To Jean Wick [Letter 10]

Item Reference Code: 077_12A_014_001

Date(s) of creation

July 19, 1934


Jean Wick


In a letter dated June 29, Wick had told AR that she would make a major name for herself, though it would likely be a slow process. She encouraged AR to move to New York from Hollywood in order to meet publishers and other book people.

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[Paramount Pictures letterhead]

July 19, 1934.

Dear Miss Wick,

I am most grateful for your letter and for the kind interest with which you analyzed the problem of my career. I must say that your letter really made up for my slight disappointment in Knopf’s decision about my book.

I quite agree with your suggestion about my coming to New York. I do believe it would be advisable and very much to my advantage. But as I mentioned in my last letter, I am at present working at the Paramount Studio on an original story of my own and I do not know how long I will be held here. As soon as I finish this assignment, I will try to arrange to go to New York, if I find it possible. Frankly, the financial angle is the only circumstance that is keeping me from it, for I have been anxious to move to New York for a long time.

Please let me know if you have not received my last letter in which I wrote about Paramount. I mentioned in it a rather important matter in regard to the Viking Press, which I wanted to bring to your attention. I am anxious to know its outcome and whether the Viking Press have rejected the book.

Thank you ever so much for your kind opinion about the second half of my book. I was very happy to know that you liked it.

As to the opinion of Mr. Abbott at Knopf’s, I can see his point of view and I can understand his hesitation, particularly in regard to the length of my novel. However, if I had a chance to do it, I would like to point out to him that he is greatly mistaken on the subject of the book being “dated”. In the first place, the book does not deal with a “temporary” phase of Russian life. It merely takes place in the years 1922-1925, instead of the immediate present, but it deals with the birth of conditions which are far from gone, which still prevail in Russia in their full force, which are the very essence of the revolution. In the second place—and this may sound paradoxical—

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“AIRTIGHT” is not a novel about Russia. It is a novel about the problem of the individual versus the mass, a problem which is the latest, the most vital, the most tremendous problem of the world today, and about which very little has been said in fiction. I have selected Russia as my background merely because that problem stands out in Russia more sharply, more tragically than anywhere on earth.

However, I quite agree with you that it would not be advisable to press that point with Knopf’s at present, and I mention this only in case you find yourself confronted again with the same objection.

Allow me to thank you once more for your interest and efforts in this matter.

With best personal wishes,

Sincerely yours,