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Andrew Marvell, Attacked by a Tough

August 3, 2011

Dear reader,

I am now approaching my four thousandth entry into my catalog of the personal library of Marshall McLuhan. More than a task, this journey has been filled with excitement and discovery with every box I open – I never know what I will come across, and some of what I have come across has been truly astonishing. I’ve found a typed letter from Ezra Pound tucked in a book; pictures of Marshall and his family from years gone by; postcards and mementos from trips abroad; notations which speak to intellectual progress from the University of Manitoba to the last years of the Centre for Culture and Technology; name tags and folders from conferences; strange, incomprehensible things mailed from admirers. In the process I have learned much about so many subjects; seen a bit into the way a brilliant mind worked; began to have an understanding of McLuhan’s work; and had the amazing opportunity to learn all this about my grandfather, an opportunity which few ever have. In short, it’s been an honour which I will never forget.

My only regret with this project is that I don’t have the time or the resources to thoroughly document each volume of interest (perhaps 90 percent of them), but that would be more of a lifetime’s work. I estimate that I have maybe another thousand books to catalogue, and when I get to the end, so will this weblog reach its end. In the meantime, there’s more to share with you, faithful reader:

The volume is “Andrew Marvell” by M.C. Bradbrook and M.G. Lloyd Thomas and it contains the invoice from Cambridge University Press to Marshall McLuhan, Esq, Dept. of English, University of St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. dated 29 October 1940.

Tucked between pages 46-47 is an ‘air letter’ addressed to Professor H.M. McLuhan and originally c/o The Vanguard Press Inc., 424 Madison Avenue, New York 17 N.Y., but that’s crossed out and it’s been re-addressed to 81 St. Mary’s Street, Toronto, Canada and has a postmark from Cambridge, and a New York postmark dated May 19 1952.

The letter is typed with some pen corrections and begins:

16.5.52   Girton College, Cambridge

Dear McLuhan.

Thank you so much for The Mechanical Bride. I enjoyed it immensely and so did my students. Didn’t the Advertisers mind their stuff being used in this manner?
Yesterday I had a letter from a firm which does duplicating which began without any preamble “a negro was walking along a Chicago street when he was attacked by a tough. He prayed ‘O Gawd, don’ let dis tough get me’ and a piece of cornice at once fell off a roof and brained the tough: whereat the grateful negro exclaimed ‘Lawd, dats what I call Service’
Just like that: and then they go to their avertising matter. I have never seen anything so shocking.
You seem to be managing to put in quite an incredible amount of work: how is it done? I find myself getting slower and slower: and this year a couple of articles have gone near to squeeze all the energy out of me: one for the year’s work in English studies and one for Shakespeare Survey. In 1950 over 300 books, articles and notes on Shakespeare saw the light. He is overstudied. Academics should be allowed to publish only under license, when he is their subject (this of course is Envy).
I believe Basil Willey is going back to the U.S.A. for a short visit next year, and Tom Henn is also going over. The Bennetts have been in Chicago for six months and I think they have greatly enjoyed it.
What are the chances of your coming to England? We are flooded with Fullbrights but see so few Canadians.

Yours ever,

Muriel Bradbrook

Also included in the volume are a card “With the author’s compliments (Miss M. C. Bradbrook) and a postcard, which on the reverse Marshall wrote “Back of Girton College from Miss Bradbrook who also gave us our copy of Bayes’ Rehearsal”.

There is only one notation inside the back dust-jacket: “p17 Parker’s attack on Camb Platonists”.

Thanks for reading,


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane Macdonald permalink
    August 3, 2011 1:28 pm

    Thanks for the wee peek, Andrew!

  2. September 17, 2011 7:23 pm


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