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#2683: Willa Cather to Alfred A. Knopf, May 1, 1936

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Dear Alfred1,

I was saving my projected title4 as a surprise for you - possibly a shock. You see I think that to call a book of essays by any of the conventional titles such as PERSONALITIES AND OPINIONS is foolish. Essays are dull enough anyhow. I have the hope that these papers are less dull than most, because they are mostly accounts of personal adventures with very individual literary personalities. However such a title would not be very satisfactory, as the best paper among them is certainly the one called THE NOVEL DEMEUBLE5.

You would be much more reconciled to this title if you had gone through the text of the various essays. But you want a description of the book immediately and the paper6 on Thomas Mann7 will not be finished and properly typed before the week after next. There will be, I fear, only five essays8 in all, and of these you have read only the one9 on Mme. Groux10. It will have to be a small book and I suppose you would want to sell it at a dollar11. I haven't the least idea to just how many words it will run, because this request for information for the catalogue has come suddenly. I had expected to give you an estimate of the length of the text, i.e., number of words, about the middle of May. I don't suppose you will need to know about details of that kind for the catalogue. I hope that Mrs. Kenyon12 may be able to convert you to this title for the essays. But if you think it really too outrageous I will, of course, listen to reason. Please think it over when you get back and call me up.

Yours, Alfred A. Knopf, Esq. 730 Fifth Avenue New York2 K