Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gleanings: A New Feature

Many folks who read this blog don't have the numerous books that I have. So, from time to time, I'll add some gleanings and maybe some comments or commentary.


O Fortunate Floridian is the correspondence of Lovecraft and Barlow (2007). In 1931 (p.12) HPL is still calling him "Mr. Baelow" as Lovecraft did. Once he got a feel for the personality, he became loose and used jive talk in his letters. He began to spin his letters to the ear of the reader-correspondent.

In this case, Barlow must have mentioned he had rabbits (his letter is not extant). Now aged 40, Lovecraft is still (in his mind) the scientist-adventurist. His paradigm as a child were the Naturalists and scientists of Brown University whose careers matured in the late Victorian era. He followed with avid fascination adventurers who went to the North and South poles. He knew virtually all the latest reports out of Egypt's excavations and elsewhere.

"I was much interested in your rabbit information, for the phenomena described were wholly new to me. As a practical naturalist I lack observation & experience!"

Two things to note here. "Rabbit information" is that odd Lovecraftian construction. It's formal but at once probing. It is neutral, but open ended enough to let Barlow say more at a later date if he so chooses. No doubt, Lovecraft hadn't a care about rabbits, though he must have noticed as a child his grandfather telling him about the big jacks of Idaho as different from the eastern rabbits. He put that element in Colour Out of Space.

Lovecraft had observed cats all his life yet we really don't know if he was a casual observer or ig he intimately knew their anatomy and systems. For instance, he shows no sign of ever being an amateur cat veterinarian. His uncle was a doctor, but he never lets on that he saw or experiemented in anatomy.

Another oddity is that at this time he must have been insistent on mentioning his Erich Zann was out in Creeps by night. He mentions it 5 times in a few months of correspondence.

By October 1932 ( a year later) Lovecraft addresses him as "My dear Mr. barlow", and in November 1932 it becomes "my dear Barlow". By August 1933 he is signing with a backwards H P Lovecraft signature and "Yr most oblig'd, most obt Servt". This is a sure mark of deep affection. On August 21, 1933 he starts out "Esteemed Laureate" In September he addresses him by the appelate, "Dear Ar-E'ch-Bei" and signs "E'ch-Pi-El".


Anonymous said...

Great stuff! This is actually the first I've read anywhere of someone reading "O Fortunate Floridian". My own copy is making its way across the Atlantic right now.

Martin, Sweden

Chris Perridas said...

Martinius: I hope it gets there soon. Please feel free to post comments in the google forum, or email me and I'll post them for you. email addy is above at the masthead ... chris perridas @ yahoo . com.


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