Links: 09/19/14

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.
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September 19, 2014

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6 Comments

  1. J. B. Whelan

    Joshi writes with all the fervor of an undergrad who has discovered Abbie Hoffmann but who has yet to discover sobirety.

  2. Chad Saxelid

    I think a Richard Matheson bust would be a superb replacement for the Lovecraft. But that’s just me. Also, S. T. Joshi is a tiresome bore that seems to have graduated from the Rex Reed School of Criticism.

  3. Veronica Schanoes

    I found this Joshi screed not up to his usual standards–he seems to have descended into schoolyard taunts–“nyah, nyah, you’re a stoopyhead” is an unimpressive bit of argumentation no matter how many syllables you dress it up with. I’m also genuinely confused about why he is claiming that Lovecraft never advocated genocide. Coincidentally, I’m reading his biography of Lovecraft, and ran across this bit of charming inkspell that Joshi himself quotes, from HPL describing his first visit to my hometown, the city so nice they named it twice:

    “but damn me if I ever saw anything like the sprawling sty-atmosphere of NY’s Lower East Side. We walked–at my suggestion–in the middle of the street, for contact with the heterogeneous sidewalk denizens, spilled out of their bulging brick kennels as if by a spawning beyond the capacity of the places, was not by any means to be sought. At times, though, we struck peculiarly deserted areas–these swine have instinctive swarming movements, no doubt, which no ordinary biologist can fathom. Gawd knows what they are…a bastard mess of stewing mongrel flesh without intellect, repellant to eye, nose, and imagination–would to heaven a kindly gust of cyanogen could asphyxiate the whole gigantic abortion, and clean out the place.” [italics added by me]

    Joshi, in his infinite wisdom, seems to think that HPL is talking about Chinatown (he indicates this on the following page), but Chinatown as we know it today was more or less non-existent in the early 1920s, thanks to the 1888 and 1889 Chinese Exclusion Acts. At most, New Yorkers of Chinese descent occupied a few blocks. The Lower East Side was, at that time, the home of my ancestors (literally–my great-grandparents were there)–what it was teeming with was Jews. Italians, too. HPL knew this–in another passage he refers to the “Dago and Jew of the lower East Side” being curious animals.

    So what we have here is HPL wishing someone would come along and gas all the Jews.

    Now, maybe I’m being oversensitive–I can’t imagine why any Jew would be oversensitive about genocide of our people by gas, but anything is possible–but this does indeed seem like HPL is advocating genocide, and Joshi knows it, so what the fuck is he dicking around like this for?

    As to Nesbit, this is part of Joshi’s attempt at sleigh of hand, where he thinks “let’s not honor a virulent, hateful, bileful racist” is the equivalent of “someone must be politically perfect in order to deserve honor.” This equation always makes me sad. If “not a virulent, hateful, bileful racist” seems so out of reach to him that it might as well be the same thing as “perfect,” I am sorry for him and for all those with whom he comes into contact. Nesbit may have been opposed to women’s suffrage, but reams of her writing are not devoted to how vilely disgusting women are and wouldn’t it be nice if they were all killed.

    Joshi claims that it is we leftists who are puritans, but it is he who can seem to think only in a binary, with no intervening shades of gray.

    Why the swipe at Diana Wynne Jones, I can’t imagine–just that Nnedi Okorafor happens to like her, I guess. I think that once 50 or 60 more years have passed, we will find that DWJ is just as influential as Nesbit, and considerably more so than Lovecraft.

    In conclusion, what a stoopyhead.

  4. DonnaL

    @Veronica Schanoes:

    But he married a Jewish woman! That means he can’t have hated Jews, right? Or so the argument goes.

  5. HelenS

    It was Nesbit’s husband who was opposed to woman suffrage. Nesbit herself favored extending the vote to all adults, regardless of sex, but opposed one particular bill for other reasons (it required property qualifications, which as a socialist she was against).

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