Here is an addendum to a previous article written for Empty Mirror. Herewith I will describe the contents of the “lost” letter in both the U.K. and U.S. trade editions of The Sea is My Brother so that you may fill in a hole in the narrative of the book.
As I read through the Viking (U.K.) edition of The Sea is My Brother, I noted that the editor, Dawn Ward explained that Kerouac’s letter to Sebastian Sampas from February 1941 is/was “lost.” However, I remembered that I transcribed such a letter in 2003. The last I saw it was in the Berg collection at the New York Public Library.
The letter was typed. All that remains of the letter is one half, since it was torn.
In the fragment, Kerouac tells S.S. that he is ashamed of himself for chastising a mutual friend in a previous letter. He also explains how a case of the measles has stymied his attempts to pursue a woman (possibly Norma Blickfelt?). He explains that he has to report for Pre-Flight examination in two days, but fears he has to postpone it because of the measles. Had he gone, he would have learned that the navy had turned his status from inactive to active status because he left the Columbia campus and therefore nullified his chances for acceptance at officer’s training school. His records were transferred to Boston by the Naval recruiting command at Columbia on February 1 for this reason.
He also mentions a work-in-progress titled Morning with Brother which was a proto-version of The Sea is My Brother. Or, possibly, it is the same handwritten novel eventually published, but the title had changed.
Sampas doesn”t respond to news of Kerouac’s measles until sometime in March, which possibly means that their letters had crossed in the mail therefore leading Sampas to believe that Kerouac was negligent in his correspondence.