Thursday, August 11, 2005

Reading Zukofsky's "A-8." The ideal rejection letter:
China, the one place it could happen:
"Most honorable Sir,
            We perused your MS.
with boundless delight. And
we hurry to swear by our ancestors
we have never read any other that equals its mastery.
Were we to publish your work,
we could never presume again on
our public and name
to print books of a standard
not up to yours.
For we cannot imagine
that the next ten thousand years
will offer its ectype.
We must therefore refuse
your work that shines as it were in the sky
and beg you a thousand times
to pardon our fault
which imparis but our own offices.
                 —, Publishers."
Already (mid-late 1930s), Zuk was feeling conscious of his obscurity. A few pages earlier some lines from Henry Adams might as well be spoken by himself:
1871. Henry Adams. My book is out ..
And .. few works except possibly some few
Of Aristotle and Bacon contain anything
To compare with the the wisdom of this .. vain
To expect proper appreciation in this world
And I have my doubts whether I shall fare
            much better in any other ..
You will support .. my indifference .. to vulgar
Hardly indifferent, L.Z.! We fool ourselves, but no one else.

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