Innis to McLuhan January 12, 1952

When McLuhan’s library was donated to the UT Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, among the papers found stuffed into the books was a letter from Harold Innis to McLuhan dated January 12, 1952.1 Innis died later that same year in November.

The letter reads:

Jan 12, 1952

Dear McLuhan,

I was immensely pleased to get your warm letter particularly as it is the first I have had which indicated that the reader had taken the trouble to understand what it [= The Bias of Communication] is all about.

I have not seen the book by [Theodore] Gaster [= Thespis, 1950], but must get it out. I have been very interested in allied problems, but had not thought of attacking that of myth and ritual. I must also get Eliot’s Theory of Communication2 — do not trouble to send your copy.

I have just finished a book3 on the movies by Will Irwin (Adolph Zukor)4  in which the problem is brought out rather sharply in the refusal of the industry over a considerable period to break from the emphasis of the photograph on space and the ultimate recognition of the importance of time in its development of narrative and length. But it may be that I have become too sensitive to implications of the theme.

For this reason I was greatly heartened to find that others are aware of it.

With very many thanks, yours, HAI 

  1. The letter was posted in image here, but has since been removed.
  2. This was Don Theall’s MA thesis from 1951, supervised by McLuhan.
  3.  The House That Shadows Built, 1928
  4. The bracketed insertion here was made by Innis. The reference is to Irwin’s book which was subtitled “The Story of Adolph Zukor and His Circle”.

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