Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Visit by Munn

Lovecraft’s letters indicate that he must have had a running diary of events since he often added identical, or even verbatim, comments about his day to day activities and notable events in his life. Considering the vast correspondence he conducted from his earliest days of letter writing, it must have become a defacto process to make sure he covered all pertinent details with his colleagues and fans.

It’s also interesting to see the hierarchy of his revelations. To casual fans, he released very limited details and used formal language in the address. To people he knew well, he became more intimate, and often began to call them by affectionate nicknames.

Here, we examine in detail the visit of H. Warner Munn to Providence.

Munn’s Visit:

[31 July 1928 to Wandrei]

I trust Munn has by this time looked you up. He was here yesterday, & we had a very pleasant session – went down to Eddy’s Bookstore & nosed around until he found an old story by Camille Flammarion in some 1893 Cosmopolitans. … Regards to Munn if you see him.

Now compare to:
[4 August 1928 to Derleth]

I had a call Monday from young H. Warner Munn of Athol, our fellow contributor to W.T. {Weird Tales – CP} He was passing through Providence in the course of a motor trip, & stopped most of the day. … Incidentally, when Munn and I were in Eddy’s bookshop Monday, (this Eddy is uncle of the C. M. Eddy, Jr who writes for W.T.). We met the venerable Joseph Lewis French, editor of the anthology “Ghosts, Grim and Gentle”. He is a quaint, peppery-voiced old codger of 70.

Note that by now, HPL was intimate with Wandrei, but was still explaining background to Derleth.

The information continues:
[31 July 1928 to Wandrei]

Late in the afternoon I undertook to guide Munn on his way to NY,& rode with him as far as East Greenwich, coming back by omnibus & trolley.

Now compare to:
[4 August 1928 to Derleth]

In the late afternoon I piloted him for about 20 miles of his course toward New York, leaving him at the quaint village of East Greenwich & coming back by trolley. … In N.Y. he will look up Wandrei (who is rooming only 2 blocks from my old place at 169 Clinton St., scene of “The Horror at Red Hook”.)

This shows the care HPL takes with each correspondent to make that correspondent feel intimate with Lovecraft to the degree that decorum and familiarity to that point in time allowed. Wandrei was familiar with the Providence environment, while Derleth was still being taught by HPL. Yet, the same information was basically conveyed.

Lovecraft had a host of correspondents, and unfortunately, Chrispy could not find other letters of this particular matter and date to correlate, but it seems reasonable to conclude that the same essential information was conveyed to each correspondent and was based on notes that HPL constantly kept.

The Eddy’s Bookstore is long gone, and yet Chrispy was able to locate where it might have been. In one of my next posts, I’ll attempt to show the research on this.

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