Arts & Culture

Anti-Semites I Really Like: H.P. Lovecraft

H.P Lovecraft: Writer of great spooky stories, and a total anti-Semite who we’re going to forgive right here and now. Read More

By / August 22, 2011

My junior high years were spent reading as many Stephen King books as I could get my hands on.  This happened to coincide with the time I picked up on skateboarding and listening to music that was loud and fast.  Metallica’s Ride the Lightning was one of my cassettes of choice, and it was by chance that I realized the song “Call of Ktulu” was based off a story by one of King’s favorite writers, H.P. Lovecraft.  My two worlds collided, and I realized that if both King and James Hetfield liked this Lovecraft guy, I should also.  I devoured as many Lovecraft stories as I could find (and there are plenty of them), but was too young to pick up on his dislike of all races that were not of the Anglo-Saxon sort; and wasn’t committed enough to research his letters and essays that showed a disgust for race mixing, and an admiration for Nazi Germany.  If I had known, it probably would have stopped my interest in the writer dead in its tracks.

H.P. Lovecraft was an old-school American anti-Semite, the type who maybe never met a Jew in his formative years.  His dislike of Jews might not have been a profound hatred, but a lack of understanding.  Obviously this sort of defense reads as my shallow attempt to understand an ugly belief that belonged to a brilliant man, but one piece of evidence overshadows everything: H.P. Lovecraft married a Jewish woman.  He viewed his wife as assimilated enough to marry–but why would a person who is so disgusted by a Jews place a wedding ring on the finger of one?

It’s one of the many questions to ask about Lovecraft.  The man was an analyst’s wet dream, and since this past weekend was the 120th celebration of his birthday, it seemed like the right time to let go of the man’s lesser qualities, and revisit the stories that I loved during my teenage years.