A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Ferris GreensletJan. 29, 1937 [actually Dec. 29, 1937]Harvard 

Thanks for Christmas greeting. Sends New Year's wishes. Does not want an edition of My Ántonia illustrated by Grant Wood. Iowa, his home, is really very different from Nebraska. Please leave Ántonia as is and give assurance that Benda illustrations will be kept. Has read one of Houghton Mifflin's recently published books and likes it, but doesn't dare name it for fear his publicity department will advertise the fact.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1385]

To Sister Mary Virginia [1943?] transcription, not original; included with note from Sister Mary Virginia to John Towner FrederickIowa 

Will not be able to contribute much to her thesis, as she does not think about her characters in such a way. Disdains terms fancied by many English instructors, like "contacted" and "motivation," as books based upon a writer's technical plan are dreary to read. Among the many writers she knows, none of them conceive their works by determining how one character will respond to another; instead, the writer is taken with an idea and needs to give it voice. Characters cohabit a story because it seems inevitable to the writer that they should, not because of some kind of calculated response. Is mailing a copy of the truthful report she wrote about how she conceived of Death Comes for the Archbishop ["A Letter from Willa Cather to the Editor of the Commonweal," Commonweal 7 (November 27, 1927): 713]. All great writers do this: they write to express passion or outrage, something heartfelt and unplanned. It is too bad that teachers convince students that books are an elaborate scheme, when they are something much more extraordinary: a deep expression of the author's caring and joy.