
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« Reply #62 on: September 24, 2011, 10:15:44 AM »

Combing out all of the offensive words and whatnot in literature would be silly and quite possibly a crime in a certain sense. I'd rather be offended than censor things too much.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2011, 10:17:26 AM by TheMediocreYoungishOne -Tom- » Logged

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« Reply #63 on: September 24, 2011, 01:16:23 PM »

Yeah, but the cat's name is a simple casual reference that CAN be changed without significantly rewriting (or even affecting) the story.  As opposed to trying to excise the underlying subtext from something like Horror At Red Hook.

I find that racist material in old stories gives me a perspective on what that era was like.  It ain't pretty, but I'd rather have the perspective than have the Ministry of truth rewrite the past so it was all PC.
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« Reply #64 on: September 24, 2011, 03:37:32 PM »

Yeah, but the cat's name is a simple casual reference that CAN be changed without significantly rewriting (or even affecting) the story.  As opposed to trying to excise the underlying subtext from something like Horror At Red Hook.

I find that racist material in old stories gives me a perspective on what that era was like.  It ain't pretty, but I'd rather have the perspective than have the Ministry of truth rewrite the past so it was all PC.

You, ms H., are spot on. I could not have said it better myself. Kudos to you Smiley
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« Reply #65 on: September 24, 2011, 04:41:15 PM »

Yeah, but the cat's name is a simple casual reference that CAN be changed without significantly rewriting (or even affecting) the story.  As opposed to trying to excise the underlying subtext from something like Horror At Red Hook.

I find that racist material in old stories gives me a perspective on what that era was like.  It ain't pretty, but I'd rather have the perspective than have the Ministry of truth rewrite the past so it was all PC.

Can you imagine rewriting Red Hook!? But I think it's a slippery slope from Bowdlerizing into ....Tate-izing? (is that a word?) and giving King Lear a happy ending.

....actually, now I'd like to try my hand at rewriting Red Hook to be non-racist. I wonder what it'd even be...
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« Reply #66 on: September 25, 2011, 08:02:36 AM »

I'm against changing the cat Nigger's name to Voodoo, although Harlan Ellison did that very well, while exploring the pent-up rage of a Southerner over the Confederacy's loss and the atrocities the Northerners inflicted upon his family, in the Atlanta Radio Theater/Dragoncon audio thing he did way back when.

Editing out the offensive bits is akin to rewriting history, editing out the nasty parts of the Holocaust, say, to make it safe for consumption by minors, or to serve a political purpose, or both.
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« Reply #67 on: September 25, 2011, 11:26:57 AM »

Yeah, but the cat's name is a simple casual reference that CAN be changed without significantly rewriting (or even affecting) the story.  As opposed to trying to excise the underlying subtext from something like Horror At Red Hook.

I find that racist material in old stories gives me a perspective on what that era was like.  It ain't pretty, but I'd rather have the perspective than have the Ministry of truth rewrite the past so it was all PC.

Can you imagine rewriting Red Hook!? But I think it's a slippery slope from Bowdlerizing into ....Tate-izing? (is that a word?) and giving King Lear a happy ending.

....actually, now I'd like to try my hand at rewriting Red Hook to be non-racist. I wonder what it'd even be...

Maybe I'll do something with it - but not til after i finish Dunwich.
Care to make it a challenge?
LOL
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« Reply #68 on: September 25, 2011, 08:25:48 PM »


Maybe I'll do something with it - but not til after i finish Dunwich.
Care to make it a challenge?
LOL

A dare, perhaps?
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« Reply #69 on: September 26, 2011, 04:43:53 PM »

I think that there is a decent story in Red Hook that if someone with some talent used it as a basis of a story sans-racism, it may work. 

Still, I don't think that the editing of N----- Man's name is necessarily offensive in and of itself.  I think it's more offensive simply because that was the name of HPLs childhood pet, and that is a connection to understanding the man himself. 

It's kinda like editing HuckFinn and replacing N----- with "slave".  It's not offensive that it is a change in language, sometimes some works may need to be updated to modern language or modern mediums.   It's offensive because it's a change in context (N----- is different from 'slave').  I don't know - I'm of two thoughts....
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« Reply #70 on: September 26, 2011, 05:41:52 PM »

I find that racist material in old stories gives me a perspective on what that era was like.  It ain't pretty, but I'd rather have the perspective than have the Ministry of truth rewrite the past so it was all PC.

Yeah, like this summer's blockbuster Captain America.
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« Reply #71 on: September 26, 2011, 05:51:20 PM »

I find that racist material in old stories gives me a perspective on what that era was like.  It ain't pretty, but I'd rather have the perspective than have the Ministry of truth rewrite the past so it was all PC.

Yeah, like this summer's blockbuster Captain America.

Or the dreadful Haunted Mansion movie. 
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« Reply #72 on: April 19, 2012, 05:31:29 PM »

Will you please excuse for picking this thread up again? I am aware that Lovecraft long-timers might find this whole topic annoying and I do, too. But somehow  everyone seems to have to throw his dime or whatever in... So here `s my nickle:
Overlooking all those infamous racist rantings - even more those from a more  private context than the stories - this is in all so over the top and sometimes downright ridiculous, it seems rather a full-grown phopbia than the typical, more casual racism, that was going at that time.
Howie walking some street in New York, I always picture some rather monkish reactions:
"Oh my god! Wipe! Wipe! Did you see that man? He almost touched me! Wipe! What do you mean `no big deal`? Didn `t you see he was Irish?!"
Earnestly, if I knew a person with such an obsession, I would rather ask him to consult a psychiatrist than be mad at him.
Maybe New York would have been the perfect opportunity to do so. And then, after getting over this - and a whole bunch of other personal demons - Lovecraft might have settled on writing about nice things.
Maybe he `d pick up that fairy stuff again...
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« Reply #73 on: April 19, 2012, 05:45:22 PM »

I like to think that if he'd had a little more time to mature in his thinking, he would have eventually dropped the racism and been embarrassed by it. He was a bright guy, and willing to change his mind when evidence started piling up -- his aptitude for science and his changing political views show that. In a 1936 letter -- less than a year before he died -- to Jennie K. Plaiser (I don't know who that is), he says of his changing political affiliations:

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The depression—and its concomitant publicisation of industrial, financial, and governmental problems—jolted me out of my lethargy and led me to reëxamine the facts of history in the light of unsentimental scientific analysis; and it was not long before I realised what an ass I had been. The liberals at whom I used to laugh were the ones who were right—for they were living in the present while I had been living in the past. They had been using science while I had been using romantic antiquarianism.

Given a few more years, he might have followed that train of thought against "romantic antiquarianism" to a rejection of, or at least a loosening of, his old opinions on the inherent virtues of white Western civilization and the racial theories of the day. Open-minded in so many other areas of life, his early extreme conservatism and idolization of 18th-century England seem to me manifestations of that "romantic antiquarianism," and equally seem to be tied up somehow with his racism.
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« Reply #74 on: April 19, 2012, 06:39:50 PM »

Will you please excuse for picking this thread up again? I am aware that Lovecraft long-timers might find this whole topic annoying and I do, too. But somehow  everyone seems to have to throw his dime or whatever in... So here `s my nickle:
Overlooking all those infamous racist rantings - even more those from a more  private context than the stories - this is in all so over the top and sometimes downright ridiculous, it seems rather a full-grown phopbia than the typical, more casual racism, that was going at that time.
Howie walking some street in New York, I always picture some rather monkish reactions:
"Oh my god! Wipe! Wipe! Did you see that man? He almost touched me! Wipe! What do you mean `no big deal`? Didn `t you see he was Irish?!"
Earnestly, if I knew a person with such an obsession, I would rather ask him to consult a psychiatrist than be mad at him.
Maybe New York would have been the perfect opportunity to do so. And then, after getting over this - and a whole bunch of other personal demons - Lovecraft might have settled on writing about nice things.
Maybe he `d pick up that fairy stuff again...

I have to agree with Genus Unknown.  Lovecraft was a smart guy and his ideas definitely evolved as he expanded his circle and became exposed to ideas that differed from his.  I think to often we try to view history through our own modern filters and forget the context in which people before us lived.  Many, but not all, Victorians viewed other races suspiciously and tended to dismiss indigenous and primitive cultures as ignorant and uncivilized at best and dirty pagan devil worshipers at worst.  Lovecraft's views on race are unfortunate, but his attitudes were not exclusive to himself, there was still much rampant racism in the U.S. and elsewhere when he was writing his fiction.  But there are lots of people that similar things can be said.  If I recall, Abraham Lincoln believed in a form of segregation; Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood was a proponent of eugenics; and even Ghandi is reported to have been horribly prejudiced against certain groups.   The racism is unfortunate, and we won't be able to change that.  It would be interesting to see what ideas we hold dear that become "unfortunate" to those that come after us.

I don't have access to his letters and I don't know the extent of his views, but sometimes in his stories I find his racism almost tongue-in-cheek and more of a plot device.  I notice that in most of his stories, the natives are always smart enough to leave well enough alone when it is the white guys that forge ahead.   And in The Medusa Coil, according to HPL, the worst thing about the primary female character is not that she is a hybrid of human and non-human; but that the part of her that is human is also part African American. 
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