- Text Analysis
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To Albert G. Feuillerat,
, from the
Is pleased with his article on her books. Interesting that the first he read was . Would like to read the article he mentioned on Mérimée, who was also a fine critic, especially his essay on . Willa Cather [Stout #995]
To Norman Foerster,
Does not lecture anymore, so must refuse his invitation. Has been meaning to write an extended letter to him about his , which she read closely. Concurs with him generally, but feels he inflates the importance of many of the critics. Only Randolph Bourne and, to a degree, Mr. Canby had the essential innate sense of quality needed by critics. Consider, for example, (nothing personal to , as he always treated her well), who did not have such a sensibility. He could research a writer and say many valid things about him or her, but it was an external product of scholarship. To put it another way: if she mixed up a few pages of with some of Joseph Conrad's respectable imitators (like ), wouldn't know the difference. A critic must be more than idealistic and hardworking. In fact, a good deal of first-rate criticism was done by non-professional critics like Henry James, Walter Pater, and (particularly his essay on ). Not all good writers are good critics; Turgenev was not. That said, writers are the best at evaluating new writing and composers are the top critics of new music, or at least they are better than scholars. Since she wants to say this and so much more, she knows that his was successful, as a reader's fierce engagement with a book's ideas is always a mark of accomplishment. P. S.: [dated January 20] After writing letter, was asked not to send it by secretary, who thought it would needlessly offend people. Secretary is now on vacation in Cuba, and has decided to risk sending it. Feels that he won't be indiscreet with the letter, even to his talkative publisher. Willa Cather