HUGHES, RICHARD. (1900-1976). English author and associate of Dylan Thomas best known for his novel A High Wind in Jamaica. DS. (“Richard Hughes”). 2pp. 4to. N.p., April 25, 1964. Hughes responds to a questionnaire that starts with the following premise: “My definition of the word ‘symbolism’ as used in this questionnaire can be understood from the following example: In the Scarlet Letter, there are four main characters. Some people say that Hawthorne meant those four to be symbolic of nature, science, religion, and other symbols in disguise and conflict. The same people compare the actions of the four to what has happened, is happening and will happen to science, religion, nature, etc.” Hughes responds in black ink.
Literary Questionnaire Filled Out and Signed by the English Author and Associate of Dylan Thomas, Best Known for his Novel “A High Wind in Jamaica.”
Signed by Richard Hughes
“1. (a) Do you consciously, intentionally plan and place symbolism in your writing? If both yes and no, according to instance, please given [sic] an example of each. If yes, please state your method for doing so.
(b) Do you feel you sub-consciously place symbolism in your writing?
(b) Probably yes. After all, to a lesser extent the same is probably true of our daily conversation – in fact, of everything we think and say and do.
2. Do readers ever infer that there is symbolism in your writing where you had not intended it to be? If so, what is your reaction and feeling to this type of inference? (Annoyance? Amusement? Indifference?)
Frequently. Sometimes they may be right (see “b” above). A good example is the recent suggestion by critics that my novel In Hazard, published in 1938, was a symbolic forecast of what was to happen to Britain in the coming Second World War (even including the American salvage ship!). Certainly this was not in the front of my mind when I wrote but may well have been hidden at the back – may well have been why I felt a compulsion to write that story rather than any other at that particular date. Sometimes however the suggestion seems to me mistaken.
3. (a) Do you feel that the great writers of classics consciously, intentionally planned and placed symbolism in their writing? (I am of course researching the question, but I should like your opinion). If both yes and no, according to instance, please give an example of each.
(b) Do you feel that they placed it there sub-consciously?
(a) Of course There are countless instances in certain authors (and equally of course countless contrary ones.)
(b) In many cases, yes: e.g. Keats in “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” (which is fiction as well as poetry) and elsewhere. They’re bound to, for that is how thinking works.
4. Do you have anything to remark concerning the subject under study, or anything you believe to be pertinent to such as study?
P.S. Have you considered the extent to which subconscious symbol-making is part of the process of reading, quite distinct from its part in writing?”
In 1929, Hughes published The Innocent Voyage, which he retitled A High Wind in Jamaica, about children who are captured by pirates and reveal themselves to be more ruthless than their captors. His second novel, In Hazard, published in 1938, also had a nautical theme, based on the S.S. Phemius which was caught in a hurricane for 4 days in 1932. His final two novels, The Fox in the Attic and The Wooden Shepherdess, were intended to be the first two parts of a trilogy, The Human Predicament, but Hughes died before he could complete the final volume. In addition to his novels, he wrote plays, screenplays and the first radio play, Danger, broadcast by the BBC in 1924. It was at Hughes’ home in Laugharne, South Wales that Dylan Thomas penned his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. With Hughes’ encouragement, Thomas relocated to Laugharne and lived there until his death.
Our questionnaire mentions English Romantic poet John Keats’ (1795-1821) ballad La Belle Dame sans Merci, written in 1819 and based on a 15th century poem by Alain Chartier.
File holes in the left margin and a staple hole in the upper left corner, none of which affects the writing. The name of the likely author of the questionnaire is at the bottom of the second sheet. Normal folding and in very good condition. Uncommon.