This week we take a look at what was arguably Lovecraft’s first major story, The Rats in the Walls. As we did with our discussion of The Haunter of the Dark, we try to find ways that it can inform your Call of Cthulhu game, but mostly we get embarrassed about the name of that bloody cat. Unlike our previous discussion, we managed to keep this to a single episode, possibly helped by the fact that we don’t go on about two other stories as well.


There aren’t actually any rats in The Rats in the Walls, but this picture was too cute not to use

We also maintain our tradition of complaining about the temperature in the shed. Well, Paul and Matt do. Scott has the same contempt for cold as he does for heat. Paul has resorted to wearing a woolly hat when we record, and here’s a photograph to help you understand and share our mirth.


At least this way we don’t have to edit the chattering of teeth out of the recording

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5 comments on “The Rats in the Walls

  1. Lovecraft was not the only ones using this controversial name for pets, so may be not unusual to be applied to a black cat for the time,

    So while we can’t excuse HPLs overt racism, I would not dismiss the product of his time aspect in this case.

    • The name of the cat is a minor thing is the scope of Lovecraft’s racism. There is far worse to be found in other stories, such as He, The Horror at Red Hook, Herbert West: Re-Animator, Medusa’s Coil and even The Call of Cthulhu. And once you start digging into his letters, it becomes inescapable that his racial views were extreme even for his time.

      I think we as Lovecraft fans should accept the fact that, when it comes to race, Lovecraft could be a pretty unpleasant person and not to make excuses for him. Enjoying his work doesn’t mean that we share his attitudes, and it’s OK to be critical of the parts that continue to hurt and upset people.

      I wrote something about this on Reddit some time back that I may edit into a post here, just to clarify my thoughts on the subject.

  2. That name has been something of a quandary for those remaking the Dambusters. Apparently the dog will be named Digger in Peter Jackson’s version.

    I think the ‘products of our time’ argument is a contentious one. There were many who lived at that time that did not share those racist attitudes. I wonder if it might have been easier to find reinforcement for such prejudicial beliefs then?

    We have considered making an episode that discusses HPL’s racism and the influence it had on his work. I’m not sure it’s one I’d feel equipped to discuss, but we may give it a go.

  3. Certainly when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, we were not self conscious about our N word Toast, or N word Baby Liquorice or our N word Toes (Brazil Nuts). I would not have considered our family to be particularly racist for the time. In fact, I would like to think we were more inclusive than most of the predominately white rural families in our area.

    I think that HPL’s Racism does influence his works. There is fear of the other, fear of influence coming from outside and the fear of being tainted by the other. The Deep Ones with their genetic legacy hiding in you until you become them, certainly rings some of those bells.

    As you say, a difficult subject to have a podcast about without feeling uncomfortable.

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