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Silvia Moreno-Garcia on Lovecraft: Racing and Literature

Silvia Moreno-Garcia comments on the topic raised last week by Nnedi Okorafor, discussing Lovecraftian fiction in general.

Lovecrat was a racist. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has read about him. He was also a knot of contradictions (not only because he married a Jewish woman after railing against Jewish people), which is no excuse, it’s just fact. I won’t even bother with the product-of-his-time thing because he was, and yeah. Lovecraft’s fears about everything (and boy, he had a number of fears) were channeled into his stories, so that it becomes pretty obvious that he didn’t like people who looked like me (“Red Hook” anyone?).

But just because Lovecraft was one way it doesn’t mean we have to be the same way. This is the mantra behind Innsmouth Free Press, where we’ve had a multi-cultural issue(Ekaterina Sedia, Charles R. Saunders and others contributed to it) and now two anthologies (Historical Lovecrat and Future Lovecraft) with writers from more than a dozen countries, some of them translated into English. The latest anthology, for example, has contributors from places like Nigeria, the Philippines and Germany. And the stories and poems are not about polite gentlemen from New England. “Tloque Nahuaque,” translated from the Spanish by me and penned by Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas, puts the Higgs boson debate in a decidedly Mexican context (Tloque Nahuaque refers to a Prehispanic deity).

When Paula R. Stiles and I read slush, we still find a lot of stories that try to emulate Lovecraft by placing the tales in New England, with upper-crust white men as protagonists. During our Historical Lovecraft submissions period we got a big wave of the Victorian white gentleman, which caused me to blog about this and request more stories that veered from that narrow location and era because, hell, who wants to read an anthology called Historical Lovecraft and find out all we are representing is Boston 1880 to 1910? Instead, we managed to obtain some colonial Mexico and a bit of Egypt, among other things.

So what I don’t want to see with this debate is minority writers saying “shucks, I’ll never write a Lovecraft story because he was a racist asshole.” Because Lovecraft does raise interesting points and you can construct a refreshing dialogue by taking his settings, characters, idea or the like, and adapting them to your needs. If we don’t go there and start creating our own stories upon those Lovecraftian shores, nobody else will. – read the full post, with comments.

December 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. I think this is one of the biggest challenges to contemporary writers who seek to write in a tradition inspired by Lovecraft and his era. The view of the ancient world is so firmly routed in colonial thinking that it makes much of it hard to take seriously in a modern context. As a critical exercise, this kind of xenophobia detracts from the power of the writing itself, because one has to wonder what really caused these terrors which Lovecraft sought to channel.

    Fortunately, the modern world has only provided more depth for writers in this tradition to expand upon, and a global awareness can only strengthen the awesome horror of a world truly beyond our collective understanding.

    Comment by T.A. Wardrope | January 3, 2012


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