July 31, 1947
Thank you very much for your letter about ANTHEM—and please forgive me for my delay in answering it. As a novelist, you will understand me, because I am deep in work on my new novel and this is the first chance I’ve had to come up for air and letters.
I am looking forward most eagerly to reading LET ME DO THE TALKING. John Mock had a synopsis of it and paid you very high compliments about it. But I did not want to read the synopsis—as an ex-reader, I don’t believe in them—so I am waiting to buy and read the book itself when it comes out. If you had such a thought, please don’t send me a copy of it, I don’t believe that authors should give copies away. I believe in buying books, because I firmly believe in the profit motive for authors as well as everyone else.
The theme of your new novel, as you mentioned it in your letter, sounds very interesting indeed. I hope it is progressing to your satisfaction.
As for me, I am simply in love with my new novel. It is much better than I thought it would be, and writing it is difficult, but wonderful. I do not know yet when I will have it finished. I hope to get an extension of my free time from Hal Wallis in order to finish it, as I have no desire to go back to screen work now.
In your comment on ANTHEM you said it should have been a poem. Well, that is exactly what it is. When I see you, I would like to have a little political argument in regard to your statement that individualism can be good or bad according to “whether the reaction it starts is directed toward health or destruction of the mass in which it operates.”
Individualism, which means a way of life based on inalienable individual rights, cannot be anything except good. Any other way whatever is destruction. But a statement such as yours is a statement of collectivism, because it implies that the “health of the mass” is the standard by which the rights of the individual are to be gauged. Actually, individualism is the only principle which benefits both the individual and the rest of society—but it is not the “social good” that is the standard and justification, it is the right of the individual to live his own life for his own sake—which means, neither sacrificing others to himself nor sacrificing himself to others.
When you have the time, let me hear from you and let me know how your new novel is coming along.
With best regards from both of us to both of you,