Editor of Argosy:
[From “Argonotes, The Readers’ Viewpoint,” Argosy, February
which featured Part III of “The Dwellers in the Mirage”]
Now and then I read a letter in your “Argonotes” expressing doubt as
to the scientific accuracy of this or that un my stories, Now and
then I read letters from people who quite simply and frankly say they don’t
like them. With the latter, I haven’t the least quarrel. If one doesn’t
like something, I can’t, for the life of me, see why they shouldn’t say
so. As the old rhyme goes—“Some like their pudding hot, Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, Nine days old.” The Lord knows everybody is entitled
to pick his own pudding—prohibitionists to the contrary. I pick mine.
But I am a bit sensitive concerning criticisms of my scientific accuracy.
I write entirely to please myself, what pleases me, as I please and
when I please. I honestly don’t take into consideration whether what I
write will please others. That isn’t any “high hat.” I just can’t
write any other way. I know that some will like what I’ve written. And
I warm up to those unknown but sympathetic souls. I know they’re people
I’d like to talk to, and who probably would get some enjoyment out of talking
to me. As for the others, well, there are any number of entirely worthy
folk who wouldn’t enjoy talking to me at all, and who would leave me quite
cold if I met them. And they are probably just as interesting to others,
or as interested in others, as those who like what I write would be in
me or to me. But if I had to think, every sentence or idea—“Will they like
this or won’t they?”—I couldn’t write anything. So I write what I like,
and when I read that someone likes it, too, I say—“I’m damned glad.”
And when they write they don’t, I say—“Well, why should you?” And
But the question of accuracy is entirely different. There was some criticism
of “The Snake Mother.” Some even called it a “fairy tale.” That was rather
funny, because, for example, if all the novelists and playwrights who have
rewritten Cinderella could be laid head to foot they would reach to the
moon and back. And every so-called “realistic” story can be paralleled
in plot by Grimm and Hans Andersen. However, there is not a single scientific
statement in “The Snake Mother” that cannot be substantiated. If any one,
even at this late date, desires to ask any question about it I will be
glad to answer him. Or her.
And now, for the benefit of those who may question, or of my friends
who may be questioned about the accuracy of the scientific framework of
“The Dwellers in the Mirage,” I would like to say that is entirely sound.
The bulk of criticism, if any, will probably be directed at the idea
of the Little People. I refer these critics to the Nineteenth
Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, J. W. Powell, Director.
In this will be found an exhaustive account of the legends of the Yun’wi
Tsundi’, or dwarf race the Cherokees ran across when they came to the “New
World” from Asia. It includes evidence of the Little People’s occupancy
of certain parts of Tennessee into post-Civil War times. A very able investigator,
Mr. James Mooney—see ibid.—is authority for this.
I particularly call the attention of those interested enough to read
this report to the significance of the simple account of the visit of a
hunting party of the Cherokees to a debased tribe of the Little People
in Florida, and its remarkable resemblance to the story of Herodotus concerning
the storks and the pygmies. Certainly this is not the kind of story the
bigoted missionaries, or perhaps I should just say missionaries, would
have told the Indians. It must, therefore, pre-date the arrival of the
white plague in America.
As for the Kraken, I myself have seen its symbol carved high on the
Andean peaks by hands thousands of years dead, and listened to Indians
telling me of the Destroyer of Life.
As for the alternating personality theme, read Dr. J. Morton Prince’s
“Dissociation of a Personality” and see how conservative I have been.
The Alaskan valley? None knows how startled I was when last October
I read on the first page of the New York Times of the discovery of a tropical
valley in that locality where summer reigned even when the outside temperature
was forty degrees below zero!
Enough of explanations. I hope your readers will enjoy the tale. Those
who do not will find plenty to enjoy in the other pages of your most excellent
New York City