#0329: Willa Cather to R. L. Scaife, October 30 [1915]

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RLS Dear Mr. Scaife1;

I have not written you about the proof3 of the ad you were good enough to send me because I have been hard at work paying visits in the West. I like the general form of the ad, but I do not like some of the quotations used. I can think of nothing more damning to say about any book than the following: "AN UNCOMMONLY INTERESTING NOVEL"4
"UNQUESTIONABLY A NOVEL OF DISTINCTION"5
"OF EXCEPTIONAL STRENGTH."6

When some live and interesting things have been said about the book7, why not use the remarks that savor of honest enthusiasm instead of the remarks that are made of wood? The New York Globe8 man9, for instance, is always interesting, just as Jim Ford10 is proverbially dull. It seems to me that in advertising an ounce of enthusiasm is worth a pound of approbation. If, in writing about a book, the revierer betrays some personal excitement, that makes one want to read the book. His commendation is worth nothing at all, but his excitement is worth a good deal.

I have re-made the ad you sent me, using some quotations that seem to me to have pull in them. My Nation11 I have sent away to the Nebraska State Journal12, which will reprint it13. But I should think that the first and last sentences14 of that notice, with some asterisks between the two sentences, would make a very convincing quotation.

Won't you, at any rate, try an ad15 made up of the extracts I suggest herewith? Please have one set up and let me see a proof of it. I am sure that you will get returns if you put the ad in the Nebraska State Journal at Lincoln16n; also the Gazette-Times17 of Pittsburgh2, and the Chicago Post18. Of the latter, I am not so sure.

If you advertise in Nebraska19, be sure not to use that extract about "unredeemed Nebraska"20 from Mrs. Peattie's21 notice22. The whole state has been pouting at Mrs. Peattie for twenty years, and they are always saying that I might have made them very happy "if only you had never come under Mrs. Peattie's influence."

What would you think about trying an ad in the Rocky Mountain News23, Denver24; or the Kansas City Star25?

Faithfully yours Willa Cather

B"Glows with the color and exhilaration of Colorado26."

" Interesting from the first page to the last."

" It vibrates with that indescribable thrill which Stevenson27 has called the tuning fork of art."

SO SAY THE CRITICS OF
THE SONG OF THE LARK

The Nation11 says13:

First and last sentences of Nation review.

(I have not notice at hand to make extract.)

The New York Commercial Advertiser8 says:

"It is almost too good to be true, Willa Sibert Cather's new novel, 'The Song of the Lark'., It has the artistic and literary merit of her earlier book, 'O Pioneers!'28, but it is an immeasurably bigger and richer story. In fact, the 'The Song of the Lark' is one of the most interesting, really American novels that has been written in this country in a long time, and it will match up with the best work that has recently been done in England29."

The New York TRIBUNE30 says5:

Of Miss Cather's vivifying touch in describing the life of the West nothing need be said since the publication of 'O Pioneers! ..... Here we have a notable picture of the beginnings of music in the Middle West in the days of Theodore Thomas31."

(or the following:)

The Chicago Tribune32 says22:

Miss Cather's method of deliniating her heroine is so deeply romantic that it goes past all mere sentimentality, down into the very roots of Romance, where the waters of reality spring eternally."

By Willa Sibert Cather $1.40 net
At all bookstores
Houghton Mifflin Co. 4 Park StreetBoston

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN
COMPANY
NOV 1 9 49 AM -15
BOSTON33