12. 28 December 1966 (various on Schumann)

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for your suggestions about a cipher etc. book. I think I'll try Faber for a start; I'll be writing with some samples earlyish in the new year.

   It's very kind of you (I think) to agree to write a foreword.

   As to your points about Aug. 1837; the reason why I hadn't made any use of those facts was that they seemed to be – for once in a way – truly coincidental. The turning point was Clara's concert on 13th August – a date fixed by her father, and this neither the day of Clara nor the day of Eusebius, but just one of the days of the Wieck. (Sorry about that; it must be the cherry brandy).

   But no doubt that is too tickle a point of niceness; and it is as you say significant that they should both have pretended that it was the 14th when it was really the following day. So I've reshaped the end, or rather re-rough-hewn it; I'm afraid it’s still not quite as rounded a conclusion as I should have liked.

   The enclosed version is submitted for your editorial view; if you would like to publish it, could it be in February? And would there be anything in the notion that you might explain to your readers that the idea of .his piece, and hence some of the responsibility, was yours? I wouldn’t want people to think that I indulged in this kind of speculation unprompted!  

   I think that the point bout the Schumann verses (setting aside their sheer stupefying ineptitude as lyric verse – how could anyone have supposed in the face of such evidence that he had any kind of understanding of poetry) is that they are all causes rather than effects. His powerful images like the Rhine, or the wedding, or roses, or the real pre-imagined presence of Clara proceeded straight into music, as I understand it (or rather as I do not understand it, strictly speaking) without intermediary. It was, on the contrary, his own jaded response to other people's imagery, usually at second or third hand, that produced his verbal writing; all the verse, and all the prose in so far as it is literary and not about music. The Erlkönig and Mignon and Ritter and Nonne are more like a recollection of coloured plates from the Zwickau nursery bookshelf than any kind of new creative impulse which might go into the music. The things that really excited him were, I think, such of his very own original and strong emotion (as could be embodied in music; like the linear Clara–themes and the Clärchen-Egmont theme.

   But you have been right bout Schumann and I wrong before this; and not everyone believes in the possibility of non-empirical cognitions.

   Zur Jahreswende spreche ich Ihnen meine besten Glückswünsche aus, as my phrase-book topically observes.

   Yours ever



P.S. I think it is very modest of you, in a way, not to realise that the reason why you can be safely left alone with a Konversationsheft is not – or not solely – the face but the name.