1812147To John Hall Wheelock
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6,
Rome. September 20, 1948

Dear Mr. Wheelock,

“Dialogues in Limbo” arrived the day before yesterday—one copy—and simultaneously I had letters from Cory and from Robert Lowell saying they had received their copies. Cory and I are much pleased with the carefully designed front page of the jacket. The colours are particularly well chosen, and the Greek border not too pretentiously Greek. I have a lingering prejudice against large lettering, especially for the author’s name: but the letters in themselves a very nicely drawn and edged, and I cannot really find fault with them. No more can I find fault with the laudatory judgments quoted on the rest of the cover: they sound fulsome, but they will have a salutary effect on shy critics who might not dare to take the Dialogues seriously without some reputable pace-maker. I am glad this time there is no portrait of me. Do you know of any of Alcibiades? A Socrates could be easily found, and there is probably some spurious Democritus that could be rigged out in a long white beard. I like to imagine this book illustrated. Alcibiades gazing at his image in the fountain, with Socrates coming up behind would make a lovely one. Also Avicenna sitting in the Suk on the saddler’s doorstep, and reading by a lamp.

. . . As to anticipating the publication of chapters of Dominations and Powers, I see the justice of your view. We must not take the wind out of the sails by prematurely satisfying the public appetite by a family dinner before the banquet. But perhaps a bite—at the cocktail hour—may keep the illusion up. Anyhow, I am having a few selected chapters recopied, to send to Cory for his consideration. I know that he is not interested in the book on its own account, but think there is a chance of his waking up when he sees what it is like. He has become suddenly an admirer of the Dialogues. These lazy intuitive-fellows have to be allowed to take their time. . . .

Yours sincerely G Santayana

From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Eight, 1948-1952.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008.
Location of manuscript: Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Libraries, Princeton NJ.