[Lauren R. Stevens.] Autograph Letter Signed and Typed Letter Signed (both 'Lauren') to English literary critic A. Alvarez ('Al'), discussing his decision to leave Harvard and his first novel, 'The Double Axe', an inscribed copy of which is included.

Lauren R. Stevens (b.1938) [A. Alvarez [Al Alvarez] (b.1929), English literary critic; H. C. Baker [Herschel Clay Baker] (1914-1990), Professor of English Literature at Harvard University]
Publication details: 
TLS: 430 W. Allen's Lane, Philadelphia 19, Pennsylvania. 5 October 1960. ALS: on his (cancelled) letterhead 1717 Cambridge Street, Cambridge 38, Massachusetts. 31 January 1961. Book: New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961.
SKU: 15608

TLS: 2pp., 12mo. In good condition. The letter begins: 'Dear Al: | Last Thursday morning, while sitting in a barbar chair, I asked myself a question which a number of people have been asking me recently, namely, What are you doing at Harvard? I couldn't come up with a very satisfactory answer, so I went to a friend's house on Cape Cod for the weekend. Monday I saw the head of the English Department at Harvard, H. C. Baker. He said, "Follow your star," which seemed to me a little romantic, but all the same good advice. He also told me that should I want to return to Harvard some time, although he didn't think I would, that chances were I could get back in again. So I cancelled my registration and left. Leaving me fairly available for the military draft, but also with at least some time to write, and do nothing but write. I am applying for a couple of writing fellowships. So, what do you think of that?' He reports that he is staying at home, and asks how Alvarez's courses are 'coming'. He concludes by asking for his 'comments, if you have a chance to read through my whole novel', adding that he is 'far enough away from it now so that I can look on it somewhat dispassionately'. ALS: 2pp., 8vo. In good condition. He is sorry to hear of Alvarez's illness, and assures him that he 'couldn't possibly be offended by anything you said; most particularly by a sincere, sensitive, and wise criticism'. He is grateful to him for giving his reaction to the book. 'Of course, you are absolutely right that I have no way to know the interior monologue of an elderly man. I am in awe at your correction, and am somewhat ashamed of myself for having pretended I could know.' He justifies his depiction of 'Henry', adding that he knew that the book 'would be a failure, to some degree. How could I, at my age and my experience - or really, how could anyone - come up with something which wouldn't fall short? But I wanted to attempt an older man, because I particularly didn't want to write a school-boy story about schoolboys'. He reports that he has gone for his 'pre-induction physical', and expects to be drafted into the army soon. He has 'a draft of over two hundred pages of a new novel', which he is 'frightened' to read. He ends with a paragraph praising President Kennedy, and the 'new life' he is 'injecting into this country'. BOOK: Author's first novel. The blurb of the book ('A Maxwell E. Perkins Commemorative Novel') states that it is its author's first novel, and that Stevens had previously won the Harvard Book Award while at high school, and the Ward Mathis Short Story Award in 'both his sophomore and junior years' at Harvard, and that in his final year he was awarded the Manner's Prize 'for the best creative work by a senior'.