Friday 17th [Nov. 1950]

Dear Ed:

I have just been re-reading your 'Rhythm' and I had to write to tell you again how superb a piece of work I think it is. As I also remarked before I think, it is the highlight of the Alexander series so far. Everyone around here thinks so.

I am still busily pressing on with my railway saga when I can. It is still hard to say what it will develop into by the time it is finished – probably in a year's time. The curious thing about it is that its nature seems to be changing all the time. As I said to one of the chaps the other day when he asked me about it, 'You know, this thing is turning more and more into a protracted "Great Debate."' I've come to the conclusion that the C.P.R. was built not so much by the chaps who did the technical and physical work, indispensable as they were, but by the fellows with the gift of gab, the talkers and the wranglers and argufiers. 'In the beginning was the Word' – and so to the end, to the last spike. Does that strike you as a perverse way of viewing the thing? I sometimes take a cockeyed view of things, as you are well aware. But I think I am sound on this. Do you by chance have any book or books that might be relevant to the subject?

Are you still keeping on with the Willa job? I imagine so. I am looking forward immensely to reading it. I know it will be another superb masterpiece.

My best to you and Peggy and family.


Brown's Alexander lectures had recently been published under the title Rhythm in the Novel (Toronto: University of Toronto Press).

Willa job
Brown was writing a biography of the American novelist Willa Cather (1873-1947). Unfinished at his death in 1951, Willa Cather: A Critical Biography was completed by Leon Edel and published by Random House in 1953.