mardi 27 mars 2012

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

April 18 1912

Heretofore I have been regarding my newspaper work more or less as a steppingstone to something else. I have considered it preparation for my real lifework of writing truly important novels. Now I am wondering if I have not made a mistake. Nothing could be more important than being a really competent newspaper executive. It is the daily press, after all, which influences public thoughts. A paper like the Tribune, for instance, with nearly 200,000 circulation may be read by half a million people daily. How many novelists can hope for an audience like that?
Besides, the newspaperman is dealing with living things, with reality. And the novelist usually is dealing with mere fragments of his imagination and not burning questions of the day.
Someday in the distant future I shall write a book or several books. But now I shall devote my energies to making myself the best possible newspaperman. I shall endeavor to be the best telegraph editor the Tribune ever had. I shall set my immediate goal at the news editor's desk. Then I shall hope to become managing editor and finally publisher.
High newspaper executives make fine money. I know I have it in me to become a high executive. I shall be able to save a good deal of money, live comfortably, give Byron a good college education. Then, by investing my savings judiciously in first mortgages and gilt-edge securities, I shall be able to retire when I am in my early fifties and devote myself to literature.

p. 144

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

March 7 1909

Le scénario du roman à venir:

The love story, or rather the love stories, in my novel will be only incidental to the theme.
Tentatively, I plan to call it "Restless Dynasty." And, likewise, tentatively, I plan to start it shortly after the War of 1812 in the Lake Champlain region.
There is a young man...

Voir p. 86-88

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

À propos du Great American Novel:

July 10 1907

As yet no author has preserved on paper the drama of this great midwestern country, the hurly-burly energy of the builders who caught the vision os Senator Thomas Hart Benton, the prophet who nearly a century ago stood on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri rivers and predicted that here one of America's greatest industrial and commercial communities would be build.
I can see the possibilities of a novel written alone on the history of this district. There would be the movement of the pionners westward in wagon trains. There would be the first steamboats chuffing up the broad Missouri and coming to grief on sand bars and snags. There would be the turbulent times before and during the Civil War with John Brown and Osawatomie. There would be the Red Legs and the Jayhawks and the battle of Westport Landing. There would be Jesse and Frank James. There would be the indomitable courage of the city builders, cutting down the hills and filling the valleys. There would be the increasing movement of the long trains across the great plains, bringing cattle and sheep and grain to the growing clearinghouse which must feed a nation. The swelling symphony of all these could be woven into a fine story. But, as I feel now, this is only a part of my story.
I want my novel to be all-inclusive. I want my novel to be America. I want it to hold the high purpose and sufferings of the Pilgrim fathers. I want it to hold the romance of the Spanish conquistadores and of the French padres who plunged through the terrors of an unknown land for king and church.
I want it to picture the pushing westward from the eastern seabord of the adventurous souls who sought to build an empire in the wilderness. I want it to hold the California gold rush and the bones of pioneers bleaching on the desert. I want in it the building of the railroads. I want to picture the drama of the cattle kings and the cowboys as drawn by Owen Wister. I want the gold miners and the venturesome farmers and the growth of the iniquitous trusts which treatens destruction of the founding father's work. And I want to write of the final dissolution of this last and most potent menace, which, I hope, will come soon with the election of Mr. Bryan next year.
On the surface this all appears to be too ambitious a program for one man. Certainly it would be too broad a canvas for me to paint now.

p. 64-65

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

May 12-June 2 1906

Life often is stark and ugly. I feel, somehow, that there is a tremendous dram in a case like this. But, of course, the real story cannot be written. The implication would be left that the woman still would be alive had she given in to the man's importunities. And literature worthy of the name must have a wholesome moral. Its purpose is to make the world better.
Suppose a novelist were acquainted with conditions among the mining people of Altoona, Pa., and with the customs of Polish-Americans. Suppose he set out to write the story of a woman like Mrs. Francisca Skrocka, relating her early childhood and the minor family climaxes, and her dreams and hopes and finally the love story of Francisca and Stanley Skrocka.
That much would be all right. But I doubt if the novel would be especially significant or even very interesting. The real drama enters with John Korycinski and it could not be written. If a novelist were so uncouth and possessed of so little moral sense that he should write of illicit love, his book would be barred from the public libraries and he would be ostracized by society.

p. 28

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

May 12-June 2 1906

It all seemed somewhat silly. To me it seems that building more and more battleships is like putting a chip on your shoulder and daring somebody to knock it off. The nations of the world are growing to understand one another. Education is dissipating the old fog of international distrust and jealousy. Christianity is preading. I am convinced there nver will be another war of consequence.
People are learning how insane war is. I really don't believe the young men of the world could be induced to enlist for a war in these modern times. And they couldn't have a war without soldiers.

p. 24 

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

Sur l'obligation de connaître "la vie" avant d'écrire:

May 12-June 2 1906

"After all, Homer," she said, "you want to be a writer and you'll never do anything about it as long as you're a streetcar conductor."
I had dropped by her house in the evening on my way to work. We were sitting on her front steps, me with my conductor's cap on the back of my headand my lunch pail between my knees.
"Well, I'm learning something of life," I said.
"Yes," she argued, "but the world from a streetcar isn't such a big place. And you won't learn to write about it when you're working twelve hours a day as a conductor. You won't have a chance.

p. 12.

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

May 12-June 2 1906

My ambition to become a novelist no longer is a vague thing. It is very real. I am directing my thoughts and my reading to the purpose of preparing myself for that career and that is my reason for writing this record.
I shall keep here my thoughts and experiences and impressions and reactions for later use, for, after all, any good novel I think ia merely the distillation of the author's own experiences. I have found that when interesting and even exciting experiences heap themselves upon one, day by day, one is inclined to lose the true flavor of minor incidents stored away in his memory. Each new adventure and each new impression tends to lessen the sharpness of earlier memories. Therefore, I must put incidents down in black and white at their true value before they become tarnished by time.
I now have a splendid opportunity to study and to learn life. I have analysed myself carefully and I know my weaknesses and I know my strenghts. I know I have no head for business, but I feel certain I have a certain facility for writing which will develop as I grow more experienced with the tools of my trade and I know I am more observing than most men and probably more sensitive to impressions. I have a sympathy for people and an ability for putting myself in the other fellow's shoes and I also believe I sense the dramatic possibilities of a situation.

p. 9

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

À propos de devenir romancier en passant par le journalisme: 

May 12-June 2 1906

Most important, though, was the fact I had read that many of the most famous novelists had been journalists. For years I had been more or less of a book worm. From the time I was a little boy I had made a practice of wlaking from our home on Peach Street in the "Fruit Belt" down to the big browstone library in Lafayette Square after books. And by the time I was 13 or 14 I had a vague ambition to write books and stories myself someday.

p. 8