In a copy of a letter from Vera’s sister Tania, AR learned of the deaths during the war of many family members, including Natasha (AR’s sister) and Nina (AR’s cousin and closest childhood friend).
10,000 Tampa Avenue
December 28, 1948
Thank you very much for your letter and for the photograph of Tania’s letter which you sent me. It was a terrible experience for me to read her letter, but I was prepared for it by what Henri had told me, and I am glad that I could see the letter for myself.
Henri has explained to me why you prefer not to write to Tania. If you should ever have a chance to write to her or to inquire in any way, I would be very grateful if you would try to learn something about the fate of my little sister, without mentioning my name. But, of course, I will leave it entirely up to you to decide when and if you think it is safe to do it.
I was very glad to meet Henri, and I hope that perhaps someday you may come on a visit to America yourself. I found Henri very interesting—but I suppose he has told you that we had political arguments and we did not agree philosophically on many things. I hope I have not frightened him—I suspect that as a charming Frenchman, he does not approve of a woman who stays up until 3 in the morning arguing about the nature of the universe.
I wonder whether he has explained to you why I did not send you a copy of my book. I did not want you to buy it, because you may not like it. I asked him to ask you to get it from a library. Then if you like it, I will be happy to send you an autographed copy of it. I do not feel offended if someone does not like my book, but since it means a great deal to me, I do not give a copy of it except to those who like it. The reason which made me think that you may not care for it was Henri’s attitude. He read the first 60 pages of it and began to criticize it and to object to its philosophy without waiting to find out what that philosophy was. In such a case, I would prefer that a person would not read it at all.
I tried to gather from Henri what your tastes and philosophy are now, but I could not form too clear an idea of it. I remember you as a person of very delicate poetic taste, and it interests me very much to learn what sort of books or art works you like now. I suspect that you will not like my kind of writing. You probably remember me as a very violent person. I have remained the same, only more so.
I was happy to see a very small photograph of you which Henri showed me. You do not seem to have aged or changed much, and you look just as I remember you. Lisette is a very pretty girl, judging by the photographs which Henri showed me, and she has definitely the look of your family. I would love to have a picture of her in the coat I sent her. I was worried about that coat because it was my idea to get it a size larger than necessary, just in case.
Please tell Henri that there is no hurry about sending me the pictures he took here. I know how difficult it is to do extra work when he is busy on his job. When he has the time for it, then I will appreciate very much if you will send me those pictures. I hope to hear from you soon, and I will try to answer more promptly.
With best regards from both of us to the three of you,