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#0110: Willa Cather to Witter Bynner, February 24 [1906]

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Dear Mr. Bynner1;

Thank you for sending me the story, which I think I have been able to improve somewhat3. You ask me about the novel4– indeed, you asked me about it once before and I neglected to answer your question. The truth is that I had not taken it out of the wrapper in which you sent it back to me, nor even opened it, until some weeks ago when I needed a piece of string and used the one which had been put around it in your office. So yo you see that I have done absolutely nothing with it. It seems t to be not quite bad enough to throw away, and not quite good enough to wrestle with again, therefore it reposes5 in my old hat box.

I do think it was most awfully zealous of you to put in a word atto Mr. James6 and definitely call his attention to the book7, but I know that you must think his reply worth your pains. It's such a strikingly personal communication8, although it's about something toward which he declares himself dead. The letter has been has given me a very keen kind of satisfaction, for the attitude he admits is so exactly that which one would wish him to have. I've always known that he must feel just so, but it's comforting, all the same, to have it from him in black and white. [illegible] iIf Mr. James and one or two other men did not feel just as he affirms about our whole amazing scheme of production,–––– well, it would really break one's spirit, you know. It would be a very deep personal hurt. It's this the unshrinking positiveness of his statement as to his estimation of the value of what he terms "promiscuous fiction" that makes Mr. James' letter a kind of moral stimulant. You shall see with what good grace I can stand up to thewhatever punishment which he will metes out to me in his second letter9, to have had the satisfaction of the first. In anticipation of a second letter, however, I certainly do ask your sympathy, even though he should refine upon his treatment in the light of the presupposed youth and innocence of the subject. I feel a good deal as if I were about to undergo a searching physical examination from which I should come away with my former unsuspecting confidence in the ordinary reputableness and dependableness of my organs forever distroyed.shaken. Or, worse still, with yourmy doubts horribly confirmed. The prospect of his doing what he calls "his best" by me,––– well, wouldn't you, now, when you were you actually facing the prospect of such an attention, have to whistle to keep up your courage?

So I'll ask your sympathy and beg you, when you get his diagnisis, to let me have it faithfully and soon.

Faithfully Willa Sibert Cather