Sending some reviews; please share with Irene. The one in the Dial is the best. Former president of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, Edwin W. Winter, visited to tell her how he liked the book and now drops in like an old friend. Mostly feels glad that her father and Carrie like it. Willie [Stout #452]
Sorry not to have written in so long. The world is all in distress, everyone's lives disrupted. All the young people in her family caught up in the war. Mary Virginia and husband, Dick Mellen, at Camp Carson in Colorado, and her brother at a camp in Arizona, one of the least attractive spots in the state. Enjoyed having Mary Virginia in town for a visit recently. Another niece's husband is commander of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Everyone lives in suspense. Will paste their Christmas card with picture of Beacon Street into Annie Fields's Memories of a Hostess. Doesn't understand why Boston has messed up the area around Trinity Church. Spent last summer in Maine; very comfortable in spite of poor food. Wishing them a happy new year. Willa Cather. P.S.: Has sprained right hand again and is back in Dr. Ober's brace. [Stout #1657]
Has thought of her often this winter, not just because of Ida Tarbell's death but because of the world's death. So glad Roseboro' was able to travel before this disaster of a war. Why did the world have to come to destruction in their lifetimes? and after they had already been through one war? Heard Sir James Jeans say humans want to believe the world will live forever, since they know they personally cannot. So why does their generation have to see this? Hasn't written because so many of her younger relatives have had their lives uprooted by the war. Hates to think of Nebraska boys off on Pacific islands, where the suffering is the worst. Human fallibility brought it on—or no, it was scientists who brought it on. Would like to come see her, but has not been well since gallbladder operation. Willa Cather [Stout #1659]
The critic who authored the significant review [Bourne, Randolph, "Morals and Art from the West," Dial, 65 (14 December 1918): 557] of My Ántonia she recently sent has just died of influenza. He was among the best critics in the U.S., and she worried about his review of the book. He didn't like Song of the Lark very much, except for the first section. Appreciates his favorable comparison of her with William Allen White. Has always disliked the way White and Graham Phillips wrote about life in the West. Sensed all along that there was a better, truer way of presenting it. Naturally Ántonia could have been written in the same folksy, rolicky way White prefers. He thinks he's being realistic, but he is really only showing off his commonness. Sure, White sells far more books than she does, but she is not trying to connect with the same readers. Doesn't worry about sales too much while she still has the money she saved from her days working at McClure's. Received an encouraging letter a few weeks ago from Edwin Winter, who used to be president of the Missouri Pacific. Winter had earlier worked for Union Pacific in Nebraska and built the first bridge over Dale Creek canyon—actually a wooden bridge! He wanted to visit with her, and he came over on Friday. He is a very impressive person! It's better to have one admirer like him than to sell a thousand copies. He found the book stirring and felt compelled to meet her after reading it. He wondered if she were actually Swedish, as he thought the novel was too literary to be the work of an American. What a vibrant, wonderful new friend to have! Please return the issue of the Dial and other clipping about Bourne, and inform Meta that she continues to enjoy the wonderful jam Meta sent: the scuppernong is gone and the pineapple is next. Would like to have been with them over the holiday.
Received the beautiful violets on Christmas Eve shortly after dinner with Yehudi, Nola, and the baby. The lovely scent and card ended the day beautifully. Flowers from Roscoe recall so much. Wants to talk it all over, and they will one day. Might meet in secret at a hotel on the C.P.R. or another railroad. Maybe in Vancouver? PS: Margaret II is so full of life. Elizabeth sent a picture at Christmas. Willie.