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#2971: Willa Cather to Mrs. Samuel S. Posner, April 19, 1937

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Mrs. Posner1:

Of course, I readily agree with you, that Jews have a remarkable facility in assimilating the determining characteristics of various languages. You speak of the Maine3 Jew.: I had the pleasure of assisting a Jewish boy through college. I was interested in him because he was a fine boy, but I think I was most interested because his speech was absolutely North-of-Maine's speech, with all the characteristic peculiarities of pronounciation - and, all the while, he looked as unlike anything that ever came from the North-of-Maine as it was possible for a boy to look. In the article4 to which you refer, I think I spoke only5 of the Jewish boy born in New York City2, and educated in a New York university. Within the last few years, a number of these young men have expressed themselves in a very cocky and patronizing fashion about the older American writers whom we were trained to respect. Miss Jewett6, Mr. Howells7, Henry James8, have been treated with very lofty contempt by a group of these young men. I thought I made it clear in my article that I was speaking of this particular group of young Jews, who have practically never been outside of New York, and hold in the lowest esteem our provincial towns and country people.

As to my own personal feeling about Jews, I think you might get some very sincere expression of it, if you were to read a story of mine called Old Mrs. Harris9, in the volume entitled ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩Obscure Destinies10. I think the people one chooses for friends rather indicate one's taste, and practically all of my oldest personal friends in New York, Chicago11 and San Francisco12 are Jews. My publisher13 is a Jew (and is one of my best friends), my oculist14 is a Jew, my physician15 is a Jew.

The paragraph which you question is a criticism not only of young Jews, but of a group of young foreigners16 who have assumed a very scornful attitude toward a country17 which their fathers genuinely admired. If you take the trouble to read the story I have spoken of, Old Mrs. Harris, you will certainly understand something of my real feeling about the Jews.

Very cordially yours, Willa Cather
Mrs. Samuel S. Posner1, 1185 Park Avenue, New York City2. NEW YORK, N. Y. STA. Y2 APR 22 1937 1 PM