c/o Random House
457 Madison Avenue
New York, New York
November 23, 1957
Dear Mr. Werner:
Thank you for your letter. I liked your reaction to my novels, if I understood it correctly.
Since you want to meet me, I must tell you that I am both the easiest and the hardest person to meet, depending on your own attitude. My time is for sale, but the price I demand is not money, as you suggested. I assume that you made this odd suggestion in an attempt to apply what I define in ATLAS SHRUGGED as “the trader principle” and to offer me a value in exchange for a value. If this was your intention, you are on the right track, but in the wrong manner. So I will give you a helpful hint: in any trade, the currency must be appropriate to that which is being traded. If I were a professional teacher, your offer of money for my time would be appropriate. But since I am not, ask yourself what motive could make me wish to talk to you. There is such a motive and there is a currency you can offer me in exchange for a philosophical discussion: your sincere, serious and rational interest in ideas. If this is your motive, I will not be difficult to meet. If it isn’t, I will—or, should we meet, it won’t do you any good whatever.
I am enclosing a circular about a course of lectures to be given by Nathaniel Branden, which I think will be of great value to you. But regardless of whether you decide to take this course or not, I suggest that you telephone Mr. Branden and make an appointment to meet him. As you may have gathered from my biographical note in ATLAS SHRUGGED, he is my best philosophical representative. I will tell you frankly that this may be your first step toward a meeting with me.
P. S. I noticed the words “good luck” which you wrote on the envelope of your letter. I have a better expression for what I think these words were intended to signify, so I will wish it to you here: “good premises.”