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Item 449 - Jack London Catalog 543 (Jan 2019)

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Sold Price: $2,237.50 (includes buyer's premium)


Lengthy handwritten love letter by Jack London, unsigned, ten pages, 8.5 x 11, August 23, 1903. Letter to his future wife Charmian Kittredge, written about two months into their relationship. In part: "Monday morning to you, dear love, and a blessed morning be it to you; and a Sunday morning to me, with the beautiful summer sun shining, and the knowledge that I could see you with the gang to-day, and the less pleasant knowledge that I must sit here & drudge the livelong day. Will you please read the Colfus letter in your most psychological mood." He goes on to discuss his then-current wife, Bessie: "Poor B! She has no conception of loyalty whatever! Nor of fair play…Unfeminine in many things, she does not counterbalance by being masculine in some of the good masculine qualities. Fresh from telling Aunt Villa (and everybody else, I suppose), things which she should not tell anyone, and things which she could not tell fairly as they really are—fresh from all this, & from telling her brother Will, she comes to me begging me not to tell him certain things about herself. As though I would have told!…Poor Bess! Poor Bess!—for she is so very poor, you know.

I am glad you know so thoroughly why I go to see her so often, and to kiss her so lingeringly and passionately! Dear little Joan! And dear Charmian for your good-woman's heart! How blessed I am in knowing you. You do not know, you cannot know, how much you are to me, how much you mean to me. I do not know myself the whole of it, the all of it. As you say, it is inexpressible. The moments when first I meet you, & see you, & touch you, are unspeakably thrilling moments. And so the moments after leaving you, when I go to my lonely den and as with a benediction resting on me sit down & think of you. So the moments when I receive your letters and have the feel of your sweet mind strong upon me—why you are with me, in the flesh before me, and I am looking into your golden eyes, and I am hearing your voice in every word of the written page. And I found you! I found you! And in finding you I find—myself! Dear you, dear Charmian, my own.

Ah, dear heart, my love for woman does begin with you and will end with you. The other women—'Wife, they was only women.' No one of all of them was my woman. I do not know how much you understand the man side of such things, but I think you understand it well—as well as any woman can. And still, you cannot understand it all. Man can pursue his lusts, without love, simply because he is so made…But know this, my own dear sweetheart, though I have roved & ranged and looted, I never looted under false pretense. 'To love' I held sacred—& I know not why, unless it were an inherent desire to be honest to the other woman & to myself. Never once have I said 'I love you' for the gain it often might have brought me. And more than once, had I but spoken those words, the gain would have been mine; I could see surrender trembling for me to utter them, and I knew that without uttering them I must forego. And forego I did, because I could not say, as I have said to you, 'I love you'…I wanted you as I had not wanted other women, I wanted all of you and I wanted you always. There lies the difference,—as great as night & day,—in those three words, 'I love you! Oh, I love you! I love you! I love you!'…I was willing to give more because I wanted more, I willingly gave, until I said 'I love you, Charmian, and I want you for my wife.'" In fine condition, with staple holes to the top edges, and the final page trimmed, resulting in the loss of the signature.

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