Letter from Samuel Solomonovich Koteliansky to Leonard Woolf (04/01/1923)

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[[MS 2750/38/7]]


5 Acacia Rd 
St. John's Wood, N.W.8


January 4, 1928


Doporior*1 Leona[r]d.


I received the*2 Gorky M[anuscript]s and cheque for £2.9.2. on account of the Gorky and Chekov books.- As to the Dostoevsky Plan of The Possessed I am prepared to wait a couple of weeks more for your decision.-


Now I don[']t know whether you intended your refusal to instruct Mountsier to pay Laurence*3 his share out of the next instalment[sic] as a personal insult to me; and also whether you meant it as an insult to tell me that you were generous to me. If you want to insult me there is no need doing it in a roundabout way: we could put an end to our relations, if you want it, in a straightforward way, without any need at all to insult each other. If however you look upon your saying to me that you were generous to me as a true statement of fact, then I must say that the following its perfectly obvious:


We worked as translators on a perfectly definite basis, that is, that all the money we get from American copyright for our books we share between us. This has been the case with all our books. The sale of our books in America we arranged ourselves. It is only in the case of the Bunin & Dostoevsky that we failed to arrange the American copyright ourselves, and thus failed to receive a decent and quite rightly expected sum of money. On my case part I don [']t blame you for our failure. - Again with the Bunin book I can[']t see in what way it is generous on your part to claim commission as publisher. Is it because "The Gentlemen of San Francisco" forms the main interest and sells the book? Is it generous to claim a bigger part than 25% of your share of the work on that Book? And where does generosity come in altogether in a perfectly businesslike arrangement? I fail utterly to see it, moreover to accept any generosity from anyone. - You say





that what you money you get as translator you credit to the Press. Well, what has this to do with me? You surely don[']t credit such sums to me? nor would I ever accept it. My work with you as translator is on a perfectly clear basis - without any generosity on either part. Then you are also the publisher of the book we translate together - and here again there is a perfectly clear businesslike arrangement - without any nuance of generosity. - The principle you lay down about a publisher being entitled to a commission is a very sound principle; and when a publisher qua publisher, thanks to his connections etc etc arranges the copyright of an author book in a foreign country he is probably entitled to a commission, dependant on the service rendered. i.e. that such a publisher is likely to deal with foreign copyright in a more advantageous way than if the author charged an agent to do the same commission.- In our case, we always, as translators, arranged our foreign copyright, and sometimes paid an agent's commission.-


Again with instructing Mountsier to pay Lawrence*3 his share straight from America,- avoiding sending dollars to this country, having them changed into pounds, and for me to receive the corrected pounds and reconvert them again into dollars. Why such a rigidity?  And why do you refuse to do a perfectly proper thing - if you do not mean it as an insult?


I repeat again, if, for some reason, you find that, as you once said that we were incompatible, and therefore you want to put an end to our relations, I think you ought to say so straightaway, without making things unpleasant for us for no earthly reason at all.


Yours | SS Kotelianskt *4[signature]





*1  Russian for Dear

*2  Throughout the letter the author uses what looks like 'ta' for 'the'

*3  D.H. Lawrence

*4  Samuel Solomonovich Koteliansky






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Source: MS 2750/38/7

Image Rights Holder: © Estate of Samuel Solomonovich Koteliansky

Letter from Samuel Solomonovich Koteliansky to Leonard Woolf (04/01/1923)


University of Reading, Special Collections

Koteliansky tells Woolf he is happy to wait regarding the Dostoevsky manuscript. He questions whether Woolf's last letter was supposed to insult him regarding his comments on generosity, which he challenges and asks why generosity has a place in a business arrangement. He questions why Woolf cannot allow 'Mountsier' to pay D. H. Lawrence's share directly. Koteliansky  questions whether their working relationship is compatible.



Manuscript letter signed by Koteliansky