Posted 13 May 2012 - 07:00 AM
I go back and forth on whether I can say I'm enjoying A Means to Freedom, though I do find the letters enormously fascinating and insightful. On the one hand, I truly enjoy reading two of my favorite writers talking about everything from Irish history, to local legends in New England and the Southwest, to their respective family histories. But I would like to read more about how they write. So far, at least, the most mention there has been of the actual craft of writing is them (usually Lovecraft) saying, "You could get a great weird story out of that."
The thing I'm most uncomfortable with is the discussion of race, such as when they're talking about immigrants ruining the country. I was particularly stung when Howard wrote that he would ban all immigrants who weren't "Britons...higher class Scandinavians and French." This comes a little after he praised the Germans for starting such orderly and prosperous towns, so I do take it with a grain of salt. Howard, of course, is the younger writer trying to go by what Lovecraft wrote to him, since he has such respect and admiration for Lovecraft. But I know I'm rehashing old arguments, and I know racism in these writings is a powderkeg topic, so I'll say no more on that.
In more practical terms, I'm sorry such a large part of Lovecraft's letters were lost, but I find what we have of these letters fascinating. I'm drawn in by some of the stories they tell each other, which are as interesting as the stories that appeared in publication. And although I find some of the pseudo-history a little boring from a modern perspective, it's also interesting to see them trying to piece together the history of different races from what they knew (and also more than a little wishful thinking and guesswork on their part). I'm impressed by the depth of their knowledge and detailed curiosity. I also have to admit that I get a little jealous, wishing that I could write and receive such long and interesting letters on such a variety of topics, instead of living in the vapid world of Twitter and Facebook. But then I remember they wrote about one or two letters a month to each other, and we're used to much briefer, quicker correspondence.
But I don't want to hijack the thread talking about one book (or two books, technically). I might post some more detailed thoughts about the letters later on. Either way, thanks for the heads up about the books on sale on eBay. They're the best purchase I've made in a while!