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#0489: Willa Cather to Ferris Greenslet, December 28, 1919

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Tribune FG please read Dear Mr. Greenslet1;

You have probably not followed the controversy4 in the Tribune5 about Antonia.6 The enclosed is an extract7. I will tell you what I think8 about Mr. Mulder's9 book10 when I see you. When, by the way, shall I see you? Is there any chance of your being in town2 before January 7th? I would like to have a session with you before that date if possible.

Within a few days I have had to autograph four copies of "O Pioneers!"11 three of them for publishers, it is true, but they had price marks on the front page, so I think they were honestly bought. The ugliness of that mustard-plaster binding12 has begun to get on my nerves. I have always thoug hoped that if the book kept alive you would, of your own accord, give it a new binding. Now, won't you please tell me how many are left bound up in this ugly cloth, and whether you will be willing to give it a new binding in the cloth I sent you sometime ago. The typography is good, and you used to print it on good paper; why not drop the incongruous colored frontispiece13, give it a decent binding, and let it look like the book that it has proved itself to be. Please let me hear from you definitely about this. If your people do not want to bother about the book, and would like to get rid of it, tell me upon what terms.

I have promised Mr. Knopf14 that he can bring out a new edition15 of the "Troll Garden"16 stories, as he has made me very generous terms. This, I am sure will not displease you, as Houghton Mifflin have never shown even a momentary interest17 in reviving these this volume. The plates18 were destroyed, so it will have to be set anew.

Mr. Knopf would like, of course, to bring it out in the early spring. However, if you are to bring out C B "Claude"19, there might be some unfairness to you, and incidentally to myself, in letting the impetus of "Antonia" be transferred to this book or earlier work instead of passing it on directly to "Claude". If you advise, I will stipulate that the volume20, which will have a discriminating introduction by an interested person, does not come out until six weeks or two months after Claude. I suppose he will be dashed when I make this condition about the date of publication, but I expect you will agree with me that I had better make it. He Knopf will make a handsome book for me, and the introduction will state clearly that the stories are early work. I think it a sporting proposition of in him, and I shall be interested to see what he can do with such a slight book.

Faithfully yours Willa Cather

P. S. There is a phrase in Miss Birtwell's21 letter22 that ought to direct the advertising of the books mentioned23; that the fine thing is rare, very. But your publicity man24 will never, never be bold enough to use that phrase. What he sauys is, "All our books are fin the fine thing, our great country is full of them, genuine interpreters of American life" With one exception, the page ad25 in the Bookman26, the copy he prepares for me would do just as well for Clara Louise Burnham27. Please show your publicity man this post script, and ask him if all books read just alike to him.