Letter from Milada Součková to Jindřich Chalupecký dated 20 January 1948

New York 20/Jan/48
Milý pane Chalupecký,
In accordance with my principle, I am immediately writing a response, even though it is the end of the day and I’m overwhelmed with office work. You ask when I will stop? This is entirely in the hands of God. In the meantime, I need to make money for my daily bread. It’s ok here because I’m learning, always learning, though if not through my pitiful reason, then at least through automatic perception.
You know, when I read, for instance, like I did recently the preface of one professor, who in it thanks the university for allowing him to write this and that book, tears well up in my eyes, and I sigh like a maid who reads how a poor girl came into good fortune, while the maid still has to stand by the pot or by the washtubs. I’ll tell you, I sometimes sing to myself by those washtubs, and that’s probably because there’s something healthy and unspoiled in me. Don’t ever tell me again that I’m that woman from Podskalská; it’s not true anymore, and what of it.
If I could write in English as well as in Czech, I would make a career for myself here and, in comparison, sailing my own steamer would be a breeze. But I can’t, and hic Rhodus, hic salta, there’s nothing I can do about it. But I know how to write in Czech, and no one can take that away from me; this is my conviction that can only be taken away from me after death, and a long time after death at that. My mind is so reconciled to the “spirit”, I know not whether it is holy or cosmic, that I don’t care whether I write what I have in my head or not. Sometimes I am sad that I won’t have a chance to write it, that’s all.
Mr. Vrba will go to Prague tomorrow and will discuss everything with you concerning [illegible].
I have to call Jakobson and will mention you again. I’ll think about those essays and write to you about them separately. You know, here one views in the overall context literature (American) quite differently than in Europe. Quite differently. Even an author that one is well acquainted with in Europe. Miller, for instance. Not to mention the great classics like Mark Twain. And so on.
It is a widespread theory that the USSR and USA have a lot in common. I don’t hold much stock in it. They are both young nations, young in the sense of coming to power, to world power. That’s all there is to say without analogies. And I don’t like analogies, except in ordinary conversation or as a technical aid that is then discarded in the later thought process. It’s the definitive end of the day. In the evening, I’ll go to see some documentary films. That’s all I’m able to do.
Please see to those things for me. It’s not urgent, but please do if you can. I take little care of myself, even here. Hopefully it will somehow work out. Be like the lilies of the field.
Cordially yours, M. Součková
Don’t you need to have permission for that Stein? When and how will you publish something from me in Listy?

P. S. I was so worn out yesterday evening that I didn’t even understand what you meant by those essays, and it wasn’t until the night – when my brain began to recover – that it occurred to me that you meant those books about literature that I had written to you about.
There is, for instance, Kazin’s On Native Grounds. But I must tell you that you won’t get out of that book all that it contains if you read it in our country. One of the reasons is that there are references to literature that Czechs know little about, such as the first American naturalists, and have little access to. Another one that isn’t as good, but is instructive in a bad sense, is Beach’s American Fiction and The Twentieth Century Novel. Another is Warren’s Reading Fiction. The one by Kazin is really great, even if you disagree with much. You’re still amazed at the education, knowledge and treatment of the material. If you want to know more or something more specific, write me. At least I hope that I well understood you this time, that you meant these things by those essays. As I was tired in the evening, I first thought that you meant essays in general, and not those specialized studies.
Yours, M. S
Subject: A Woman in the Pantheon
Author: Součková, Milada
Title: Letter from Milada Součková to Jindřich Chalupecký dated 20 January 1948
Origin: fond Jindřich Chalupecký
Licence: Free license

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