Cormac McCarthy on the "kinship of humor and horror"
Cormac McCarthy. Autograph Letter Signed. [El Paso, TX, 8
Feb 1988]. One and one-half octavo pages on two ruled octavo
leaves. Approximately 9 x 6 inches. Rectos only. With original
mailing envelope (possibly in another hand). Upper margins just
barely uneven, from where pages were removed from writing pad.
An excellent letter with thought-provoking content.
The text of the letter reads, in full:
Thank you very much for your letter. I get nice letters from people from time to time but I've had few if any as nice as yours and I thank you for it.
I think you're very right about the Kinship of humor and horror. Its there. The people who won't acknowledge it I suspect have been trained out of it. Eric Hotter says somewhere that the origin of the smile is probably a grimace (of pleasure) [inserted above] at the misfortune of others. But maybe that's another - if related - if related topic. I don't think its really a matter of using humor to make the unbearable bearable. I think we just don't understand humans. I don't think we known anything about it it all.
Thanks for the Knoxville paper. I think I liked them better when they had more crime and scandal.
I have a brother in Knoxville (and sister in law) and I go visit usually at Christmas and sometimes at other times. I'll give you a call next time I'm in town. Good luck with the magazine.
All the best
The recipient of this letter is George Spencer, editor of Tennessee Illustrated, a monthly magazine similar to Texas Monthly, which was published by Time, Inc. Mr. Spencer, as editor, sought out the finest writers born in Tennessee. At the time, McCarthy was not yet the nationally-known author he is today, but Mr. Spencer recognized his genius, and began a correspondence with him in the hopes of getting McCarthy to contribute original material (or an except from his novels) to Tennessee Illustrated, which, unfortunately, McCarthy never did. Mr. Spencer states: " I recall telling him I thought he was a master of what Faulkner called "maniacal risibility. He was and is."
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