Jackson-Emery Papers, Ms 0397, Box 3, Folder 6: 6 letters from the American novelist John Dos Passos to Roland Jackson
Transcribed by Jamey Hastings, 2017
[Envelope addressed to Senor don Roland Jackson, c/o Thomas Cook & Son, Calle Arenal, Madrid, Espagne, postmarked 12-2-17]
Jack -- This afternoon as the train juggled on from station to station through the desolate pine-lands between the border and Bordeaux, I thought of you at the concert, hearing the Fifth, and sitting on the floor with your back to the wall, while the late people tip toe past you -- and I felt most gloomy and homesick for Madrid.
I am writing this while dining, feeling the need for conversation --
Have just arrived in Bordeaux after nearly twenty four hour's train and feel quite wobbly -- The headlights -- them too. I don't know whether I've caught or missed the boat -- I'll discover in the morning -- At present food and sleep are lyric -- and boats aren't worth bothering about.
I still love Bordeaux.
This is scrawled on the back of an old letter -- I hope you don't mind
My whole twenty four hour jiggle was a wail at leaving Spain.
Now I've left it and it seems a sort of hallucination from Toledo to Almorox -- Bordeaux feels so usual and customary after Spain which I have never got accustomed to.
Again I feel like an egg, a pleasant egg this time.
I think [?] & Toledo
I've Sherlocked Holmed you in vain -- have only succeeded in discovering that on the dia de Reyes at eleven -- the morning you marchared from the widow's & that it was una lastima.
Monday I move to the Residencia --
Come in when you feel like it, if you feel like it & if I'm not here -- leave your address & I'll look you up.
[undated letter on stationery from Café Cardinal, Bordeaux, A. Martel]
It seems that I am to have a chance to love Bordeaux to my heart's content -- The boat doesn't sail until next Saturday -- if then. I shall hang about here a little while, however, even if I try to get home some other way -- or I may even go back to Spain.
Isn't it a joke?
I feel so irritated -- what I should have done, of course, was to calmly continue in Madrid and let them cable until they got tired. I shall never be the dutiful nephew again.
But Bordeaux is delightful. It's pale rather Louis XV greyness is such a contrast after Spain.
I shall amuse myself making boat trips on the Garonne. The misfortune is, that meeting you in Madrid and the other people I met put me out of love with the mood of sentimental solitude & I shall be lonely -- damnably so.
And there is something so desolate about this subdued, mobilized, France, -- The cheerfulness of it, even.
When & if I get to New York, I'll let you hear at once --
[stationery: A Bord de "Touraine"]
Sunday 18th 191___
Here am I still in Bordeaux -- still [moaning?] for Madrid -- Now the tale is that the Touraine will sail tonight at mid-night -- but there is a charming indefiniteness about everything --
Strange to say the boat is jammed -- so much so that yesterday afternoon when one came on board there was wild confusion. In every little passageway could be heard sounds of [combat?] -- people sat down upon their luggage and refused to be moved when the stewards came to give their staterooms to someone else -- one bedraggled looking lady wept, numerous Americans swore -- It was wonderful.
I came back placidly to my stateroom which I had taken possession of to find a funny fat American seated on the berth, with one of those grey hats Kentucky colonels wear pushed back from a shiny forehead, in the act of sidling my belongings to be put out -- Protests. The fat gentleman with a tremendous roll of oaths -- refused to be moved. At last I abdicated & was removed ignominiously to another stateroom (which was larger & lighter) and the fat man's swearing died away in the distance.
Then there is a bunch of people who look like comedy crooks from a Broadway farce. There's the tall crook, the dude crook, the flashy lady crook whose 'aint's' reverberate, the little timid crook -- You have never seen such a god-awful collection.
The voyage promises to be amusing -- if it ever starts.
Even today people keep coming on board -- I guard my state room in terror -- expecting every moment to have it invaded by strange luggage & stranger freight --
I haven't yet got over how delightful it was meeting you in Madrid --
[Alicante postcard, undated]
Place a hunk of white Turron de Alicante, the almond, creamy colored kind - on a blue porcelain plate: You have Alicante! I'm living on a four peseta basis -- approximately.
Manana, por la manana I set out along a white dusty road to Denia & Valencia.
Hasta la Vista -- Dos
[Monasterio postcard, undated]
I am imminent on Madrid
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