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#1484: Willa Cather to Ferris Greenslet, June 10, 1940

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ FG Dear Ferris Greenslet1:

Ever since the first number of John Buchan's3 autobiography4 came out5 in the Atlantic6, I have wanted to tell you how fine I think it is and to congratulate you upon having secured such a book of sanity and comfort for us all. On this most dreadful and discouraging of days, June 10th, I had the chapter "Bright Company" for my companion at teatime. The world and life he brings before me seems almost as far away as the world of Vergil7's eEclogues8. As you know, I have been blamed as an "escapist"9,- indifferent and selfish. But there are things one cannot escape. And I think none of the personal sorrows I have lived through have ever shaken my days and nights as has the gloom (doom?) which has been gathering for the last few months10 over almost everything that has made the world worth living in or living for. You are one of the people who I know feels as I do; but the strange thing is that almost everyone feels it in some degree. My doctor tells me that the patients in the hospitals are very much affected by it, and their wish to get well seems to flag. He will not let me go over to Philadelphia11 on the 12th to take a degree from the University of Pennsylvania, because I am so slow in recovering from a recent illness. But I write chiefly to thank you for telling me about Buchan's autobiography, which I might have missed when so many distracting and devastating things are happening in the world, ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ and to all my friends abroad.

Faithfully yours, Willa Cather

P.S. This seems a foolish personal request to make when I really care so little about personal things just now: but since ANTONIA12 is still selling, and since I am still perpetually receiving letters about her, I do wish you would send to the Riverside Press for a copy of the current edition. I lately sent for several, to present to my nurses at the French Hospital13, and I was shocked to find on what poor, thin paper14 the book is now it was printed. The trouble is that since the letters on page 5 show through the paper and cloud the text on page 6, the book is now very hard to read. I have always found that the principal objection to cheap editions, like the old Dent "Everyman" books15, and the "Giants" of the Modern Library16, is that one side of every leaf shows through the paper and clouds the next, so that there is not a clear page in the book on which the eye can rest with satisfaction or read without a certain amount of disquieting effort.

W. S. C.