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#1301: Willa Cather to Ferris Greenslet, March 8, 1936

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ FG My dear Mr. Greenslet1:

No3, I have not so far had anything to do with with influenza, this year and I am sorry to hear that you have had such a visitation. I have had plenty of sick friends4 however, and their many operations5 have kept me racing about among the hospitals until I sometimes think the only possible escape is to retire to a hospital myself.

I want to consult you about three things.

I. Are you still anxious to do a subscription edition6 in 1937 or 1938? Publishers sometimes change their minds as the times change. I hope to have time to run over some of the books and make corrections this summer, and that is why I ask you if you still adhere to the plan as we discussed it. If your proposition still holds, it was awfully considerate of you not to bother me about it at all in this past year when so many perplexing and unexpected things have come up. You remember the mild poet's remark "Only the sorrows of others cast"7, etc. Well, sometimes they can quite snow one under.

II. Tell me please, is there now a garage8 on the site of Mrs. Fields's9 old house at 148 Charles Street? Perhaps this is only a legend?

III. I am getting up a short book10 of essays for Alfred Knopf11 because we have been bothered with a good many requests to reproduce certain stray pieces of writing, which I think Mrs. Fields would have called "papers". I want to include a little sketch of Mrs. Fields which I did as a review12 of Mark Howe's13 "Memories of a Hostess"14, and following that a short article on Miss Jewett15. The latter I haven't yet clearly planned, because I wanted first to know from you whether ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ you would be quite willing that I should use a considerable portion of the preface I wrote for the Mayflower edition16. I would, of course, state either in the article or in a note at the bottom of the page, that this was written as a preface, naming the book and publishers. You will remember that by my own wish there was no question of compensation when I did the preface for you, and I would not like to appear an "Indian giver" in asking your permission to use it again. I am asking you, really, because I said some things there about the quality of her work which I think I could not say quite so well again.

The times have changed so much17 that it might be wiser not to call forth Miss Jewett's shade into this present world, which would be so objectionable to her. The language in which she was such an artist has almost ceased to be. The brassy young Jews and Greeks from New York University have made the only language that is much heard in New York2 today. I may get discouraged and drop the notion altogether. It might be better if we could hide her away for a while.

I suppose the thing that has made me rather want to do a little sketch of Miss Jewett, twenty years after, is that I get a good many letters from young people, both in this country18 and in England19, asking me about her in a very reverent tone.

Faithfully yours, Willa Cather