Friday, February 15, 2008

Lovecraft to Loveman

H. P. Lovecraft. Autograph Letter Signed "Theobaldus Love". Two pages, 8.5" x 11", n.p. [Providence, Rhode Island], n.d. [perhaps 1928], to Samuel Loveman "Endymion", plain paper, ink.
The text of the letter reads:

"Woden's Day

Aonian Endymion: -

Damn your postman! Shall Novanglian thrift capitulate to the standardized demands of metropolitan bureaucracy? What complaint has the rascal to make if addresses be clear & legible? Does he want headline-type the size of a barn-door? Why, sir, I make the addresses on all my cards just as plain & as large as the printed address-slips stuck on newspapers & magazines.....but this curst impertinent dog has to cavil because my particular specimens don't come off a printing-press! Pox on such presumption! 'Zounds, Sir, I shall write to the papers about it! Upstart publick servants - we'll see, by God, Sir, we'll see! However, if it comes to a question of your own visual comfort, that's another matter. Why, Sir, I'll have the next one embossed in Braille!

And now permit me to felicitate you upon the wisest move you have made since your rash step of 1927! Back to the old stand - where Grandpa advised you to stay in the first place! Make it permanent this time, Sir! The Dauber & Pine firm is clearly an institution of great and increasing importance, & they are now sensible of how great an asset they have in your presence as expert & cataloguer. Grow up with them - & you will find that for an aesthete, such a salaried post offers a future much more tolerable than could any independent commercial venture. I envy you - & sincerely wish I had the bibliophilic erudition to land one of those similar posts whose numerousness you remark....especially if any of them permitted a Providence locale. I don't know just what extent of specialisation they demand - one could easily learn the stock terms & charactertick fashions of cataloguing, but no doubt these positions require a genuine knowledge of books & bibliophily from the merchant's & collector's standpoint.

I trust you are duly refresh'd & reinvigorated by your Antaeus-like contact with Cleveland soil. If you have any vocational openings in the ensuing weeks, don't forget that eastward routes are equally open to traffick! Providence in the autumn is a mystick & glamorous place - & side trips to ancient Newport & the Boston region are perennially pleasing supplements.

Quebec........(o gawd, give me a vocabulary!) Que....Que....yes, I must see Old England before I totter irrevocably into the sunset. But how could I ever come back, once I saw ancient London, & the rural lanes of Kent, & the thatched-roof'd villages of Lincolnshire, & the sombre stretches of Dartmoor leading down to those Devonian shores whence full half my ancestral lines sprang! I would have to take along some Providence views & crank up a case of homesickness to break away from Britannia once I sat foot upon the beloved, never-beheld sod -

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise....
This precious stone set in the silver sea....
This blessed plot, this Earth, this realm, this ENGLAND!

Glad to hear that RK's return to the fold is proving stable. Tell him to make another Providence trip, & I'll try to hook up some crumb-cake to match the easily obtainable coffee of the region! And little ol' Arturo! What a damn shame you missed him! I'd like to see the old boy myself, & certainly hope he'll look me up if his itinerant outfit traverses this part of the world. Hope his prosperity is permanent - he deserves some ease and freedom from anxiety after the long gruelling years of the past. But what a beastly shame his Old Cap Collier's weren't waiting for him!

Heard from the Alfredus-child last week. He's back in Chicago from his summer at the old Appleton homestead, & has secured a better & more expensive flat. The new address (note for reference) is 1406 1/2 Elmwood Ave., Evanston, Ill. Next summer he hopes to go to Europe, spending much time at Antibes (the ancient Antipolis) on the Riviera. He reports the death of the old-time Wisconsin amateur Alfred L. Hutchinson of Weyaneuga. Do you recall this somewhat crude and eccentric old fellow? Speaking of amateurs - Paul J. Campbell is alas a Chicagoan now. Still in the oil-drilling business, & wants me to make a fortune by putting 200 bucks into some new project. What a pity I haven't the spare cash. I would so enjoy sudden affluence!

And so it goes. Once again, congratulations on the return to Swear 'Em & Weep! And get around to these parts when you can. Yes for politer postmen & larger postcards,

Theobaldus Love"

In this letter, Lovecraft implores Loveman to remain as a book dealer and cataloger with the firm of Dauber & Pine in New York City, and bemoans his own lack of skill for such a job. Samuel Loveman was a poet, friend and correspondent of Lovecraft's, and a great New York bookman who began as a cataloger at Dauber & Pine, an antiquarian bookshop on New York City's legendary Book Row. Loveman later owned and operated the Bodley Bookshop in New York City for over 30 years.

Lovecraft, ever the Anglophile, also concentrates a good portion of this letter on his yearning for "Old England," going so far as to quote five lines from William Shakespeare's famous appraisal of that "sceptred isle" from King Richard II.

Notably, Lovecraft also writes in this letter of "RK," which can only be his correspondent Rheinhart Kleiner, and of "Alfredus-child," most certainly he and Loveman's good friend Alfred Galpin. To close, Lovecraft signs his name "Theobaldus Love." He often signed some form of "Theobaldus" in letters to his closest friends, as well as referring to himself as "Grandpa," as he also does in the body of this letter.

The manuscript is in fine condition, with usual mailing folds, matching 1.5" closed tears at the top and bottom edges, and one small chip from the bottom edge less than .25" in diameter. A unique chance to obtain a Lovecraft to Loveman letter, as the former destroyed most of his correspondence upon learning of the latter's rampant anti-Semitism.

"Things that are permissible and even add to the flavor of his [Lovecraft's] fiction freeze into an attitude in his letters. And yet, even while one is prone to condemn their verbal vomit, one must admit that sound editing and the process of still sounder omission should free and add to the Lovecraft legend, and deliver him to posterity as he actually was - a charming companion, a wonderful human being, and a loyal friend." (Samuel Loveman, "Lovecraft as a Conversationalist") From the Robert and Diane Yaspan Collection.

No comments:


Blog Archive


Google Analytics