An American Idyll - The Life of Carleton H. Parker
AN AMERICAN IDYLL - THE LIFE OF CARLETON H. PARKER By CORNELIA STRATTON PARKER INTRODUCTION WAS it all a thousand years ago? Time has nothing to do with it. Yet I know by count that it was two years and ten months past the cleavage between two worlds. Somehow, born of the struggle of those first months, grew the conviction that I must put down in black and white the record of fifteen years. Who would ever read that record was a hazy inconsequential thought, at best. We act first and reason afterwards. I thought of reasons for writing this book after it was written. Yet the truth of the matter was that I wrote it because something within me urged me on. Nor would I perhaps ever have had the courage to do anything with the material after it was written, had it not been for the enthusiasm of the three friends who read the manuscript. I must send it to the Atlantic Monthly. One of the three suggested that a few of Carl Parkers friends might be interested in getting the entire manuscript published in modest form say one hundred and fifty copies. The other two were bolder. They ventured the guess that some publisher might see fit to bring it out in book form, just as other books are published. That was somewhat of an appalling thought. It rather hurt my pride. I jumped ahead in imagination to the actual publication of the manuscript. I visioned a possible edition of five hundred copies. And then I saw nobody buying them. It troubled my soul. The life of Carl Parker, dusty and forgotten on commercial bookshelves. Words that had taken something of my very life to write, that told of warm, innermost things, growing mouldy on dark back shelves in corner bookstores. The manuscript was finally typed. There are those who feel that the sort of person who could write such a book as this must be callous, devoid of finer feelings. I can only say that three different times I almost gave up the whole thing, because it seemed so impossible to be able to read the manuscript to the typist. It was a nightly ordeal, which meant very real suffering to meet and go through with. Some parts of it I typed myself. Then why give such a document to the world, if it seemed too close and near to share with one stenographer? Why, indeed. ... At any rate, I never once concretely visioned people reading it. It was mailed. Did the editor of the Atlantic Monthly think there was any part of it he could use in his magazine? Wouldit otherwise be at all suitable for a book? Please, no one in the world can guess how foolishly presumptuous I felt asking those questions. And again, how fearfully sensitive. There would be an a.cute pain to know that what I had put down on paper a.s the most wondrous thing in the world to me, would be sent back direct, with a little printed slip stating that it was deemed inadvisable to publish it. I nstead, on Christmas evening, came a special delivery letter, saying that two articles would appear in the Atlantic Monthly and later the whole thing would be brought out in book form. For several days I lived in the clouds.
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