Thursday, October 01, 2009

Was Lovecraft "Providence"?

Lovecraft's crisis in New York made him declare, "I am Providence". Indeed, Providence seemed to permeate through his pores, but what Providence?

In the 1920's, he rarely was able to come to terms with the politics and sociology of what Providence was becoming. In a sense, he was Providence of an earlier era, an imagined era, a Providence through very special and eclectic set of glasses.

Much as a promoter or Convention Center promotes a community in the best light, Lovecraft painted elements of Providence in a very unique way. Others living in Providence might not have noticed the Providence of Lovecraft. Over many posts, Chrispy has shown early 20th century Providence Italian families, factories, commercial areas, newspaper ads, and more. Providence's population exploded between 1900 and 1930. Imigrants and others swarmed into Providence, but Lovecraft didn't come into great contact. He didn't go to Burlesque. He walked at night thus avoiding much of the hoi poloi.

No, Providence wasn't New York, but in a real sense it was becoming a little New York. Only it was easier to avoid this traumatic change living in isolated College Hill.

In The Italian-American Vote in Providence, Rhode Island, 1916-1948 by
Stefano Luconi, we see, "Rhode Island distinguished itself as an example of political atavism, clinging to an archaic system that muted the public voice of many citizens. State property qualifications denied the vote to poor and working-class immigrants in all elections until 1888 and in city council contests until 1930." Lovecraft blanched at the Italians, but "The voters also maintained a strong devotion to their homeland, as Democrats discovered in 1920 when Italian Americans sided overwhelmingly with the GOP, expressing their contempt for Woodrow Wilson’s refusal to accede to Italy’s demands at the Versailles Conference. Though most commentators have viewed Rhode Island’s Italians as predominantly Republican before the 1930s, Luconi found that from 1916-1930 the majority of Italian voters probably supported the Democratic ticket. Neither party could take the Italians for granted, however, as the ethnic group paid close attention to what each party was doing for it in terms of jobs and policies."

The Italian conclave was mostly located in Federal Hill, but this is as much "Providence" as other areas of Providence. It was not the preferred Provdence of Lovecraft, and his encounters through direct and indirect methods braced his own political and ideological opinions more often than not.

This blog has numerous details of population and "settings in ligfe" to be able to contrast and compare to Lovecraft's world. Please take a few moments sometime and search for an area your interested in.

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