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#2490: Willa Cather to Alfred A. Knopf, August 9 [1937]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Alfred1;

My HeraldTribunes4 come in bunches5, and I don’t always open them at once. So for me, Pat6 was lost, found, returned, all in one bunch of news, like a “continued story.” I’m glad he is back again, but more glad that he ran away. I’m glad he wanted to run away. He has had too much petting, and it’s a good sign that he felt like kicking it all over. People are always (on your account and because you are a publisher) paying more attention to him than they naturally would to a lad of his age. Their overtures are more potent than your efforts to contract the them: (bad English, but you will understand.) All this wouldn’t matter if the boy were just a silly ass. But there is another side to him, and you’ll agree with me that the other side hasn’t had much chance. We all like flattery, and most young people like to stand out from the crowd and be exceptional. The son of a successful and prominent man always has a hard time. But the only son of a conspicuously original and successful publisher, in these times when every sc society girl and every school boy wants to “write”—well, he’s pretty nearly damned from childhood. I’ve sometimes wished you’d sent him to school in Switzerland7, where his name would not suggest getting next ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩to a publisher. I don’t think you can realize what a handicap “Alfred A. Knopf Inc.” is to him. He’d have to be of heroic heroic (heroic) mould to stride over it. (I wrote8 Blanche9 several weeks agon ago about getting a black spider sting on my right hand—had a nasty time with it. Now I’m free of bandages, but my hand remains stiff and awkward, as you can see when I have to write the word “heroic” over three times to make it at all decipherable!) I hope you and Blanche didn’t worry too much about Pat’s running away.

My love to you both, and a great deal to Pat—though I shan’t tell him so.

Devotedly to you all W. S. C. (over) P.S.

Just a word: why don’t you ask Greenslet10 to let you see the prospectus (failed again!) prospectus they are preparing for the limited subscription edition11? A rumor is going round that you have left me, or I have left you.

W. S. C.
W.S.Cather Whale Cove Grand Manan, New Brunswick2 Canada Mr. Alfred A. Knopf1 501 Madison Avenue New York City3 U. S. A 1937
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