Sunday, July 17, 2016

Conan and the Dweller, Part 3 by Bobby Derie

We hear nothing from Howard about Lumley for some time, though this is to be understood as they only shared the venue of The Fantasy Fan. Howard and Lumley seem not to have written directly to one another, Howard’s correspondence with Clark Ashton Smith was sporadic and marked by long gaps, and Lovecraft’s scarce mentions Lumley at all in his letters to Howard.

Late in 1935, Lovecraft broke his rule against collaboration to revise and rewrite a manuscript by William Lumley. The story that resulted was “The Diary of Alonzo Typer,” which Lovecraft hoped to sell to Farnsworth Wright of Weird Tales or William Crawford of Marvel Tales. (OFF 296, 299; ES 2.711-2, 719) The story was accepted by Wright, with Lovecraft sending his congratulations:
Just received yours of the 12th telling of Alonzo’s (The Diary of Alonzo Typer) acceptance. Congratulations!! Your reply to Wright’s letter seems to me exactly right. I suppose he was curious about getting stories from several authors—Heald, de Castro, Reed, &c (besides parts of mss. From Barlow, Bloch, Rimel, &c)—which contained earmarks of my style. I have no objection at all to Wright’s knowing of my share in polishing off the MS. And I think that what you said was admirable. (SL5.207)
Lovecraft insisted Lumley accept full payment ($70) for the story; and considering the nearly illiterate state of Lumley’s draft (published in Crypt #10, 1982), this was true philanthropy. (HPLE 68) In gratitude, Lumley sent Lovecraft a copy of E. Wallis Budge’s translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. (OFF 301, 308; SL5.208) However, for whatever reason the story was not actually published in Weird Tales until February 1938, long after both Howard and Lovecraft were dead—and credited solely to Lumley. E. Hoffmann Price, on reading the story, immediately detected Lovecraft’s hand in it, and wrote a letter to the Eyrie affirming as much, and adding:
If William Lumley wrote that yarn without consultation with HPL, he has succeeded in a feat I had deemed utterly impossibly: writing a story that is more like Lovecraft than Lovecraft himself! Whatever its history, I was glad to see it in print. The references to Shamballah reminded me of many a letter HPL and I exchanged, and of our own collaboration, a few years ago. Now here is a challenge to one or more of Lovecraft’s followers: The Old Master had pondered, for some time before his death, on this matter of a weird story whose locale was to be the Valley of Teotihuacan—‘the dwelling of the gods’—in the now bleak and desolate expanse of country somewhat north of Lake Texcoco, nearly forty minutes’ drive from Mexico City. I had sent HPL photos, data, personal impressions and reactions to the pyramids and crypts of the valley. We had even planned, whimsically of course, to have Robert E. Howard join us in one expedition to Teotihuacan: I to be chauffeur, R. E. H. swordsman and gunner, and HPL to be necromancer for the party. And whenever I see their names it reminds me of a plan that was really not impossible, up until that tragic day in June of 1936 when R. E. H. went on an exploration unaccompanied by any of his friends. This whole issue, I might say, reminds me of the dead that have no equals among the survivors: Lovecraft, Howard, Whitehead. Like the Valley of Teotihuacan, the February issue is a memento of dead giants. Well, what valiant acolyte of HPL will fictionalize the mysterious Valley of Teotihuacan? Me, I am not equal to the task [...] (WT Apr 1938)

Works Cited

AMtF       A Means to Freedom (Hippocampus Press, 2 vols.)
CL            Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard (Robert E. Howard                                                Foundation, 3 vols. + Index and Addenda)
ES            Essential Solitude (Hippocampus Press, 2 vols.)
HPLE       The H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia (Hippocampus Press)
LRBO      Letters to Robert Bloch and Others (Hippocampus Press)
MTS        Mysteries of Time and Spirit (Night Shade Books)
OFF         O Fortunate Floridian (University of Tampa Press)
SL            Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft (Arkham House, 5 vols.)
SLCAS    Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith (Arkham House)
TFF         The Fantasy Fan (Lance Thingmaker)
UL           H. P. Lovecraft: Uncollected Letters (Necronomicon Press)

Part 1, Part 2

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