30 June 1922

Hotel d'Angleterre, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

Dear Mr Arnold Gibbons,
I feel I have kept your stories a long time. Forgive me if it seems too long. The days pass so quickly here and although I have been on the pen-point of writing to you several times it is only now that Ive got down to it.
Very many thanks for your letter & for letting me see the five stories. I'd like immensely to talk about them a little. But you'll take what I say as workshop talk, will you? - As from one writer to another. Otherwise one feels embarrassed.
I think the idea in all the five stories is awfully good. And you start each story at just the right moment and finish it at the right moment, too. Each is a whole, complete in itself. But I don't feel any of them quite come off. Why? Its as though you used more words than were necessary. 'There's a kind of diffuseness of expression which isn't natural to the English way of thinking. I imagine your great admiration for Tchekhov has liberated you but you have absorbed more of him than you are aware of and he's got in the way of your individual expression for the time being. Its very queer; passages read like a translation! Its as though you were in his shadow and the result is you are a little bit blurred, a bit vague. Your real inmost self (forgive the big words but one does mean them) doesn't seem to be speaking except occasionally. Its almost as though you were hiding and hadn't the - shall I call it courage? - of your own fine sensitiveness. When you do get free of Tchekhov plus all you have learnt from him you ought to write awfully good stories.  [To Arnold Gibbons, 24 June 1922.]