47 Glencairn Ave.
Toronto 12
Sept. 29 [1955]

Dear John:

The exposition is marvelous. I read it through twice and so did a few of my friends. All of us thought that the style was of the finest order. Naturally, I was predisposed towards it because of the enthusiasm and generosity of the treatment. But apart from that, even if it had been on another subject, I would have been exhilarated.

My brother Calvert C. Pratt of St John's, Newfoundland said – 'Put me down for 100 copies when it is published.' He intends contributing two copies to each of the 28 libraries in Nfld. and taking the balance for personal gifts. You can use that as an initial bargaining point with your publisher. I hope Macmillans will undertake it. It shouldn't be too expensive. I mention Macmillans for two reasons: (1) they are my publishers, (2) they are, I think, cheaper than Ryersons and besides that, Ryersons didn't sell out the Edition done at Columbia University by Wells and Klinck. I don't know what reaction Gray (Macmillans) will have but the relatively small size of the book ought to keep the expense down. I had a chat with Pierce recently. He is a grand fellow, willing to take a gamble but his superiors have the last word and the commercial element is strong with them. Pierce admires your work in the N.R. It is a strong corrective to the awful stuff that is being poured out by the C.I.V. I have never met Layton but is he as bad as his writing?

Viola (my wife) said that this critique is the only thing she has come across in Canada where the sub-conscious areas are explored to render up valid meanings. That is true.

Another thing! How is the N.R.? And what are your future plans? I referred to your work and the difficulties you were labouring under. The little group responded with small contributions amounting altogether to $50 which I am enclosing. No one was prosperous but all were unanimous in their respect for you and your writings. They preferred to remain anonymous, so if you compile a list again, just print $50 (anonymous). There are no strings attached. If unfortunately you cannot bring out another number, the amount is for past services.

Personally, I am restricting my articles now because of severe eyestrain which needs constant medical attention, the pressure hinders concentration on writing. In any case, I am retired from the College having reached the age limit.

The best.
Ned Pratt

P.S. I forgot to mention two points:

  1. The Mauritania had several knots of speed ahead of Titanic though the owners were hoping the big ship might come close to the other.

  2. Possibly a little change in the beginning of the Postscript might lessen the ammunition of a few 'intellectuals' or 'obscurantists' who claim there are no ideas in the poetry. They like to think they have a following. This was pointed out to me by a friend. Still, I leave that matter with you as you see fit.

exposition is marvelous
Sutherland had sent him a typescript of his prospective book on Pratt's poetry: The Poetry of E.J. Pratt: A New Interpretation.

Wells and Klinck
Edwin J. Pratt: The Man and His Poetry (1947).

little group
See the note to 'two magazines will be helped by it' in the letter to Ronald G. Everson, 14 August 1955.

big ship
A reference to a statement by Sutherland in his chapter on the Titanic.

Sutherland's brief conclusion of his book on Pratt.