Dear Mr. Chalupecký,
I begin at the end of your letter and take to heart your bit about my manuscript. I am writing in Astoria, which sounds noble, but the opposite is true. It is in fact a periphery that I have grown accustomed to and fond of, because New York, downtown, Manhattan is an international city, and this American fringe is truly America.
I live in a sublet here and it's very humble, but respectable enough with its refrigerator, and hot and cold water in the bathroom. I can see the backyards from my little window, and I have a fire escape and the tree that the famous novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is named after outside my window. My landlady is on vacation in California and so I have confiscated her typewriter, which skips, so now you have it all explained from A to Z. I already know the American alphabet the way kids learn to sing in school – a is pronounced ei and z is zee. I'd like to move from here, somewhere closer, because I spend a lot of time commuting and it's not at all comfortable, it's not the way I'd like it to be, but maybe it has to be. And now to other things.
First of all, I am sincerely pleased with your letter, that you answer so kindly and willingly and that you really want to take care of me. I am quite unhappy about this sometimes.
I'm enclosing a cue card. I think the manuscripts are in the girl's room and the maid, Mrs. Marunová, will know about them. Call Mrs. Strobachová first. I don't remember the number, but you'll find it in the directory. She'll try to prepare and find it, or rather ask Mrs. Marunová to take care of it. There are three things: The Unknown Man, The Testimony and the packages of The Artist's Head (It could have a different title now). Send the first two separately and The Artist's Head too. I'm most concerned about the last shipment, because if it gets lost, I have nothing at hand. But something's got to be risked. Talk to Machonin, he can arrange the technical stuff and what it will cost. Send it the safest way.
I'm really starting to get publication possibilities here, seriously. For one thing, the publishers here don't fall for crap (which they sometimes get offered from us, examples of which I won’t give for discretion’s sake) and they have a sense for new things. I’ve also talked to a few people about my The Artist /not the first volume/ and it's generated a lot of interest. They even offered to translate excerpts for me to sample. So, you see, there is great hope. So please, for God's sake, make it happen.
I would also like to ask you to send me one copy of the issue where The Talking Zone is printed. And if you're in the apartment, there's still a copy of The Talking Zone in the closet upstairs in the hall. You could send about three copies. And from Melantrich two copies of Yellow Twilights. Then about two or three of The Artist's Head. And one of each of my books that would be available. Machonin would arrange the technical side of the shipment.
Lest I forget, since you and Pamir split up, please see to it that he pays the rest into my account at the Trade Bank, where the Ministry sends me money.
It's terrible how much I want from you!!
As for the publication, I leave that entirely up to you, as if it were yours. I just want it to come out, and I know you won't do anything I don't want you to do.
I'll translate one or two – when I look them over - chapters of Brewsie and Willie for you. There are nineteen of them, some of them short. It's about what American soldiers on the front in Europe are saying.
In my opinion, this is the most up-to-date thing that has been and is being written about the current situation. Very Stein-like, but strangely simple.
Then I'd be tempted to translate her essay on composition, but I don't know if that would be popular here. I'll think about it. But the soldiers in Europe, that's great, and I think I could do a good job.
America is getting more and more interesting. You're right about me. And I'm grateful to you for taking me so seriously.
It's so strange that I'm writing to you from Astoria here, and stranger still that we've been meeting like this at long distances when we were once quite close.
I'm surprised to hear about your divorce. I always thought your marriage was something like mine to Zdenek. And when I saw you recently, you never showed that concern. There are strange things in this world. It seems from your letter that you're happy with the way it played out, and I don't know how much these things play a role in your life. Perhaps I shouldn't even have mentioned it, but I hope you know it is out of the purest concern for you.
I realize with horror that my entire letter is just things I want zou to do for me. I'm afraid it's the wrong dowry for a friendship. Forgive me, but perhaps you understand how it all is. I have sometimes had the impression, and I feel that you understand me and my situation well – both the human and artistic side.
I'll talk to Jakobson. I'll call him tomorrow and write to him right away. But I had to write this in a hurry. At least you can see how much these things weigh upon my heart.
We hear of Träger leaving Melantrich altogether. But perhaps that's not true. Hostovský telegraphed him. He said Melantrich would publish a new club series with a circulation of many thousands. So he’s going to need something! But that's just an aside. You do with my things as you see fit.
Thank you again for everything and please don't be angry that I bother you so much, and don't desert me.
Very sincerely yours
I wrote about three or four American poems. I'll send them to you as they develop. Sometimes I think I can do something, and then again - I would like to talk, to write even more, but I realize again how little I know what I have - apart from pure literature - to send you and what I can't. So once again, truly
Yours M. S.
|Subject:||A Woman in the Pantheon|
|Title:||Letter from Milada Součková to Jindřich Chalupecký, Three Kings Day, 1947|
|Origin:||Jindřich Chalupecký fonds|