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1112004

William Saroyan

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“I am now on my way to Europe where I expect to stay indefinitely. . . .

I am trying to figure out this whole business.  I may decide that the only thing I need to do

is to write the stuff if I can’t avoid doing so, and let it go at that.”

William Saroyan, 1908-1981.  Armenian-American dramatist and author.  Typed Letter Signed, Bill, with holograph emendations, one page, 8½” x 11”, on stationery of the law firm of Ernst, Cane & Berner, New York, [New York], January 27, 1959.

By 1959, Saroyan was deep in tax trouble.  Later that year the Internal Revenue Service sued him for $20,000 in back income taxes.  In January he returned to his home in Malibu, California, from a trip around the world but soon left for Europe, declaring himself to be a tax exile.  In this letter to Seymour Lawrence, director of The Atlantic Monthly Press, Saroyan speaks of his departure and eagerly asks whether The Atlantic Monthly wants his short story Robert Burns, which he had submitted some three weeks earlier. 

Saroyan writes, in part:  “I have now left Malibu forever but the copies of The Atlantic  that I wanted reached there after my departure. . . . (There has been a mix-up here—about subscribing etc.)  I am now on my way to Europe where I expect to stay indefinitely. . . . /  All of my manuscripts, papers, books are in storage, including a good deal of my unpublished writing.  I do not expect to examine this stuff for a long time.  The fact is I do not have any plans for publication at this time at all.  I am trying to figure out this whole business.  I may decide that the only thing I need to do is to write the stuff if I can’t avoid doing so, and let it go at that.  That has certainly been the case for better than ten years with respect to plays at any rate, and now it is beginning to be the case with respect to stories and novels.  I suppose it is a miracle papa you’re crazy was ever published.  As you may know it was rejected by every publisher I had ever worked with as well as by twice as many others.  And then after it had been published it found no audience at all and it just naturally is a good and a rare book.  /  . . . I am eager to know if the piece entitled ‘Robert Burns’ is of use to the Atlantic Monthly.”

Saroyan’s anxiety over whether the publisher wanted Robert Burns starkly contrasts with what he said three weeks earlier—telling Lawrence and Edward Weeks, editor of The Atlantic Monthly, that there was “no urgency at all about the publication of anything of mine.”  Click here to see that letter, which we also sold.

Saroyan has boldly signed this letter and inserted some handwritten words into the text.  The letter has two horizontal mailing folds and pencil notations that the letter is from Saroyan.  Weeks’ penciled initials are in the left margin.  There are a couple of small stains, not obtrusive, that we mention for the sake of accuracy.  The letter is in fine condition.

Unframed.

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