Between Friends: Letters of James Branch Cabell and Others

Between Friends: Letters of James Branch Cabell and Others

Between Friends: Letters of James Branch Cabell and Others

Between Friends: Letters of James Branch Cabell and Others

Excerpt

When Margaret Cabell invited me to write the introduction to the pages that follow, she offered a curious but indubitably sincere explanation: "You are, perhaps, the only well-known author still living who was intimately acquainted with the writers of these letters." If Margaret's dubious position can be regarded as in any degree worthy of attention, my compliance, outside of actual rudeness, seemed to be a matter of necessity. I had known all these writers with some measure of intimacy. The men were my companions in the Twenties: they were friends I frequently broke bread with at Pogliani's or the Hotel Knickerbocker, and with whom I occasionally overdrank, illegally. We often discussed current literary affairs together and it was the custom of several of them to inform me of the details of their peculiar tastes and of their varied manners of composition.

I had visited Joseph Hergesheimer many times in his Dower House on the road opposite the Golf Club and in the Victorian mansion in West Chester he had occupied during the reconstruction of Dower House. I had sat in his office on the Main Street of that town where he was wont to write his overupholstered novels, famous novels of the period: The Three Black Pennys, Java Head, and Linda Condon, the latter dedicated to me. I had drunk a forgettable number of Daiquiris in his classically correct formal dining room and I had heard him repeat often his most familiar phrase, "There are only a few of us left," sometimes in the presence of others when Joe was giving more attention to his manners than to his sense of actuality. In any case, the phrase might be spoken about that period much more reasonably now. Joe was fantastic in dress, extravagant in conversation; more, he was brilliant. His flamboyant personality and literary style are conveyed to the observer with extraordinary exactitude in Florine Stettheimer's painting, now the property of the Yale Library. He writes Cabell, "I am not rich but ex . . .

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