Even if you're one of those people who hasn't read any of the texts in question and wants to dump it all onto Scott-Elliott, you have a situation in which his books were well over twenty years old at this point. And nothing ages faster than old cult literature, especially old cult literature that's on the outs with the new cult poobahs.
How curious is it that both Lovecraft and Bailey would be doing so not only at the same time but in the same city? Neither were native New Yorkers, but there they were.
Lovecraft had no reason to stay in New York- he hated it there and his wife had moved away. Yet, there he was. Bailey had a reason to be there- she was headquartered there, right in the middle of the financial district. Go figure.
I was reading Brinsley Le Poer Trench's (Irish peer and the 8th Earl of Clancarty) book The Sky People, published in 1960. Yes, the same year as The Morning of the Magicians. Sensing a pattern here? Like Bailey, Trench too was a "Back to Blavatsky" apostle. He's also several years ahead of Erich Von Daniken, but there's a virtual parade of those.
Trench doesn't mention Bailey but he does commend Desmond Leslie, another Irish peer (outed by Jacques Vallee as an intelligence operative) who himself cites Bailey's Treatise on Cosmic Fire in the foreword of his 1953 best-seller, Flying Saucers Have Landed, which has the dubious distinction of introducing the work of George Adamski to the world, a California hamburger vendor who for some strange reason had been given a diplomatic passport by the Office of Naval Intelligence and an audience with the Pope.
We have waded into strange waters now, with a strong undertow.
Returning to the Lovecraft issue, there's been a nagging detail that I just can't seem to get out of my head. It has to do with the fact that a dirt-poor pulp writer seemed to have all kinds of money to travel all across the fertile fields and sparkling seashores of North America:
During the last decade of his life, Lovecraft devoted nearly every summer to extensive travels up and down the eastern seaboard, from Quebec to Key West…He came to love the town of Charleston, South Carolina, second only to his native city of Providence, Rhode Island. His trip to Vermont in 1927, recorded in his essay “Vermont—A First Impression,” was instrumental in the writing of “The Whisperer in Darkness”…“Observations on Several Parts of America” (1928) and “Travels in the Provinces of America” (1929) reveal…his fascination with such locales as Philadelphia, Maryland, and Virginia. “A Description of the Town of Quebeck” (1930–31) is his single longest work…OK, there's a problem here. This is the 1920s and the 1930s, taking us well into the Great Depression. Unless Lovecraft was riding the hobo circuit and stowing away on a freight car, all this travel was expensive. This is a quarter century before the Interstate highway system was created, so all this travel meant travel by rail, which meant carfare, which meant food and lodging.
This kind of travel was prohibitive for many prosperous Americans, especially so during the Depression.
Can any Lovecraft fans out there explain to me how a writer who was allegedly living hand to mouth was able to afford this kind of luxury?
Throughout his life, selling stories and paid literary work for others did not provide enough to cover Lovecraft's basic expenses. Living frugally, he subsisted on an inheritance that had almost gone in his last years, by which time he sometimes went without food to afford the cost of mailing letters. He was forced to move to smaller and meaner lodgings with his surviving aunt.He sometimes went without food but could afford to hopscotch all across North America? Something is not right here. Let's read about his financial situation "during the last decade of his life."
After their marriage...Greene and Lovecraft relocated to Brooklyn and moved into her apartment. Soon the couple were facing financial difficulties. Greene lost her hat shop and suffered poor health. Lovecraft could not find work to support them both, so his wife moved to Cleveland for employment. Lovecraft lived by himself in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn and came to dislike New York life intensely.
In the last year or so of their marriage, Greene lived on the road, traveling for her job. She sent Lovecraft a weekly allowance that helped him pay for a tiny apartment in the then-working class Brooklyn Heights. During this time, Lovecraft claimed in letters that he was so poor that he lived for three days on one loaf of bread, one can of cold beans, and a hunk of cheese. A few years later, Lovecraft (who had returned to live in Providence, Rhode Island) and his wife...agreed to an amicable divorce... After her marriage to Lovecraft ended, in 1933 Greene moved to California.Yet back in Providence we read that:
Lovecraft lived in a "spacious brown Victorian wooden house" at 10 Barnes Street until 1933.OK.
I don't have any answers here. I don't have any theories. I have only very big questions. How do the Joshi books explain all this? I can't seem to find any explanation of this raging contradiction online and my main Lovecraft source is stumped (though he admits he hasn't read up on this particular topic recently). I welcome any intelligent, well-reasoned, and cordial feedback from Lovecraft fans.
Because this doesn't make any sense.
UPDATE: I've got the details on Lovecraft's travels and I have to say I'm even more confused. Some of his trips are self-evident- the long visits to future Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellow and Lovecraft penpal R.H. Barlow (then only a teenaged boy) in Florida- but others are less so. And though a lot of his travel was by bus, you still have an awful lot of expense for a man with no apparent means of support other than a small allowance from Sonia and whatever pittance he could earn from his stories. Very odd.
For instance, the starving artist at one point paid three bucks for a scenic plane ride around Cape Cod; three bucks would buy a lot of cans of beans in the Depression. What we should also remember is that the pulp business itself was in bed with some interesting characters; the Mafia used the pulp mills to smuggle Canadian liquor over the border and the newsstands themselves were notorious money laundering operations. There's also the fact that Lovecraft's one-time writing partner Harry Houdini was recently outed as a spy.
Does that anything to do with Lovecraft per se? No, it just shows that he was swimming in some pretty murky waters his entire career. And you should always remember that nothing is ever as it seems.