1934 Letter Handwritten & Signed by Weird Fiction Writer H.P. Lovecraft - NR
To young poet Robert Nelson - Fresh Honlulu Estate Find
66 College St.
Illegible 19, 1934
Dear Mr. Nelson: -
I (illegible) your of the 8th with much interest, though I can’t second your endorsements of the Wright letter in the (illegible). Certainly, only a very few of the WT stories have even a rudimentary claim to mature literary standing. The conceptions are trite, the characters artificial & wooden, & the development slovenly & mechanical. This weird stuff follows a set of lifeless & meaningless formulas; (illegible) closely as does any other pulp junk. However – Smith, Howard, Whitehead, Moore & (less often) others occasionally get beyond this (illegible) of mediocrity -& produce things worth remembering. In the October issue “The Black God’s Kiss”, “The (illegible, Illegible),” & (very possibly) “Old (illegible)” are worth saving from the waste –basket. (Also, probably, “The People of the Black Circle” – Though I’m waiting for its completion before reading.)
In time I think you’ll realize, that you’ve been over (illegible) this sort of material - & under (illegible) the soberer, more realistic material in the more solid publications. After all, phantasy is only a very narrow & minor field of expression. The (illegible) of literary art is the expression of emotion through the ordinary events of daily life. And when phantasy does become art, it is as though flamboyant extravagance busts through the careful presentation of such moods as people actually feel when confronted by those illusions of unreality with which nature abounds. “The Willows”, “The White People”, & a few other tales really catch these moods & (illegible) achieve a serious status. Some of the few better tales in W.T. approach such a capture, though I can hardly agree that they quite accomplish it. Some touch of crudity, obvious mechanism, or concession to cheap popular standards generally spoils the completeness of the effect. Smith comes the closest to success of anyone.
As for the hypothetical high-grade weird magazine I suggested – of course the WT group, including myself, couldn’t get in at the present stage of development. They (illegible) ask to – for their technique is full of crude spats. & their conceptions blurred with cheap fictional standards. But the magazine would set a new goal & example; & in the end would probably help the best writers of the group recognize their own crudities & immaturities (as I’m trying to do), be that they(illegible) ultimately gain a fast hold in the pages. An influence like that is needed – for one of the reasons our best WT fantaisistes don’t develop their (illegible) is that they know there is a (illegible) for mature work. However, it will probably never come – for such a venture can never be self-supporting. There is not enough of a public for it.
I certainly hope you’ll succeed in your ambition to produce literature - & am sorry your (illegible) is not sympathetic. If in any way possible, I’d advise that you look about for some means of subsistence other than writing – for when anyone depends on his pen for daily bread, the usual result is deterioration. He has to write (illegible) to please low-grade editors - & as time passes, the pattern gets so fixed that he can’t produce anything else. Indeed, much lose even the desire to produce anything else…. Thus Quinn, Hamilton, Price, Williamson, & so on – all brilliant chaps who could create splendidly if freed from external suggestions & obligations. This shifting of artistic sincerity & frustration of real literary creation is really a major tragedy – a “civilization.” Only occasionally do we come across a personality so intense that it can’t be wholly crushed by commercialism.
All good wishes –
Yours most sincerely,
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) — known as H. P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.
Lovecraft’s guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror", the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind. As such, his stories express a profound indifference to human beliefs and affairs. Lovecraft is best known for his Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore.
Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his lifetime, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft—as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century—has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." King has even made it clear in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book Danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for King's own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. His stories have also been adapted into theater and film, and have inspired an award-winning role-playing game.
Letter written to Robert Nelson an aspiring young Illinois poet and fan of the popular pulp magazine "Weird Tales" who had several unusual poems published in the magazine before his suicide at the age of seventeen. Farnsworth Wright thought very highly of his work, all of which has remained unprinted until now
Recently discovered in Honolulu estate
Paper has the characteristics of age, text is clear and readable
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