To Fred Dickenson [Letter 173]

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Date(s) of creation

November 20, 1945


Fred Dickenson


Fred Dickenson was in the art department at King Features Syndicate and directed the Illustrated Fountainhead project. 

November 20, 1945

Dear Mr. Dickenson:

Here are chapters 19–24. I have had to change the content of chapter 19 and the beginning of chapter 20, for the following reasons: in chapter 19 the first episode (Roark and Wynand talking) and the last episode (Roark meeting Dominique in the garden) were inessential to the progression of the story—and they took up space badly needed for the exposition of Roark’s motives in agreeing to design Cortlandt. This scene between Roark and Keating is a crucial key spot of the story. It is here that we must lay the ground for his later acquittal. If we don’t make Roark’s motives and reasons clear at this point—nobody will understand his dynamiting of Cortlandt, and it will appear as an act of senseless brutality.

So I devoted chapter 19 to the Roark-Keating scene. This will change the choice of illustrations. I suggest the following pictures for it: a scene of Keating begging Toohey for help; a scene between Roark and Keating; a scene where Toohey laughs at the drawings brought by Keating.

I covered the matter of the completion of Wynand’s house at the beginning of chapter 20, eliminating the episode of Wynand seeing the drawings of Cortlandt. This last was not essential—and we needed the space. This, I suppose, will change the first illustration of chapter 20—but we can have, instead, a good picture of Roark, Wynand and Dominique on the shore of the lake—or of Wynand and Dominique at the fireplace.

In chapter 24 I have stated briefly the issue behind the public fury against Roark. This had to be made clear and specific, otherwise the readers won’t understand the trial nor Roark’s speech.

In the rest of the chapters I have preserved your continuity and choice of incidents. Thank you for an excellent job of selection in what was probably the hardest part of the book to condense.

I am enclosing a copy of Roark’s speech. It contains exactly 407 words (I’ve counted them).[*] This is the best I can do—I was supposed originally to have 500 words for the purpose. If there’s space in that installment above the 407 words, you may add the lines about the trial, which you mentioned in your last letter, and let me see it. The speech itself can’t be cut any further and present any semblance of the book’s theme. I’m sure I can help you to work the expositionary material about the trial into the preceding and following chapters, if necessary.

Do you have copies of the first chapters printed with drawings? I am most eager to see them. With best regards,



*In the novel, Roark’s speech to the jury is 3,728 words.