Post 5: Yale University, Beinecke Library: Lots of Letters (Edward Millman, Nathanael West Project)

On the last stop of my trip today at Yale University where I have spent the day at the Beinecke Library (bein is pronounced like stein apparently) looking at West’s letters to William Carlos Williams and Josephine Hebst, as well as correspondence from Hebst and others regarding West after his death. I have quite a few notes from this trip, some of which I will include below:

  • 13 Letters from Nathanael West to William Carlos Williams
    • 1. Undated; Discussion of what materials should be included in the next edition of Contact Magazine. Use of the term “American Super-Realism”.
    • 2. Oct. 10, 1931: Discussion of length for next edition of Contact Magazine
    • 3. Undated, Working table of contents for Contact Magazine.
    • 4. Discussion of personal affairs, mention of Miss Lonelyhearts which is in progress.
    • 5. June 22, No year; Written on “The Sutton” stationary (hotel which West was working at), mostly personal affairs.
    • 6. Undated, discussion of print details for Contact magazine.
    • 7. Undated, personal affairs (on “The Sutton” stationary.)
    • 9. May 13th, No Year; Discussion of type and design for next edition of Contact Magazine
    • 10. West mentions fishing trip in which he sustained severe bites and subsequent swelling from black flies. West mentions he rejected all drawings received for cover of Contact magazine, going on at length about their poor quality.
    • 11. June 27th, No Year; On “The Sutton” stationary, West thanks Williams for his kind words in Contempo on the parts of Miss Lonelyhearts that have been published so far. West writes that his father has just died and that he is having difficulty working.
    • 12. Oct. 4, No Year; on a new design for “The Sutton” stationary, West writes there is little news about Contact due to publishing delays.
    • 13. Undated, West writes that he was sick, but that he will forward Contact materials soon. He thanks Williams for his kind words on Miss Lonelyhearts, asks for suggestions on publishers for it when it is finished. He is typing up the final draft of the novella at the time of this letter.
  • Letters from West to Josephine Herbst:
    • Mostly personal. The two were quite close. Early letters mention Miss L’s commercial flop. Later letters mention West’s work in Hollywood as a screenwriter where he claims to write 4,000 words a day during his 9 hour work shift.
  • Letters from Josephine Herbst about West:
    • Herbst writes to Light about West’s life and correspondence with her. She additionally writes to/about Jay Martin and other scholars interested in West.

Now, I will continue my research in Richmond and Williamsburg where I will continue to examine West’s work and the materials I have scanned/photographed/photocopied on my trip.

Stay tuned for more updates later in the summer!

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