Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 114



Edward William Bok (1863–1930). The Americanization of Edward Bok. 1921.

Page 114

Bok felt, was an author whom it was better to read than to see. And yet his kindliness and gentleness more than offset the unattractiveness of his physical appearance.

After one or two visits from Bok, having grown accustomed to him, Stevenson would discuss some sentence in an article, or read some amended paragraph out loud and ask whether Bok thought it sounded better. To pass upon Stevenson as a stylist was, of course, hardly within Bok’s mental reach, so he kept discreetly silent when Stevenson asked his opinion.

In fact, Bok reasoned it out that the novelist did not really expect an answer or an opinion, but was at such times thinking aloud. The mental process, however, was immensely interesting, particularly when Stevenson would ask Bok to hand him a book on words lying on an adjacent table. “So hard to find just the right word,” Stevenson would say, and Bok got his first realization of the truth of the maxim: “Easy writing, hard reading; hard writing, easy reading.”

On this particular occasion when Stevenson finished, Bok pulled out his clippings, told the author how his book was being received, and was selling, what the house was doing to advertise it, explained the forthcoming play by Richard Mansfield, and then offered the press notices.

Stevenson took the bundle and held it in his hand.

“That’s very nice to tell me all you have,” he said, “and I have been greatly interested. But you have really told me all about it, haven’t you, so why should I read these notices? Hadn’t I better get busy on another paper for Mr. Burlingame for the next magazine, else



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