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#1144: Willa Cather to Ferris Greenslet, December 30 [1932]

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I hate to send you1 such a beastly slovenly letter, but my own typewriter is not here and none of my writing tools are unpacked. I using the carpenter's pen.

With many apologies W. S. C.
FG ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Mr. Greenslet1;

Excuse old machine,- only one at hand. This morning I received from a Miss Hahn3, with no sort of letter4 or apology, a barbarousliy reconstructed version of "Antonia."5 You spoke to me of using a portion of the book, some twenty pages; you did not mention such a horror as a skeletonoized version of the whole novel. The lady has tried to make it a story of action; now it was never meant to be a story of action.

I had decided, after your talk with me, to allow your educational department to use the first thirty pages6 of the book, minus the introduction7. If it would be an accommodation to you, personally, I would still be willing to allow that, on condition that there shall be no cuts at al all in the text, and that this lady shall not write the in introduction.

Can't we just drop the whole matter8, anyway? You tell me they want something of 'mine'. Then your educators go and make this text as much like Zane Grey9 as possible. The reconstruction by Miss Hahn has neither Zane Grey's merits nor mine.

Really, my dear F.G., you've never treated "Antonia" very gallantly. You are always trying to do her in and make ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ her cheap. (That's exaggeration, of course, but I'm really very much annoyed.) ButAnd you know how you've suggested cheap editiond, film possibilities, etc. Antonia had done well enough by her publishers as she is , not in the cut rate drugstores or re-written by miss Hahn. She made her way b by being what she is, not by being the compromise her publishers have several times tried to make her. Even a cut in price would be a compromise in the case of that particular book, I think. And as to a cut in text, reducing the whole book to some few thousand words - - -! Those horrible boil-downs of "Notre Dame de Paris"10 and "Adam Bede"11 that which are handed out to children are poison, as you well know.

I'm in my new house12, but not unpacked, hence this untidy machine letter.

You see I don't want to go into a book that is made up of reconstructions of this kind, where the text is boiled down. It doesn't give youngsters ve even a chance to come in contact with the writing personality of a single one of the writers presented to them in this packing-house form. I think it's the lowest trick ever put over on young people.

Enraged though I am, I'm still your very good friend, and I send you good New Year wishes from my heart. Only let me hear no more of Miss Hahn and her stupid, brutal trade.

Faithfully (and affectionately) yours Willa Cather

My new apartment will be ever so nice when it's done.