Message from discussion TSOU - The Diary of Alonzo Typer
From: Tessa Kesler <te...@fantasm.org>
Subject: Re: TSOU - The Diary of Alonzo Typer
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Hello Mr. Kluge,
I'll readily agree that the absence of a letter correcting Lumley
indicates very little. I was merely pointing out that if Lovecraft
really believed that Lumley believed in the Necronomicon, then Lovecraft
would have attempted to set him straight.
Regarding Lovecraft's two-faced nature, I never wrote that there was a
connection between this and the validity of his report on Lumley's
beliefs. All I wrote on this subject was the following: "You noted that
Lovecraft is poking fun at Lumley behind his back. I am afraid that I
must agree with your observation. Lovecraft was often two-faced in his
correspondence. It is sad, but it is true."
This was in response to the following comment made by StoOdin101:
"Except behind his BACK, of course, in passages such as this one!"
StoOdin101 was, of course, responding to this comment made by
Lovecraft: "With a little encouragement, good old Bill would unfold
limitless chronicles from beyond the border - but I like the old boy so
well that I never make fun of him."
In any event, my problem with using this letter as a valid source of
information on the beliefs of William Lumley stems from the fact that it
contains obvious humorous exaggerations and fictional creations.
Lovecraft, in this letter, claims that Lumley displays an "air of
familiarity with such works as the arcana of Paracelsus, Hermes
Trismegistus, Albertus Magnus, Apollonius of Tyana, Eibon, von Junzt,
and Abdul Alhazred." This is clearly a fictional exaggeration of
Lumley's real interest in the occult. Likewise, Lovecraft states that
Lumley has had some small degree of success with certain minor spells.
Lovecraft wrote: "His own sorceries, I judge, are of a somewhat modest
kind; though he has some very strange and marvellous results from clay
images and from certain cryptical incantations." This too is clearly
fictional. After all, Lovecraft, in his more serious letters, clearly
displays his disbelief in all things supernatural. It is also worth
noting that this statement is made immediately before the statement that
Lumley is "firmly convinced that all of our gang - you, Two_Gun Bob,
Sonny Belknap, Grandpa E'ch-Pi-El, and the rest - are genuine agents of
unseen Powers in distributing hints too dark and profound for human
conception or comprehension." I find it odd that Lovecraft would be
clearly joking in one sentence and then relaying a factual report in the
next. It seems far more likely that he was simply joking or
exaggerating all along.
You note that Clark Ashton Smith wrote, "I believe one of HPL's
correspondents, a Maine Yankee with leanings towards wizardry, promised
not to put any information given him to evil uses!"
While this statement does support the fact that Lumley did possess an
interest in the occult (a fact which no one is disputing), it does not
even mention the concept of Lovecraft & Co. serving as mouthpieces for
Of course, as I have stated all along, it is entirely possible that
Lumley was indeed convinced that Lovecraft & Co. was tapping into the
forces from beyond. All I am saying is that corroborating evidence is
required before we can make any definitive statements about Lumley's
Regards and Best Wishes,
Donald Eric Kesler
Karl Kluge wrote:
> "D.E. Kesler" <e...@fantasm.org> writes:
> > Had Lumley actually professed a genuine belief in the Necronomicon, I am
> > quite sure that Lovecraft would have attempted to set the record
> > straight as he did with a few other individuals. Of course, Lovecraft
> > may have indeed written such a letter which has been subsequently
> > misplaced or destroyed.
> Given the estimated fraction of Lovecraft's correspondence which survives,
> the absence of such a letter is hardly evidence of anything. While visiting
> Brown, I made a point of looking for letters from/to Lumley in the HPL
> collection. Unfortunately, the results were disappointing. The two letters
> of 1935 from Lumley (2 Jan and 1 July) in Box 25 dealt with cats. Apparently
> he shared HPL's fondness for them.
> > Still, this niggling detail and the other
> > obvious exaggerations does cast the statements made in the letter in a
> > somewhat questionable light.
> > Was Lovecraft joking about Lumley's suggestion that, Howard, Long, Smith
> > and himself were indeed tapping into some very real powers from the
> > beyond? Since most of the letter seems to be little more than a
> > humorous caricature of Lumley, I'm inclined to believe that these
> > statements were also meant as a jest. Of course, I could be wrong.
> > You noted that Lovecraft is poking fun at Lumley behind his back. I am
> > afraid that I must agree with your observation. Lovecraft was often
> > two-faced in his correspondence. It is sad, but it is true.
> That he's poking fun at Lumley's beliefs is readily granted. That such
> poking casts doubt on the substance of the alledged beliefs strikes me
> as an odd jump of reasoning, especially absent any contrary evidence.
> CAS appears to have taken Lovecraft's description at face value. In CAS'
> April 13, 1937 letter to Derleth (reprinted in the Hallowmas '85 _Crypt of
> Cthulhu_) he writes, "Incidentally, HPL and I received dozens of queries,
> at one time or another, as to where The Book of Eibon, the Necronomicon,
> Von Junzst's Nameless Cults, etc., could be obtained! I believe one of HPL's
> correspondents, a Maine Yankee with leanings towards wizardry, promised
> not to put any information given him to evil uses! Another, a woman claiming
> descent from infamous New England witches and also from Lucretia Borgia,
> offered HPL some inside dope on the witch cult and its practices. As for me,
> I'll never forget the letters from that paretic Swede, Olsen; one of which
> letters corrected at great length certain mistaken notions of Abdul Alhazred.
> But I remember also that you had some experience with Olsen and his patents
> of infernal and grandiose nobility!" Lumley would appear to be the "Maine
> Yankee" refered to, while the "woman claiming descent from infamous New
> England witches" would appear to be the one HPL writes CAS about in letters
> 350 and 351 in Vol. 2 of _Selected Letters_. I don't recall seeing any other
> information about this Olsen character.