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Review of a new anthology of essays on Lovecraft

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#1 red_bus

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:29 AM

In the LARB, which often does some pretty good reviews...

 

https://lareviewofbo...crafts-horrors/




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#2 Ningauble

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 03:23 PM

And here is AncientHistory's review: https://www.amazon.c...ASIN=0816699259



#3 deuce

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 09:31 PM

In the LARB, which often does some pretty good reviews...
 
https://lareviewofbo...crafts-horrors/

 
"His misogyny and racism do not just haunt his tales; they are central to his mythos. "
 
Again with the "misogyny" point-and-shriek.  I've yet to see any particularly good case made for "HPL the Misogynist".  We don't have any hints of that from Sonia Greene and only tortuously-argued implications found in his tales that might hint otherwise. Lavinia Whateley and Asenath Waite were both victims, but so were almost all the males in Lovecraft's stories.  In fact, one could argue that Lavinia and Asenath were victims of the "Patriarchy" first and foremost. They certainly weren't inherently "evil". [
 
Marceline in Medusa's Coil is evil, but the story was plotted (and paid for) by a woman, fer Yog's sake! Was HPL supposed to give Medusa a sex-change against his client's wishes? Wouldn't that be some form of "mansplaining"? Is Keziah Mason such a big deal when HPL provides so many Anglo-Saxon males who are just as bad or worse? Does anyone point out that HPL left Sonia (just one woman) to go back and live with his aunts (two women)?  What a misogynist! Strong females?!? Try to find "strong male" protagonists in Lovecraft's fiction. Some of my examples are meant to be faintly ridiculous, but so are the arguments brought against Lovecraft. So much hand-wringing and pearl-clutching over nothing.  These people are looking for something to fight about.
 
Lovecraft had his problems, but his misogyny, if it existed, seems quite low-grade to me. Of course, according to intersectional feminist metrics, HPL was a "misogynist" simply by virtue of having a Y chromosone.
 
Review-wise, I would expect nothing better out of the University of Wisconsin, which has embraced the lunacy of "Critical Theory" 110%.

#4 red_bus

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 12:27 PM

And here is AncientHistory's review: https://www.amazon.c...ASIN=0816699259

 
Thanks. From both reviews it does sound like a mixed bag of essays. Some quite interesting, some less so. I *might* pick it up.
 

"His misogyny and racism do not just haunt his tales; they are central to his mythos."
 
...


Of course, according to intersectional feminist metrics, HPL was a "misogynist" simply by virtue of having a Y chromosone.
 
Haha! Sorry, I didn't intend for you to get so hot and bothered by this  :)

#5 deuce

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 03:41 PM

Haha! Sorry, I didn't intend for you to get so hot and bothered by this :)


Haha! :D Sperling and her comrades got hot and bothered long before I commented on it, obviously. As I noted, when it comes to HPL and misogyny, there really isn't much to get "hot and bothered" about. They simply want there to be.

Isn't it odd how none of the academic evaluations of, say, Marion Zimmer Bradley (a woman) and Samuel R. Delany (POC) ever examine what influence the two writers' well-documented ties to pedophilia have had on their fiction? Of course, "lurking misogyny" is much more important to hunt down and dissect than pedophilia. That said, one could easily write a book's worth of essays on how pedophilia was somehow encoded in the works of MZB and her social circle. It would certainly be easier than hunting for fugitive hints of HPL's lurking misogyny. :)

#6 Nick Storm

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 05:22 PM

HPL was a powerful writer because he 'wrote what he knew' and he stayed in that realm. Even though he was raised by, and lived with women, he did not attempt to 'know women'. His failed marriage and the surrounding evidence provides enough documentation to arrive at this conclusion. 

 

FAR from Misogyny, which has become such a strong buzzword recently.


'Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911, But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shyte out of them, no more rules. You'll see how primitive they can get' . 


#7 hopfrog

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 07:35 PM

HPL was a powerful writer because he 'wrote what he knew' and he stayed in that realm. Even though he was raised by, and lived with women, he did not attempt to 'know women'. His failed marriage and the surrounding evidence provides enough documentation to arrive at this conclusion.


The more I study Lovecraft's life and letters, the less convinc'd I am that his fail'd marriage had anything to do with an "attitude" toward women but was essentially a result of his inability to gain employment. Too, because of their anti-Semitic racism, his aunts seem to have made it clear that Sonia wou'd not be welcome in Providence. Sonia, from all that I have read, was a remarkable woman, and her treatment by Lovecraft and his family was inexcusably vile.

"I'm a little girl."  --H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.


#8 Nick Storm

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 08:07 PM

Sonia aggressively pursued Howard. She had an agenda - marriage quickly and then molding and changing him into something more appealing to herself. I'm fairly certain that H would have not even formed a relationship with her, let alone marriage without her efforts.

 

Willum, you feel that Howard treated her badly? How so exactly?

 

With advanced apologies to the OP if this is a new or unwelcome thread direction, but does anyone know for certain if Howard obtained or was fully in the process of obtaining a U.S Passport. I'm fairly certain Sonia had one.


Edited by Nick Storm, 06 March 2017 - 10:19 PM.

'Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911, But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shyte out of them, no more rules. You'll see how primitive they can get' . 


#9 hopfrog

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 04:05 PM

Willum, you feel that Howard treated her badly? How so exactly?

 

Mainly, I'm recalling an incident related to me when I was visiting with Munn in his living room. He recalled spending time with HPL, in Providence I believe, when Sonia called to tell Grandpa that she was at the train station and would love him to come see her while she waited for her next train. Harold said that after hanging up the phone, HP said, "I don't think I'll bother." Harold was a bit obsess'd with being a gentleman toward women, and from his expression and tone of voice I could tell he deeply disapproved of Lovecraft's attitude toward his ex-wife. Or was she his ex? Did they ever actually divorce legally? Perhaps "treating her badly" is too extreme and should be "treated her indifferently".


"I'm a little girl."  --H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.


#10 JAM

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 06:44 PM

Again with the "misogyny" point-and-shriek.  I've yet to see any particularly good case made for "HPL the Misogynist".  We don't have any hints of that from Sonia Greene and only tortuously-argued implications found in his tales that might hint otherwise.

 
Did you read his letters? There are more than "furtive hint of misogyny" in some of them...

#11 deuce

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 07:07 PM

Did you read his letters? There are more than "furtive hint of misogyny" in some of them...


1. You just misquoted me.

2. Yes, I've read several collections of HPL's correspondence.

3. I never mentioned HPL's letters in my post, but since you brought them up...

4. You might provide some quotes to back up your assertion -- if you can do so more accurately than you quote me.


Sperling: "His misogyny and racism do not just haunt his tales; they are central to his mythos. "

That was what I commented on and I have yet to see anyone make a convincing case that HPL's "misogyny" was somehow "central to his mythos". That was the topic I addressed. Lovecraft's letters are not "his mythos". His tales make up his mythos, not his correspondence. Has someone tried to make an argument to the contrary?

#12 JAM

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 10:50 AM

I haven't misquoted you. "Fugitive hints of HPL's lurking misogyny" are your own words (although not in the same comment.)

I would provide some quotes by Lovecraft about women as soon I find them.

If you wanted to say that misogyny is not central to the Lovecraft mythos I perfectly agree with you. Nor do I think racism is central to it. But you seemed not only take issue with that, but to deny any trace of sexism in his life as well as in his works ("Again with the "misogyny" point-and-shriek.")

Lovecraft's letters are not "his mythos" of course, but they are part of his work as well as his mythos.
 

Marceline in Medusa's Coil is evil, but the story was plotted (and paid for) by a woman, fer Yog's sake! Was HPL supposed to give Medusa a sex-change against his client's wishes? Wouldn't that be some form of "mansplaining"?


There is no evidence that Marceline was supposed to be evil in the original plot (having some "negro blood" was bad enough :)) Anyway, the problem is not that many of women are "evil" in Lovecraft's fiction, but that the positive ones are practically non-existent.

#13 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 02:53 PM

...With advanced apologies to the OP if this is a new or unwelcome thread direction, but does anyone know for certain if Howard obtained or was fully in the process of obtaining a U.S Passport. I'm fairly certain Sonia had one.

 

Not sure, but Lovecraft did visit Quebec, Canada a couple times, and wrote an exhaustive traveler's guide to the city that is apparently still fairly accurate today.  I don't know about the 1920s/30s, but I'm pretty sure that those trips across the border and back would require a passport today.

 

As for Lovecraft's alleged racism and misogyny, I think it might be more accurate to say that his work is coloured by a more general misanthropy, or, perhaps more accurately, a profound lack of connection to, and appreciation for other people.  He developed some sort of vague fantasy about fitting into some sort of 17th-century society of male, Anlo-Saxon, atheist, asexual, socialist gentleman-scientist-scholar-philosophers, but even those fantasy characters seem to be vague caricatures of humanity that Lovecraft didn't really understand or like, beyond the product of their imaginary work:  like the characters in Lovecraft's other stories, they are little more than part of the scenery, stepping out of the shadows from time to time when some action is needed to advance the plot to the next scene.  One gets the impression that, had Lovecraft actually lived in that fantasy world, he'd have found his gentleman-scholars as contemptible as any other group of people he ever lived among:  Lovecraft seemed to deal better with individuals on an isolated case-by-case basis than he did with masses of people in general.  In any event, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Male type characters in Lovecraft's stories hardly get a more flattering description from Lovecraft than anyone else:  aside from the occasional idealized Lovecraft stand-in, they tend to be unimaginative or hyper-sensitive unreliable narrators who misinterpret, flee, and faint their way through every encounter with the unknown on their good days, when not acting in the role of callous mad scientists and evil wizards or settling into crowded cities and remote backwoods hicktowns to degenerate into sub-human monsters....


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