“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, December, 1922, on the newsstands of America

When Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, 37, was published a few months ago, it was met with mostly positive reactions.

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

H. L. Mencken, 42, literary critic for Smart Set, found the main character to be a symbol of everything wrong with American culture: 

It is not what [Babbitt] feels and aspires that moves him primarily; it is what the folks about him will think of him. His politics is communal politics, mob politics, herd politics; his religion is a public rite wholly without subjective significance.”

In The New Statesman, Rebecca West, just turned 30, declared that Babbitt “has that something extra, over and above, which makes the work of art.”

Fellow novelist H. G. Wells, 56, told Lewis that it is

one of the greatest novels I have read…I wish I could have written Babbitt.”

Somerset Maugham, 48, wrote to say that he felt that

it is a much better book than Main Steet.

Edith Wharton, 60, to whom the novel is dedicated, wrote from one of her villas in France,

I wonder how much of it the American public, to whom irony seems to have become unintelligible as Chinese, will even remotely feel?…Thank you again for associating my name with a book I so warmly admire and applaud.”

But now in December, Edmund Wilson, 27, has his say in Vanity Fair, comparing Lewis unfavorably to Dickens and Twain, and stating that Lewis’ literary gift “is almost entirely for making people nasty.”

*****

Last month The Dial published “The Waste Land” by T. S. Eliot, 34, and in this month’s issue the publisher, Scofield Thayer, just turned 33, announces that Eliot is the second recipient of the magazine’s annual Dial Prize of $2,000.

In the same issue, Eliot has a piece about the death of English vaudeville star, Marie Lloyd, aged 52, which depressed Eliot terribly. In October, almost 100,000 mourners attended her funeral in London.

Marie Lloyd

This issue of The Dial also contains Edmund Wilson’s praise of “The Waste Land,” an in-depth piece about Eliot’s importance as a poet:  

He feels intensely and with distinction and speaks naturally in beautiful verse…The race of the poets—though grown rare—is not yet quite dead.”

Eliot is pleased with Wilson’s review, but unhappy that Wilson called his fellow ex-pat Ezra Pound, 37, an “imitator of [Eliot]…extremely ill-focused.” Eliot considers Pound to be the greatest living English-language poet.

*****

In The Nation this month, Dial editor Gilbert Seldes, 29, is also enamored of “The Waste Land,” comparing it to Ulysses by James Joyce, 40, published earlier this year: 

That ‘The Waste Land’ is, in a sense, the inversion and the complement of Ulysses is at least tenable. We have in Ulysses the poet defeated, turning outward, savoring the ugliness which is no longer transmutable into beauty, and, in the end, homeless. We have in ‘The Waste Land’ some indication of the inner life of such a poet. The contrast between the forms of these two works is not expressed in the recognition that one is among the longest and one among the shortest of works in its genre; the important thing is that in each the theme, once it is comprehended, is seen to have dictated the form.”

Eliot sends Seldes a nice note thanking him for the review.

*****

Outlook magazine, on the other hand, features “A Flapper’s Appeal to Parents,” asking parents and society as a whole to be more understanding of these dancing females who spend “a large amount of time in automobiles.”

*****

First described by American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 26, the flapper grows up in his story in this month’s Metropolitan magazine, “Winter Dreams,” about a midwestern boy in love with a selfish rich girl, who marries someone all wrong for her. When writing the story, Fitzgerald cut some descriptions to save them for his third novel, which he is working on now.

Metropolitan, December

*****

The December Smart Set has the first short story by one of America’s most-published and most popular poets, Dorothy Parker, 29, whose “Such a Pretty Little Picture” describes a man living a monotonous life in the suburbs, just cutting his hedge. Similar to her best friend, fellow Algonquin Round Table member Robert Benchley, 33, who lives in Scarsdale with his wife and two sons.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, November 20, 1922, Union Hotel Etoile, 44 rue Hamelin, Paris

American ex-pat photographer Man Ray, 32, has been called here, along with two painters and a sculptor, to record the corpse of French writer Marcel Proust, 51, who died two days ago.

Ray has made a bit of a name for himself in Paris this past year, and this month’s Vanity Fair magazine has four of his “rayographs,” a new technique he has been working on.

Man Ray in Vanity Fair

Proust had been complaining to his friends that he was ill for months but didn’t feel as though they took him seriously. He told his loyal housekeeper Celeste Albaret, 31, that she must keep the doctors away from him in his last hours, to let the natural process unfold—or he will come back to haunt her.

Proust had been fighting the recommendations of his doctors, including his brother Robert, 49, for months while he experienced increasing fame and sales of his books, along with increasing health issues.

In the spring he took an accidental overdose of his adrenalin and was left screaming in pain. After that his chauffeur, Celeste’s husband, had to bring Proust daily chilled beer and ice cream from the Ritz Hotel.

In the summer, he had a big night out on the town with French writer Jean Cocteau, 33, at their favorite nightclub, Le Boeuf sur la toit, but that ended in a brawl and Proust challenging his young attacker to a duel the next morning. The kid apologized.

The bar at Le Boeuf sur la toit

This fall Proust had violent fits of asthma and vertigo which caused him to fall whenever he got out of bed. He blamed carbon monoxide from the fireplace, and commanded Celeste to stop lighting the fire. So he was surrounded by cold.

The doctors told Proust not to go out; Proust went for a walk, started sneezing and came home.

The doctors told him to eat a lot and rest; instead he followed his mother’s instructions to him as a child, eating nothing but milk and fruit and throwing himself into writing and rewriting.

At the bitter end Marcel submitted to injections from the doctors, but he grabbed Celeste’s wrist and pinched her as hard as he could, telling her she shouldn’t have let them come.

At 5:30 in the afternoon he was pronounced dead in this room.

Now, two days later, about a dozen family and friends have been invited to view the body, and Ray to photograph it.

Seeing his friend lying in state, surrounded by his manuscripts, Cocteau notes,

That pile of paper on his left was still alive, like watches ticking on the wrists of dead soldiers.”

Marcel Proust on his death bed by Man Ray

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, mid-October, 1922, The Criterion magazine, London; and The Dial magazine, New York City, New York

April is the cruelest month…”

Poet, publisher and bank clerk Thomas Stearns Eliot, 34, is proud of this first issue of the magazine he has started, The Criterion. His wife, Vivien, also 34, suggested the title. She just likes the sound of it.

Table of Contents, The Criterion, Vol. I, No. 1

The production value is good—small format, quality paper, clean typefaces. The content rises to the standard Eliot set for himself:  Longer pieces by top writers from different countries, paid at the rate of £10 for 5,000 words. And no illustrations. He didn’t want to junk each issue up the way The Dial magazine in the States does, with reproductions of Chagalls and Brancusis spread throughout.

I will show you fear in a handful of dust…”

Eliot’s one disappointment is that he didn’t get any work from French writer Marcel Proust, 51, for this first issue, despite interventions by their mutual friend, English novelist Sydney Schiff, 54. However, he is hopeful Proust will submit something in time for Issue No. 2.

Schiff is the first one to congratulate Eliot, who receives his letter while he is looking over the first six copies that have been delivered to him at home.

Marcel Proust

Praising Eliot’s accomplishment in producing The Criterion, Schiff also congratulates him on the crown jewel of this issue, Eliot’s own epic poem, “The Waste Land,” which he has been working on concurrently for the past year or more.

In producing the magazine, Eliot has had the support of Lady Rothermere, 48, who has financed the whole operation with her access to the fortune of her husband, owner of The Daily Mirror and The Daily Mail. She has even offered Tom an annual £600 stipend and salary for the next three years, but Eliot is concerned that his bosses at Lloyds Bank won’t like the idea of him being on someone else’s payroll too.

Promotion for The Criterion

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many…”

In writing the poem, Eliot has had the support of many of his literary friends, but none more so than fellow American ex-pat, Ezra Pound, about to turn 37. They met up in Paris early this year and again in Verona at the beginning of summer to “put it through the sieve” as Eliot describes their editing process. The cuts Ezra made were invaluable and Eliot enjoyed collaborating; both agree that the final result is Eliot’s best work. Which is why the poem is dedicated to Ezra.

 Those are pearls that were his eyes…”

Now that “The Waste Land” and The Criterion have both been loosed upon the United Kingdom, the next step is for the poem to be published in the United States, in the November issue of The Dial, on the newsstands in a few days.

After this last year of writing, editing, publishing, negotiating, and taking care of his sick wife—while holding down a full-time job—Eliot is eagerly awaiting the world’s reactions to his efforts.

HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME

Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.

Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.

Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night…”

*****

Pound, in his continuing efforts to get Eliot enough income so that he can afford to leave his bank job, has also been invaluable in getting The Dial publisher, Scofield Thayer, 32, to agree to publish “The Waste Land” at all.

At first Thayer offered Eliot $150, based on the magazine’s usual payment for poetry, with a little extra thrown in. Eliot wasn’t happy with this and prevailed upon another American who had helped with these things before—New York lawyer and patron of the arts, John Quinn, 52, who had negotiated the deal for the American publication of Eliot’s collection, Poems, a few years before.

By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept…”

This time Quinn got Thayer of The Dial to agree with Horace Liveright, 37, of Boni and Liveright that “The Waste Land,” in America, would appear in the November issue of The Dial and then be published the following month in book form by Boni and Liveright, with an extended series of notes which Eliot has added.

Thayer doesn’t like the poem. Or Eliot, for that matter. But his managing editor, Gilbert Seldes, 29, is impressed with “The Waste Land” and, against Thayer’s wishes, has made it the main item in the November issue. Seldes is short on copy for the fall issues, so 450 lines of new Eliot is a godsend.

The Dial, November

To make sure “The Waste Land” publication has maximum impact, Seldes has enlisted the services of one of the top publicists in the city Bea Kaufman, 27, wife of playwright George S Kaufman, 32. Seldes enticed her with an invitation for a free meal: 

I want to talk about publicity for T. S. Eliot with you very shortly, and I think that these lofty business matters are always settled at lunch, paid for by the office. Let us go to Child’s some morning or afternoon.”

Bea Kaufman’s passport photo

In addition to arranging for reviews to appear in the New York Tribune and the New Republic, and writing one himself for The Nation, Seldes also sent an early copy of “The Waste Land” to Vanity Fair managing editor Edmund Wilson, 27, asking him to write a review for the December issue of The Dial. Wilson read the poem over and over, sitting on the top deck of a Fifth Avenue bus. He feels Eliot’s words speak to him as a frustrated writer, living in a crappy apartment that smells like damp cats.

As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire…”

No other American magazine or book publisher has been actively involved in bidding for “The Waste Land,” but a strong last-minute effort from Quinn was what got Thayer and Liveright to agree to the schedule. Eliot is receiving only $150 from The Dial, but they have also agreed to award him their $2,000 Dial prize this year. (Shhhh—that won’t be announced until the December issue.)

As a reward for his pro bono work. Eliot is sending Quinn the original manuscript of “The Waste Land” to add to his collection of authors’ manuscripts.

 On Margate Sands.

  I can connect

 Nothing with nothing…”

Thayer still isn’t happy about the poem itself, or its first place position in his magazine. He’d still rather be publishing something from an established novelist like Edith Wharton, 60.

All there is to do now is wait to see what the reviewers and the reading public think.

Shantih  shantih shantih.”

T. S. Eliot at work

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, Fall, 1922, Dublin; London; New York City, New York; and Paris

In the September issue of the Dublin Review,Domini Canis” declares that Ulysses, the recently published novel by James Joyce, 40, Irish writer living in Paris, is:

A fearful travesty on persons, happenings and intimate life of the most morbid and sickening description…spiritually offensive…[a] Cuchulain of the sewer…[an] Ossian of obscenity…[No Catholic] can even afford to be possessed of a copy of this book, for in its reading lies not only the description but the commission of a sin against the Holy Ghost…Doubtless this book was written to make angels weep and to amuse friends, but we are not sure that ‘those embattled angels of the Church, Michael’s host’ will not laugh aloud to see the failure of this frustrated Titan as he revolves and splutters hopelessly under the flood of his own vomit.”

Domini Canis,” or “Hound of the Lord,” is actually Shane Leslie, 37, Irish writer and diplomat.

Shane Leslie

*****

A longer version of the same piece appears the following month in London’s Quarterly Review, under Leslie’s real name. Leslie knows that his readership in England is more likely to be Protestant than Catholic, so he changes a few things:

As a whole, the book must remain impossible to read, and undesirable to quote…We shall not be far wrong if we describe Mr. Joyce’s work as literary Bolshevism. It is experimental, anti-Christian, chaotic, totally unmoral…From any Christian point of view this book must be proclaimed anathema, simply because it tries to pour ridicule on the most sacred themes and characters in what had been the religion of Europe for nearly two thousand years.”

In late October, poet and playwright Alfred Noyes, 42, delivers a talk to the Royal Society of Literature, which appears in the Sunday Chronicle under the title, “Rottenness in Literature”:

Alfred Noyes

It is simply the foulest book that has ever found its way into print…[In a court of law] it would be pronounced to be a corrupt mass of indescribable degradation…[This is] the extreme case of complete reduction to absurdity of what I have called ‘the literary Bolshevism of the Hour.’”

Noyes has been reading Shane Leslie, obviously.

When Leslie’s screed in The Quarterly Review is brought to the attention of the Home Office by a concerned citizen, the undersecretary instructs his department to confiscate any copies of Ulysses entering the country. Of course, he doesn’t have a copy to read himself.

*****

In New York City, Edmund Wilson, 27, managing editor of Vanity Fair, has been quite impressed by Ulysses and said so in his review in the July issue of the New Republic. He is even more impressed that, as a reward for his insight, he has received a thank you note from Joyce, written by his publisher, American bookshop owner Sylvia Beach, 35. This will make his literary friends green with envy.

Note from Sylvia Beach to Edmund Wilson

*****

In Paris, Joyce wants to let his partner, Nora Barnacle, 38, mother of their two children, know how important her support is to him. He gifts her copy number 1000 of Ulysses, with a personal inscription, and gives it to her at a dinner party. Nora says she can probably sell it.

Nora Barnacle

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available at Thoor Ballylee in Co. Galway, and as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA. They are also on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Later in the year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, September, 1922, Café de Flore, corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue Saint-Benoit, Paris

Three American women are seated at the little marble-topped tables in front of the café. Each is wearing a black tailored suit, a white satin scarf, and white gloves. One wears a black cloak.

Each has a martini on the table in front of her. All three are writers.

Djuna Barnes, 30, from Croton-on-Hudson, New York, wearing her signature cloak, has been living in Paris since last year. Her lengthy profile of Irish writer James Joyce, 40, caused quite a stir when it was published in Vanity Fair a few months ago.

Solita Solano, 33, born Sarah Wilkinson in Troy, New York, also an established writer, has just moved to the city with her lover, Janet Flanner, 30, from Indianapolis, Indiana, so they both can work on their novels.

Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes 

When they first arrived earlier this month, Solano and Flanner took rooms in a small pension on rue de Quatrefages. But the constant noise was annoying. Drowning out the dedicated piano student practicing down the hall was the construction crew renovating a mosque down the street.

Janet Flanner

They have now moved to two small fifth-floor rooms, Nos. 15 and 16, in the Hotel Napoleon Bonaparte, 36 rue Bonaparte, each paying one dollar a day for the relative quiet. They are near the cafés and L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

In addition to the Flore, one of their other regular haunts is a neighborhood restaurant, La Quatrieme Republique, named in anticipation of a fourth French Republic following the current one. A few doors from their hotel, the restaurant’s food is interesting and affordable. However, they have nicknamed their usual waitress “Yvonne the Terrible” for her shrewish demeanor, despite their generous tips.

Solano and Flanner met after the Great War back in New York City. Flanner and her husband discovered after they had moved there that they had nothing in common, so they separated. He was happy with his boring bank; Janet hung out in Greenwich Village with bohemians, in Harlem with jazz musicians, and in midtown with writers and artists. At parties in the studio owned by illustrator Neysa McMein, 34, Flanner became friends with a young couple, magazine editor Harold Ross, 29, and his wife New York Times reporter Jane Grant, 30.

And she also met Solita.

They fell in love and when Solano, the drama critic for the New York Tribune, was offered a commission from National Geographic to tour the Mediterranean and Middle East, sending back stories, she brought Janet along.

After a year of travel, they have now decided to settle here in Paris, living off their writings and a bit of money Flanner’s father left her, and begin serious work on their novels.

Janet sends letters from Paris back to Grant in New York, chronicling the daily life of the ex-pats in the City of Light.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Later in the year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July 1, 1922, Shillingstone, North Dorset, England

Cora Millay, 59, knows that she has to write to her family back in the States to explain why she and her daughter, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 30, have so suddenly moved from Paris to this little southern England village.

Shillingstone, Dorset

As a trained nurse, Cora is concerned about Vincent’s health, she tells them. Stomach pain, “a bad time” with her bowels due to all that rich French food. And Millay is exhausted by having to turn out regular articles for Vanity Fair magazine, as their foreign correspondent. Cora feels she will be much better here than back in noisy Paris, she writes.

As a trained nurse, Cora knows morning sickness when she sees it. Before they left, she wrote a nasty letter to the no-good Frenchman Vincent had been sleeping with, threatening him if he didn’t leave her daughter alone. Cora calls him a “snake-headed fish.” Vincent can’t remember his name anymore.

Now that they are housed in this quiet cottage, with a garden and a piano, Cora has been taking Vincent on 12-mile hikes hoping for a miscarriage. She is feeding her a steady diet of folk remedies she is sure will work:  clover, milk thistle, nettles, pigweed, henbane, gentian and borage. Fingers crossed.

Borage

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

In the fall I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, Mid-May, 1922, Hotel Venetia, Boulevard du Montparnasse, Paris

Having her Mom, Cora, 58, here for the past month or so has been a great distraction for American ex-pat poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 30.

Cora and Edna are having a great time. Attending the Russian Ballet at the Opera House. Eating in the local cafes. Dancing at Zelli’s, the Montmartre Club. Mom is a big hit.

Cora Millay

Edna has moved them here from the original hotel she booked. As she explains in a letter to her sister,

because it [was] so cust expensive, and [we] are now in a cheap but not a very clean hotel…Two minutes from this bleeding kafe [the Rotonde] and just around the corner from the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens.”

Since Cora’s arrival, Edna has started seeing a Frenchman—whom Mom does not like. Not only does he borrow money, he shows up unexpectedly and takes Edna away from Cora. And he looks too much like her ex-husband.

Edna’s love life has been on the skids so far this year.

Millay spent the first part of the year in Vienna, living with a former boyfriend, only because he could split expenses. She’d gone through her income from the poems and Nancy Boyd stories she is sending back to Vanity Fair and the $500 advance from Boni and Liveright for a raunchy novel she can’t write.

Edna St. Vincent Millay poem in Vanity Fair, May, 1922

One of her beaus, fellow poet Arthur Ficke, 38, back in America, asked her why she hadn’t responded to the marriage proposal sent to her in a letter from Hal, writer Witter Bynner, 40, another of her conquests. She didn’t even remember a marriage proposal?! Hal is good-looking, well-traveled, a Harvard grad, rich. She wrote to him to ask if he wants to get married, and when she didn’t hear back right away she cabled him, “Yes!” She even told her sister that she was “sort of engaged.”

When Edna finally does get a letter from Hal, now living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, exhausted from a recent cross-country lecture tour, he explains that of course she must know the whole marriage thing was a joke.

Edna wrote back instantly,

Oh, Lord—oh, Lord—Oh. Hal!”

Of course she knew it was a joke. Ha ha. The letters and cables she sent must have really frightened him. Thank God he hadn’t taken her seriously! Ha ha.

Bastard.

Then came the crushing blow. Arthur writes to say that he is finally leaving his wife. For his girlfriend. Not Edna.

Millay is thinking she might as well marry the French guy.

Arthur Ficke

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

In June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after The Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, April, 1922, Vanity Fair magazine

American writer Djuna Barnes, 29, arrived in Paris a few months ago with a letter of introduction to one of the ex-patriate writers she most admires, James Joyce, 40. This month, her profile of the Irishman appears in Vanity Fair magazine.

A PORTRAIT OF THE MAN WHO IS, AT PRESENT,

ONE OF THE MORE SIGNIFICANT FIGURES IN LITERATURE

BY DJUNA BARNES

…Of Joyce, the man, one has heard very little. I had seen a photograph of him, the collar up about the narrow throat, the beard, heavier in those days, descending into the abyss of the hidden bosom. I had been told that he was going blind, and we in America learned from Ezra Pound that ‘Joyce is the only man on the continent who continues to produce in spite of poverty and sickness, working from eight to sixteen hours a day.’…

James Joyce

“And then, one day, I came to Paris. Sitting in the café of the Deux Magots, that faces the little church of St. Germain des Près, I saw approaching, out of the fog and damp, a tall man, with head slightly lifted and slightly turned, giving to the wind an orderly distemper of red and black hair, which descended sharply into a scant wedge on an out-thrust chin.

“He wore a blue grey coat, too young it seemed, partly because he had thrust its gathers behind him, partly because the belt which circled it, lay two full inches above the hips…

“Because he had heard of the suppression of The Little Review on account of Ulysses and of the subsequent trial, he sat down opposite me, who was familiar with the whole story, ordering a white wine. He began to talk at once. ‘The pity is,’ he said, seeming to choose his words for their age rather than their aptness, ‘the public will demand and find a moral in my book—or worse they may take it in some more serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one single serious line in it.’

“For a moment there was silence. His hands, peculiarly limp in the introductory shake and peculiarly pulpy, running into a thickness that the base gave no hint of, lay, one on the stem of the glass, the other, forgotten, palm out, on the most delightful waistcoat it has ever been my happiness to see. Purple with alternate doe and dog heads

James Joyce by Djuna Barnes

“He saw my admiration and he smiled. ‘Made by the hand of my grandmother for the first hunt of the season’ and there was another silence in which he arranged and lit a cigar…

“’In Ulysses I have recorded, simultaneously, what a man says, sees, thinks, and what such seeing, thinking, saying does, to what you Freudians call the subconscious,—but as for psychoanalysis,’ he broke off, ‘it’s neither more nor less than blackmail.’

“He raised his eyes. There is something unfocused in them,—the same paleness seen in plants long hidden from the sun,—and sometimes a little jeer that goes with a lift and rounding of the upper lip…

“If I were asked what seemed to be the most characteristic pose of James Joyce I should say that of the head; turned farther away than disgust and not so far as death…After this I should add—think of him as a heavy man yet thin, drinking a thin cool wine with lips almost hidden in his high narrow head, or smoking the eternal cigar, held slightly above shoulder-level, and never moved until consumed, the mouth brought to and taken away from it to eject the sharp jets of yellow smoke…

“It has been my pleasure to talk to him many times during my four months in Paris. We have talked of rivers and religion, of the instinctive genius of the church which chose, for the singing of its hymns, the voice without ‘overtones’—the voice of the eunuch. We have talked of women, about women he seems a bit disinterested. Were I vain I should say he is afraid of them, but I am certain he is only a little skeptical of their existence. We have talked of Ibsen, of Strindberg, Shakespeare. ‘Hamlet is a great play, written from the standpoint of the ghost,’ and of Strindberg, ‘No drama behind the hysterical raving.’

“We have talked of death, of rats, of horses, the sea; languages, climates and offerings. Of artists and of Ireland…

“Sometimes his wife, Nora, and his two children have been with him. Large children, almost as tall as he is himself, and Nora walks under fine red hair, speaking with a brogue that carries the dread of Ireland in it; Ireland as a place where poverty has become the art of scarcity. A brogue a little more defiant than Joyce’s which is tamed by preoccupation.

“Joyce has few friends, yet he is always willing to leave his writing table and his white coat of an evening, to go to some quiet near-by cafe, there to discuss anything that is not ‘artistic’ or ‘flashy’ or ‘new.’ Callers have often found him writing in the night or drinking tea with Nora. I myself once came upon him as he lay full length on his stomach poring over a valise full of notes taken in his youth for Ulysses

“However it is with him, he will come away for the evening, for he is simple, a scholar, and sees nothing objectionable in human beings if they will only remain in place…”

Vanity Fair, April

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

In June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris just before and just after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, end of summer, 1921, Midtown Manhattan, New York City, New York

It’s been an interesting summer in New York.

The Ziegfeld Follies of 1921 opened at Broadway’s Globe Theatre, with music once again by Victor Herbert, 62. The leads are Fanny Brice, 29, coming back to the Follies after ten years, singing “My Man” and “Second Hand Rose,” and comedian and juggler W. C. Fields, 41, his fifth time in the Follies.

Ziegfeld Follies of 1921

This was followed two weeks later by the premiere of George White’s Scandals at the Liberty Theatre, a few blocks away from the Globe. The music is by George Gershwin, 22, who hit it big two years ago when Broadway star Al Jolson, 36, heard Gershwin sing his tune “Swanee” at a party and used it in one of his shows.

George White’s Scandals

And just two days after that a new musical, Dulcy, by two young playwrights, both from western Pennsylvania, Marc Connelly, 30, and George S Kaufman, 31, opened just down 42nd Street at the Frazee Theatre. For their first collaboration, Connelly and Kaufman based the lead on a character created by one of their friends they lunch with regularly at the nearby Algonquin Hotel, New York Tribune columnist Franklin Pierce Adams, 39, known to all of New York as FPA.

The duo has already started in on their next musical project, To the Ladies!, set to premiere next year.

*****

One of their other lunch buddies, Robert Benchley, 31, an editor at the humor magazine Life, had finally gotten around to having his first drink while listening to the live broadcast of the Dempsey-Carpentier fight at the midtown speakeasy Tony Soma’s. Soon after, Benchley tried some rye whiskey and realized it smelled just like his Uncle Albert did at family picnics back in Massachusetts.

*****

Benchley’s best friend, and now best drinking buddy, free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, just turned 28, has had another short story in the Saturday Evening Post, “An Apartment House Trilogy,” based mostly on the characters around the flat she and her husband moved to just about a year ago, at 57 West 57th Street. When she sent the piece to the editor, she had warned him that it was “rotten…poisonous.” He didn’t think it was too rotten, but not quite her best. He really wants more of the shorter fluffy things she’s been selling to Benchley over at Life.

Saturday Evening Post, August 20, 1921

Bob has introduced Dottie to one of his other friends, Donald Ogden Stewart, 26, who has had some pieces in Vanity Fair and Smart Set. He’s been hanging out at Parker’s place but doesn’t like joining the others at their Algonquin lunches. They’re vicious. Stewart feels he has to fortify himself with a few drinks before he even gets to the hotel.

*****

Edna Ferber, just turned 36 [but only admits to 34], would love to be invited to one of the Algonquin lunches. Her second novel, The Girls, has just come out and it wasn’t easy to get a national magazine to serialize it. Her story of unmarried Chicago women was too scandalous for most, but finally Women’s Home Companion bought it without any major changes. Not only did FPA praise the way she described his hometown of Chicago, even her own mother conceded that it’s not too bad.

*****

Ferber has asked her friend Alexander Woollcott, 34, the New York Times drama critic, if she could lunch with him at the Algonquin maybe just once?

Alex took a leave of absence from his Times job this summer to go back to his alma mater, Hamilton College in New York state, to finish a book he’s been working on, Mr. Dickens Goes to the Play. He’s written a few chapters about Charles Dickens’ love of theatre and will fill out the rest with sections from Dickens’ novels and essays.

*****

But the biggest news in New York publishing this summer is how the new editor of the New York World, Herbert Bayard Swope, 39, has been poaching columnists from his competitors.

Herbert Bayard Swope

Swope became executive editor of the paper last year and has been making big changes. He thought the page opposite the editorials was a mess, so he cleared out the book reviews and obituaries and now devotes the page to opinion pieces, christening it the “op-ed” page. Swope believes

Nothing is more interesting than opinion when opinion is interesting.”

Those pesky facts can stay where they belong in the rest of the paper.

Swope also stole one of the top columnists at the Tribune, Heywood Broun, 32, another regular Algonquin luncher. Broun was eager to jump. Swope makes clear to him and all his columnists, that they can write whatever they want—within the limits of libel law and good taste. In return, they have to write new copy for each instalment, three times a week. No hoarding a bank of evergreen filler, ready to print any time. Swope wants it all to be fresh.

Heywood Broun

For $25,000 a year, in his column “It Seems to Me” on the op-ed page, Broun can write what he likes—theatre reviews, reports of the most recent football game of his alma mater, Harvard, or campaigns about social issues such as censorship, racial discrimination or academic freedom.

Poaching Broun is a coup. But Swope astounds New York’s literati again by luring the Tribune’s number one columnist, FPA himself, over to the World. Unlike the other writers, FPA is given his own private office to work on his “Conning Tower” columns. One of the first at his new home is about the return to New York of his fellow Algonquin-ite, Alex Woollcott.

Maybe Woollcott will be the next star to jump ship and land on Swope’s World?

There is a recent article about how digital media has affected the “op-ed” page here.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available in print and e-book format on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, early August, 1921, en route to London; and back in Paris

Irish-American lawyer John Quinn, 51, is sailing back to New York, via London.

On this European trip he has concentrated on just Paris—not Ireland, not England, which he visited in the past few years. And his focus has paid off.

Travel Guide, London-Paris

He sent his ambassador [and lover], Mrs. Jeanne Foster, 42, ahead to arrange meetings with painters and their dealers.

She did a magnificent job. As a result, he’s coming back with arrangements to buy a sculpture and three paintings by Spaniard Pablo Picasso, 39, as well as works by Romanian painter and sculptor, Constantin Brancusi, 45, and French painters Andre Derain, 41, and Andre de Segonzac, 37.

More important to Quinn, he has developed personal friendships with the artists and their dealers.

John Quinn and Constantin Brancusi

Quinn also visited the English-language bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, owned by American ex-patriate Sylvia Beach, 34. He had advised her to move from her “shabby” location and Quinn approves of her new site on rue de l’Odeon. From here she plans to publish the monumental novel Ulysses by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 39. Quinn is supporting Joyce financially by buying up the manuscript as it is written. Support the artist as well as the art.

Now Quinn is going back to the law office he thinks of as a prison.

*****

American novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44, and his wife Tennessee, 47, are heading back to his New York job, half-heartedly doing public relations for an independent movie company, via London.

His first trip to Europe has been what he’d dreamt of. After he visited Shakespeare and Company, Beach introduced him to Joyce and they had a few lunches together. Unfortunately, to get the conversation started the first time, Anderson asked Joyce what he thought of Ireland. Bad move.

Anderson told Beach he will spread the word among his American literary friends about her upcoming publication of Ulysses. Sherwood gave Sylvia a list of names and as many addresses as he could remember for her to use to solicit subscriptions. He even added personal notes to the prospectuses she is sending out.

Sherwood thinks of the job waiting for him in New York as a joke. He still has some advertising accounts to bring in income, but he’s not in a rush to go back to Chicago.

*****

American writer Edmund Wilson, 26, is heading back to his New York job, managing editor of Vanity Fair, via London. He enjoyed his time in Paris these past few weeks but doesn’t think he really got a feel for the city.

Vanity Fair, August 1921

Wilson spent most of his time tracking down and trying to lure back his former lover from New York City, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 29, living in Paris as Vanity Fair’s European editor. Wilson has pushed and published her work in the magazine. But it’s clear that Millay has moved on from Edmund. To some British newspaperman.

Last month Wilson wrote to one of the magazine’s other editors,

I found [Millay] in a very first-rate hotel on the Left Bank and better dressed, I suppose, than she has ever been before in her life. You were right in guessing that she was well cared for as she had never been before…[She] told me she wanted to settle down to a new life:  She was tired of breaking hearts and spreading havoc.”

*****

American novelist Sinclair Lewis, 36, is heading to Paris from London.

Last year his sixth novel, Main Street, was a bestseller. However, he lost out on the Pulitzer Prize to The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, 59. Apparently, Main Street, with its focus on the hypocrisy in a small Midwest town, didn’t fit the jury’s criteria of a novel “which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life.”

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Lewis is bringing along another American writer whom he has just met in London, Harold Stearns, 30, whose book America and the Young Intellectual is coming out this year. Lewis plans to spend only a few days in Paris, but Stearns is going to stay on in Montparnasse, on the Left Bank.

*****

Over on the Right Bank, American composer Virgil Thomson, 24, is settling into Paris and his temporary residence at the home of a French family on the rue de Provence.

At the beginning of the month, Virgil had bid a not-too-sad farewell to his fellow students in the Harvard Glee Club. The group has just completed a triumphant tour of France, with Virgil as accompanist. He was also the understudy for the conductor, and actually got a chance to step into the maestro’s shoes one night. Now they are all heading back to America.

Except Virgil. With his well-earned scholarship, he is going to stay here in Paris for a whole year.

Virgil has, of course, already been to Shakespeare and Company in rue de l’Odeon and signed up for Beach’s lending library. He is planning to move closer to the studio of Nadia Boulanger, 34, with whom he will be studying composition. His new residence at 20 rue de Berneis, a 10-minute walk from Boulanger, is in a less than desirable neighborhood. The street, and the building, are overwhelmed with what Virgil refers to as “daughters of joy.”

Nadia Boulanger’s studio, 36 rue Ballu

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I, covering 1920, is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.