Scope and Contents
The collection of American author, William H. Gass, consists of 6 typescript letters and 2 published poems written by Gass. The letters of William H. Gass were written, 1961-1963, to American editor and author, Seymour Lawrence. The poem is titled "Mad Meg in the Maelstrom" (1976) and "On Place" (1985) and printed in the form of broadsides.
The letters were written by Gass to Seymour Lawrence when Lawrence was director of the Atlantic Monthly Press in Boston. Previously, Lawrence had edited Wake: The Creative Magazine during its publication in the 1940s and 1950s. The letters were written by William H. Gass while he was teaching at Purdue University and just beginning to acquire recognition in his literary career. Lawrence relationship to Gass at this time was not entirely clear. The letters indicate Gass was sending manuscript material to Lawrence, so it is likely Lawrence was trying to interest Atlantic Monthly Press in publishing Gass.
In the letters, Gass discussed three of his works: The Pettersen Kid, "The Reverend Jethro Furber's Change of Heart", and Omensetters's Luck. Subjects of the letters also include Gass's interest in applying for a Guggenheim grant and his admiration for the author, Katherine Anne Porter.
Biographical information indicates that Gass acknowledged Gertrude Stein as one of the early influences in his style of writing. Of particular interest is the letter of September 21, 1961 in which Gass elaborates on his use of "the sentence" in The Pensersen Kid and offered "a bow to good Gertrude." Also known is the fact that a completed manuscript of Omensetter's Luck was stolen, preventing the publication of the novel until 1966. In his letter, September 5, 1963, Gass wrote that he was sending the manuscript of Omensetter's Luck.
The first poem is entitled "Mad Mag in the Maelstrom." It was issued April, 1976 in a limited edition of 150 numbered and signed copies, of which the copy in the collection is No. 47. It was published by No Mountains Poetry Project and listed as Broadside Number 8. The second poem is titled "On Place." The broadside was printed at Minnesota Center for Book Arts by Coffee House Press on the occasion of Gass's lecture at Walker Art Center, October 28, 1985. The copy in the collection is number 167 of 300 signed copies.