#1866: Willa Cather to Elsie Cather, [September 16, 1922]

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Dear Elsie1:

Poor Claude3 seems to have kicked up the devil of a row. He is not regarded as a story at all, but as an argument, as everything he is not. Lots of my old best-friends don't like it; Mencken4 thinks5 it a failure6, Fanny Butcher7 wails forth8 her disappointment9. They all expected it "would be just like10 Antonia11" they say! It's hard to part with old friends, but one can't be a trick-dog and go on repeating even to please one's friends. It's a parting of the ways, I'm afraid, and here I lose friends I'm sick to lose. They insist that I could not resist the temptation to be a big bow-wow about the War. "The other books were personal, this is external" they say!! Of course the people who are for it are just as hot, but they are rather a new crowd, not the old friends I liked to please. I always hate to lose old friends. Well, we never get anything for nothing, in life or art. I gained a great deal in mere technique in in that book—and I lose my friends.

Please take the enclosed notices to Dr. Tyndale12. He is so old and full of dope, poor dear, he can't take in much, but if you read them to him, he'll understand. He deserves to get any wedding cake there is coming. The truth is, everything in his life has failed—but me.

These facts are for you alone. So far Knopf13 has sold 15,000 copies. He has 18,000 ready more ready at the factory in case booksellers re-order. If they do not re-order, he'll be badly stung. He spared no expense to make a handsome book. He was here yesterday and wasis as plucky as can be; says he's willing to go bust on it. I get 37¢ on each copy sold. Sinclair14 reviews15 it—as a failure—in tonight's Post16. "Why the devil should a woman write a war book?"17 Well, why should she? This one was "put upon me" I didn't choose it. Don't try to read Lewis's review to Dr. Tyndale—he couldn't understand it, but do read18 him Zoe's19 and the two20 by Burton Rascoe21. I'll send you Heywood Broun's22 roast23 as soon as I can get a copy—I'm in bed with my friend24, and superintending the housecleaning, and not in a very "literary" mood. I got back only yesterday and am not even unpacked. Have seen no one but Knopf, but find a lot of letters and telegrams, expressing either the warmest congratulations or the saddest regret!

Write soon, Bobbie, to your loving sister, Willie