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Last week I wrote the last chapter of "Sapphira and
the Slave Girl"3. (It had been hand-written three times before,
but this time I
did copied it off on the
machine in final form) and telegraphed Knopf7. I enclose his
reply8, which you may mail back to me.
"Sapphĭra" is pronounced with a short "i", as in Madeira, Zamira etc. It is not the Bible9 "Sapphīra" with long "i", but an old English name named from the Bible name, with the "i" made short.
I will write you when I get back to a comfortable typewriter. The old one I
keep up here year after year is the same old machine I bought for $30.00 in
Cheyenne10 that summer I was there11 with you and
Douglass12 (we got it from a fellow
who was dead broke, you remember.) All my early books were typed on it.) I
always write a book through the first time by hand. This book I have written
twice by hand—some chapters of it three
and even four times. It is technically the most
difficult book I ever wrote, and it has had very hard luck. I've tried an
experiment in form which most people will not like, and which, I admit,
rather gives the show away. The fact, (which only a very few people will
notice) is that in this care there is a concealed show behind the first
show. This second show, af coming on the
stage in the Ep Epilogue, is the reason for,
and the authority for, the first show. Without that literal account of
something that happened to me when I was between five and six years old, the
whole book would be constructed, not
lived, like a hundred other stories of
and of slavery: the old costumes, the old high-stepping language and
"mansions," the old Uncle Remus dialect. This is
Virginia13 negro speech, which was
a much modified "Uncle Remus"14 talk. When I began the story that
speech was in my brain like a phonograph record. I hadn't a moment's
hesitation. I Half-way through the story
I went South15 to verify it.
Not with a note-book my ear is my
notebook—it is the only one I have ever carried.
Please save this scrawl until you read the book. I have not written a word of comment or explanation to anyone else about the book. You are the only one in my family who cares a damn. I never used to mind that, 5 but as one grows older one wishes there were some one of one's blood kin who was deeply interested. However, better no one than the wrong kind16 like those poor D. H. Lawrence17 left behind him. Barrie18 and Thomas Hardy19, thank God, left no "representatives" but their own books,—and that is best. You can't keep your cake and eat it too.
I'm tired, so I'm writing foolishness—so excuseLovingly W [missing]Cather North Head Grand Manan2 N. B. Canada