I was so thrilled to get your letter! I’m replying immediately! I was beginning to worry when you went silent. So, where do I start? Why would you call me a globetrotter? I’m sitting here in Cambridge like a bump on a log, without a break – those days are over, and they were the good old days. I only take the occasional half-day trip or a couple of days off to visit friends or spend time in the outdoors. Flowers, water, and trees are just as beautiful here as where you are, they’re just arranged differently. You’d be amazed by Cambridge, Jindřich. They are building a new underground library and the whole area is dug up, a muddy mess in the rain, clouds of dust in the sun, which gets stirred up by the trucks that haul away the dirt and by the cars that drive by. It’s as hot as an oven outside. But I’m working like a dog, dear colleague, on that book on the Baroque for all the good folk. And I think I’m doing a wonderful job. I just finished a chapter on translation “Kéž hoří popel můj“ [May My Ashes Burn] – Holan translated Góngora for it – and let me tell you it’s Brilliant. Czech poetry in general. Jakobson and I agree on that. He has only recently read “Případ poezie“ [The Case of Poetry] and liked it very much. He said he would mention in at the congress in Warsaw – not with a focus on my poetry specifically, but in the context of his poetics, in addition to other examples of poetry. I could tell he really meant it; you could see he was making notes in the text and asked concrete questions. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased; not by the prospect of ‘fame’ – he might still change his mind after all – but the fact that someone is reading my poetry, that it is not the product of a spell of insanity that leaves nothing in its wake when it passes. I think that everyone is a poet, but that a poet has a certain purpose, like a musician, with all the accoutrements. – I’ll send you the Czech “Romantics“. I have no ego attached to it, believe me, it was my first work in literary history, and now I would write it differently. But I will send it to you, so you don’t think me a fool. I don’t actually have it here but I’ll write to Mouton and ask him to send it. It only makes sense as a textbook. The students over here have nothing to lay their eyes on. About a year ago I was asked to translate Arne Novák, which I declined, but I was willing to edit the text and have it translated under my supervision. It could have been a useful publication. But they wanted me to do it for free. I refused, on principle.
When I work for free, I work for the cause, but this is different! It’s their loss. What you talk about is literary interpretation. Literary history should primarily inform, intelligently of course. I can’t find the “Demystifikovaný Mácha” [Mácha Demystified] in the library – it seems irreversibly lost, somewhere in the library at Berkeley. Something like this is truly unheard of. Perhaps in time it will resurface, either here or there. I’m planning to go there after the New Year’s, but people plan, and God laughs. Sometimes I also like to read those Czech classics that we used to turn up our noses at when we were young. You say I don't read any Chalupecký. If you knew how “complicated” it is to find any spare time in my daily schedule, you would understand; but it’s good that you protest. I’ll make it my next project. Mind you, I don’t even have time for my own poems, and that tells you a lot. Give my regards to your wife. I’m sure she’ll feel better soon. It happens from time to time in the lives of both men and women that an illness strikes. Well, I wish good health to both of you, and the rest will follow. I will send you the poems, but it may take some time.
With summer greetings, full of poetry and friendship,
|Subject:||A Woman in the Pantheon|
|Title:||Letter from Milada Součková to Jindřich Chalupecký dated 5 August 1973|
|Origin:||Jindřich Chalupecký fonds|