The OF Blog: Interesting article on the need to replace Lovecraft as a "figurehead" for SF/F

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Interesting article on the need to replace Lovecraft as a "figurehead" for SF/F

Daniel José Older penned this piece earlier this week for The Guardian that touches upon the still-raw nerve of having H.P. Lovecraft (who, among other things, was known for his virulent racism, a prejudice that went beyond even the now-awful standards of the early 20th century US).  Although I agree with most of Older's points, I do wonder if his main arguments are weakened somewhat by trying to argue in an almost throwaway fashion the point of Lovecraft's writing style vis-à-vis Octavia Butler.  Perhaps others have more detailed thoughts on this and other issues raised in this article?


Foxessa said...

Have you seen this on the NY Review of Books?

Love, C-F

Larry Nolen said...

No, I hadn't seen that until now. I think that piece gets at the heart of what appeals/repels readers from Lovecraft. I don't think much of his technical abilities, but in an odd way, his deficiencies as a prose writer seem to accentuate the off-kilter nature of his best tales. I think it's that sense of things, including the very language of the narratives, being off-center, skewed and tilted to make readers concentrate on whatever mental images come to mind, that makes his works memorable to many today.

Doesn't excuse his topic material or worldview, of course, but one thing often left unstated in debates on him is that it may be that it is this horrid racist, misogynistic worldview expressed in prose that contributes to the reader's unease after completing many of his tales. It certainly had that effect on me. I don't claim to have "enjoyed" reading the Library of America edition of his better-known stories, but I certainly wasn't left feeling apathetic about them, either.

Thanks for the link, as that article was thought-provoking.

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