As most of you know, we talk about all things Lovecraft every Sunday at 6:00pm Eastern time (5pm Central, 3pm Pacific). This past Sunday we discussed the recent petition to remove H.P. Lovecraft as the face of the World Fantasy Award.
You can watch the show below. I appreciate being able to calmly discuss a sensitive issue like this. Thanks to Joe Pulver, Livia Llewellyn, Rick Lai, Pete Rawlik, Matthew Carpenter, and William Holloway for being on the panel.
Watch the Lovecraft eZine Show LIVE every Sunday, at 6:00pm ET, at this link.
While we’re at it, we should be sure to remove all of Mark Twain’s works from all the schools. Or maybe we should just accept these things with maturity and grace?
Pete Rawlik’s comments should put to rest this whole issue. Hmm maybe we should just not give out awards. Sliding over into the mystery genre we should rescind the Edgar award because of Poe’s racial views. The Howard is named for HPL not for his biases but for his influence on writers embracing a broad number of areas.
It is true, Lovecraft liked to fiddle with stereotypes like a deck of Yugioh cards. What else do you expect from a man born into white American in 1890 who was also obsessed with the implications of Darwinism? All of us are products of our time, place and indoctrinations. Lovecraft’s more enlightened side showed up late in life, take his November 22 1934 letter to Mrs. Wooley as proof:
“It is not that one race is any better than any other, but that their whole respective heritages are so antipodal as to make harmonious adjustment impossible.”
“As a matter of fact, most of the psychological race-differences which strike us so prominently are cultural rather than biological.”
“…the Nazis persist in acting on a false biological conception.”
(Selected Letters volume V. p.78-79)
Still, if they do drop Lovecraft’s image, they may lose more than they know. He may not be the most representative or iconic fantasy writer, but he is certainly the most representative and iconic fantasy fan. Who has loved the field better than he? He elevated it by showing us that it could be high art. He broadened it with self-parodies and in-jokes. His letter-writing forged it into an all-inclusive community of professionals, amateurs and enthusiastic laymen. The face of Lovecraft is the face of fan history, fan culture and fan religion. And that is something the awards people will find very hard to replace.
I’m in the camp that says the award should be changed to something else. If I put myself in the shoes of an African American writer I would not want to put a bust of HPL on my mantle even if I admired his writing for other reasons, no more than I would put a Confederate flag on my mantle.