[ New City]
May 18, 1940
Dear Margery Bailey--
Your letter found me reading the sonnet variorum again--the one on which you collaborated with Frank Hill and Professor Alden. 1 It's one of the books I look through every once in a while--nearly always finding something new--or something I've forgotten. There is truly a kind of after life in books. Professor Alden has been gone many years, and yet I hear his voice and feel his personality behind his writing as strongly as if he were alive. Of course, I've seen and heard him--and without those memories the life I could give him--or feel from him--would be less definite, yet something of him would be there--and perhaps even more accurately conveyed without the slight falsifications which voice and appearance may inject. I didn't care much for Alden when I knew him, but I'm very fond of him now.
This is applicable (or appropriate) in no way I can think of--I was merely reading the variorum when your letter came. And your letter was most exhilarating. I've had rather little favorable comment on Key Largo except from my own company of playwrights and a few theatre people here and there. To the most articulate body of opinion --the critics'--it was mostly rather a bore. The comments, though I didn't read them, I gather to have been along the line of "Oh, don't start that again!" Now I have resigned myself to the fact that the critics never know about anything--but the truth has a corollary (I never could spell) 2--that an author never knows either. I can't lay your opinion to my soul without knowing very well that it may be a