Monday, October 29, 2007

An Extant Letter From HPL to Samuel Loveman (and others items)

Lovecraft, H[oward] P[hillips]. TYPED LETTER SIGNED (TLS). 1 page, from "The Ancient Hillside Citadel," dated "Feby. 12, 1936, to "Endymion" [Samuel Loveman], with the salutation "Hail," signed "HPL." On recto of a single sheet of 8 1/2 x 11-inch plain paper. Accompanied by AUTOGRAPH POSTCARD SIGNED (APS) from Lovecraft to Loveman, postmarked Boston, MA 2 January 1932, and an envelope addressed to Loveman in Lovecraft's hand with Lovecraft's signature and return address on verso, postmarked Providence, RI 17 September 1930. The postcard was sent from Cambridge, Mass. and shows the head of a Greek athlete from Harvard's Fogg Art Museum. Oddly, Lovecraft refers to it as a "Herm," which is incorrect. (The word, with a lowercase "h," refers to a kind of statue used in Athens, with the head of a bearded Hermes mounted on a square pillar, in the middle of which, usually, was an erect phallus. They were regarded as sacred objects and used as boundary markers -- and later vandalized so often that intact examples are rare.) Recalls an earlier visit to Cambridge that Lovecraft and Loveman made together. Enumerates the museums seen or scheduled to be seen. Paul Cook, who was there with HPL, has scribbled a postscript. The letter, sent from Providence, touches on overwork, illness, amateur press matters, the latest pulp appearances ("Mountains of Madness", first installment, in February Astounding), social visits, and, in a short but striking passage, the description of his return from a visit to Paterson, NJ. "That night I hopped the coach for ancient Providentium and ran into a snowstorm -- being held up an hour at dawn in the exquisite colonial village of Hampton, Conn. -- with houses dating back to 1712 on every hand, and an ethereal white Georgian steeple peeping over the freshly white-deck'd boughs. The delay was for the sanding of a long, sinuous hill -- and I was sorry when we got in motion again." (If Lovecraft died and went to heaven, it might have looked something like this. Or would it be hell for an old atheist to discover that he'd been wrong? One can imagine the roman a clef Twilight Zone version: the bus swerves, HPL is knocked out, wakes up to this vision of a winter paradise, goes out in his worn suit and wanders about with rapt attention, catching a glimpse here and there of people in Colonial dress who ignore him. Looking into the firelit interior of a house, he wonders why he doesn't feel cold. "It was then that he realized he was dead.") Earlier in the letter HPL says he is sending a copy of his CATS OF ULTHAR, the rare 1935 pamphlet handset by Barlow at his Dragon-Fly Press in Florida and printed in forty-two copies. HPL jokes, "If it doesn't fit into your private collection, you might catalogue it at 9000 bucks or so as an early Dragon-Fly Press item." If Loveman had lived another 60 years or so, he could have done just that. The value of this pamphlet passed the $9000 value level a while back. See in this catalogue item LWC inventory #108200 the copy inscribed by HPL to Loveman, one of the two copies set on special paper (Red Lion Text). See also in this catalogue item LWC inventory #109134 for the original manuscript of this short story. Loveman, a poet and bookdealer, was definitely in the inner circle of HPL's friends. They corresponded, praised each other's work and visited when possible. When, Loveman, a Jew, later discovered from Lovecraft's ex-wife, Sonia, the extent of Lovecraft's anti-Semitism and racism, he burned most of his letters from HPL (as Sonia also did). (Joshi, An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, p. 158.) Extant letters from HPL to Loveman are rare. This is a particularly significant one, demonstrating one of the paradoxes of Lovecraft, who talked a good game of anti-Semitism, but, when it came down to cases, had warm friendships with some of them and married another. The failure of his marriage had more to do with Sonia being a woman than a Jew. He gave away to Loveman his own special copy of CATS, one that Barlow had intend as HPL's personal copy, one of just two Barlow kept the other one. Unpublished. Faint mailing creases, but fine. (#109131) Price: $3,500.00

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