mad in pursuit: letters from james & orpha, summer of '26

LETTERS from James & Orpha: contents

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Orpha is still in her feverish mood. This modern young woman is swooning over the thought of total submission to her man.

Postmarked Wednesday 8.4.26, from Orpha in Glens Falls NY

It is all a paradox, this waiting time. For me to decide, as I can do only in my calmer moments, in a rational way, that we must not meet until the time when there can be everything is a paradox, for it is with me like living without body or soul, living as a mere perception of starvation, a feeling of unsatiated, gnawing hunger. As the days approach the time you shall come, it is more and more difficult for me to live restrainedly. I live with clenched fists and tightening teeth for it is effort and supreme exertion alone that make it possible for me to endure separation. I find that in hard work and constant activity only can I deaden temporarily my longing for you longing that in times of relaxation and abandon nearly drives me mad. At night, I toss and turn for hours before I can go to sleep then it is in a heavy stupor, disturbed by dreams, that I find any rest.

And it is not only wanting that I feel now but wanting to give to give to you all of me to accept the mastery I have long since recognized of your every part body, soul, mind over me. The change you speak of in me is manifest in that and I am knowing you, even in absence, more fully, each day. I understand the discrimination in the power you exert over me and that which I shall come to exert over you, when I shall have developed further, when I shall have wholly become the thing you want the being your dream saw last spring, the being you gave birth to last winter thru suffering. You respond to the change in me and I am glad. We shall find expression in one another of Beauty yes, I know I feel now, James, you will know soon, how deep is the change.

I want to guard our living Flame from any imperfection

Sometimes I can scarcely prevent myself from running from people, from common suggestions in them, from the things I am coming to abhor. I cannot bear to be near people or see them, when I am so close to you.

And so, perhaps, it is hard to decide this we must not see one another again I shall be wholly yours then I want to guard our living Flame from any imperfection until there need be no restraint no horror as there was here. To all that you have asked, have wondered of my wanting, I answer, all of me is crying for you, desiring you, passionately, glad to be suppliant before you, wishing to accept your mastery, craving to give and give to you retaining nothing.


If there were anything I might suggest to help you solve any of your multitudinous quandaries, Id do so, but Im afraid Id be hindrance or a joke rather than assistance. Ive a smock tho, for next fall to paint in so do save some for me to do.

Ive finished Chimes and am returning it. Ive taken notes on it marginal comments hence the length of time Ive consumed. Then, too, Im working I have to. This week Im doing two weeks washing , to test my newly gained strength, to tire myself so that I can sleep, and to help me bear this -- my hands are raw, Ive only primitive means, a washboard, etc. I shant mind washing rugs next fall, after this.

Moms consulting a doctor tomorrow about my operation. This case promises to be interminable, so shell be getting relief during my time of need. Shes almost afraid to have it done dont know why shes a bit afraid of something.

There are millions of things to consult you about concerning affairs here but I shall have to write them all to you about cards, dates, and all.

I envy you the radio Ive only that next door piano, you know and my poor attempts at music.
Simeon Strunsky knows things, doesnt he? His oats, I suppose youd say words words words words



"the being you gave birth to last winter thru suffering": James had been laid up for nearly 3 weeks in the college infirmary during the month of March -- an ailment referred to as the grippe -- probably influenza, a very scary ailment in those days after the great pandemic.

"my operation": the tonsillectomy


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