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#0547: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, July 6 [1921]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My Dear Elsie1;

I envy you, off on that high plateau3! The heat here has been Hellish for the last week, night and day. But I am afraid I am stuck in it for the present. In addition to my other work, I've had the French translation4 of Antonia5 dumped upon me for revision. It is to be serialized in La Louvelle Revue6 next spring, and the translator7 wants me to attend to the natural history and botany, and to supply footnotes on explaining Western farm terminology. I could do this with more zest if the translation seemed to me really first rate. It's not dreadful, but stiff and flat; here and there it reads like French, and then again it's like English lifted over into French,- about the literal way in which I would do it myself. I thought I had written that Damned book once, and was done with it; and now here it is with the same old problems, and in a language I know nothing about. He always uses too many words, and makes the landscape and people too detailed and precise, someway- - - drives in the last carpet tack! When I knock out a dozen word to page, he says, or writes from Paris8, "That's not French!" Well, then this story is not French, and can't be made so; it's absure to combine a tight precise style with anything so informal and even lax in outline.

Mother9 has written me begging me not to come home10 until the heat is over there. She knows it makes me rather short-tempered, poor lady! So that probably means I will go to her in September. I will go to the Grand Manan11 for August, if I get my work done up to a certain point before that.

You know that Greenslet12 had his shoulder broken13 in London14?

At present they15 have not one of my books in stock; the printers' strike began in April, and a little increase in thes sales cleaned them out. Meanwhile, the Knopf book16 has been selling merrily. What can one do with such people? Four different jobbers have sent me letters, saying that H. and M. won'tg give them any date as to when the strike will be settled, or when they can send them any of my books.

This is a grubby sort of business letter I'm writing, but I'm that subdued by the heat it's a wonder I can do even that. My fingers slip on the keys! Be glad you are there where there is some life in the air and that you haven't got smoky soup to breathe. Good luck!

Yours W. S. C.