John Graves was a syndicated newspaper columnist.
Sixty-six Park Avenue
July 5, 1936
My dear Mr. Graves,
Please accept my sincere and profound gratitude for your opinion of my book “We the Living”, as expressed in your column of June 8. I appreciate it all the more, not only because you wrote it, but because you were kind enough to send it to me.
I am particularly grateful to you for calling the public’s attention to my book from an angle which is more important to me than any possible literary accomplishment of mine, namely for mentioning the fact that my book is not merely an argument against Communism, but against all forms of collectivism, against any manner of sacrilege toward the Individual. It would be easier for me to conceive of tolerance toward a theory preaching a wholesale execution of mankind by poison gas than to understand those who find any possible ethical excuse for destroying the only priceless possession of man—his individualism. After all, any form of swift physical annihilation is preferable to the inconceivable horror of a living death. And what but a rotting alive can human existence be when devoid of the pride and the joy of a man’s right to his own spirit?
All the crimes of history have always been perpetrated by the mob. And if any of our various modern forms of proclaiming the mob’s superiority over everything in life are allowed to triumph, we are headed for another era of Dark Ages, darker than any the past has known. It seems tragically obvious that a great many representatives of our press—and the press is the only real dictator of public opinion—have succumbed to one version of collectivism or another—mainly to the Soviet variety. Consequently, I felt a particular gratification in discovering in you one of the few remaining champions of what seems to be almost a lost cause. How badly these champions are needed at present I do not have to tell you, you must realize it yourself.
Sixty-six Park Avenue
I can only thank you and tell you that my every good wish is with you and your work. We seem to be fighters in the same camp—and, perhaps, if it is not too late, we may still win.
Part of the second paragraph on the first page was quoted in Graves’s column of July 10, 1936.