A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Stephen TennantApr. 15, 1941Yongue 

Likes the cover for Lascar; it transports her to Marseilles. Likes the way the church towers over all while frivolous and shabby and alluring things wash around it. Sense of crowding and human variety perfectly captures Marseilles. Surprising he never read Maupassant until recently. Glad he is feeling well and enjoying himself. Was sorry to learn that Virginia Woolf had died; knows that was a loss to him. Hand improves very slowly.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1536]


To Stephen TennantOct. 20, 1941Yongue , copy, not original

Likes the first version of the Lascar cover better than the second. Wonders if the British officer Percy Wyndham who fought in the American Revolution in Virginia was related to him. P.S.: Hand somewhat better but still can't write well.  Willa Cather   [Stout #1552]


To Stephen Tennant, n.d. [late 1944] Yongue , copy, not original.

Received his letter dated December 8, 1943, but the postmark is October 17, 1944. How can he ask what she thinks of Jane Austen and Emily Bronte? Anyone with good sense knows they are both wonderful, though in very different ways. Believes he would not like George Sand. She was a wordy, moralizing writer and almost never sincere. See "A Chance Meeting" in Not Under Forty re. George Sand. How can he say the public is never deceived? They always are! Not humanity in the long run; after two or three centuries the sound writers last, others don't. Those who last comprise the "great tradition." While ill, read Chaucer and he made her want to get well again. That's what a "great tradition" means. Why does he imagine she does not value critical writing? Is now going to talk to him very directly. Why did he begin Lascar if he wasn't going to persevere on it simply for the joy of doing so, not for any other reason? It's been ten years now. Why hasn't he written it? Quit talking about it and just do it! P.S.: When he writes again, please leave a wider margin.  W. S. C.   [Stout #1685]


To Stephen Tennantn.d.Yongue , copy, not original.

[Quotes a sentence written by him on a postcard that she had apparently tucked into a copy of Salammbo eight years ago: "Marseilles in spring was wonderful—the foliage of the plane trees, the pink evening sky, the old skull-colored city: very wicked and old, with no regrets."] That sentence restores her confidence in Lascar. Tells more about Marseilles than anything in Joseph Conrad's Arrow of Gold—his weakest book, of course. This sentence is authentic.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1705]