Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Lovecraft-Farnese Correspondence

Part of the problem with the Lovecraft-Farnese correspondence is that many of the facts involved and some of the letters exchanged between the two men are missing. For example, in his article from 1987, "The Origins of Lovecraft's 'Black Magic' Quote," the author, David E. Schultz, wrote: "The Lovecraft collection of Brown University's John Hay Library contains only several letters from Farnese to Lovecraft, from 11 July 1932 to 9 January 1933." What does "several" mean? We have a range of six months during which Harold S. Farnese wrote to H.P. Lovecraft. What are the dates of those "several" letters? What are their contents? If these things are in the public domain, why are they not available on the Internet for all to see, especially considering the vast interest in all things Lovecraftian? Why at this late date are Lovecraft's letters still locked up in libraries and expensive hardbound editions rather than out here in the world? Or are there sources available of which I'm not aware?

I guess that's enough grousing for now. What I would like to do is present a timeline of the Lovecraft-Farnese correspondence, along with some other facts and a little on the correspondence between Farnese and August Derleth after Lovecraft's death.
  • January 1931--"Nyarlathotep" and "Azathoth" by H.P. Lovecraft published in Weird Tales.
  • February/March 1931--"Mirage" and "The Elder Pharos" by H.P. Lovecraft published in Weird Tales.
  • April/May 1931--"Alienation" by H.P. Lovecraft published in Weird Tales. This was the last poem by Lovecraft published in Weird Tales in his lifetime. Farnese was presumably still a regular (or in his words "habitual") reader of Weird Tales and as such would have seen Lovecraft's published poems of January-May 1931. He would set two of them, "Mirage" and "The Elder Pharos," to music some time after their publication.
  • July 11, 1932, to January 9, 1933--"Several" letters from Farnese to Lovecraft, held (evidently like the Necronomicon at Arkham University) at Brown University, John Hay Library, H.P. Lovecraft Collection. If the letter of July 11 was Farnese's introduction to Lovecraft, then perhaps it was also the letter in which Farnese first informed Lovecraft of his setting of two poems by Lovecraft, "Mirage" and "The Elder Pharos," to music. It may also have been the letter in which Farnese first proposed a collaboration on the libretto (by Lovecraft) and music (by Farnese) of an operetta to be entitled Yurregarth and Yannimaid, The Swamp City, or, if L. Sprague de Camp's account is accurate, Fen River.
  • Late July 1932 to Early September (?), 1932--Farnese traveled from the Institute of Musical Education in Los Angeles to Oakland, Portland, and Seattle to teach normal courses.
  • July 28, 1932--The film White Zombie released, with a chant composed, uncredited in the movie, by Guy Bevier Williams of the Institute of Musical Education. I mention this because it could be that Williams and Farnese were working on their separate pieces--presumably "primitive" pieces--at about the same time, i.e. late 1931 to early 1932. They may very well have talked things over or shared ideas. Perhaps one even inspired the other in his composition(s).
  • September 22, 1932--Letter from Lovecraft to Farnese, published in Lovecraft's Selected Letters IV (Arkham House, 1976).
  • October 12, 1932--Letter from Lovecraft to Farnese, published in Lovecraft's Selected Letters IV (Arkham House, 1976).
  • November-December 1932--Performances by Farnese (on piano) and violinist Jascha Gegna of two pieces or two "oriental" pieces, composed by Farnese, at the Institute of Musical Education in Los Angeles. Could these have been Farnese's settings of "Mirage" and "The Elder Pharos"?
  • December 7, 1932--Letter from Farnese to Lovecraft, presumably located at Brown University, John Hay Library, H.P. Lovecraft Collection.
  • January 9, 1933--Last known letter from Farnese to Lovecraft, located at Brown University, John Hay Library, H.P. Lovecraft Collection.
More than four years passed before . . . 
  • March 15, 1937--H.P. Lovecraft died in Providence, Rhode Island.
  • April 6, 1937--Letter from August Derleth to Farnese requesting the loan of Lovecraft's letters to Farnese for a planned published collection of Lovecraft's correspondence.
  • April 8, 1937--Letter from Farnese to Derleth. Farnese wrote: "In my correspondence files I must have at least two or three of his [Lovecraft's] personal letters. These were voluminous letters and highly instructive and interesting, for which reason I kept them. In one of them, if I am not mistaken, he discussed various technical points of the construction of mystery stories of the higher type."
  • April 11, 1937--Letter from Farnese to Derleth in which Farnese included the correspondence he had received from Lovecraft in 1932 or 1932-1933 ("two long letters and one postal card"). Farnese's letter to Derleth is the apparent source of the "Black Magic" quote that is almost certainly misattributed to Lovecraft. Farnese wrote: "Upon [my] congratulating HPL upon his work, he answered: 'You will, of course, realize that all my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on one fundamental lore or legend: that this world was inhabited at one time by another race, who in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside, ever ready to take possession of this earth again.' 'The Elders,' as he called them." [Emphasis by Farnese.] Farnese also wrote: "If there was another letter, it has been destroyed, for I recorded the salient points in my scrap-book. It had entirely to do with our plans on collaborating on an opera entitled: Yurregarth and Yannimaid or The Swamp City; we were not sure which name to use."
  • April 21, 1937--Letter from Farnese to Derleth in which he acknowledged the return of his Lovecraft letters from Derleth, location unknown, but presumably extant.
  • June 1937--"H.P. Lovecraft, Outsider" by August Derleth published in River, Vol. 1, No. 3.
  • September 15, 1937--Letter from Farnese to Donald Wandrei, location unknown but presumably extant.
  • September 20, 1937--Letter from Wandrei to Derleth, location unknown but presumably extant.
In all, Harold Farnese had two letters and a postcard from H.P. Lovecraft. There may have been a third letter that was lost or destroyed. The location of these letters is, I believe, unknown. They may no longer be in existence. However, if August Derleth transcribed them (or had photostats shot of them) with the idea that he would publish their contents in a collection of Lovecraft's letters, then the text (or images) may still exist, presumably in Derleth's papers. However again, if the "Black Magic" quote has survived this long, all the while being misattributed to Lovecraft, then maybe there aren't any transcriptions (or photostats) and everything was based on memory or misapprehension, starting with Farnese but perpetuated by Derleth, perhaps by mistake or a lack of scholarly rigor, perhaps also because the "Black Magic" quote suited Derleth's purposes.

Again, there are "several" letters from Farnese to Lovecraft in the Brown University library, but I'm not sure whether anybody knows how many there might be, their dates, or their contents. Maybe the librarians at Brown University don't even know. In short, there are too many missing letters, too many unknown locations, too much unknown content, and an overall lack of information on what seems to me a really central question on Lovecraft's vision: "You will, of course, realize that all my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on one fundamental lore or legend . . . ."

Original text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Harold S. Farnese (1890 or 1891-1945)-Part Six

Farnese and the Late Lovecraft
After the death of H.P. Lovecraft on March 15, 1937, August Derleth wasted no time in beginning another of his innumerable planned projects: he and his soon-to-be business partner Donald Wandrei would publish a collection of Lovecraft's letters. To that end, Derleth wrote to Harold S. Farnese on April 6, 1937, asking that Farnese send Derleth, on loan, his letters from Lovecraft. Farnese replied on April 8, saying that he had "at least two or three of his [Lovecraft's] personal letters." Farnese couldn't put his hands on them just then but he promised Derleth that he would look for them. It didn't take long. In a letter dated April 11, Farnese wrote:
The correspondence I unearthed from my files consists of two long letters and one postal card. If there was another letter, it has been destroyed, for I recorded the salient points in my scrap-book. It had entirely to do with our plans on collaborating on an opera entitled: Yurregarth and Yannimaid or The Swamp City; we were not sure which name to use. (1)
Farnese also wrote the following, which has since become a burr under the blanket of every Lovecraftian scholar between here and Yuggoth:
Upon [Farnese's] congratulating HPL upon his work, he [Lovecraft] answered: "You will, of course, realize that all my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on one fundamental lore or legend: that this world was inhabited at one time by another race, who in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside, ever ready to take possession of this earth again." "The Elders," as he called them. [Emphasis by Farnese.]
There is a lot wrong with that supposed quote, as the aforementioned scholars have pointed out. More on them in a minute.

So, Farnese is supposed to have sent the correspondence he had received from Lovecraft--"two long letters and one postal card"--to Derleth enclosed in his own letter of April 11. Theoretically, Derleth--if he was indeed planning to publish a collection of Lovecraft's letters--would have transcribed them precisely and in their entirety. But he doesn't seem to have done that. Instead, he seems to have quoted from Farnese's letter of April 11 rather than from Lovecraft's own words. In other words, this conception of Lovecraft's central thesis, held by so many for so long--"that this world was inhabited at one time by another race, who in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside, ever ready to take possession of this earth again"--is just plain wrong. These might be the most famous words that Lovecraft never said.

So the problem began when Farnese summarized what he thought Lovecraft was saying rather than just quoting Lovecraft's exact words. If he had had Lovecraft's letters to Farnese in hand, Derleth could easily have corrected this misapprehension, yet he didn't. Instead he perpetuated the idea that these were Lovecraft's own words, moreover, that this was the foundational idea of what we now call "the Cthulhu Mythos." The question is: Why? The answer seems to be that Farnese's interpretation seems to have fit with Derleth's own, one in which the Lovecraftian universe is moral and human beings count for something rather than merely materialistic where we mean very little, if anything. In other words, Derleth seems to have wanted Farnese to be right and may very well have seen Lovecraft's original creation to be inadequate to his own purposes and perhaps even offensive to his own beliefs. We can't blame Farnese for that. He was, after all, a minor figure in the Lovecraft saga, and he never published a word about the author beyond his letter or letters in Weird Tales. (2) It seems obvious to me that Derleth was instead to blame--Derleth who did so much for Lovecraft and yet seems to have glommed on to Lovecraft's creation in an effort to make it his own.

* * *

Although my research into the life and career of Harold S. Farnese is original, this final part of the series is based upon the research of others, most notably that of David E. Schultz and his article "The Origin of Lovecraft's 'Black Magic' Quote," originally in The Crypt of Cthulhu #48 (1987) and found on the Internet by clicking here. Mr. Schultz and S.T. Joshi discuss the same problem pretty extensively in their book An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, which is kinda sorta on line, too, but better read in print. (Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of this book.) Mr. Schultz and Mr. Joshi also include a long list of related research in their entry on the Cthulhu Mythos. Suffice it to say, it is pretty well accepted now that Lovecraft did not say what Farnese, then Derleth, said that he said. I'll just close by observing that Harold Sulzire (or Sulzer, maybe also Solcetto) Farnese died on October 29, 1945, in Los Angeles city or county. I believe he was without a wife or children, possibly without any heirs, survivors, or family members at all, and I find that sad.

(1) In his biography of Lovecraft, L. Sprague de Camp called the opera an operetta and had a different title for the proposed work, Fen River. So if its co-author called it The Swamp City, where did de Camp get the title Fen River?
(2) Farnese is also supposed to have composed an elegy for Lovecraft in 1937. See the blog Lovecraft and His Legacy, hosted by Chris Perridas, in an entry of January 21, 2008, here.

Original text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Harold S. Farnese (1890 or 1891-1945)-Part Five

Farnese and the Living Lovecraft
The first that I ever read of Harold S. Farnese was in L. Sprague de Camp's Lovecraft: A Biography (1975). (I have the Ballantine paperback edition of 1976, which lacks an index.) Here is part of what de Camp had to say about him:
Harold S. Farnese, dean of the Los Angeles Institute of Musical Art [sic], wrote to Lovecraft proposing a joint project: a Cthulhuvian operetta in one act, called Fen River and laid on the planet Yuggoth. As a starter, Farnese had already set two of Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth sonnets, Mirage and The Elder Pharos, to music. (p. 387)
Remember that in a letter to Weird Tales, published in August 1931, Farnese had praised Lovecraft's poems as "very fine," writing that they played "a good second to the author's inimitable stories." In the months before Farnese sent off his letter to Weird Tales, the magazine had published several of Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth cycle, including "Nyarlathotep" and "Azathoth" in January 1931, "Mirage" and "The Elder Pharos" in February/March, and "Alienation" in April/May. They would be the last of Lovecraft's poems published in Weird Tales in his lifetime.

De Camp didn't give a date for the letter Farnese sent to Lovecraft in which he proposed this joint project. I suspect that it was in 1932, as there are at least two letters extant from Lovecraft to Farnese, dated September 22, 1932, and October 12, 1932. I presume these to be answers to letters written by Farnese. De Camp wrote that, after Lovecraft demurred, "Farnese kept urging," suggesting that there was further correspondence between the two. A source on the Internet says that Farnese wrote several letters to Lovecraft, beginning July 11, 1932, and ending January 9, 1933. That fits with my supposition. It also fits with the timeline of Farnese's summer of 1932 (see the bullet points below).

One of L. Sprague de Camp's themes in his biography of Lovecraft is the author's self-defeating (and ultimately self-destructive) ways. There are those who have their differences with de Camp, but in this at least, I think he was right: Lovecraft, almost certainly because of his upbringing (and especially because of his father's abandonment of him and his mother's unstable emotional state, which resulted in a kind of emotional abuse of her son), too often defeated himself, sabotaged his own efforts, and in the end more or less destroyed himself by long habits of malnourishment, undernourishment, and perhaps even self-starvation. In any event, Lovecraft, offering various excuses, backed away from a collaboration with Harold Farnese, and so a wonderful opportunity (and to us a fascinating possibility) was missed. None of that changes the fact that if Farnese did indeed set "Mirage" and "The Elder Pharos" to music, then these were very likely the first adaptations of Lovecraft's work to a form other than poetry or prose.

Harold Farnese had been interested in weird fiction since at least 1925 when he wrote his first published letter to Weird Tales. There are some other interesting tidbits from his career, though, and I wonder about a couple of them: Could Farnese actually have performed, sometime in 1932, his music based on Lovecraft's poems?
  • On September 25, 1927, the Los Angeles Times published a classified advertisement under the heading "Church Notices--Liberal and Orthodox" that reads in part: "Ancient Spiritual Church [. . .] Mons. Harold Farnese M.A.B.B. of Dyon Un. France will speak on 'What Is Colour?' Piano & vocal solos." (p. 69) (1) That to me suggests that Farnese, like so many other figures in weird fiction, was interested in the occult and alternative spiritual and religious practices. Later correspondence suggests that he was interested at least in black magic.
  • In January 1932, the Los Angeles Times mentioned a composition by Farnese as among those that were recently attracting attention in musical circles. The title of Farnese's composition, a piece for piano, was "Dance of the Moon Dwellers." (2, 3)
  • In the latter part of July 1932, Farnese left on a trip with other instructors from the Institute of Musical Education. They traveled to Oakland, Portland, and Seattle to conduct normal classes in those cities and returned to Los Angeles in early September. If Farnese and Lovecraft carried on their correspondence from July 11, 1932, to early 1933 (see above), did Farnese then complete his settings for Lovecraft's poems prior to leaving on his trip? It would seem so.
  • On the evening of November 21, 1932, violinist Jascha Gegna, recently arrived on the faculty at the institute, played a concert there. Farnese played piano. Included in the program were pieces by Senaillé and Corelli, as well as "two numbers by Harold Farnese" [emphasis added]. Could these have been his settings for "Mirage" and "The Elder Pharos"? (4)
  • About a week later, Gegna and Farnese performed once again at the institute. Senaillé was once again on the program, as were "two numbers of oriental atmosphere by Harold Farnese" [emphasis added]. Again, were these Farnese's adaptations of Lovecraft? (5)
The chance for an operetta based on Lovecraft's poetry, in which Lovecraft would write the libretto and Farnese the music, came and went in 1932-1933. Then, four years later, it disappeared forever, for on March 15, 1937, Lovecraft died in Providence, the city of his birth.  

To be continued . . .

(1) Coincidentally, "The Colour Out of Space"--same spelling--by H.P. Lovecraft was published in Amazing Stories, also in September 1927.
(2) "Southland Composers Versatile in Writings" by Helen Scott, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 3, 1932, p. 44.
(3) The film White Zombie was released on July 28, 1932. Guy Bevier Williams (1873-1955), musical director of the Institute of Musical Education, was the uncredited composer of the chant that plays over the main title sequence of the film. Presumably, Williams worked on that composition in late 1931 or early 1932, perhaps at the same time that Farnese was composing his two settings of Lovecraft's poems.
(4) [Item], Los Angeles Times, Nov. 20, 1932, p. 41.
(5) [Item], Los Angeles Times, Dec. 4, 1932, p. 48.

Original text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Harold S. Farnese (1890 or 1891-1945)-Part Four

In "The Eyrie"
Before he was mentioned in newspapers, Harold S. Farnese had his name in Weird Tales. He didn't write any stories, poems, or articles for "The Unique Magazine," nor did he create any cover designs or interior illustrations. Instead he wrote letters, and it is for his letters, in and out of the magazine, that he has earned his place in the lore of Weird Tales and its foremost author, H.P. Lovecraft.

All together, there were eight letters by Farnese in the letters column of Weird Tales, called "The Eyrie." The first was in the issue of April 1925, just two years after the magazine had made its debut. Farnsworth Wright was the credited editor of Weird Tales as of November 1924. I don't know what Farnese wrote about in his first letter, but I wonder whether it was in response to the recent revival of the magazine under Wright's editorship. I also wonder whether Farnese and Wright knew each other, as both were involved in the musical scene in California, and both had lived at one time in San Francisco.

I don't have access to the next two issues (Sept. 1925 and Feb. 1925) in which Farnese's letters or comments appeared, but in the issue of May 1926, he commented on Elwin J. Owens' story "Dead in Three Hours":
"There is no real motive for all the atrocities," writes Harold S. Farnese, of Los Angeles; "the story would be acceptable if one did not get the impression that it is weird merely for the sake of weirdness." (p. 715)
I'll have to skip the issue of June 1926, again for lack of access, and go to that of May 1927:
Harold S. Farnese, of Los Angeles, writes to The Eyrie: "As to the pro and con of reprints, I think it ludicrous to generally praise or condemn them. You have given us some very good reprints, notably What Was It? [by Fitz-James O'Brien, Dec. 1925] and The Upper Berth [by F. Marion Crawford, June 1926]; also the two last ones were entertaining. The one by Andreyeff ["Lazarus," Mar. 1927] shows the hand of a masterly author; it affected me strangely days after I read it. But Ligeia by Poe [Nov. 1926] was awfully drawn out, almost pointless, pages of ravings over the beauty of a certain woman, exhausting the dictionary, as it were, but stylistically old-fashioned and uninteresting. Give us reprints, but when you select them be guided by their style. Some of the old stories read as if they had been written only yesterday, but others assuredly bore us to death. The days of the great Walter Scott, who was permitted to describe a hillside through sixty pages or so, are over. We want action these days, not long-winded descriptions." (pp. 711-712)
More than four years passed before Farnese's next letter in Weird Tales. This one, from August 1931, may have been the start of a little saga, as we'll see in the next part of this series:
"Keep the magazine weird by all means," writes Harold Farnese, of Los Angeles; "not too many mechanical stories, aviation, etc.; a modern atmosphere usually lacks the thrill of things unknown, unless penned by a master hand. Speculative stories of other planets, however, should be welcomed by your readers. H.P. Lovecraft's poems are very fine and play a good second to this author's inimitable stories. His style of building up a weird and eldritch atmosphere has yet to be equalled by other writers." (p. 142)
Farnese here expressed an obvious appreciation for Lovecraft's poems. Note that in so doing he used a musical metaphor: "play a good second." If Farnese was a regular (or habitual--see below) reader of Weird Tales, he would have seen fifteen poems by Lovecraft published in the magazine from April 1924 to April/May 1931. These were in fact all of the Lovecraft poems published by Weird Tales in his lifetime. Eleven were from a series we now know as The Fungi from Yuggoth--thirty-six sonnets penned by Lovecraft beginning in December 1929 and published in their entirety (and in numbered order) only after his death. I can't say that this was Farnese's first mention of Lovecraft in his letters to "The Eyrie." However, the timing is interesting. Before getting into that, though, I'll give Farnese's last letter in Weird Tales, from July 1937:
Harold S. Farnese, of Los Angeles, writes: "Reading your magazine habitually, I sometimes wonder whether you ever realized how great a contributor you had in H.P. Lovecraft. Whether you ever gaged the fineness of his stories, the originality of his genius? Of course, you published them, alongside of others. You sent him his cheque, and that was that. But has it ever occurred to you that in Lovecraft you had the greatest genius that ever lived in the realm of weird fiction?" (p. 125)
In this, his last letter, Farnese didn't mince any words: Lovecraft was, in his opinion, "the greatest genius that ever lived in the realm of weird fiction." Beyond that, Farnese wondered whether Weird Tales had recognized Lovecraft's greatness. Considering some of the editorial decisions it made during Lovecraft's lifetime, we might wonder, too.

Harold S. Farnese's Letters in "The Eyrie"
April 1925
September 1925
February 1926
May 1926
June 1926
May 1927
August 1931
July 1937

To be continued . . . 

Original text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Harold S. Farnese (1890 or 1891-1945)-Part Three

Career in Music-Part Two
The Institute of Musical Education was incorporated in Los Angeles in 1926 by S. D. Weaver, Herbert E. "Bert" Rawlinson, John M. Schergen, and Samuel S. Glenberg. I don't know when Harold S. Farnese began teaching there, but he was an instructor as early as December 1930 (in the same year in which he turned forty). I'm on the track of a group photograph for the school from 1926. I hope to find Farnese in that photo, either as a student or as an instructor.

Farnese worked with some prominent and not-so-prominent people at the institute. I'll go through a list beginning with one of the directors of the Institute of Musical Education:
  • John M. Schergen (1885-1961)-A composer, he wrote the music for the song "I'm a Soldier" from 1918.
  • Guy Bevier Williams (1873-1955)-Musical director, pianist, composer
  • Josef Borissoff, aka Josef Borissoff Piastro (1889-1964)-Violinist
  • Isadore Braggiotti (1864-1934)-Voice
  • Henry Brenner (dates unknown)-Violinist
  • La Verne (Carlin) Fleetwood (1898-1955) (aka La Verne Addis?)-Violinist, voice
  • Jascha Gegna (1879, O.S.-1944)-Violinist
  • Roland Paul (1875-1942)-Voice
  • William B. Ramsdell (ca. 1880?-1936?)-Dance
  • Barbara Elizabeth Rawlinson (1888-1941)-Drama and speech
  • Herbert E. Rawlinson (1883-1964)
Note that a few of these instructors died in the period 1930-1943 while Farnese was also at the institute. I wonder if a loss of personnel (as well as shortages experienced during World War II) helped bring about the end of the institute in 1943.

* * *
I always like to find connections in our wider or mainstream culture to genre fiction, pulp fiction, and popular culture. I have found just such connections with Guy Bevier Williams, who composed music used in several movies and serials from the 1920s and '30s. Williams was uncredited in all of these:
  • Tarzan the Tiger (1929)
  • The Cohens and the Kellys in Africa (1930)
  • Flaming Guns (1932)
  • The Phantom of the Air (1933)
  • Perils of Pauline (1933)
  • The Red Rider (1934)
  • The Roaring West (1935)
  • The Adventures of Frank Merriwell (1936) 
  • The Phantom Rider (1936)
Williams also composed the chant used in the opening credits of White Zombie, released in 1932. Again, he was uncredited for his composition.

Guy Bevier Williams wasn't the only instructor at the institute with connections to genre fiction, pulp fiction, and popular culture. Farnese had those connections, too, and they were more direct and significant, for Harold S. Farnese was a correspondent of H.P. Lovecraft.

To be continued . . .

Copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, September 21, 2018

Harold S. Farnese (1890 or 1891-1945)-Part Two

Career in Music-Part One
In January 1916, Harold S. Farnese arrived in the United States, evidently to stay. A native of Monaco and recently of Montreal, Canada, he was twenty-five years old, and, though he had been educated as a performer and composer of music, Farnese was then employed as a bank clerk. Moving back and forth between Los Angeles and San Francisco, he would work in that capacity (and as a bookkeeper) for several years. But in the 1920s, the decade during which he turned thirty and closed in on forty (like Jacob Clark Henneberger and H.P. Lovecraft), Farnese got off on a different path, towards music but also towards an interest in weird fiction.

The earliest mention I have of Farnese in a newspaper article is his authorship of "Autumnal Gale," a piece for piano performed in 1926 in Solvang, California, by J. Ellis Smith. (1) Four years later, in December 1930, Farnese played a full program of his own music at the auditorium of Barker Brothers Furnishings in Los Angeles. (2) Then, beginning in early 1931, Farnese had fairly frequent mention in newspapers, mostly to do with his work at the Institute of Musical Education in Los Angeles.

Established in 1915 and incorporated in 1926, the Institute of Musical Education published, sold, and conducted educational courses not only for young music students but also for music teachers. Farnese was with the institute as early as December 1930 (3). First he taught piano and theory. By February 1932, he had become dean, and he remained in that position throughout the 1930s and evidently into the 1940s. Farnese also conducted the symphony orchestra at the institute.

In March 1941, Farnese placed a classified ad in the Los Angeles Times calling himself a "retired conductor" but also "graduate of [the] Paris Conservatory of Music and Dean of [the] Institute of Musical Education." He advertised his services to "several serious applicants in [a] proven condensed method of piano or harmony." When he filled out his draft card a year later, Farnese gave his place of employment as 715 South Park View, Los Angeles, the location of the Institute of Musical Education (and now, I think, the location of a strip mall). The following year, the institute was dissolved.

To be continued . . . 

(1) Prior to that, Farnese registered a copyright for a musical piece called "Consolation."
(2) As of 2012, the Barker Brothers building was owned by Downtown Properties, which also owned at the time the famous Bradbury Building.
(3) A month earlier, in November 1930, the story of a minor business scandal involving the owner of the institute, a Mr. S.D. Weaver, came out in the press. I wonder if the two events--the scandal and Farnese's employment at the Institute of Musical Education--could have been related.

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, September 17, 2018

Harold S. Farnese (1890 or 1891-1945)-Part One

Aka Harold Sulzire (or Sulzer) Farnese, Harold Solcetto Farnese, H.S. Farnese
Bank Clerk, Bookkeeper, Musician, Composer, Conductor, Educator
Born March 11, 1890 (or 1891), Monaco
Died October 29, 1945, Los Angeles City or County, California

Harold S. Farnese didn't write any stories, poems, or articles for Weird Tales, nor was he a cover artist or illustrator. His eight letters published in "The Eyrie," the letters column of Weird Tales, failed to land him in the top twenty contributors in that category. You might say that he was a pretty minor figure in the history of the magazine and its contributors. Except for that part where he was so central to a certain understanding of what we call the Cthulhu Mythos. Beyond that, Farnese may have been the first person to adapt a work by H.P. Lovecraft to a form other than verse or prose.

Harold S. Farnese was born on March 11, 1890 (or 1891), in Monaco. His father, named James (or equivalent), was Italian. His mother was French. (Farnese's mother tongue was also French.) When I'm working on genealogical or biographical research, I tend to put more weight on earlier rather than later sources. I also like information written down by or directly provided by the person in question. That's why I have 1890 as Farnese's probable birth year and Sulzire as a probable middle name, for both are from Farnese's draft card from 1917. (1)

According to a later newspaper source, Farnese was a graduate of the Paris Conservatory of Music. Another newspaper source gives a fuller account of his education:
Harold Farnese, dean of the institute, studied piano under Martial Lecompte and Sapellnikoff, theory and composition under Racky, a pupil of Saint-Saens [sic], and graduated from the Dijon Conservatory. (2, 3)
The institute mentioned here was the Institute of Musical Education, established in Los Angeles in 1915. More on that in part two of this series.

In the U.S. census of 1920, Farnese gave information that he had immigrated to the United States in 1914 but that he was not yet a citizen. (4) I found another record for a border crossing he made in January 1916 from Canada to the United States in which he gave his occupation as bank clerk; his place of national origin ("Nationality") as Germany; his father's name as James; his father's address as Frankfurt am Main, Germany; and his last permanent residence as Montreal, Canada. Farnese's stated final destination was Los Angeles, California, and that's where he went after all. (5)

When he filled out his draft card in 1917, Farnese was still an alien (i.e., not yet a citizen), living at 2195 West 27th Street in Los Angeles, and working as a bank clerk at Hellman Bank. That name is new to me but is no doubt familiar to those who know the history of Los Angeles, as the Hellmans--two German-born brothers--helped to establish many of that city's institutions. Presumably, Farnese's employer was connected in one way or another to these men. It's worth noting here that Farnese seems to have worked in banks and with musicians and composers who had foreign ties. He may never have really cut his own ties to Europe.

In 1919-1921, Farnese lived in San Francisco at 610 Geary Street, site of a hotel, and worked as a bookkeeper and bank clerk. By 1922, he was with the Bank of Italy in San Francisco. Farnese turned thirty-two that year. Sometime during the decade that followed, his life seems to have taken a turn. Unbeknownst to himself and everybody else in the world besides Jacob Clark Henneberger, Farnese also arrived that year at the eve of Weird Tales.

To be continued . . .

(1) I haven't seen Farnese's surname as anything but Farnese, but there are indications that Sulzire and Solcetto are also surnames. Until we know something more, I'll assume that Sulzire and Solcetto were surnames in Farnese's family. If I figure this right, Sulzire is a Corsican name, while Solcetto is Italian. Farnese is also an Italian name and a pretty prominent one at that. All of this would match well with Farnese's mother as having been French and his father as having been Italian. Incidentally, Farnese used the middle name Sulzire in his World War I draft card and Solcetto in his World War II draft card.
(2) "Faculty Body at Music Institute Has Top Rating," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 26, 1936, p. 56.
(3) I don't know who Martial Lecompte or Racky were, but I presume that "Sapellnikoff" was the Russian pianist Wassily Sapellnikoff (1867-1941).
(4) In the census of 1920, there is a column for citizenship with choices of either "Naturalized or alien." The abbreviation for Harold Farnese was "Pa," denoting "Papers," i.e., Farnese had "take[n] out papers of declaration of intention to become a citizen." 
(5) About half of the information in this record is unclear; there seems to be a problem with the way the original pages were scanned or photographed and then fitted together again in a digital format.

Revised September 18, 2018. Be aware that previous versions of this article contained errors.
Original text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Topics for a Summer Night-Part Three

The National Museum of Brazil burned last Sunday. You may not have known it if you had been watching Yahoo "news" or similar outlets. If a Kardashian had burned, you would have known about it (and the loss would have been pretty negligible in comparison), but two hundred years of a nation's history can go up in flames and we remain oblivious. This is a tragedy and a disaster, and I guess I want to do something about it--to salvage something from the ruins--to raise up if I can in some way the people of Brazil, who have created so much beautiful music and so many great works of art and culture.

So I am searching for Brazilian weird fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, as well as art in those genres. Fortunately I have a two-volume set called Arte no Brasil, published in Brazil in 1979, in which to begin. That set has led me to some works by Brazilian artists that touch on the genres at hand.

From 1636 to 1644, the Dutch artist Albert Eckhout (ca. 1610-1665) lived in Brazil and completed a number of paintings of native peoples, flora, and fauna. Here is his painting Mulher Tapuia (Tapuian Woman), from 1641. She looks pleasant enough, but I'm pretty sure that the basket she has strapped across her forehead isn't big enough to carry a whole man. And what does she have in her right hand but another right hand? Anyway, this is an ethnographic kind of painting, not a genre work, yet it has its macabre elements. Encounters with cannibalism and other strange and exotic things in the jungles and wilds of South and Central America are a mainstay of weird fiction. As in the case of the artist Eckhout, the men and women making those encounters are always Europeans or Americans. It's always us encountering them. But what about a weird tale told from the perspective of an American Indian or a South American native traveling to Washington, D.C., New York, London, or Paris? Would he not encounter equally strange and exotic things? And how would he account for them? How would he explain and describe them to his countrymen?

Most of the works in the first volume of Arte no Brasil are religious or ecclesiastical. A lot of it is of the architecture of churches or sculpture of scenes from the Bible, like life-sized dioramas. In other words, there's a lot of supernatural subject matter, but all of it is Christian, more specifically Catholic in nature. I was a little puzzled by the overall lack of the fantastic, but then I read an article about Brazilian science fiction, and I think I have an explanation. More on that in a while.

The first known use of the word zombi in print in English is in Robert Southey's History of Brazil, from 1819. However, Southey's zombi is nowhere near our zombie of today. He seems to have used the word exclusively to refer to Zombi, the leader of a slave revolt. In looking into the origins of the word, Southey wrote: ". . . I examined a book of religious instructions in the Portuguese and Angolan languages [. . .] and there I found that NZambi is the word for Deity." (Vol. III, p. 24) The man of whom he wrote was Zumbi (1665-1695),  a national hero in Brazil and subject of this painting by the twentieth century Brazilian impressionist Antônio Parreiras (1860-1937). I wonder if Zumbi's name as a symbol of rebellion against slavery could have found its way into African cultures in the Caribbean and North America. It hardly seems likely, but then I'm not an ethnologist or folklorist. It seems far more likely to me that the words zumbi, zombi, and zombie (probably also jumbee and jumbie) have a common origin in Africa and were brought here or evolved here in the New World. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when westerners finally noticed, these words had come to mean different things in different places.

It was only when I got into the twentieth century that I found fantastic art in Arte no Brasil, and then only a little.

The Portuguese caption for this print by Marcelo Grassman (1925-2013) reads: "Animais fantásticos, numa atmosfera de pesadelo, evocam sombrias estampas medievais em obras como Incubus Sucubus n.o 2, xilogravura realizada por Marcelo Grassman em 1953."

By an online translation, that means: "Fantastic animals, in a nightmarish atmosphere, evoke sombre medieval prints in works such as Incubus Succubus no. 2, woodcut by Marcelo Grassman in 1953." Some of Grassman's work reminds me a little of that of Lee Brown Coye.

Otávio Araújo (1926-2015) was a Brazilian surrealist. This picture, Saudade de Santa Teresa, is a striking example of his work. Like Grassman, he seems to have looked to the distant past for inspiration.

So what about the apparent lack of weird fiction, fantasy, and science fiction in Brazil? According to Manuel da Costa Pinto in Folha de S.Paulo (May 31, 2003), O Doutor Benignus by Augusto Emilio Zaluar (1875) was the first Brazilian science fiction novel. (It was written, however, by a Portuguese native, naturalized as a Brazilian citizen in his younger years.) In regards to Brazilian science fiction, Signore Pinto writes:
Far from embarking on a copy of European or North American models, Brazilians express the passive, contemplative character that science assumes in a technologically outdated country, as in "Benignus" . . . . (1)
I take that to mean that Brazil, being a more conservative and less progressive kind of country, is less suited to science fiction than its counterparts in Europe or North America. As Arte no Brasil indicates, fantasy would seem to be more up the Brazilian alley, and in reviewing the book Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in Brazil (1875 to 1950), by Roberto de Sousa Causo, Signore Pinto seems to confirm this idea:
Science fiction itself would have been rooted in fantastic voyages--such as the accounts of Lucian of Samosata ("A True Story"), Jonathan Swift ("Gulliver's Travels"), Kepler ("Somnium") or Cyrano de Bergerac ("The Other World")--and imaginary places like the legendary kingdom of Prester John, "The Utopia" of Thomas More or the world prophesied by Vieira in "History of the Future." 
The siblings [of science fiction] would be "fantasy," in which science gives rise to magical phenomena (as in the cycle of King Arthur), and "horror," whose dreamlike atmosphere of claustrophobia goes back to the Gothic novel and the "Nights in the Tavern" by Álvares de Azevedo. 
This plurality of sources, in turn, gains a special nuance in a Brazilian setting. And if this is valid for all of our literature, it is possible to find traces of medieval folklore both in the popular literature of the Northeast and in Guimarães Rosa, an important author of [science fiction] as Braulio Tavares renews this amalgam by writing the fantastic series titled "The Stone of Noon or Artur and Isadora." (2)
So the pattern seems to hold. Conservative writers, artists, and cultures look to the past and create works of fantasy, history, romance, and horror (or weird fiction), while their more liberal or progressive counterparts look to the future and create works of science fiction. (3) If all of this is true, then a Brazilian author of yesteryear might easily have found a home in Weird Tales. What was lacking for most of the history of the magazine, of course, were strong connections between the United States and our neighbors to the south, connections that would have carried art and literature back and forth between us. We may have received their music (and they received ours) but not much else as far as I can tell. Maybe in some future incarnation of "The Unique Magazine" we will see and read works by Brazilian authors and artists. Maybe in that way a magazine can become a museum that never burns.

(1) "Science fiction Is the Atlantis of Brazilian Literature" by Manuel da Costa Pinto, Folha de S.Paulo, May 31, 2003, here.
(2) I used an online translator to render this article into English. I have made a few adjustments. As you can see, the results are imperfect, but you get the drift.
(3) I don't think we should underestimate the very powerful influence of the Church on the culture of a thoroughly Catholicized nation. After all, there is in the Bible, Catholic teachings, and Catholic culture all of the stories of the fantastic, the supernatural, the mystical, and the magical that a believer might want or need. Secular fantasy, as in our genre fiction, might be superfluous. Anti-Christian or anti-Catholic fantasy, as in so much of our contemporary genre fiction, would be unwelcome. And science fiction might not gain much traction in such a place, not only because of its inherent conservatism but also because Christians already have a fully satisfying vision of the future, one that looks nothing like Star Trek or The Jetsons.

Original text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Topics for a Summer Night-Part Two

On Sunday night, September 2, 2018, the National Museum of Brazil burned, and with it went great and irreplaceable treasures of the Brazilian people, of their land, their nation, their history, and their culture. Every moment of every day, we lose something of our culture, most obviously when books, works of art, writings, and other works of the heart and mind are destroyed or discarded; less so when a person dies. But for so much to be lost so suddenly and in such a spectacular fashion seems to me an unspeakable tragedy. We can only imagine how the Brazilian people feel, for this is nearer to them than it is to us in America and Europe. But in the big scheme of things, this is our loss, too.

I became acquainted with Brazilian culture by listening to Brazilian music. Bossa nova and samba were everywhere in America in the 1960s and '70s. It was the theme music in movies and television, the background music in malls and shopping centers and on elevators, and in much of what was called adult contemporary or easy listening on the radio. For young people, it was easy to ignore or dismiss. When we were kids, we had a copy of Gary McFarland's Soft Samba Strings. It came from a favorite uncle, and though we listened to it and liked it, I think we had a sense that this was music for an older generation. How little we knew.

I came back to bossa nova and samba almost two decades ago, first by way of Sérgio Mendes and Brasil 66. I hate to say this about an Internet behemoth, but YouTube in recent years has been a godsend. You can hear music now that you would never have heard before. On the other hand, I don't hate to say that a man named José Freitas, who posts Brazilian music by the boatload on YouTube, deserves a medal for his tireless work. Obrigado, Signore Freitas.

One of my favorite Brazilian musicians--one of my heroes really for his devotion to his art-- is the guitarist and composer Baden Powell (1937-2000). If you want to see a work of wonder, watch his nine-minute performance of "Prelude in A Minor" from his later years. And if you want to hear a more popular work, listen to his collaboration with Vinicius de Moraes, Os Afro Sambas, from 1966, that nearly matchless year of popular culture, in which the two are backed by Quarteto em Cy, sisters who sing like angels.

As far as I know, there was never a Brazilian author or artist in Weird Tales, at least in its first several incarnations, that is, up to 1985. There may have been since then, but I don't have an index for the issues published in the period 1988-2014. But in my search for Brazilian weird fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, I begin with a song from Os Afro Sambas, "Canto de Iemanjá," composed by Baden Powell and sung by Vinicius and Quarteto em Cy. Baden Powell was interested in the traditional music of his native land, also, it seems certain, in its traditional culture, for, despite his Anglo name, he was of African descent. His "Canto de Iemanjá" is drawn from the Brazilian, and more distantly, the African goddess whose name is rendered in Portuguese as Iemanjá. She is sometimes depicted as a mermaid, and she is the mother whose children are like fish (I think that means plentiful rather than finny), a protector of women, a symbol of fecundity, also of waters and the ocean sea. The song begins at about the 12:25 mark of Os Afro Sambas. I don't understand the words, yet they speak, drawing the listener on, through the darkness and mist, through which they echo and fade, whisper and call. Iemanjá beckons . . . 

To be continued . . .

This cover for Weird Tales by Virgil Finlay from December 1937 is not of Iemanjá, but it's the closest thing I can find to a woman of the sea. The cover story is "The Sea-Witch" by the enigmatic Nictzin Dyalhis.

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Topics for a Summer Night-Part One

Yes, I admit, this is supposed to be a blog about Weird Tales magazine and the men and women who contributed to it over the last near-century. It's not really supposed to be about Star Wars or Star Trek, and it's definitely not supposed to be about a creepy FBI agent, who is, by the way, so very disgusting that writing about him the other day has left a really bad taste in my mouth. I for one don't like the sensation. I hope that I haven't disgusted you too much by putting him before you. If I have, I'm sorry. In any case, I'll bring that unsavory topic to a close by observing that the agent in question is a good example of what happens when you give small men outsized power.

I've gotten around the narrow focus on Weird Tales by changing the blurb you see on your right. In case you haven't noticed, it now reads:
Welcome to Tellers of Weird Tales, an online compendium of the men and women, writers and artists, stories and ideas that appeared in Weird Tales and other weird fiction and science fiction magazines of the pulp era. [Emphasis added.]
Pretty sneaky, huh? Even that wider focus doesn't include Star Wars and Star Trek, though, unless I do a little dodging and weaving. After all, both franchises have their roots in far older forms and genres. For example, "When the Green Star Waned" by Nictzin Dyalhis, first published in Weird Tales in April 1925, with its fearless crew and their rescue of a planet, could easily be adapted to an episode of Star Trek. (And isn't a phaser really just a blastor?) For another example, the creators of the original series drew from magazine science fiction for many of their concepts, plots, and story ideas, including those depicted in the episodes "Operation: Annihilate" and "The Trouble with Tribbles," both from 1967. In the former, there are flying pancakes that attach themselves to people's backs and tap into their nervous systems, just as in The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, serialized in Galaxy Science Fiction in 1951. (Basil Wolverton used the same concept in his weird and brilliant science fiction story "The Brain-Bats of Venus," published in Mr. Mystery #7 in 1952.) In the latter appear little furry creatures like the flat cats in Heinlein's novel The Rolling Stones, originally in Boys' Life in 1952. Now I'll stretch really, really far and point out that Robert A. Heinlein contributed to Weird Tales in the 1940s. As for Star Wars, I think I have already traced the descent (shakily or not) of Han Solo through Leigh Brackett's Eric John Stark to Northwest Smith, created by C.L. Moore for the 1930s Weird Tales. I should point out here that Robert Heinlein was also inspired by C.L. Moore in the title of his story "The Green Hills of Earth" (The Saturday Evening Post, Feb. 8, 1947), based on a song of the same name from "Shambleau" (Weird Tales, Nov. 1933). And could Ernest Hemingway have been inspired by C.L. Moore as well? After all, his book Green Hills of Africa was published in 1935, after Northwest Smith had hummed his little song . . . nah, couldn't be.

So I can try to justify writing about Star Wars and Star Trek with that kind of logic, but I really only need one bit of logic: this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want. And what I want to write about next is Brazilian culture.

To be continued . . . 

In the category of "They Should Have Been in Weird Tales," there is Basil Wolverton. I can't lay my hands on one of my favorite panels by him, so this one will do, but when it comes to Wolverton, any panel will do. He was inimitable--irreplaceable. His kind, of which there was only one, will never be seen again. (I have to ask, though, was he influenced by Matt Fox of Weird Tales?)

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, September 3, 2018

Heroes and Villains

While I was away, my sister got me hooked on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's an enjoyable show, and the little dropped hints, continuing plot threads, and cliffhanger endings remind me of the Marvel comics we read when we were kids. We watched about a season and a half before I had to leave home. I'm not sure when I'll get back to it.

While I was watching the show, a thing occurred to me. Earlier this summer, we were treated to the horrifying spectacle of FBI agent Peter Strzok's testimony before Congress concerning his abuse and misuse of his position, authority, and resources before and after the last presidential election. I won't sugar coat it. I think Mr. Strzok is a creep and a dweeb. Having grown up without any siblings in Iran, Africa, and perhaps also in Saudi Arabia, he was, I suspect, improperly socialized as a child. He may never have learned what it is to be an American, despite the fact that his father spent twenty years in the U.S. Army. (He certainly doesn't know anything about the U.S. Constitution.) Peter Strzok the son then spent four years cloistered in an exclusive Catholic preparatory school. After sending gazillions of text messages to his lover in 2015 and after, he got caught, like a child with his hand in the cookie jar. But instead of being contrite, he lashed out at the people who questioned him, like a rotten, spoiled, pampered brat. His performance in front of Congress was both weird and disgusting. Watch him if you can as he squirms and smirks, sneers and threatens. There is contempt and arrogance in him, but there is also fear, the fear of a schoolboy who wants to do well but has failed. We may be in for more of this later on, but for now, the execrable Mr. Strzok is out of a job at the FBI. We can be thankful at least for that.

Even before I watched Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I was reminded in seeing Peter Strzok of a figure from popular culture. In watching the show, though, it occurred to me that maybe he, in his sophomoric way, imagines himself as Agent Phil Coulson, the fearless and slightly extra-legal head of a cadre of super-agents tasked at protecting us from the bad guys. I see him instead as closer to what he really is. Spoiled, immature, and dangerous in the extreme in his contempt for others and in his continued abuse of power, Peter Strzok is like Charlie X from the first season of Star Trek.

Who says science fiction lacks predictive power?

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley