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AUTOGRAPH LETTER, SIGNED
Gloucester, MA. " Friday, January 15th" [1965].. Four pages. In ink, on rectos only, of octavo letterhead of "The Tavern." Folded for mailing, paperclip rust mark in upper margin (chiefly 1st and 4th leaves), very good. To friend and fellow writer, Paul Metcalf. A somewhat tardy letter of condolence to Metcalf upon the death of his mother, Eleanor, who had died the preceding April. Metcalf's father, Henry, had died in November of 1964, and Olson had written Metcalf at length shortly thereafter, and in that letter, asked that his sympathies be extended to Eleanor as well. Evidently, Metcalf then wrote Olson, telling him of his mother's death, precipitating this reply: "That is indeed the first word I have had of your Mother's death, and again I send you consolation...I should have known, when Harry [Metcalf] did...send me the book with his card and from a hotel but it didn't even occur to me, I so took it the other way about, that Woodlawn again was some Melville matter your mother had thought of...." He passes on thoughts to family members, and touches on other topics: "Would you, for my own puzzlement, tell me if anything did happen to those packages of books [that] were placed on your piazza for transfer to Jonathan? That is, I never could figure out how so many of [indecipherable] that Creeley item, and my own Mayan Letters, did [did not?] ever get any further...." He continues with accounts of his own travels and occasions when he was tempted to stop by and visit, and the toll on his energy and health that traveling now imposes. Eleanor Metcalf (1882- April 1964), Herman Melville's granddaughter and literary executor/editor, made Olson's acquaintance during the 1930s, when he was actively engaged in his "Melville Project" -- the tracking down and transcription of Melville's marginalia. As custodian of much of the Melville family heritage, Eleanor was foremost among his important contacts for that undertaking, and Olson earned what Tom Clark describes in his biography of Olson as "unqualified acceptance into this good woman's...household, where he was welcomed as a sort of surrogate family member...given a standing dinner invitation, a bed to sleep in whenever he was in Cambridge, and, most usefully of all, a direct pipeline to the Melville family papers" (p.24). In turn, Olson's significance for Paul Metcalf and his own writing was considerable. Olson closes the letter, "Yrs, Charles." Ca. 250 words.
      [Bookseller: William Reese Company - Literature ABAA-]
Last Found On: 2013-10-10           Check availability:      Biblio    

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