#2085: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, [January 5, 1919]

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Dear Roscoe1:

The other day I sent you an important notice4 of Antonia5 by a critic6 who has since died of influenza. He was the ablest of our critics, and I had rather dreaded his review. He gave me some sharp knocks7 on the Song of the Lark8, though he liked the first part of it very much. I like his comparison of the book with White's9. Long before I began to write anything worth while, I hated White10 and Grahame Phillips11 for the way they wrote about the West. I knew that there was a common way of presenting common life, which is worthless, and a finer way of presenting it which would be much more true. Of course Antonia's story could be told in exactly the same jocular, familiar, grapenutsy way that Mr. White thinks is so American. He thinks he is presenting things as they are, but what he really presents is his own essentially po vulgar personality. I don't deny that Mr. White sells a thousand to my hundred, but nobody cann can really reach both audiences, so I don't bother about that, so long as I have some of my the savings of my old McClure12 salery left to live on.

Weeks ago I got such a heart-warming letter from a former president of the Missouri Pacific, Edwin Winter13, who as a young man helped to carry the U. P. across Nebraska14, and who built the bridge over Dale Creek canyon15---the first bridge, which was of timber! He asked if he could come to see me, and on Friday he came. Such a man! all that one's proudest of in one's country. He picked the book up in his club and sat right down and wrote me the most beautiful of letters. I'd rather have the admiration of one man like that than sell a thousand books. He said that reading the story was a stirring adventure to him, that he felt as if he must get at me at once somehow, and he wondered if I were a Swede, because, he said, "the book looked to me too much like literature to be American." I feel that I've made a new friend who is going to teach me a lot and give me a great deal of pleasure. He has the most brilliant mind I've come up with in a long while, and such a vast and varied experience. I think I must copy his letter for you, sometime.

Please send the copy of the Dial16 and the notice about poor Bourne back to me when you've done with it. Tell Meta17 I am still eating that delicious jam on my toast at tea every afternoon when I have tea at home. I have finished the scuppernong jam, and am now on the pineapple. I wish I could have been with you for the Holidays.

Mr. Roscoe Cather1 Lander3 Wyoming NEW YORK, N.Y. STA. O2 JAN 6 1919 430 PM