Monday, July 30, 2018

Tales from The Book of the Dead: A. Merritt and Edmond Hamilton

A story of A. Merritt and Edmond Hamilton, from E. Hoffman Price's The Book of the Dead:
A. Merritt's stories influenced many a beginner, and a certain number of careless professionals. Although such yarns could hardly be called pastiches, a form which Lovecraft worshippers have used as a shortcut to fame, there was progress in that direction. A. Merritt, however, regarded such bunglers with good humor. 
Picking up such a magazine in which such a story appeared, he would grin sourly, spit out the window, and say, "Mmm...not a great it is not without Merritt." 
At a convention, one of the members of a circle of sensitive-sincere-artistic-literary writers and would-be writers took the floor and denounced A. Merritt as "just another hack." This was too much for ordinarily amiable and easy going [Edmond] Hamilton. He took command and told the gathering a thing or two. 
"A hack is a writer who hires himself out for any kind of literary work. A literary drudge. A poor writer. 
"Are you by chance quoting one of the sincere artists who consider that anyone who earns a living by writing is a hack? Are you forgetting that one of your literary heros makes his living revising the slop cooked up by worse writers? That's the lowest sort of hack work! 
"Whether not a man is a poor writer is a matter of taste, and maybe A. Merrit is a poor writer. I'd not argue that with you. But let's get to literary drudge, one of the dictionary definitions. A. Merritt's salary is $60,000 a year. Whenever he does a yarn for Argosy, or other pulp, he's losing money. If you have to squawk about hacks, which most of us are, including a lot of self-styled literary folks, why not know what you're talking about before you sound off?" 
Applause, and no further mention of hacks at that con.

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