Up To Now: One Analysis of Wollheim
A true analysis of his character would be very valuable, but unfortunately one facet of his nature is to make everyone who knows him either his ally or his enemy, and there are few neutrals. This writer is not one.
Donald Allan Wollheim, known variously as DAW, daw, the W, and "the No. 1 rat of fandom" read science fiction almost from the first days of Amazing, and before that, like many scientifictionists, had perused Burroughs, Haggard, Verne, and Wells. He is thus well grounded in science fiction, tho he could not be said to be by any means unique in this. He is one of the older generation of fans, who turned 21 years in the First Fandom or before. He has frequently shown a contempt for those chronologically younger than he, and makes much of "immature" viewpoints, tho he himself, in his political beliefs, is more like a youth of college age. He entered fandom at its very beginning, and has seen it all the way thru.
In nationality, he is a German Jew. He has lived all his life in New York, and tho he has traveled around quite a bit, in point of fact knows little of anything but New York City and New York City thoughts; and those he sees from the viewpoint of his personal situation.
His physical appearance lends itself readily to caricature. Azygous, a mysterious writer of rnid-1938 who turned out to be Wollheim's friend Dick Wilson, described him as "gentlmn with teeth". Baltadonis, Philadelphia's premier artist, turned out several hilarious and insulting cartoons emphasizing his protruding teeth and weak chin. A person who disliked him could easily be cruel, and this drove him to return deeper hatred.
There can be little doubt that he rates high in intelligence, but his nature is such that it is frequently misdirected. He showed good ability at judging the effects of use of certain tactics, and was a master of bitter rhetoric, at piling up evidence.
At first he had no extreme political views. Like most people in America, he disliked Fascism and Nazism, and probably distrusted Communism as well. Thru his associations with John B. Michel, however, and later with Frederik Pohl, he came in contact with the extreme Red views of these two, took to attending Young Communist meetings and reading their literature; so that finally, tho in July 1936 he was hoorahing Landon for the Republican presidential nomination, by November he had embraced Communism.
One important element in his beliefs is that "when something is black it is not white". This implied, unconscious division of the world into two kinds of things, with no in-betweens, led him to hasty judgment, which, once reached, he fiercely defended; willingness to fight at the drop of a hat; and maximum opposition to anything he opposed at all. He resembled E. Haldeman-Julius in this respect, that when he hated something, he turned loose at it with all guns.
He was seldom without several fights on his hands. It is reported that he claimed to get fun from running fans out of the fan field. His methods of attack, moreover tended to build up hatred rather than break it down. On a few occasions' he made up with old enemies, but these cases were never admissions that he had been wrong. Of course, like everyone else, he was justified in his own mind in the things he did, and fought for what he believed right.
Wollheim is a person of high ability whose nature and environmental influences tend to embroil him in fights, without sufficient consideration, and he plunges into them with everything he has.
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