H. P. Lovecraft: A rabidly racist, almost fascist, deeply repressed, and perfectly lovely person
Despite a number of stylistic and grammatical/syntactical gaffes and oddities that appear in a newly published biographical sketch of dear old Howard Lovecraft at the Website Machinations into Madness — see especially the first sentence quoted below, which is both incomprehensible and strangely fascinating — the piece captures something really vital about the man, or actually several really vital things about him, in just a very few words:
Despite the scarcity of Lovecraft’s work, all those who wanted to retake and expand them saw in his works, in many cases far superior technically to the model, darkened by the bleak and engaging stories of their teacher, who achieved a curious and unrepeatable alchemy.
Puritan, rabidly racist, reactionary and almost fascist, frugal, repressed and convinced to be an English gentleman of the eighteenth century, he was, as unanimously testified by those who knew him, a lovely person. His Puritanism was personal: never censured those around him. His racism was curiously literary; there is no evidence that he had expressed it against anyone in particular. He married a Jew girl, without feeling the slightest rejection. Saved by the testimony of those who knew him, his xenophobia should be taken as rejection and fear of the unknown, the different. Whenever Lovecraft made contact with what he said he despised and hated, he assimilated it smoothly. In his letters was an obnoxious racist, but in person was a friendly and retracted man that greatly enjoyed the company of like-minded people, not caring where they come from. Not that he was paradoxical or contradictory, but insecure. He was a complex man, and in the end of his life slowly ebbed his shell and accepted the world.
. . . . The end of Lovecraft was cruel and premature. In 1936 he began to suffer painful intestinal disorders. A guy like he would rather die than submit to the indignity of a rectal exam, and that was what happened. For when he was diagnosed (by external observation) colon cancer, it was too late for any treatment. He died on March 15, 1937, and only four people attended his funeral. His grave has no headstone, but it has a column that says: “I am Providence”.
It’s not fair to leave HPL like this. It is likely that he preferred an ornate, gloomy description of his tomb, of the moonless dark nights and shadows that creep after his (nonexistent) tombstone. But his work was pleasant and sparked the imagination of many people over decades.
He was a lovely and curious person with a sad life, and every reader who has found pleasure in one of his pages sincerely hopes that in any of these activities previously mentioned he had found deep happiness.