Your offer has brought me great joy. Yet there’s a catch – but fear not (if you would even be afraid in this case). I have decided to give you, and am truly glad to do so, Mluvící pásmo (The Talking Zone), but I would like for Melantrich to pay me well for it, either by publishing it in book or other form after it is published in your magazine. For I need money – otherwise I would give it to you without a second thought. When nobody wanted Mluvící pásmo I entered it into the Umělecká beseda competition, I guess it’s the Theer Prize for a new form in art. They won’t give me anything anyways, I only entered it out of desperation and can pick it back up. I just ask that Melantrich treats me fairly. In their view I am still considered a second or even third rate and that pisses me off. But I would do anything for you. I mean this seriously. So I’d like to discuss it all with you. Whether I should speak with Dr. Träger about the money, or you would. If Rykr heard how I “negotiate”, he wouldn’t believe it. This is what seven sparse years have turned me into. It’s not so bad now, but the fact that since 1940 I’ve had to do whatever it took, navigating the authorities, taxes, fees, pensions, estates, etc. I guess it had to be that way, otherwise, without these hardships to overcome, I probably would have died. I still have the possibility of giving up this “life struggle” and going to “my auntie in America” (no joke), but I still don’t want to play the poor relative. But enough of me unloading all of this; let’s get to the point!
It would be something like that with the diary. I would have other suggestions for you; I have a drawer full of the stuff and would really like to organize its publication somehow. I know that the financial boom has come to an end, but would still like for my things to be published, if possible, under good conditions, but not only financially.
Mrs. Pujmanová invited me to work on the magazine that she will run – you certainly know what it’s about. I gave her part of the “Study of the Artist’s Head”. I had some things prepared for her, but you know I would prefer being with you.
I personally respect Mrs. Pujmanová in many ways, but we are artistically far apart. I wanted to translate for her a story by Saroyan, perhaps you’ve heard of him, he’s a contemporary of Miller and Anais, their acquaintance, but he became “famous”. I’d been peddling his writing for years. Then I recently read an interesting interview by René Lalou with Eliot, Spender and Morgan in “Nouvelles Littéraires” – perhaps you also read it. One is relieved that someone in the world thinks a bit like her, and that she is not all alone like a silent fool. Then something revolutionary from Sand and the likes.
In short, I would like to talk to you about matters of time and timelessness. Perhaps you have a little time for this now that you’ve liberated yourself from the office work?! It impresses me that you were able to free yourself from it! I do office work too, but it is more like sabotage. Perhaps something will come of it after all. You’d be surprised how well I can write up an interview with the French ambassador!
In short, I would like to talk to you about matters of “time and timelessness”. Perhaps you have a little time for this now that you’ve liberated yourself from the office work?! It impresses me that you were able to free yourself from it! I do office work too, but it is more like sabotage. Perhaps something will come of it after all. You’d be surprised how well I can write up an interview with the French ambassador! Avec quelle maitrise et quelle aisance! In a fortnight I could become an international press attaché or correspondent. The secret is to be able to jot down what you see and hear, and to have a little common sense and experience. And art? One would say that there’s nothing more to it, and yet there is. Art requires that special loony factor, and that’s really something that’s so hard when it is meant to be genuine, to the point that every other job’s “hardship” is child’s play in comparison. Believe me when I say that truly “great art”, whether it be a poem or sculpture, requires much more intelligence than any other craft in the world. But you already know all this, I’m just sharing my thoughts. I really regret that you don’t ever show up in person to chat. I feel like I’ve written a lot of useless information in this letter; feel free to skip it and just read the summary: I’d be more than happy to give you Mluvící pásmo, but we have to come to an agreement.
I’m now living in Prague III at 5 Úvoz street. I still have the same phone number, mornings at the ministry 60641 (I can’t remember the extension, they’ll tell you, it’s in Ledebour Palace).
All the best to you and your wife,
P. S. Today I read in the newspaper about the exhibition at Mánes. So Janoušek – God rest his soul – is now famous, but Rykr still isn’t. It may be worth it someday, but it seems that we won’t live to see his true fame.