H. P. Lovecraft
Novelist and Racialist
SINCE his death at the early age of 46 in 1937 the American fantasist H. P. Lovecraft, author of The Call of Cthulhu, The Colour Out of Space and At the Mountains of Madness, has grown in stature to be hailed by many as a second Edgar Allan Poe and one of the major American writers of the 1920s. Most of his short stories, novels and poems are constantly in print, while four volumes of his letters have in recent years been published in the United States (Arkham House, Sauk City, Wisconsin). These reveal him to have been one of the most perceptive and abrasively outspoken commentators of his times.
The celebrated British philosopher, Colin Wilson wrote of Lovecraft in The Order of Assassins (Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1972): “The underlying spirit of Lovecraft (is) the revolt against civilisation, the feeling that the material success by which the modern world justifies itself is the shallowest of all standards; like Nietzsche, he felt that democracy is the rise of botchers and bunglers and mediocrities against the superior type of man.”
It might be added that Lovecraft’s conception of the “superior type of man” was not based upon class or wealth (he despised commercialism in its every form and in later years came to despise Capitalism and its materialistic values with as much ferocity as he despised Marxism and its materialistic values). Lovecraft’s view was basically that of the racial nationalist.
Although a life-long Anglophile he opposed the First World War, basically because it was a brother’s war. As he explained:
‘That the maintenance of civilisation today rests with that magnificent Teutonic stock which is represented alike by the two hotly contending rivals, England and Germany... is as undeniably true as it is vigorously disputed. The Teuton is the summit of evolution. That we may consider intelligently his place in history we must cast aside the popular nomenclature which would confuse the names “Teuton” and “German,” and view him not nationally but racially. Tracing the career of the Teuton through medieval and modern history, we can find no possible excuse for denying his actual biological supremacy. In widely separated localities and under widely diverse conditions, his innate racial qualities have raised him to preeminence. There is no branch of modern civilisation that is not his making.’
From this it is clear that Lovecraft had a realistic appreciation of the overriding importance of race. Although he seems to have always felt this instinctively, his views were hardened by several years spent in New York in the 1920’s where, for Lovecraft. the race problem assumed “its most hideous form as loathsome Asiatic hordes trail their dirty carcasses over streets where white men once moved, and air their odious presence and twisted visage and stunted forms till we shall be driven either to murder them or emigrate ourselves... It is not good for a proud, light-skinned Nordic to be cast away alone amongst squat, squint-eyed jabberers with coarse ways and alien emotions whom his deepest cell tissue hates and loathes as the mammal hates and loathes the reptile, with an instinct as old as history.” The strength of Lovecraft’s feelings were rarely far from the surface when he wrote of the race issue, as when he had this to say about New York: “The city is befouled and accursed – I come away from it with a sense of having been tainted by contact, and long for some solvent of oblivion to wash it out! How in Heaven’s name sensitive and self respecting white men can continue to live in the stew of Asiatic filth which the region has become – with marks and reminders of the locust-plague on every hand – is absolutely beyond me.”
So far as Lovecraft was concerned “race prejudice is a gift of nature, intended to preserve in purity the various divisions of mankind which the ages have evolved.” Nor was he concerned solely because the coloured races were necessarily inferior. “Now the trickiest catch in the Negro problem is the fact that it is really twofold. The Black is vastly inferior. There can be no question of this among contemporary and unsentimental biologists... But, it is also a fact that there would be a very grave and very legitimate problem even if the Negro were the White man’s equal.”
Contemporary America made Lovecraft despair. “In general, America has made a fine mess of its population,” he noted, adding prophetically, “and will pay for it in tears amidst a premature rottenness unless something is done extremely soon... In excluding the swarms of Mediterranean and Asiatic virmin (sic) that now ooze and creep over all the landscape we could have avoided most of that very sense of intolerable repulsion which a foreign name now creates in us... In nations, as in society, congeniality is the all-important principle.”
Lovecraft, though, was not always even so tactful as this. “Of course,” he once wrote bitterly, “they can’t let Niggers use the beach at a Southern resort – can you imagine sensitive persons bathing near a pack of greasy chimpanzees? The only thing that makes life endurable where Blacks abound is the Jim Crow principle, and I wish they’d apply it in New York both to Niggers and to the more Asiatic types of puffy, rat-faced Jews”!
Lovecraft’s anti-semitism, it should be noted, was not based upon a well-researched knowledge of the part played by certain wealthy Jewish financiers, but on plain physical repugnance. The limitation, therefore, of his appreciation of what motivates Zionism, which he never mentions, is considerable. In his view “the mass of contemporary Jews” were “hopeless so far as America” was concerned because they were the “product of alien blood, and inherit alien ideals, impulses, and emotions which forever preclude the possibility of wholesale assimilation... The fact is, that an Asiatic stock broken and dragged through the dirt for untold centuries cannot possibly meet a Nordic race on an emotional parity.” So far as he was concerned “on our side there is a shuddering physical repugnance to most Semitic types, and when we try to be tolerant we are merely blind or hypocritical. Two elements so discordant can never build one society – no feeling of real linkage can exist where so vast a disparity of ancestral memories is concerned – so that wherever the Wandering Jew wanders, he will have to content himself with his own society till he disappears or is killed off in some sudden outburst of physical loathing on our part.”
Lovecraft, though normally intensely serious when discussing the race issue, did now and again allow a somewhat harsh sense of humour to creep through, as in the following poem:
When, long ago, the gods created Earth,
Lovecraft, though often too emotionally involved in the subject, was fundamentally a White supremacist, who had no doubts whatsoever of the rightful preeminence of the White race. “Science,” he wrote, “shows us the infinite superiority of the Teutonic Aryan over all others, and it therefore comes to us to see his ascendancy shall remain undisputed. Any racial mixture can but lower the result. The Teutonic race, whether in Scandinavia, other parts of the continent, England, or America, is the cream of humanity.”
How he would have viewed the suicidal swing towards multi-racialism now being compelled upon the “cream of humanity” should not be difficult for anyone to imagine. Not only was Lovecraft an outstanding exponent of the particular literary genre which he made his own, he was also, importantly, a staunch racialist who despised and abhorred the liberalising degeneracy which now imperils the future survival of our race.
From New Nation, No. 4 (Autumn 1983) pp. 20-21. Note: Lovecraft was briefly married to a Jewess, Sonia Haft Greene.