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#1027: Willa Cather to Dorothy Canfield Fisher, December 1 [1930]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My Dear Dorothy1;

I read your book3 at once after I wrote you4, but I’ve not had time to take up a pen for all the bother of doctors etc. The book was my only rest from a doctors etc. I like it immensely, but I like some parts of it very specially. Best of all I liked Morris and his wife—their relations. It’s strange and baffling and one never questions it—and never understands it. I’ve thought about it a great deal at odd moments. It’s unexpected and unaccountable, but it’s splendid. Of course it’s so interesting because Morris himself is so interesting. He’s a terrible comment on how badly scholarship and family life seem to mix. But there’s such distinction about him in spite of his littlenesses. and his position in the world and in society is grim enough. He’s a splendid figure—I’ll never forget him. I’ve not told you half how much he takes hold of me. He’s absolute reality to me.


I like Adrian, too—but best as a young man. He’s so really a young man. It’s delightful the way one feels his youth and natural good spirits—there’s a charm about him, and cham charm is one of the things that people on paper so seldom have. After he gets older and thoughtful and domestic, he loses something - - for me, at least. Of course all the Paris5 part is splendid, and it’s there that I like Matey best and seem to see her most clearly as an individual. In some of the early part she seems to me too much on the page—she’s brought up to me so closelyclosely that I can’t see her distinctly. It’s only when I see her in relation to things that are not her own immediate personal concerns that she emerges clearly for me. I tried to tell “everything” about a young person once, in “The Song of the Lark”6—and I think it’s a mistake. Since one can’t tell everything, I’ve come to think one must tell very little, unless one blurs the picture. You’ll say, “What about Proust7?”

"Well, in the first person it can be done. YouHe can say “I thought all these things about Albertine8 and saw all these things.” and if one is not interested in all little Marcel’s sensations one can tell him you'veone’s had enough. Almost everyone writes in the third person as if they were writing in the first,—too intimately, I mean, and it makes an unsteady focus on the page. I put it badly, but you see my meaning?

Oh Dorothy, apropos of this, and of “styles”, I do want to tell you of an amazing adventure I had at Aix-les-Bains9 last summer! You There are only three people in the world I want to tell it to, and you are one. You could never guess who out of the Great Past10, old and in disguise, I met there! It will mean something to you.

With my love and thanks Willa