Titre : AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (ALs). 8 pages, ...
Dated a month after Lovecraft first wrote to de Castro concerning some collaboration/revision work that he was told (by Frank Belknap Long) the latter might have for him, at which time he all but closed the door on any undertaking of this sort in which he was not paid generously up front. In the meantime de Castro had evidently replied with the requested details of the nature of the project -- and "a skeptical & critical opinion concerning my present predicament of excessive work & nerve strain ?." HPL devotes the first section of this letter - about 800 to 900 words - to defending his claim of overwork. He details the 16-hour work days and the diminished or forfeited sleep that he endures in order to fulfill his present writing commitments (which we may infer to include, though he doesn't say so, his voluminous correspondence). "On every one of my trips I have had to take along so much work that time for sightseeing & relaxation has been reduced to a meagre minimum." Beneath the Augustan rhetoric, one senses an insecure man who is eager to please, as well as a generous man who is happy to please. This undercurrent of pathos is intensified by the knowledge that, in one of the two previous revisions -- wholesale rewritings, really -- which HPL had done for de Castro's "The Last Test", he had received just $16 of the $175 which WEIRD TALES paid for the story (November, 1928). In the second half of the letter (about 1200 words), HPL more or less ignores his "present predicament of excessive work" and dives into the subject of "the first piece of revision, the section of your new book which treats of the possible parentage of Christ," partly in order to make this text "self-sufficient & independent enough for separate publication?." This book, which was never published, sounds like a revision or extension of an earlier published work of de Castro's, JEWISH FORERUNNERS OF CHRISTIANITY (Dutton, 1903). He visited the subject of Christianity again in a photoplay, self-published around 1921 after it failed to attract any studio interest (WORLD CRUCIFIED; A PHOTOPLAY OF THE MUNDANE ACTIVITY OF CHRIST IN SIX APOTHEOSES). This strong interest in Christianity was perhaps a little unusual for de Castro, who was not only a Jew but a rabbi. The overhauling of old material was not unusual for him: in fact, it could be said to be a personal leitmotif for someone who frequently and radically overhauled his career (rabbi, lawyer, dentist, diplomat, writer) and even his name. The two stories which formed the raw material of "The Last Test" and "The Electric Executioner" (the other HPL rewrite) first appeared in an 1892 short story collection, IN THE CONFESSIONAL AND THE FOLLOWING, as by "Adolphe Danziger," published by the vanity publishing firm (Western Authors' Publishing Association) which he founded with Ambrose Bierce. De Castro, or Danziger, had collaborated with Bierce that same year in THE MONK AND THE HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER, which subsequent investigation proved to be mostly a plagiarism of a German short story by Richard Voss. This was the sort of man that Lovecraft was dealing with, and it's no surprise that it exasperated him, as he confessed in letters to others. On the subject of the life of Jesus, Lovecraft disclaims anything but "casual, second-hand knowledge" of the subject. His feelings on the subject of religion, however, are anything but casual, and the rest of the letter is taken up by a display of his disdain for religion (all religion, not just Christianity) and his avowal of materialistic atheism. "Nothing seems more certain to me than that nature altogether lacks any indication of conscious governance? Thus to me all traditional consideration of religion seems essentially irrelevant, & even trivial except in connexion with historical & anthropological research." Lovecraft closes his letter with a promise to try to find JEWISH FORERUNNERS at a local library. Unpublished. Faint rust mark from a paperclip at upper left corner, el. N° de réf. du libraire 108080
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