A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Roscoe Cather,  Thanksgiving Day [November 28, 1918] , from 5 Bank Street, New York, NYUNL-Roscoe 

Wanted to respond right away to his kind letter. Is so pleased that he and their parents like the new novel. It is getting positive reviews from many critics, too. She received a letter from France, even, and it will soon be published there. Prefers the previous one herself, as it is full of intensity and the hardships of life then, but critics prefer the artistry of My Ántonia. A reviewer in The Nation claims "it exists in an atmosphere of its own—an atmosphere of pure beauty." [This quotation has not been found. It does not appear in the review published in "The Nation" in 1918 ("Two Portraits," The Nation [November 2, 1918]: 522-3)] That's silly: the atmosphere is like grandmother's kitchen. Booth Tarkington says it is as "simple as a country prayer meeting or a Greek temple—and as beautiful." [No published or unpublished remarks about My Ántonia by Booth Tarkington have been located. However, Booth Tarkington did write a letter to S. S. McClure praising his "Autobiography" (which Cather ghost-wrote) and used the sentence "It's as simple as a country church—or a Greek statue." See Lyon, Peter, Success Story: The Life and Times of S. S. McClure (New York: Scribner): 1963. 347] Isn't it funny how people who can't create anything of real quality themselves can know it when they see it? And something really honest is honest for everybody. It doesn't work for a writer to be concerned about the pre-formed taste of the audience. They accomplish nothing. Unless one is going to be completely conventional, one has to do something utterly new and un-wished for by readers. Innovative works are never desired, because people have to figure out how to appreciate what they have never encountered before.