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#1671: Willa Cather to Frank H. Woods, Jr., June 14, 1944

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Mr. Woods1;

Your letter evidently came while I was making a long stay3 in the Province of Quebec4. I am sorry that it has remained without an answer, but a very heavy mail accumulated while I was away.

Friendly letters are always harder to answer than business letters; you would probably reply to me that they are always harder to write! But your letter gives me genuine pleasure because it recalls many pleasant memories of your mother5, whom I last saw when you were, I think, in France6 during the first World War.

I think you must really like My AÁntonia7, and I am glad that it reminds you of that Nebraska8 country which is so beautiful in the hunting season. Wherever I happen to be in the autumn, I am always a little homesick for October in western Nebraska. Since your letter is really about My AÁntonia, you might like to know a little of its rather unusual history. The publishers9 were very cold to it at first, and a good many of my own friends thought it very formless — which it is, really. But the few people who liked it (most of them were writers) liked it very hard, and after the first year it got going and has kept going ever since. One of the pleasant and unexpected things which the book brought about was a correspondence with President Thomas Masaryk10, a correspondence which continued for about eight years, until shortly before his death. He was a fine critic, and at home in many languages. I am surprised and pleased that you like AÁntonia so much, because it seemed to me that so much of the early charm which I felt about the Nebraska country in my childhood had rather departed before you began yours. The book has many faults and lacks many things, but I think it does recall the feeling I had about the country, and that feeling was very genuine.

Very cordially yours, Willa Cather