Rediscovered: Andrew Lang

Continuing today’s Autograph Hound Super-Sunday theme of Lost Race — sometimes known as Lost World, guess the fine line drawn depends on how exotic the race involved in the action may be, but the baseline is the Lost part — we bring in Brian Leno to display a John Hancock for a collaborator of H. Rider Haggard. Haggard pretty much kicked this genre into gear.

Brian reports, “The autograph of Andrew Lang can be had fairly cheap.

“In a 1927 letter to Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft wrote, ‘Now — if I can get the leisure — I mean to read The World’s Desire, by Haggard & Lang.’ It is pretty apparent the Old Gent was a fan of H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang.

“HPL even gives Lang some credit for helping him to create one of his most famous characters, Abdul Alhazred. In a 1930 letter to Robert E. Howard he says, ‘Abdul is a favourite dream-character of mine — indeed that is what I used to call myself when I was five years old and a transported devotee of Andrew Lang’s version of the Arabian Nights.’  

“There’s a bit of a problem with this statement. Lovecraft, born in 1890, would have been five in 1895 — according to an Internet bibliography of Lang, his ‘version of the Arabian Nights‘ didn’t see publication until 1898.

“But, hey, if Lovecraft wants to credit Lang with his creation of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred that’s fine by me, especially since I have a copy of Lang’s signature.

“Coincidentally, The World’s Desire was published in 1890, the year of the horror master’s birth.

“The book tells of a journey Odysseus took after the events related in Homer’s Odyssey and we find that his Queen Penelope has died and this sets in motion events that ultimately take him to Egypt and Helen of Troy.

“I’m not going to ruin the novel for those who haven’t read it but it’s a good book and for those lovers of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series it showed up in the set in 1972, with an introduction by Lin Carter.”

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