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In a letter of January 23, 1920, Lovecraft wrote:
|“||For evolved man — the apex of organic progress on the Earth — what branch of reflection is more fitting than that which occupies only his higher and exclusively human faculties? The primal savage or ape merely looks about his native forest to find a mate; the exalted Aryan should lift his eyes to the worlds of space and consider his relation to infinity!!!!||”|
In "Herbert West–Reanimator", Lovecraft gives an account of a just-deceased African-American male. He asserts:
|“||He was a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms that I could not help calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon. The body must have looked even worse in life — but the world holds many ugly things.||”|
In "The Horror at Red Hook", one character is described as "an Arab with a hatefully negroid mouth". In "Medusa's Coil", ghostwritten by Lovecraft for Zealia Bishop, the story's final surprise—after the revelation that the story's villain is a vampiric medusa—is that she
|“||was faintly, subtly, yet to the eyes of genius unmistakably the scion of Zimbabwe's most primal grovellers.... [T]hough in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a negress.||”|
In "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", this is a description of an African — New English couple: "The present negro inhabitants were known to him, and he was very courteously shewn about the interior by old Asa and his stout wife Hannah." In contrast to their apparently alien landlord: "a small rodent-featured person with a guttural accent"
In the short story "The Rats in the Walls", one of the narrator/protagonist's nine cats is named "Nigger-Man", after Lovecraft's own cat.
|“||As I have said, I moved in on July 16, 1923. My household consisted of seven servants and nine cats, of which latter species I am particularly fond. My eldest cat, "Nigger-Man", was seven years old and had come with me from my home in Bolton, Massachusetts ...||”|
The narrators in "The Street", "Herbert West: Reanimator", "He", "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", "The Horror at Red Hook", and many other tales express sentiments which could be considered hostile towards Jews. Lovecraft married a woman of Ukrainian Jewish ancestry, Sonia Greene, who later said she had to repeatedly remind Lovecraft of her background when he made anti-Semitic remarks. "Whenever we found ourselves in the racially mixed crowds which characterize New York", Greene wrote after her divorce from Lovecraft, "Howard would become livid with rage. He seemed almost to lose his mind."
Risks of a scientific eraUredi
At the turn of the 20th century, man's increased reliance upon science was both opening new worlds and solidifying the manners by which he could understand them. Lovecraft portrays this potential for a growing gap of man's understanding of the universe as a potential for horror. Most notably in "The Colour Out of Space", the inability of science to comprehend a contaminated meteorite leads to horror.
In a letter to James F. Morton in 1923, Lovecraft specifically points to Einstein's theory on relativity as throwing the world into chaos and making the cosmos a jest. And in a 1929 letter to Woodburn Harris, he speculates that technological comforts risk the collapse of science. Indeed, at a time when men viewed science as limitless and powerful, Lovecraft imagined alternative potential and fearful outcomes. In "The Call of Cthulhu", Lovecraft's characters encounter architecture which is "abnormal, non-Euclidian, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours". Non-Euclidean geometry is the mathematical language and background of Einstein's general theory of relativity, and Lovecraft will reference it again and again in exploring alien archeology.
Misotheism is a recurrent theme in Lovecraft fiction. Many of Lovecraft's works are directly or indirectly adversarial to the belief in a loving, protective God; Lovecraft's works are ruled by several distinct pantheons of deities who are either indifferent or actively hostile to humanity. Several, particularly those of the Cthulhu Mythos, indulge upon alternate human origins in contrast to those found in Genesis and creation stories of other religions. Protagonist characters are often educated men who favor the claims of the physical sciences over those of scripture. Herbert West—Reanimator, reflects on the atheism common within academic circles. Also in Through the Gates of the Silver Key the character Randolph Carter attempts after losing access to dreams to seek solace in religion, specifically Congregationalism, but doesn't and ultimately loses faith.
In 1932, Lovecraft wrote in a letter to Robert E. Howard: "All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or an eternal survival of personality exist. They are the most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses which can be made about the universe, and I am not enough of a hair-splitter to pretend that I don't regard them as arrant and negligible moonshine. In theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of radical evidence I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist. "
- See letter to J. Vernon Shea, September 25, 1933, No. 648, Selected Letters IV, Arkham House.
- H. P. Lovecraft, "Herbert West — Reanimator", Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, p. 146.
- H. P. Lovecraft, "The Horror at Red Hook", Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, p. 258.
- "Medusa's Coil", Zealia Bishop with H. P. Lovecraft, The Horror in the Museum, p, 200.
- Joshi, p. 35.
- "The Rats in the Walls", H. P. Lovecraft, "Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre", p, 8.
- Quoted in Lovecraft, Carter, p. 45.
- Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", p. 151.
- H.P. Lovecraft Letter to Robert E. Howard (August 16, 1932), in Selected Letters 1932-1934 (Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1976), p.57.