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Sunday, April 25, 2004

Mordecai Richler Letter Found on eBay

While this is hardly any signifcant news to report in itself, you can get anything on eBay. I was going to qualify this first sentence with 'almost anything' but I am sure if you wait long enough you will be successful in finding what you want. I have a saved search for "Mordecai Richler" among many other favourite saved searches. To use a banal phrase, I was pleasantly surprised to see a T.L.S. (Typed Letter Signed) by Richler himself up for auction. A brief four sentence paragraph, the letter encapsulates the curmudgeonly Richler persona we so frequently hear/read about. The second Richler related book by Michael Posner, "The Last Honest Man: Mordecai Richler: An Oral Biography" was published to great reviews recently. Additionally, Joel Yanofsky's humorous memoir/bio, "Mordecai & Me: An Appreciation of a Kind" came out last year. I enjoyed it immensely. Althought it has been only three short years since the death of Mr. Richler and there is definitely much continued interest in what he has left behind since his passing. The letter I found on eBay, I believe, is but a small piece of a large puzzle. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Dated December 19, 1967 [nine days after I was born!] the letter was sent from Richler's home in Hillcrest, Kingston Hill, Surrey, England at the time and written on a pre-stamped post office letter sheet. The 37 year old letter was written to an old friend who offered him honorary membership in a film industry organization. It reads: [comments in square brackets mine]

“Dear Dave [Bairstow] : Your Society of Film Makers letter of Sept 14 was on my desk when I got back to London. And so, let me say “as a prominent (?) film-maker of international reputation (?), I’d be honored to be an honorary member” of your Society. Though I hesitate to associate with any group that has awarded a prize to Maxine Samuels [Forest Rangers] A prize for what? Michael Sadlier.

According to the gentleman from whom I purchased the letter, he mentions that "The Society of Film Makers was a major film industry organization of film professionals from all disciplines, the only one where actors and directors and screenwriters and animators could all join. About twenty years after this letter was written the Society became the Academy of Canadian Film and Television Arts and Sciences."

I have to admit, I feel somewhat uneasy about the winning this auction and possessing a letter written by Richler, especially since it was a letter that has a jibe to it. Usually, I am interested in only collecting books of my favourite authors. This small item was just too good to pass up, however. I posted the letter on my web site to share with those who may be interested. Like all 'things' I am a just a temporary holder of items that will someday pass from my hands. Likely it will end up in the Richler fonds. Someday

After a cursory search of the Richler fonds, I was hoping to find the first part to this letter, i.e. the original letter that David Bairstow had sent to Richler to requesting his honorary membership. Alas, this letter, since it has not online it can be assumed to be destroyed or not archived making this a 'orphaned' letter, so to speak.