Cannes, 1952. Near Fine.
Cannes: 22 October 1952. Autograph letter signed, written in black ink to recto of one 5" x 8" sheet of white paper. Near fine with one horizontal crease and a couple of tiny spots, else very clean and bright. Alice B. Toklas, an American author, is perhaps most known for her relationship with the noted author and art collector Gertrude Stein, whose Paris salon hosted writers and artists like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso. First hired as Stein's assistant after moving to Paris in 1907, Toklas quickly became Stein's friend, confidante, and romantic companion; the two women remained life partners until Stein's death in 1946. Notably, Stein's famous memoir, An Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), written by Stein in the voice of her partner, brought mainstream attention to Stein's work and is considered one of the best-written books in the English language. Toklas, an author herself, went on to publish books of her own after Stein's death, including two cookbooks and a memoir titled What is Remembered (1963). Saul Mauriber, to whom this letter is addressed, was a Brooklyn-based decorator and designer, and romantic partner of the prominent author and photographer Carl Van Vechten, who was a close friend of Stein and Toklas. Van Vechten was the literary executor of Stein's work after her death and remained in close contact with Toklas. In this letter, Toklas writes to Saul Mauriber. She begins by acknowledging his recent injury: "When Carl wrote of the frightful accident you had met with I was very upset…" and expresses her condolences that Mauriber must endure being immobilized by his plaster cast, suggesting that "Perhaps they wheel you into the California sunshine and you can look at the sky and flowers." Toklas, a native of California herself, writes that she used to love the area around Los Angeles, and recommends that Mauriber try to see it before he leaves. Continuing, Toklas describes her recent motor tour around Spain and her ongoing vacation in Cannes, ending her personal updates with a passage about her beloved dog, Basket, who was nearing the end of his life: "He is old and so tired the vet wouldn't let him travel[…] And so he will come back to end his days with me, the sweet dear." A postscript notes that Toklas had recently had the opportunity to meet "Janie" in Paris - presumably Janie Eisenburg, a photographer most well known for her work in the 1960s and '70s, who may have been acquainted with Mauriber and Toklas through Carl Van Vechten, also a photographer. Transcript: - Cannes - - 22 VIII 52 - My dear Saul. When Carl wrote of the frightful accident you had met with I was very upset but fancy my feelings when he wrote yesterday that you were still in a plaster cast. How entirely unnecessary it has all been - to have suffered originally as much pain as you must have and now to be imobilised [sic]. The patience you have had to put up is doubly hard from someone as full of energy as you are. Perhaps they wheel you into the California sunshine and you can look at the sky and flowers. Before you go back do try and see some of the country around Los Angeles. I used to know it well and loved it. Nearly fifty years ago my grandfather took me motoring down there - our first experience of the horseless-carriage. And now as an old woman I have lately returned from a marvelous motor tour in enchanting Spain. And now I am having a quiet vacation of a month here. On the first upon my return to Paris there will be Basket to welcome me. He is old and so tired the vet wouldn't let him travel so he stayed with the vet whom he loves because they spoil him the way they won't let me. (They give him butter cookies between meals!) And so he will come back to end his days with me, the sweet dear. You have all my best wishes - dear Saul - Have a speedy recovery and don't let anything more happen to you. Ever affectionately Alice. Did you know I had the luck and joy to meet Janie in Paris. She was in wonderful form and more like a (?) precious jewel than ever.