Hunter S. Thompson letter being auctioned off, signed 'The Jew'

Thompson's work has been regarded by all communities of journalism as well as readers beyond as infamous and at times ingenious.

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April 23, 2019 12:55
2 minute read.
Hunter S. Thompson letter being auctioned off, signed 'The Jew'

HUNTER THOMPSON. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A pair of handwritten letters created by the American journalist and informal founder of gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson - signed by him simply as "The Jew" - will be auctioned off by Nate D. Sanders Auctions of Los Angeles on Thursday.

Gonzo journalism is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as "journalism that treats a subject in a very personal, unusual and often shocking way." It is normally written in first-person narrative. The term "gonzo" was actually first used by Thompson in an article in 1970 - with these types of writing often including the writer as a character or protagonist in the story, who provides both observational criticism and satire.

Thompson sent the letters to his long-time Kentucky childhood friend Paul Semonin in June 1961.

An excerpt from the first letter reads: “Now midnight - up at 6:30 tomorrow for hard shot at $3.22 per hr. highway const. Job...am working fitfully on Great PR novel - The Rum Diary. Also building windows, skinning deer, scaling fish, raising one motherless fawn, building swimming pool, stalking boar & generally raising hell. Playboy bounced B.S. & it is now circulating for the booby prize...Anyway, pay your debts & come by for a visit. The Jew…”

The letter's starting bid price is $2,000.



The second letter being auctioned off is a satire piece discussing a fictional debate between two former US presidents, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Regarding Kennedy's presidential victory, Thompson wrote: "Ok weedsucker - we got the touchdown - where do we go from here?"


The bidding for this letter will begin at $2,000.

Thompson's work has been regarded as infamous - and at times ingenious - by all communities of journalism as well as readers.

Thompson was known for his extended drug and alcohol use. He started his decline both in his health and his career in the mid-1970's. There was even a movie made, a timeless classic revered by some, of his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. It is a trippy satire film that follows Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo on what was initially intended to be a journalistic journey, which then turned into a wild exploration of the city of Las Vegas under the influence of psychoactive substances.

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me," he would often say.

He died by suicide at the age of 67 and, in accordance with his final will and testament, his ashed were fired out of a cannon in a ceremony attended by both celebrities and politicians.

"The true voice of Thompson is revealed to be that of an American moralist... one who often makes himself ugly to expose the ugliness he sees around him," said British-Indian novelist and journalist Hari Kunzru.

The great, late scribe Hunter S. Thompson – who would have had a field day writing about US President Donald Trump – unfortunately only had Nixon to kick around. But if you replace Nixon's name with Trump's, then Thompson’s comments from over 40 years ago upon Nixon’s resignation are a startlingly applicable.

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