Friday, February 08, 2008

More on the Ray Bradbury 1950 parody of Lovecraft

OK, here's a special treat, a special Lovecraft parody by Ray Bradbury. The background story as I've been able to piece together (with some help by my antiquarian Horror Mall pal Jimster on the ice cream portion) is thus.
In 1944 Donald Wandrei published the memorial, "The Dweller In Darkness" under Arkham House imprint in the book Marginalia, which I have; pp. 362-369. If you read that narrative, and compare it with Bradbury's excerpt, there are some remarkable parallels. Bradbury had a number of sources that would have told him about Lovecraft in the 12 years or so since Lovecraft's death. Virtually all of the eccentric behavior exhibited by Lovecraft in Wandrei's remebrance is paralleled and exagerated to hyperbole by Bradbury. I also note that in 1949, Bradbury let Arkham House publish one of his uncollected Martian stories in the Arkham Sampler (which I am trying to acquire currently, wish me luck). Finally, Jimster found this blurb in Wikipedia of Kuttner, a source he might have used to know more about Lovecraft: Bradbury has said that Kuttner actually wrote the last 300 words of Bradbury's first horror story, "The Candle" (Weird Tales, November 1942). Bradbury has referred to Kuttner as a neglected master and a "pomegranate writer: popping with seeds -- full of ideas".
We have already discussed the ice cream incident Wandrei witnessed in a blog post yesterday. (There were at least two trips to Maxfield's in two years). Wandrei states in The Dweller in the Darkness, "His conversation was of astonishing erudition ... had a dry sense of humor ... he talked the way the Eighteenth Century Gentleman wrote ... though it was afternoon, the windows were all closed and the curtains lowered ... one shaded electric bulb threw a weak cone of light upon a desk and chair ...". Wandrei states that HPL says, "I can not tolerate seafood in any form ... I have hated fish and feared the sea and everything connected to it since I was two years old ...", and, "the hotter the day, the better I feel. It is cold I can not endure."
In MacCleans Magazine, 1949, Bradbury published "The Exiles". It was a Martian story and in 1950 "The Martian Chronicles first came out in book form, though a few Martian stories did not make the cut. From what I've read, Anthony Boucher seized "The Exiles" as a reprint. F&SF was mostly reprints from what I can tell of my Vol. 1, Issue 2 magazine. Boucher must have encouraged Bradbury to add and modify the story. (There is nary a mention of MacCleans, nor theree need not be since it is modified enough to be a different version.) Then, as quickly as this Lovecraftian amendment appeared, it was never to see the light of day again. I can find no trace of it elsewhere. On a scholarly Ray Bradbury site, I found this: For the F&SF reprint, Bradbury added a whimsical encounter with H. P. Lovecraft as Poe, Bierce and Blackwood make their way to visit Dickens (an F&SF substitution for Hawthorne). Bradbury was not satisfied with this long 600-word parody of Lovecraft and deleted it from all further versions.
Now, here is Mr. Bradbury. Later, I'll try to type out the entirety of "The Exiles".


The Lovecraft portion of "The Exiles" by RAY BRADURY; The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 1, No. 2, Winter/Spring 1950, pp. 79-81
...On the way down the stairs they stopped at a heavy door and rapped. The door plate read: Mr. H. P. Lovecraft, and a voice from behind it said, "Come in."
The door was blistering hot to the touch.
"Watch out for the draft," said Lovecraft, wildly, as they entered and slammed the door. A shudder went through the gaunt frame of the man who sat in a fine antique chair, quill pen in his thin hand, his coat collar tight up about his neck, his back to a thundering, crackling hearth-fire. The room was so hellish that the candles were melted into tallowy pools. And the fire was so fiercely bright that it was like living in the sun. Lovecraft trembled his chilly hands out to the fire as if the brief opening of the door had let an arctic terror of wind at him. "We can not be too careful," he said. "There are drafts in castles like this. What is it?"
"Come along, we’re going to talk to Dickens."
"No, no, I am sorry." Lovecraft hurried to a small icebox which somehow survived this red furnace and brought forth two quarts of ice-cream. Emptying these into a large dish he hurried back to his table and began alternately tasting the vanilla ice and scurrying his pen over crisp sheets of writing paper. As the ice-cream melted upon his tongue, a look of almost dreamful exultancy dissolved his face; then he sent his pen dashing. "Sorry. Really, I am awfully busy, gentlemen, Mr. Poe, Mr. Bierce. I have so many letters to write."
"But how can that be?" protested Bierce, "You haven’t received any letters here."
"That means nothing." The writing man tried another delicate spoonful of the cold treasure. There were six empty vanilla ice-cream boxes piled neatly on the hearth from this day’s feasting. And the ice-box, in the quick flash they had seen of its interior, contained a good dozen quarts more. "I am writing a letter to Mr. L. Frank Baum, I am quite sure that we shall enjoy a delightful correspondence, once started ….
"But this is his castle, the Emerald City, he lives right downstairs," said Poe.
"And then I have a letter I must write to Mr. Samuel Johnson, and Mr. Alexander Pope, and Mr. Machen, and Mr. Coppard, and a thousand others. I do not know when I shall finish. But I shall take the time to help you with Mr. Dickens, nevertheless."
‘‘Will you?’’
"Yes." Lovecraft dipped his quill. "I shall write him a letter about this crisis."
"Come on, Edgar," said Bierce, with a laugh.
Poe’s eye fell upon a letter. "May I take this along?"
"Of course," said Lovecraft. "I wrote it to you, your name is on it, is it not?"
As they opened the door, Poe and Bierce had a last glimpse of Lovecraft cowering from the cold draft wering from the cold draft, ice-cream in his terrified mouth, dripping pen in hand.
Bang! The door slammed.
‘Remind me to send him a half ton of lobsters," said Poe.
Blackwood was waiting for them.
"Mr. L. Frank Baum was just here," he said. "He wants to see you, Mr. Poe. He’s terribly shocked and nervous at the way you’ve taken over the Emerald City. He doesn’t like the cobwebs and bats."
Tell him to see me later!"

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