Is sending clipping from the Auburn Granger, so scathing she may never be able to go to Brownsville again. Pictures were excellent, especially those of the Episcopal church after they piled the prayer benches into the aisle. Such fun! School grind starting again soon. Will be in Lincoln about September 20. Willa Cather [Stout #18]
Can't suggest anything new to read. Most new books disappointing. Elsie might try Mary Austin's The Ford. Came to Nebraska to receive an honorary doctorate. Edith Abbott, Jane Addams's assistant, awarded honorary degree at the same time, the first given by the University of Nebraska to women. Then more than a week of visiting, until tea parties became repetitious and tiresome. Nebraska is in a heat wave plus burning with patriotism. Is going to Wyoming soon. W. S. C. [Stout #387]
Gives permission to use "Spanish Johnny" but only as printed in April Twilights, not the garbled version in the anthology edited by Harriet Monroe. Is glad she likes Archbishop. Many people don't because they find it defies classification. Willa Cather [Stout #908]
Is soon to leave for Canada, but appreciates hearing from her after so long. Hasn't seen her since they met in Altman's; was shopping in preparation for trip to California during mother's illness. Willa Cather [Stout #1409]
Like Henry Seidel Canby, does not believe in teaching contemporary literature. More important to use limited school time to teach classics of English literature. Essential reading in school includes Shakespeare, Milton, Fielding, Jane Austen, with Thackeray, George Eliot, George Meredith, and Thomas Hardy as the most recent. Young people should read contemporary literature as they want to, not as assignments. True literary taste is as rare as perfect pitch, but students can glean something from exposure to the classics, even if they don't have real aptitude. [Stout #1454]
Appreciates her letter and would agree to receive her books and sign them, but the number of such requests has made this a chore. Hurt tendon of right thumb a few years ago when signing copies of a special edition of Sapphira and the Slave Girl and is more careful now. Will sign three loose pages and send them. Willa Cather [Stout #1627]
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]
Has neglected to answer his letter with story of Virginia's tooth, which she told to all of her New York friends. Quickly came west because the University of Nebraska presented her an honorary Doctor of Letters on their fiftieth anniversary commencement. Edith Abbott, who works with Jane Addams, also got one. The two of them were the first women ever to receive such degrees from the University. John Neihardt also received the award, and the Doctor of Laws was given to Theodore Roosevelt, Roscoe Pound, and General John J. Pershing. Elsie was already there, but father drove to Lincoln for the sole purpose of attending the ceremony. So sweet of him! Barnard McNeny also attended. Was happy to see her old teachers so proud of her. Only twelve or so women have received honorary degrees in the U.S., most of them educators, like Alice Freeman Palmer and Jane Addams. Any chance there would be someplace to rent in Lander between July 15 and August 15? She and Edith Lewis are thinking that when Edith comes west, they may go to Wyoming. Couldn't stay with at his house, as Edith doesn't like visiting. At $5 a day the Amoretti ranch seems overpriced. Unfortunately, getting the degree meant that she never was able to shop for new dresses for the twins as she intended. Will get them New York dresses soon. P.S. Father and Elsie are doing well. Willie.