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#1736: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, August 16, 1946

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My dear Elsie1:

I wrote you a hasty note to tell you that I could never be persuaded to submit to a "Portable Cather"4 published by Viking. These "Portables" seem to be the last derivative of the torrent of anthologies which very nearly wiped out all the dignity and nearly all the profits of the legitimate publishing business. After the war everybody wants to "get by" easy; schools, teachers and pupils. Nobody wants to toil through "For Whom the Bell Tolls"5 when they can read the worst chapters of the book and say "Hemeningway6? Oh, yes, sure!"

Why are you (telling me that you are working on a new book in which you are very much interested) willing to squander your time and scatter your attention for a miserable collection which means to get by as a "Portable" when other forms of the Anthology have become a little stale.??? Such a waste of energy!!

I think Alfred Knopf7 is still in England8 but I am quite sure that he would not have any dealings9 with a "Portable" when his entire list of any writer's books are selling steadily all the time.

So let me wish you happy days and good luck on your new book and ask you to forget this insidious "Portable" suggestion.

Yours Willa Cather