Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins

Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins

Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins

Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins

Excerpt

For thirty-seven years Maxwell Evarts Perkins was associated with the House of Scribner, during the last twenty as its head editor, a title, however, which he, in his modest and unassuming way, never acknowledged. When he died, in 1947, he was generally regarded as the most far-sighted and creative editor of his time. The letters brought together in this book have been taken from the Scribner files from the large number written by him throughout the years of his editorship, selected with a view to showing a great editor at work. Few letters have been included that do not, directly or indirectly, serve this purpose. The letters are arranged chronologically. The man who wrote these letters was a man with a passion for good writing, a passion for the true, for, the intensely felt, the completely realized -- in other words, for talent. Nothing, throughout a working lifetime, swerved him from that allegiance. For him, reading with those watchful, those ever hopeful eyes, no honest writing was without interest. How many a bulky manuscript, unpublishable for one reason or another, was laid on his desk, with a report noting perhaps certain passages that showed promise! For Max, that was enough. The work might not be publishable, but there were glimmerings of talent. Into his already swollen briefcase it would go; a weekend was devoted to it, in the hope, not always unrewarded, that something could be salvaged.

With this deep care for talent, there went, in Max's case, an intuitive perceptivity that was uncanny. On manuscripts involving scholarship, abstract thinking or ideas, his judgment . . .

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