Hand in splints again. Appreciates her words of sympathy about the reviews of Sapphira and the Slave Girl, but is used to it. New York reviewers say every time that her new book is not as good as the previous one. If that were true, they should have dropped into the abyss by now. There were only two good reviews of My Ántonia in the whole country, by Fanny Butcher and by Grant Overton. Is asking Miss Bloom to enclose Henry Seidel Canby's review of Sapphira. Actually, the reviews Knopf has sent for her to read have seemed surprisingly good. Willa Cather [Stout #1529]
Hopes Miss Bloom let her know about the operation. Did read the manuscript she had sent. In first reading of chapter on Jerry Macauley entirely misread her purpose and wondered why not a clearer picture, with details. Then realized her intention was to give the subjective effect Macauley had on her, a different matter. Reading it that way, enjoyed it a great deal. Hopes her eyes are better and heat not bothersome. Willa Cather [Stout #1586]
Has just returned from Williamstown, from an inn she had heard was pleasant. Enjoyed the stay, though weather not very good. Enjoyed the college students and escaped recognition except by a professor from Shepherdstown, Virginia, near Winchester, who wrote that he had recognized her accent. Had thought it was gone long ago. Has gained back from 110 to 115 pounds. Nerves needed a rest, and solitude was good. P.S.: Christmas will be happy only if there are victories in Africa. Willa Cather [Stout #1601]
Enclosing a letter written many years ago by Mr. W. C. Brownell to Viola Roseboro' in which he commented on My Ántonia. It shows his sensitive reading of a book very unlike the eighteenth-century writers he generally cared for. Please return it. Willa Cather [Stout #1634]
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]
[included with letter are: 1) newspaper clipping announcing that Jervis Bay in New Brunswick has been chosen as the location for a memorial to Capt. Fogarty Fegen, 2) typed copy of Oliver Wendell Holmes's July 25, 1930, letter to Ferris Greenslet about Cather's work, 3) typed copy of Oliver Wendell Holmes's March 24, 1931, letter to Willa Cather] Is sending a review of the Holmes-Pollock letters from the New York Times [Henry Steele Commager, "Justice Holmes in his Letters," New York Times, March 23, 1941, p. BR1, BR30], and suggests Roseboro' read them. Is reading the volumes herself, and is enjoying the exchange between the two towering figures. Was thankful to be mentioned in the letters, and will send her a facsimile of the letter written to Ferris Greenslet regarding the book Roseboro' heroically supported. Is also including the text of the note he sent to Cather when he was ninety years old, though it cannot represent the beauty of his penmanship. Justice Holmes's secretary was the cousin of a San Francisco friend [May Willard?], and told the friend he read Shadows on the Rock to Holmes. Wants to tell her about the terrific joy she has gotten out of delighting old men who thrilled her years ago, like Thomas Hardy and James M. Barrie. Thinks Roseboro', someone who helped her when she was a foolish young person, would appreciate these fruits of her labor. P.S.: Hand is still useless. W.S.C.