Returned from Philadelphia today and began to read in his book [ Under the Bridge ]. It shows what an interesting and enjoyable life he has had, without being too familiar in tone. Appreciates what he says about her. Agrees with most of his comments about writers, but not about Sydnor Harrison, who always seemed like a shallow journalist to her. P.S.: Shouldn't spelling of scientist Zinsser be Zinsner? Willa Cather [Stout #1645]
He may use the sonnet , but regards it as so poor that she dropped it from the second edition of the volume . Very juvenile. [The Commonweal published six Cather poems, "Thou Art the Pearl," "Sonnet," "On Cydnus, "Eurydice," "L'envoi," and "Prairie Dawn" in the February 25, 1931 issue.] Willa Cather [Stout #1810]
Just ordered a terrific Victor record from an agent: Gorgoza (Emma Eames's husband) singing "La Paloma," an important song in Mexico and one of Cather's favorites. "La Paloma" translates to "the dove," and the joyful song is about a prisoner watching a dove out his window and planning happy days of freedom ahead. Tell her if there is any problem with the record when it arrives. Will should listen to Julia Culp singing "Oh, Rest in the Lord" at the Victor store when he is in Red Cloud next. Willa
If last winter she was grouchy, it was only because her feet hurt. They are much improved, for the podiatrist in Rochester told her to wear only high heels. Helen Louise will think this is funny, as she was so embarrassed of the old shoes. Is sending a picture that is better than the one sent the day before—she is the only one who isn't bald! [Photograph is not now with the letter, but it was probably an image of Cather with the six older men who, along with Cather, received honorary degrees from Columbia University in 1928. See #1967]
"Occultation" is correct. Saw it as a girl sitting on wooden sidewalk in Nebraska, and people there called it "transit." Was foolish not to research it more carefully when writing the story ["Two Friends"], but it has been corrected in second printing [of Obscure Destinies]. Thank you. Willa Cather
The new pure gold medal is good-looking and quite big: a great paperweight! Will have it appraised at the bank. It's one kind of praise that actually has value! [In the fall of 1930, Cather received the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Death Comes for the Archbishop.] Is sending a New York Times editorial that correctly explains why Sinclair Lewis received the Nobel Prize ["Mr. Lewis's Nobel Prize," New York Times, 6 November 1930, p. 24]. Americans seem that way to Europeans, and those we've bullied like to read a critical account. They are probably right about us. Wrote Lewis and confessed that though she would have rather received the award herself, she's glad that if she didn't, he did. Many of the paper's readers mistakenly believe she won, and are sending requests for a share of the prize money. Is mailing a copy of the speech made by Judge Grant when she got the [Howells] award. Maybe he could consider sending it and clippings on to Elsie. Is so busy with other letters that she won't have time to write Elsie herself. George Whicher was going to bring Virginia and Tom up to Jaffrey to see her the first weekend in December, but her schedule has been changed by the medal ceremony. Will spend Thanksgiving with friends in Philadelphia, where she expects only a dinner, a room of her own, and privacy. Please send check to Grosvenor address. Willie.
Thanks for the check, and especially for the letter. His debt to her is now only $4,000. Upon next visit to the safe deposit box, the amount will be cut still more. Will return the original note, and he is to send a new one for $3,000 at 4% interest. The reduction in principal is for the effective yet polite way he has managed to cope with the world while living gracefully and raising a family so well. Desires to lighten his load of cares some, and this letter is a record of her intentions in case of a sudden mishap. Has figured out that in the last fifteen years, 27 friends have died in car accidents! Is so pleased with Virginia; has just written her. She has grown up to be a strong woman with her own reserved manner, so don't try to perk her up—she's quite appealing as she is. Writes by hand only to him and Ex-President Masaryk (not much of a favor, but Masaryk appreciates it). Willie.