Tolkien Scholars Write Fantasy!
4 weeks ago
This blog is devoted to fantasy, supernatural and decadent literature. It was begun by Douglas A. Anderson and Mark Valentine, and joined by friends including James Doig and Jim Rockhill, to present relevant news and information.
The publication of a book like The Incomplete Enchanter is a somewhat unusual experience. In theme, in plot, in treatment, it falls clean outside the ordinary patterns of contemporary fiction; this very fact is one of the reasons for putting Mr. Pratt’s and Mr. de Camp’s story between book covers. For we believe, as publishers, that there is a substantial body of readers today who welcome books which don’t “conform.” The rare and priceless quality of imagination is a sort of reading vitamin—without it no diet of books is really complete. Too much contemporary fiction seems to us to lack this very quality: the moribund products of historical research, the novels with plots as standardized as the appeals of mass advertising, the books of reportorial sociology dressed up as fiction crowd the booksellers’ tables. Only occasionally is there a story written which is alive with the vitality with a fresh imagination and impact for narrative.We are on the constant lookout for such manuscripts, and it is part of our policy to publish them when they can be found. Already there have been several in our past lists. Mark Van Doren’s Windless Cabins, for one, Dennis Parry’s The Survivor for another. L. Sprague de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall was a third. The experiment has been a successful one. No project has brought in to our offices so many unsolicited letters—or so many manuscripts. One of the most interesting aspects of the publication of this group of books is the way in which people continue to buy and read them long after the usual life-span of a modern book of fiction. They have proved to be stories worth reading long after their initial publication.The Incomplete Enchanter is, we believe, a book for the imagination, for what an earlier day would have called the “fancy.” It is not like any of its predecessors except in this one fact, for the imagination is not a stereotype. Our expectation is that some readers will be wildly enthusiastic, some entertained, and some, perhaps, uncomprehending. But it’s worth trying, just to see whether it doesn’t supply you with a form of reading pleasure you may have been missing . . . .
Books for the Imagination is the informal title we are giving to a series of books we have been publishing for several years. They represent a somewhat unusual enterprise; in theme, in plot, in treatment, they fall clean outside the patterns of contemporary fiction. That is why we publish them.
|The 2014 reissue|
The plot of this novel is not entirely original (it was anticipated by Jules Romains and more than once by reality), but it is extremely entertaining. The protagonist, Roger Diss, invents an anecdote. He tells it to a few friends, who don’t believe him. To persuade them, he claims that the event took place around 1850 in the south of England, and he attributes the story to the “famous cellist Vitelli.” Everyone, of course, recognizes this invented name. Encouraged by his success, Diss publishes an article on Vitelli in a local magazine. Various strangers miraculously appear who point out mistake in the article, and a polemic ensues. Diss, victorious, publishes a full-length biography of Vitelli, “with portraits, sketches, and manuscripts.”A movie company acquires the rights to the book and makes a technicolor film. The critics declare that the film has distorted the facts of Vitelli’s life. … [sic] Diss becomes embroiled in another polemic, and they demolish him. Furious, he decides to reveal the hoax. No one believes him, and people hint that he has gone mad. The collective myth is stronger than he is. A Mr. Clutterbuck Vitelli defends the affronted memory of his late uncle, A spiritualist center in Tunbridge Wells receives direct messages from the deceased. If this were a book by Pirandello, Diss would end up believing in Vitelli, (El Hogar, 18 November 1938)
|The Graphic, Christmas 1926|
· H. R. Wakefield’s handwritten manuscript for “A Man’s Best Friend,” a story which would not see the light of day until the 2000 Ash-Tree Press collection Reunion at Dawn
· 38 poems by Clark Ashton Smith, all typewritten, most signed with corrections in Smith’s own hand
· Page proofs for H. P. Lovecraft’s Beyond the Wall of Sleep and Marginalia
· Letters to Derleth from Robert Aickman, Marjorie Bowen, Ray Bradbury, Ramsey Campbell, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, L. P. Hartley, Fritz Leiber, Margery Lawrence, Walter de la Mare, John Metcalfe, and M. P. Shiel
· Photographs of the members of the entire Weird Tales circle, including a snapshot of Robert E. Howard signed in pencil “R.E.H” on the back.