Lot #516
John Steinbeck Autograph Letter Signed

"Meetings are not my kind of activity," writes Steinbeck during work on the Arthurian legend
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Estimate: $1000+


"Meetings are not my kind of activity," writes Steinbeck during work on the Arthurian legend

ALS, one page, 6.5 x 8.25, December 1957. Handwritten letter to John Ciardi, an established poet and the longtime poetry editor at the Saturday Review, in full: "Bread Loaf sounds very attractive and besides I have been hearing about it for years from Edith Mirrielees. But meetings are not my kind of activity. I am no good at them. Besides, I have never lectured in my life and I'm afraid it's too late to start now. I do thank you, however, for asking me. The Malory research continues—one source leading to another and all of them fascinating so that I sometimes wonder whether I will ever know enough to start my work. Thanks again for the Bread Loaf invitation." In fine condition. Accompanied by the original hand-addressed mailing envelope. Ciardi directed Vermont’s esteemed Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a seminar routinely attended by high profile authors like George R. R. Martin, John Irving, Norman Mailer, and, its most frequent attendee, Robert Frost. Edith Mirrielees was a pioneering teacher of creative writing (1878-1962) who inspired many talented, distinguished students, including Steinbeck at Stanford University.

The "Malory research" Steinbeck alludes to is undoubtedly his exhaustive exploration of the Arthurian legend, based on the Winchester Manuscript text of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. Although left unfinished, the work was later published in 1976 as The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. Steinbeck had long been a lover of the Arthurian legends and, based on some of his letters collected in the Appendix at the end of the volume, he appears to have worked on the book intensely from about November 1956 through late 1959, but after that never returned to the work.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Art and Literature
  • Dates: #610 - Ended June 16, 2021

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