May 7, 77
This is rather late in a day in which I have got behind in work, from being slow at it all, especially at correspondence. Tomorrow’s course worries me: I shall try to write my letter to you tonight so that I can go to bed with an assurance of at least that much accomplished. In both your letters, first and second, there are matters on which I ought to make comment or response without delay. Your (your and [name suppressed]) progress in this very large operation, account of it, gives me a whole new sense of acquaintance with your natures! I am much cheered by it all! Yes, do send me, as to your books buying-selling plans any information that might help me help you. // Besides the Diggory dissertation, with its passages that I insisted on his modifying where incorrect in my regard, there are notes requesting objections of mine to passages correction of which, because of his time-problems, could not be made in the final text. If you spot anything suggesting his disregarding presumable conditions, I’d be grateful for word as to it. He seemed inclined to honorableness. I nearly broke with him a number of times over certain points. At the end he thanked me with what seemed sincerity. I have here the entire correspondence. You, and Alan, may care to see this, some time. I have kept it here, not sent it to Cornell, in case of occasion of call for it (I can’t keep it in my crowded fire-proof space – much else I have to leave thus unprotected from fire hazard, which has to be considered here).—As to Alan. He has extraordinary capacity for care – using care, proceeding with care, making sure. This, at its best, is the spirit of affirmation. As for you! You have extraordinary capacity for purposive activity. This, at its best, is the spirit of hope. George [Fraser] has a special extraordinariness, I think, in his capacity for identifying himself emotionally with people. This, at its best, is the spirit of love – with everyone there is a certain marked something – a different such something. The common factor, the human cruciality, is in that ‘at its best’. I am going to develop this theme of human individuality a little further in a piece of writing. I think the application of the principle I experimentally make here has considerable workableness. Keep it to you! // Ellmann was Diggory’s supervisor. Ellmann is a madman. That’s why he insulted poems of mine, what he does in his so-called criticism, I’d call it theoretical surgery, or surgical theorising, is work of frenzy. Alan has just sent back to me all letter material of Wexler-Hynes pertinence. Yes, I assume he’s aiming at going on with the commentary typing himself, to his utmost, for the present. – What a grand plan, the arrangement with Michaels’s [Kirkham] friend. And how sweet the springing up of other helpfulness, of her, to you. // Your report on the making all perfectly new, fresh, completely outfitted brings me to the point of marvelling. // Your thesis ‘supervising’ – do you want me to see the thesis at its present stage or when you have done what further re-working you find to do?
When you write to Mrs. McCullough, she has strong feelings about my writings, and the stature of attitude to it and me she is indeed a friend. But not in an intimate way – rather, a grand way at Harper and Row – make the form of your address to her on the somewhat formal, business-like, side: think of her as an editor at Harper & Row in the first place.
Thank you for sending what Edwin Morgan sent you. I’ll write on this in my next letter.
Very tired. Cannot complete my letter. This is very late Saturday. I’ll continue early next week.
As to the little Littack matter: be not troubled about it. The case is not one of making a judgement, anyhow. The piece struck me as oddly insistent in its use of tell. The only assurance of approval I encouraged was, if Alan, or if not he, you, were struck in a like way, a query might be posed to the man as to whether he had The Telling’s ‘tell’ in his consciousness when he wrote that. But do not let the matter in any case preoccupy you! Certainly, it would be misplaced to present him with a judgement.
Alan Ross, it is plain, is not going to write to me on my letter submitted, which was accompanied by a personal word. He ranks with me as [James] Atlas in an editorial scale. Please, tell Alan of this sometime. I am sure neither of you will have further to do with him.