Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Cabell and the Rabble

I have written previously about the unknown source of the couplet that tells how to pronounce correctly Cabell's surname ("Tell the rabble / My name is Cabell").  Some recent digging has produced some interesting further information. 

Burton Rascoe (1892-1957) discovered Cabell's The Cream of the Jest in the fall of 1917, and early the following year he serialized parts of Cabell's next book, Beyond Life (published in book-form in January 1919), in The Chicago Tribune. This began a bit of controversy, summed up by H.L. Mencken in The Smart Set for August 1918 ("A Sub-Potomac Phenomenon"). But ancillary to the main commentary there appeared a bit of verse by Bert Leston Taylor in his Chicago Tribune column, "A Line o' Type or Two": 

The Seething Question
In all literary gabble
Concerning Mr. J.B. Cabell
No one has yet got up to tell
If it be Cabell or Cabell.

To which, Burton Rascoe (himself by that time a correspondent of Cabell's) replied: 

You may slip it to the rabble
That his name is James B. Cabell. 

This appeared in the 27 May 1918 issue of The Chicago Tribune.