Raynors HCA 2018-03
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 3/15/2018
LONDON, Charmian Kittredge (1871-1955) was an American writer and second wife of Jack London. Collection of five Typed Letters Signed by “Charmian London”, totaling six pages, dated 1920–1922. All are to the psychic Margaret More Oliver, who attempted to pass off a manuscript entitled 'Death's Sting' as a story communicated by Jack London after his death. The earliest, of June 28, 1920, in part: “I shall be glad to have the manuscript—the GOOD one, through your kindness to my eyes and time—whenever available to you…But I want, in all honesty, to put you right about something: Jack did not consider Mr. Stitt-Wilson his friend. He considered he had reason to believe otherwise—that Mr. Wilson had two faces…I live to refute that sort of unworthy understanding of my husband. That is why I am so anxious to get my book published. And there isn’t any Jack London, living or dead, who won’t appreciate the fact!” ... plus, The second, of July 14, 1920, in part: “I am not surprised that The Cosmopolitan declined the manuscript of Death’s Sting. There has been rather a flood of kindred manuscripts, you know, and editors look askance at them. Of course, I am all sorts of curious to see this one…In trying to market your book, we must come to the understanding that the authorship as suggested, ‘Jack London, Deceased,’ must not be used. The reason is plain: if I allowed a book to come out under such ‘authorship,’ immediately every faker in the land—and they are legion—would have perfect right to do the same. Naturally, the selling value of a bone fide work of Jack London’s would be more or less injured, and too much depends upon this. Make your preface, and your own explanations of the book, but DON’T USE THE NAME JACK LONDON.” ...plus, Her letter of March 10, 1921, reads, in small part: “The brief manuscript, whether from Jack or not, is remarkable in itself. Thank you very much for sending it. I should be very glad to have more of the same....” plus, In a two-page letter of April 8, 1921, Charmian debunks the claim of Jack’s beyond-the-grave authorship, in part: “Last night I finished reading ‘Death’s Sting.’ In glancing over your letter, I see that you yourself have said about all I could say as to its lacks, regarded from the Jack London power of ‘punch’…I was not prepared for so much real beauty of writing. The choice of words is remarkable, and I often exclaimed aloud during reading, over the harmoniousness and beauty of the thing. As I progressed, however, I found that the attempt (from whatsoever source) to sustain power by short, crisp sentences, and the use of the period, became extremely monotonous, irritating to the reader. Perhaps this was emphasized by the triteness, may I say, of the philosophy…The sociological spirit of the novel is mere kindergarten socialism so far as Jack is concerned. He handled it better, more fully, and far more glowingly, in his first essays that were driven by the flame of his own spirit. I cannot agree with you when you say ‘It has a spiritual element in it Mr. London’s work never had.’ Perhaps I do not know exactly how you use the word spiritual. If you use it merely in relation to life beyond the grave, you are right; but if you use it in its highest (to me) sense, in its relation to the spiritual stuff of mankind as it lives here to-day, I think you are wrong…As for details: The Note, concerning Paul and Christ, actually made me laugh. Why, Margaret, Jack was excellently well acquainted with the Scriptures, both old and new…Another detail: Jack’s evident familiarity, in ‘Death’s Sting,’ with tennis. I am led to consider that he must have learned the game on the Other Side, as he never knew it here…As for the general style—it is much like Jack’s, in spots. But it does not arrest, except in spots, as Jack’s style arrested. The very flowingness of it, except where too much short-sentence construction appears, is too smooth, too pretty, for Jack’s…Finally, let me say that I never believed Jack London had BEGUN to write—that his real work was still unwritten. Now, if he were to give us more, I should have a right to expect greater work than is on his long shelf, no? ‘Death’s Sting’ certainly is no epoch-maker in literature—do YOU think so? And if Jack could get across anything AS GOOD AS ‘Death’s Sting,’ there’s no excuse that I can think of that would prevent him from communicating a masterpiece. Surely ‘Death’s Sting,’ with all that it is, is not a masterpiece?…Let me know what the Oracle has to say about my comments.”... plus, A final letter from Charmian, dated March 30, 1922, in part: “As for the answer to my question, it is nothing if not unsatisfactory—it is banal. And this exasperation from your ‘control’ at being asked for proofs is very unlike Jack. He was always one to play ‘cards up on the table,’ and bring forward every proof. He would no more expect me to change the method I learned from him, than I would expect him to change his entire quality. It is all against conversion, don’t you think?” ... plus, Also includes a letter to Oliver by one “Edward B. Payne,” a friend of Jack London’s, concerning her manuscript. In overall very good to fine condition, with rusty paperclip stains to one letter, and dampstaining to two others (affecting one letter's signature). Jack London died in 1916, but he turned up, gamely, in 1920 when psychic Margaret More Oliver tried to reach him through automatic writing. “I am at last attuned to life,” he wrote. “There is no discord — no conflict — the clash of mind and will with heart and impulse of soul has ended.” She proposed that he write a story through her, and after many false starts they succeeded. “I am getting it over!” he wrote. “I am jubilant! Oh, God! it’s good to be able to do it. My pen is coming back to earth and I shall do wonders yet.” She sent the manuscript to London’s widow, Charmian, proposing to publish it as “Death’s Sting, by Jack London, Deceased.” But Charmian refused. The text of Death’s Sting seems to have been lost, but evidently it wasn’t very good — Charmian’s aunt, Netta Payne, wrote, “It has no touch of literary merit, no hint of power or idealistic beauty. It is a tedious detail of sordid facts without the least alleviation of literary artistry.”
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Wife of Jack London Letter Group

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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $500.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $726.00
Estimate: $500 - $750
Auction closed on Thursday, March 15, 2018.
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