- “Battle That Ended the Century, The“
- Short story (1,200 words); written in collaboration with R.H.Barlow, June 1934. First published as a mimeographed flyer (June 1934); rpt. Acolyte(Fall 1944); first collected in Cats;corrected text in MW.On the eve of the year 2001, a great heavyweight fight is held between Two-Gun Bob, the Terror of the Plains, and Knockout Bernie, the Wild Wolf of West Shokan. After several rounds, Two-Gun Bob is declared the winner, but the World Court reverses the verdict and the Wild Wolf is declared the true victor.The squib was conceived when HPL was visiting Barlow in Florida in the summer of 1934. Barlow was clearly the originator, as typescripts prepared by him survive, one with extensive revisions in pen by HPL. The idea was to mention as many mutual colleagues as possible, in various comical contexts relating to their actual literary work or personality. Barlow had initially cited them by their actual names, but HPL felt that this was not very interesting, so he devised parodic or punning names for them: Frank Belknap Long is alluded to as Frank Chimesleep Short, HPL as Horse-Power Hateart. Barlow and HPL then circulated the whimsy, but in such a way that its authorship would not be immediately evident. The plan was this: Barlow would mimeograph the item (copies exist in two 8???14? sheets, each with text on one side only) and then have the copies mailed from a location that could not be traced to either HPL or Barlow. It appears that fifty duplicated copies were prepared toward the middle of June and were sent to Washington, D.C., where they would be mailed (possibly by Elizabeth Toldridge, a colleague of both HPL’s and Barlow’s but not associated with the weird fiction circle). This seems to have been done just before HPL left De Land and began heading north, so that the items would be in the hands of associates by the time HPL reached Washington.In correspondence, the two authors talk in conspiratorial tones about its reception by colleagues: “Note the signature—Chimesleep Short—which indicates that our spoof has gone out & that he [Long] at least thinks I’ve seen the thing. Remember that if you didn’t know anything about it, you’d consider it merely a whimsical trick of his own—& that if you’d merely seen the circular, you wouldn’t think it worth commenting on. I’m ignoring the matter in my reply” (HPL to R.H.Barlow, June 29, 1934; ms., JHL). Some colleagues were amused, but others were less so. HPL notes: “Wandrei wasn’t exactly in a rage, but (according to Belknap) sent the folder on to Desmond Hall with the languid comment, ‘Here’s something that may interest you—it doesn’t interest me'” (HPL to R.H.Barlow, July 21, 1934; ms., JHL).
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.
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