Thursday, January 31, 2019

Does This Booklet Exist or Not?

In 2010, the shortlived Bandersnatch Books was supposed to publish a small chapbook by T.M. Wright (1947-2015)  titled The People on the Island. The short story was originally written for an anthology Cold Touch, edited by William P. Simmons, to have been published by Prime Books.  The anthology was delivered to the publisher in May 2002, for publication in November 2002.  But the book never appeared.

The short story, however,  appeared in Brutarian Magazine, issue 42 (2005), and was collected in Wright's Bone Soup (2010). It is perhaps most easily found in The Weird (2011), a massive anthology edited Jeff and Ann VanderMeer.

There are traces lingering on the web of the Bandersnatch Books edition.  First there is, copied from this source, an early cover for the book, from December 2009:

Next, in July 2010, Noah O'Toole published a series of rough sketches for the forthcoming booklet at his blog, here. Below is one image, for the rest see the blog:

The booklet was seemingly published on 23 October 2010, for the following statement was posted at the Shocklines Forum:
"T.M. Wright's The People on the Island now available”

After a longer delay than anticipated, I'm very pleased to announce that the revised version of the chapbook "The People on the Island" is now available for purchase. With a new cover, interior illustration and a foreword written and available only in this version, this is Terry at his best. Price is $10 plus $1 shipping.
Apparently the final cover
There are other hints that some copies of this booklet actually came out.  On November 23, 2010, the publisher wrote at Raingod's Weblog:
We’ve released T.M. Wright’s “The People on the Island” and will be releasing K.H. Koehler’s “The Dreadful Doctor Faust” in a couple of weeks.
But the Koehler book did not appear until 2015, when the author published it through CreateSpace.

Apparently, Bandersnatch Books disappeared quickly. I've never seen a copy of this booklet anywhere. What I'd like to know, bibliographically, is how many copies of The People on the Island were printed?  How many were released?  What is the content of the new "foreword written and available only in this version"?  Anyone know?

Update (2/13/19):  Thanks to the booklet's illustrator, Noah O'Toole, I can now say that some copies were indeed distributed, but not for very long.  He received only one copy himself.  The publisher disappeared very quickly afterwards.

Friday, January 18, 2019

"All Fled, All Done": Redux on Robert E. Howard's Famous Couplet

The legend* has altered in the retelling, from a slip found in Robert E. Howard's wallet after his suicide in June 1936, to it being the last thing Howard typed on his typewriter before going out to his car where he shot himself in the head. The couplet is now legendary:
All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre;
The feast is over and the lamps expire.
Rusty Burke published an article "All Fled, All Done" in The Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies (Winter 2001), in which he identified Howard's source for the final line of the couplet, a poem titled "The House of Cæsar" by Viola Garvin, which appeared in a poetry anthology Songs of Adventure (1926), edited by Robert Frothingham.  Each of the five stanzas of the poem ends with the line "The Feast is over and the lamps expire!"

Songs of Adventure 1928
Burke also notes that L. Sprague de Camp's assertion in 1966 that the second line of the couplet "seems to be a paraphrase" of a line in the poem "Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae" by Ernest Dowson became a statement of fact in de Camp's 1975 The Miscast Barbarian. However, Burke notes that others have thought that Howard would not have found many affinities in Dowson's verse, despite the repetition of the line "the feast is over and the lamps expire." 

Burke also looked into the author Viola Garvin, and found two candidates, Viola Gerard Garvin and Viola (Taylor) Garvin.  Burke suggests the first as the author of the poem "The House of Cæsar" for Viola Gerard Garvin published a single volume of verse, Dedication (1928).  Alas, Burke picked the wrong Garvin.

Viola Gerard Garvin (1898-1969) and Viola (Taylor) Garvin (1883-1959) were related by marriage.  Viola Gerard Garvin was the eldest daughter of James Louis Garvin (1868-1947), famous as a London newspaper editor, by his first wife.  And Viola Taylor was James Louis Garvin's second wife, the marriage occurring in 1921, and thus step-mother to (the adult) Viola Gerard Garvin.  The details of their lives and writings are given in entries at my Lesser-Known Writers blog. Click here for Viola Gerard Garvin, and click here for Viola (Taylor) Garvin, who after her marriage wrote as Mrs. J.L. Garvin. 

The poem "The House of Cæsar" appears in her book Corn in Egypt (1926), as the final item in the collection.  Here Mrs. Garvin gives the Dowson line as epigraph at the beginning of the poem, thus showing that she had the Dowson poem firmly in mind when writing her poem; and that Howard had no necessity to have known it. (The Dowson line does not appear in the reprint of the poem in Songs of Adventure.)

The appearance of  "The House of Cæsar" in Corn in Egypt is credited to "1906" and from the acknowledgements, I suspect it appeared in The Westminster Gazette. I present a scan of this version below. The earliest known reprint of the poem comes from Amphora: A Collection of Prose and Verse Chosen by the Editor of The Bibelot (1912).  I add a scan of that appearance at bottom.

Corn in Egypt 1926

Amphora 1912

*Rusty Burke has discussed the evolution of the suicide note story in "The Note" in The Cimmerian, volume 3 no. 1 (January 2006), pp. 5-11.