Dear Comrade:

Now, first of all, you said nothing in your last to explain my neglect of writing sooner. You couldn't, and wouldn't if you could.

I have thought things at you and wished mightily that I could have you here for a talk. It is this thinking at you that you have gotten, but it was far from hostile. You have an uncanny way of feeling me at a distance, for whether you are able to believe it or not, you are a "psychic". I hate that term because, like nearly all other terms, fools have worked it to death; but you know what I mean. Your finest manifestations are chiefly the result of your intuitions and seldom of mere rational processes; though, as I need not tell you, I sincerely respect your mind.

Now I am going to try to say a little of what I had in mind. I am afraid that in your intense eagerness to defend what you know to be great in my work against the misstatements of simple persons, you may fall into an error as to the real state of affairs. That is one reason I wrote you about the many indications I am constantly receiving from various parts of the country tending to show, beyond mistake, that my work, in spite of six years of silence on my part, forges steadily ahead. I think I know what you meant by the "high and the low," and it may not be necessary to insist that these people from whom I am constantly hearing in various ways are not to be rated as low in my sense except in their power to control publicity. Very often they are people of importance and unquestionable culture. These I call the high; and along with these are people of various degrees of culture, some certainly approaching the low, but this scope of appeal means more to me than if only the high were deeply interested. This, of course, you accept and would have said if I had not said it, but what I am getting at is this: that my reputation is of a curious partly "subterranean" sort, but it is certainly well-grounded and growing. In trying to understand this situation, you will simply have to take for granted what I know and what I have told you, that gang rule is the secret of suppressed publicity in my case. I know that this could be made to appear a merely personal notion, but it is decidedly not that. Gang rule is the obvious fact in every field of human endeavor where any profit or advantage of any sort desired by men is possible to gain. The principles operating in the dominant group in New York are precisely those that operate in the booze gangs of Chicago. Racketeering is universal. The idea of snobbery being consciously involved in this situation would be hard to defend if certain data that I have be taken into consideration in forming the judgement. Sectionalism and gang rule should be substituted for this explanation. As for snobbery, you should have been present at my reception at Hotel Biltmore in New York. It was rather a wow, and it was followed by a very select reception of celebrities from both England and America at the home of Sir Edgar Speyer, distinguished in most people's minds, but not in mine, as the husband of Leonora Speyer, the poetess and arbitress of elegancies.

There is something else to be noted that is curious. There is not a single poet, however intimate with the ruling publicity gang in New York, who does not show an almost childish delight if praised by me. These things do not come out in public. They come out in private letters. And the indications of genuine delight are unmistakable. This sort of thing occurs over and over. It is just not the thing, as yet, to shout for me before those who secretly are aware, that for nineteen years I have been fighting them in my articles. You must not underrate the influence of this fact. All literary men subscribe to press clipping bureaus, and I write nothing about anybody that does not get to the person concerned. I have had the opportunity during the last twenty years to get on the inside of almost all the powerful cliques that have arisen and died and arisen; but I have held out, and therein will be found my strength in time.

The "indications" that I have spoken of as coming constantly have been rather doubling up since last I wrote you. I can't possibly write out all these things as they come. It would seem silly and would be so. I forget them almost as soon as they come and am surprised when they continue to come. You must not suppose that Pattee represents the attitude toward me in any definite way. Just today I received a copy of THE SPIRIT OF AMERICA IN LITERATURE, an exhaustive text for schools published by the Century Company in the Century Studies in Literature Series. I do not know the authors. They include some of my stuff (11 pages) and in the "literary map" included, "Neihardt's Home" is very conspicuously located and the country of THE SONG OF THE INDIAN WARS is conspicuously indicated. Scribner's, not long ago, issued another text called AMERICAN LITERATURE THROUGH ILLUSTRATIVE READINGS, and therein it is said, whether truthfully or not, I do not care, that Neihardt's stuff is regarded "as the best representative of the epic in American Literature." Quinn, Baugh and Howe, in their exhaustive, two-volume work on literature of America, give me an honored place of about a dozen pages.

I am only trying to encourage you so that you may not feel distressingly eager to defend, but rather that you may feel quietly glorified with the consciousness of slow, certain, progress.

The fact is that our state of cultural anarchy is beyond description. There is no dominant social consciousness. And further, there is something very dangerous to a reputation in being favored by the publicity powers of our day. The subterranean progress is by far the safer and the surer if we really wish to make something that may live and for which men may be grateful, and that is what we have in mind.

It may be all right to swat Pattee, but I am not so sure of the position I took when I first drew your attention to the poor fish. I am afraid now that perhaps I did wrong. I wonder if fighting a fool can do much good, but the article you enclose is certainly well done. May Cowley could give you good advice on this. Maybe it is right to protect teachers against Pattee's pitiful foreflushings. I think you would find the ENGLISH JOURNAL of Chicago interested in such a proposition, for it appears that they are very friendly to me.

With love always,


The idea is that it might be best to [expose?] Pattee in general as a fore-flusher, and this in your capacity as an educator, neither forgetting nor especially emphasizing the injustice to my work. You will know better than I about this. Anyway, bless your warm heart & spirit. I think so highly of you that I'd be willing to have the world run by a group of men living on your high level. That is a hell of a lot for an outsider like me to say sincerely.