Completely Unliterary Without Realizing It
November 30, 2015
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No one thought I was being too hard on Aliette de Bodard the other day, but if you did… I want to point out that she has only read one Lovecraft story:
See… The only book of his I tried to read was The Shadow over Innsmouth. I was a kid at the time, not very well-versed in messages, and a lot of problematic stuff in fiction sailed right by me. But the entire novel is so clearly based on a deep, abiding horror of mixed-race people as eldritch abominations that I threw the book across the room–and trust me, that isn’t a thing that happened very often.
You know, when this thing with the Lovecraft trophies blew up, I wondered how many people on the bandwagon had even read his work. Given that this is the “skim until offended” crowd, I’m going to go with not very many.
Appendix N author Leigh Brackett provides a welcome glimpse of how the old fandom would have viewed him:
The only time a serious critic paid any attention to the science fiction magazines was in 1930. A famous British essayist of that time, William Balitho (sp) came to New York to write articles for The New York World about the American scene. He was absolutely fascinated by the pulp science fiction magazines and he wrote a beautiful article, on that long ago day, on the pulp science fiction magazines. He was probably the first serious critic to mention Lovecraft’s name. He said Mr. Lovecraft was a lot better than most of the serious novelists that they gave acclaim to. He added that a man who could read Galsworthy about society and Arnold Bennett about marriage and who can’t read these crude little magazines is completely unliterary, without realizing it. And he ended up predicting; he said someday these magazines, or the tattered copies of them that remain, will sell for more money than the first editions of our most famous novelists of today. And that is true.
There you go. The cool kids falling all over themselves to poo poo Lovecraft right now? According to the grandmistress of planetary romance, they are unliterary. (But now that you mention it, there’s also a grossly batrachian aspect to these people. Someone should look into that.)