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Do you remember the first time you met William Faulkner?
No, I don't remember the first time I met him. I remember
the first time I read a book by him. I was selling our new
list in Philadelphia. There were two fellows who had a little
shop there, the Centaur Book Shop, a lovely little shop--Harold
Mason and David Jester were their names. And in this shop they
had all the newest things in books. You don't see them anymore.
It was something like Ted Halliday's book shop in New
York, a personal book shop. And there one day Harold Mason
told me, “Harcourt, Brace have published a book by a fellow I.
think is going to be one of the great authors of America. His
name is William Faulkner.” Liveright had published two books
by him already called Soldier's Pay and Mosquitoes, which had
gotten some reviews but hadn't sold. But this book was called
Sanctuary. In those days it was a shocking book. So I took
a copy home, and I read it in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia.
The next morning I told Harold Mason, “You're right
about this man. He's got something tremendous.” I lost no
time getting hold of his other two books, Mosquitoes and
Soldier's Pay, never dreaming that some day I'd be his publisher.
When the Smith and Haas negotiations began, the name of
Faulkner was in letters a mile high in my mind. I wanted
You say you were very good friends with him.
We became very, very good friends.
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