Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.

BUY THE LETTERS OF NOTE BOOK: UK / US


For those unfamiliar with the late-Gertrude Stein's notoriously difficult writing, a quick glance at one of her most famous pieces, Sacred Emily, should provide enough background with which to appreciate the following rejection letter. It was sent to Stein by publisher Arthur C. Fifield in 1912, shortly after he received one of her more impenetrable and repetitive manuscripts, The Making of Americans.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Emmanuel Knight; Image above: Gertrude Stein, via Library of Congress.)



Transcript
FROM ARTHUR C. FIFIELD, PUBLISHER,
13, CLIFFORD'S INN, LONDON, E.C.
TELEPHONE 14430 CENTRAL.

April 19, 1912.

Dear Madam,

I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your M.S. three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.

Many thanks. I am returning the M.S. by registered post. Only one M.S. by one post.

Sincerely yours,

(Signed 'A. C. Fifield')

Miss Gertrude Stein,
27 Rue de Fleurus,
Paris,
France.