lundi 7 novembre 2011

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

"MISS EARL: I return your MS., not because it is devoid of merit, but from the conviction that were I to accept it, the day would inevitably come when you would regret its premature publication. While it contains irrefragable evidence of extraordinary ability, and abounds in descriptions of great beauty, your style is characterized by more strength than polish, and is marred by crudities which a dainty public would never tolerate. The subject you have undertaken is beyond your capacity--no woman could successfully handle it--and the sooner you realize your over-estimate of your powers, the sooner your aspirations find their proper level, the sooner you will succeed in your treatment of some theme better suited to your feminine ability. Burn the inclosed MS., whose erudition and archaisms would fatally nauseate the intellectual dyspeptics who read my 'Maga,' and write sketches of home-life--descriptions of places and things that you understand better than recondite analogies of ethical creeds and mythologic systems, or the subtle lore of Coptic priests. Remember that women never write histories nor epics; never compose oratorios that go sounding down the centuries; never paint 'Last Suppers' and 'Judgment Days;' though now and then one gives to the world a pretty ballad that sounds sweet and soothing when sung over a cradle, or another paints a pleasant little genre sketch which will hang appropriately in some quiet corner, and rest and refresh eyes that are weary with gazing at the sublime spiritualism of Fra Bartolomeo, or the gloomy grandeur of Salvator Rosa. If you have any short articles which you desire to see in print, you may forward them, and I will select any

Page 235 for publication, which I think you will not blush to acknowledge in future years.

"Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,

p. 234-235

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