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The Jessica Letters: An Editor's Romance   By: (1869-1935)

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The Jessica Letters

An Editor's Romance

G. P. Putnam's Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1904

Copyright, 1904 by G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS Published, April, 1904

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

Dear Jessica :

For a little while like shadows we have played our parts on a shadowy stage, aping the passions and follies of actual life. And now, as the kind authors who gave us being withdraw their support and leave us to fade away into nothingness, the doubt arises whether our little comedy was not all in vain. I do not know. A wise poet of the real world once said that man's life was merely the dream of a shadow, yet somehow men persuade themselves that their own pursuits are greatly serious. Was our life any less than that, and were not our hopes and sorrows and tremulous joy as full of meaning to us as theirs to the creatures who strut upon the stage of the world? Again I say, I do not know: Only I am troubled that so fair an image as yours should prove after all a dream, a shadow's dream, and melt so swiftly away :

In what strange lines of beauty should I draw thee? In what sad purple dreamshine paint thee true? How should I make them see who never saw thee? How should I make them know who never knew?

And my last word is a message. He who created me would convey in this, my farewell letter, his thanks to the creator of Jessica. He himself has found in our correspondence only pleasure, and, as he turns from this romance to other and different work of the pen, he hopes that she who made you will be encouraged by your charm to deal bravely with her imagination and to give the world other romances quite her own and without the alloy of his coarser wit .

Philip .



PART I Which shows how Jessica visits an editor in the city, and what comes of it 1

PART II Which shows how the editor visits Jessica in the country, and how love and philosophy sometimes clash 83

PART III Which shows how the editor again visits Jessica in the country, and how love is buffeted between philosophy and religion 212

The First Part

which shows how Jessica visits an editor in the city, and what comes of it.



NEW YORK, April 20, 19 .


You will permit me to address you with this semblance of familiarity, I trust, for the frankness of our conversation in my office gives me some right to claim you as an acquaintance. And first of all let me tell you that we shall be glad to print your review of The Kentons , and shall be pleased to send you a long succession of novels for analysis if you can always use the scalpel with such atrocious cunning as in this case. I say atrocious cunning, for really you have treated Mr. Howells with a touch of that genial "process of vivisection" to which it pleases him to subject the lively creatures of his own brain.

"Mr. Howells," you say, "is singularly gifted in taking to pieces the spiritual machinery of unimpeachable ladies and gentlemen"; and really you have made of the author one of the good people of his own book! That is a malicious revenge for his "tedious accuracy," is it not? And you dare to speak of his "hypnotic power of illusion which is so essentially a freak element in his mode of expression that even in portraying the tubby, good natured, elderly gentleman in this story he refines upon his vitals and sensibilities until the wretched victim becomes a sort of cataleptic... Continue reading book >>

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