Friday, December 01, 2006

Lovecraft and Houdini According to Frank Belkanp Long part I

A month or so before Howard's marriage, J. C. Henneberger ... decided to publish ... a long novelette bearing the name of ... Houdini, whom he knew quite well. He had a few rough notes ... and these he turned over to Howard. (1)

Howard did discuss his meeting with Houdini ... Howard arrived at ... the New Yourk Hippodrome ... an hour ... before the curtain went up, the master magician slipped quietly into the chair adjacent to the one that HPL occupied, intorduced himself, and began to converse. (2)

Howard ... had the starnge illusion, several times repeated, that Houdini was not there at all. Only his voice seemed to come from some region immeasurably remote ... they discussed a number of things, including the splendid job Howard had done in 'revising and expanding' Imprisoned with the Pharoahs. {Houdini also expressed} what an exceptional far-sighted businessman Henneberger was, the serious disagreements he had with Baird, and why it was just possible that a new editor might soon be at the healm of Weird Tales. (3)

A short while later Henneberger offered HPL the editorship of Weird Tales, thus confirmng what I always believed: in some strange way that meeting with Houdini had been ... arranged by Henneberger ... ostensibly to permit him to convey in person his appreciation...

"He's a strange little man," Howard said, "...Houdini talks incessantly and never seems to know when to stop. He seemed ... the sort of person who would get on my nerves ... but my hat is off to him as a performer... be continued...

(1) Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Night Side, Frank Belkanp Long, (updated), Arkham House, 1975, p. 114.

(2) ibid. p. 115.
(3) ibid. p. 116.

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