33, Rue de Tournon, Paris.
My dear Publisher -
What has come to you? What shocking work are you thrusting upon the public that you have withdrawn from all intercourse? Why indeed are you silent? - What crime?
Now to show you how on the other hand I cannot cease to be always charming, I am going to give you a very pretty idea! -
I have something delightful for you - [p. 2] An idea of daintiness - Art and money - I am sure - all combined - something of a freshness - quite new! - I am sure it would be a complete success - and a very chic thing -
After all this you of course expect something of my own! - Well no -
It is a collection - a very bijou "collection" of Mallarmé - of course I do not mean a collection of Mallarmé's works - but a special "series" of a very quaint and fascinating kind, - but something quite unique - and that would take immensely in London! It would be the swell little book of the season I am convinced - You could and certainly will if I am not quite mistaken bring it out for Christmas - and make a great hit -
Now what is it? - and how can I propose that Mallarmé, who is said to be caviare even to the Parisians, shall be not only possible, but actually a success in London?! -
Well - are you coming over here ever again? - I think I would rather show you the little book - a manuscript - a bijou you know I said it is -
Do you remember my once before hinting at something that he had shown me, and that I said that Oscar would at once steal if he ever got even [p. 3] a peep at it? - Well that is what I mean you to bring out - You know I have an instinct - and this would "go" even from the money point of view -
We hope to get away in a very few days - to the sea side -
What have you that is amusing to tell us? -
What a time they have been with the printing - Only just sent Butterflies by themselves - might just as well have tried them in their places - Am sending back by same post -
They have been very careless after all the trouble I took to give them exact size.
I have now placed them - but some want cutting slightly where I have touched with white - and two ought to be reduced - Do see that McCall or the process man rather understands this. -
A photograph of pp. 1 and 3 of the letter is reproduced in the auction catalogue, American Art Association, New York, 13 January 1922 (lot 60).
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), Symbolist writer and poet [more]. The idea was to publish a collection of quatrains written by Mallarmé. They were all written as addresses and actually sent by post, and they included one based on the Whistlers' address at 110 Rue du Bac (#03878). In the end the quatrains were not published at this time (see #03869 and #03878; Mallarmé's quatrains, not transcribed here, are listed at #03900-#03923). Both JW and Mallarmé designed possible covers for the projected book (see Cupid letting a bird out of a cage (M.1341) and #03869).
For Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892.