Monday, February 15, 2016
Light a Candle on French Hill: The Platypus Reads Part CCXCI
H.P. Lovecraft was noted for his racist antipathy for the Quebecois, Irish, and Italian immigrants that flooded into a depopulated New England in the early 20th century. These people, my great-grandparents, form a constant backdrop to the anglo-patrician Lovecraft's tales of horror and degeneration. In one of his final stories, however, as the author slowly succumbed to untreated colon cancer in his mid-forties, he seems to have attempted a final rapprochement with my ancestors who would inherit his beloved New England. The Haunter of the Dark presents the New England Patrician Robert Harrison Blake as powerless in the face of an avatar of the dreaded Nyarlathotep. It is the Irish and Italian immigrants who in the end have both the courage and the knowledge to restrain the creature. In the final scene of the tale, they surround the desecrated church where the Haunter in Darkness lurks with a wall of candles that can be seen clear across town as the anglo Blake dies in horror. For a scion of Irish, Italian, and Quebecois immigrants like me, it is a fitting end. Most of the old guard has withered or departed, but we are keeping the candles lit. We too are New Englanders.