Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lucile Morris Upton and Vance Randolph

I like old books about the Ozarks and books by Ozark authors. Except Harold Bell Wright, his books don't interest me. In one of my old books, by Vance Randolph were several pieces of correspondence from the 1935s between Vance Randolph and Lucile Morris Upton.

I have had them for several years and completely forgot about them until I was sitting in my chair by the bookcase and started pulling out Vance Randolph books and re-reading them. They are intesting enough to share.

The publisher wrote on the dust jacket for Hedwig:

For years readers and critics alike have been asking when Vance Randolph would write a novel. His previous book of folklore and short stories, his mastery of the picturesque and vivid phrase, his understanding of humanity, his broad tolerance and easy humore have marked him as a man of unusual literary talents. Incidently, Mr. Randolph's Ozark Mountain Folks was selected by the American Library Association as one of the forty most distinguished books of its year.

Mr. Randolph has more than justified the confidence these readers feel in him.

Hedwig is the story of a German-Russian girl who comes to the Ozarks by way of Kansas and Oklahoma. Hedwig herself, stolid, simple, peasant-like, uncomplaining, possesses the "patience of the grass"; in the course of her short life all things happen to her and nothing overwhelms nor embitters her. Migration, glamourour young love, harships, marriage, brutality, childbirth, divorce, illicit loves, poverty, prostitution---one after another, she experiences each and emerges philosophic and undented.

We recommend Hedwig to readers who enjoy an honest story bravely told.

Yeap, that's what the blurb on the dust jacket reads.

On the inside front cover of the book is this inscription in blue ink written in cursive:

"Dear Lucile Morris:
The fact that you will not like this book disturbs me,
because I know that there are so many people who
will agree with you
Vance Randolph
Topeka, Kan
June 6, 1935"

And, stuck in a copy of From An Ozark Holler, a letter from Randolph to Miss Morris, dated September 10, 1933. Typed in pica type, it reads as follows:

303 West Euclid Ave.
Pittsburg, Kansas,
September 10, 1933

Dear Miss Morris:

I am writing my publishers to send you a review copy of my new book FROM AN OZARK HOLLER, a collection of short stories which the Vanguard Press people are bringing out October 1st.

That crack you made last year about my stuff being "raw" disturbed me. I wouldn't in the least mind writing a dirty book -- I think that smut has a liegitmate place in literature -- but I would want to do it intentitionally and deliberately. If there was anything "raw" in OZARK MOUNTAIN FOLKS it was unintentional -- just clumsy and ambuous carpentry.

In this new book, however, I think I have cut out everything ( except perhaps one single sentence) that could possibly make you feel as if you had "busted into the livery stable, and overheard something not intended for your ears!"

I have often wondered what you think about Joyce, and Hemingway, and Faulkner, and Cabell, and Sherwood Anderson, and even people like Kay Boyle...

How goes your book on the Bald Knobbers?

Hastily but sincerely,

Vance Randolph

As Antiques Roadshow has taught me, this stuff has provinence!

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