Walter H. Page
Literature and that lays the greatest stress on preserving and fortifying it and in doing a permanent and continuous service for it. The attention to permanent editions, from one generation of publishers to another, by a house that by reason of the body of permanent literature that it has to do with has become itself a great institution--this is a matter of great importance. But I am preaching the sermon that Professor Sargent said today that he would himself preach to you: it's a sermon so true that it'll bear repeating.
The point is that you concentrate your work (if you will) on the series of Alaskan articles till you get them done, writing from the beginning as if you were writing the book, and giving the chapters to me, so you get them done, for publication in the Atlantic. Can you not let me begin
7, October, 1897.
My dear Mr. Muir,
I had a long talk with Professor Sargent to-day, and I was immensely fortified in my old hope (and resolution to accomplish it, if I can) that you will go ahead with the Alaskan articles, will let the Atlantic publish them and afterwards permit Houghton, Mifflin & Co. to bring them out in book form. Professor Sargent says (and says truly) what I had had some hesitation in saying, directly and with emphasis, myself, till he was kind enough to insist on my saying it--that the kind of literature that you will make of these Alaskan articles is the kind that ought to be published in the very best literary ways--to wit, in the magazine that has to do with the best literature at first hand and by the publishing house that has the largest body of first-hand American
It happens that I am just now engaged in preparing a prospectus of the magazine's contents for next year--a task that presents itself always at this season. I should like to say in this prospectus that the Atlantic will publish in the first half of the year such a series by you. I am indeed going immediately to write out such an announcement, and I shall keep it on my desk till I hear from you. Then, when you send your consent, I shall at once give it to the printers and let the publishers announce it. And I am going to trouble you since it is a long way to California, to telegraph me at our expense when you receive this letter, a message giving your consent.
Your own terms, within the reasonable and possible limits of the magazine and of the book-publishing plan, too, will meet the approval of the publishers.
Very sincerely yours,
Walter H. Page.
John Muir Esq.
P.S. I have announced and am now expecting the article on some of the National Parks.
in the January number and publish an article a month till you have finished them all? That would carry us into the summer and by the time the last magazine article appeared the book could be put forth. If the book be brought out next summer, it would appear at a very advantageous time. Everybody who does not go to Alaska next Summer will wish at least to read about it.
I sincerely hope that this plan will commend itself to you. That it will be a fortunate stroke for the Atlantic Monthly I need not say: indeed I know of nothing that I should value more. That it will put your work in appropriate and (in the book form) in deserving and proper shape, I cannot insist too strongly.
1897 Oct 7
Original letter dimensions: 21.5 x 27.5 cm.
Page, Walter H., "Letter from Walter H. Page to John Muir, 1897 Oct 7." (1897). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 2014.
Reel 09, Image 1088
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