July 31, 1947
I had a strange little experience the other day. I have been receiving the New York Times BOOK REVIEW for months and letting the copies accumulate without having time to read them. Recently I started to clean them out, and I was just about to throw out the copy of May 4 without looking at it, when I saw SUNDAY REFLECTIONS ON BRITISH BOOKS AND BRITISH WEATHER By Archibald G. Ogden. I started to read it, and I got a real emotional jolt when I saw suddenly a mention of “Ayn Rand’s THE FOUNTAINHEAD.” Thank you, darling. Not only for the publicity, but for the fact that you are still thinking of it, and when you mention an American book, that is the one you mention. I sat over your article for a long time and felt desperately homesick for you. I miss you terribly, even though I don’t write letters. Incidentally, your article and your style of writing are excellent, but I would expect that.
I am hoping selfishly that Twentieth Century-Fox will not renew your option and that you will come back to America. Doesn’t your option come up some time this fall? I have been waiting hopefully to hear that you are on your way back. If they do pick up the option, then I wish you would talk yourself out of it anyway. Haven’t you had enough, both of Europe and of the movies by now?
Thank you for your letter about ANTHEM. I am happy that you liked it. I have not answered you sooner, because I had to start a political fight with you about some of the things you said, but I really meant it when I told you once that you could do no wrong as far as I am concerned, so I am simply unable to fight with you. Let me answer just very briefly—that much I can’t resist. You say “The ultimate political extension of individual freedom is anarchy… Unfortunately anarchy presupposes a world of individualists who believe in the right of others to
individual freedom as strongly as in their own right.” But the proper purpose of government in a free, capitalistic society is precisely to protect individual rights—so that we don’t have to wait for the whole of humanity to become perfect before we can have a free, decent and moral society. I am enclosing one installment of a series of articles which I have been writing here. It is the exact answer to your statement.
You say that editors did not reject ANTHEM in 1937 for political reasons. At that time, Ann Watkins submitted it to three publishers. I do not know (but suspect) the reasons why two of them rejected it; but I know the reason given by Macmillan who were my publishers then. They said that I did not understand socialism. I think you are probably in a position to see right now how well I understood it.
Yes, it was Cassells who published ANTHEM in England. I have not kept track of the number of copies they sold. I don’t think the sale was very large, but it kept selling slowly for over ten years until they went out of stock during the war. They told me they intended to reissue it when they get the paper, so I suppose they still have a market for it. Perhaps they have reissued it already. Let me know if they have—my agents don’t keep track of that very well.
Under separate cover, I am sending you a new translation of our child—the Swiss-German edition. I have not yet received any of the other translations, but I have thirteen contracts for it, so our family is growing.
You say in your letter “I shall always be grateful to you for writing that one.” You will understand if I say I was happy to hear that, but I had to laugh about it. No matter how good a writer I may be, I’ll never be able to tell you the nature of my gratitude to you. Between us, that word has to remain a one-way term. They say that people forget gratitude very easily, but as I grow older I find that every bromide about human beings is exactly reversed in my case. My gratitude to you is not fading, it is growing stronger. You have become a kind of private legend in my mind and nothing can change it. Time only makes it more so.
Now this brings me to a special request. I want a photograph of you (autographed). If you have one,
would you send it to me? Do you know why such sudden sentimentality? Because I am deep in work on my new novel and I want to have your picture on the wall looking at me as I write.
Every time I write a passage that I am pleased with, I feel a bitter little emotion in thinking that you will not be the editor of this novel. There are so many things in it that you would like, and very many that you would be the only one to understand and appreciate completely, and many questions on which you would be the only one who could give me advice. Of course, I will send you the book anyway, and I hope you remember that you said you would be my private editor for it, but I wish you could be the official one as well.
The book is coming along wonderfully. I have 247 typed pages ready. I can’t tell yet how long it will be or how long it will take me to finish it, but it is moving well, and I love it, and it is much better than I expected it to be.
I may have to be interrupted to go back to the studio this fall for the next installment of my contract, but I don’t want to go back and I shall try to negotiate an extension from Hal Wallis to finish the novel first.
Incidentally, Sam Rapport has kept in touch with me and seems to be very sincerely interested in getting this novel. Of course, I cannot decide that now and I am not free to do anything until I know what happens at Bobbs-Merrill, but I am pleased by Appleton’s active interest. Sam Rapport mentioned that if you come back to New York, they’ll try to get you to go with Appleton. Is this true? If you were to be their editor, I don’t think anything could stop me (unless it’s actual police force) from following you there.
Would you write to me, when you can? I really need your presence, at least symbolically, while I am writing what is going to be another THE FOUNTAINHEAD or better.
Best regards from both of us to you and the family, and all my love, darling,