The Bobbs-Merrill Co.,
468 4th Avenue,
New York City.
February 15, 1954.
Mr. Gilles Rioux,
Chibougamau, Quebec, Canada.
Dear Mr. Rioux:
Please excuse this letter, if it is written to the wrong person. I have heard about you, in a rather unusual manner from an anonymous admirer of yours, who would not give me his name. He told me that you are a man who is practicing my philosophy of life, that you are a student of architecture with an uncompromising integrity and devotion to your convictions, that you refuse to work for architects whose standards you despise and that you are working, instead, as a miner, to save money to get your architectural degree. This description is startlingly close to the hero of my novel, “The Fountainhead.” But your admirer told me that you refuse to read “The Fountainhead,” because too many people have advised you to read it.
I have no way of knowing whether the above description of you is true, but I am writing this letter on the assumption that it is. If you are an individualist, yet have decided that “The Fountainhead” could not possibly be your type of book, because too many people like it—it means that you have concluded that your values can neither exist nor succeed in the world, that the good has no chance, that only the worthless can be popular or can make itself heard, that only evil can win. A conclusion of this kind amounts to surrendering the world to your enemies and will be dangerous to your own ideals: it will tend to disarm you in your battle. Nobody can fight for that which he believes to be impossible.
I could not help you with your career and I don’t think you are looking for help, but I would like to get acquainted with your ideas and I think that I could be of philosophical value to you. The reason of my interest is that your admirer was very convincing in presenting you as
a Howard Roark and I don’t want to see any potential Roark lose his battle, if I can help it.
If your admirer was wrong and has misled me, please excuse this letter and ignore it. If he was right, read “The Fountainhead,” then let me hear from you. You will see why I wanted you to read it.
Rioux responded that he read the book after receiving AR’s letter, and he invited AR to contact him in New York.
There is a lengthy gap in AR’s letter writing until the completion of Atlas Shrugged in 1957: The Ayn Rand Archives contains no letters written by AR in 1955 and only two (on minor business matters) in 1956.