120 E. 34th
August 24, 1963
A3c Rudolph G. Crute
AF 12671446 6314th APRON
APO 970 FLT. 3
San Francisco, California
Dear Mr. Crute:
Thank you for your letter. I am pleased that you liked my books and that you found my philosophy helpful.
I sincerely appreciate the fact that you asked me to become your “Pen-Pal.” You are quite right when you say that you are not the only one who has asked this, but you are the first “GI” and this does make a difference. So I am willing to try it. You are the first whose invitation I have accepted.
I must warn you that letter writing is extremely difficult for me, because I spend most of my time writing for publication, and letter writing requires a different mental set. Besides, my time is very limited. So, if you are willing to excuse in advance the fact that I will be a very slow and irregular correspondent, I am willing to try. (My secretary, to whom I am dictating this, is grinning—she knows how many hundreds of letters I have left unanswered.) But I feel a deep sympathy for the fact that you will not find much intellectual conversation in the armed services, and if I can help you to bear intellectual loneliness, I will try.
You ask whether Atlas Shrugged represents the present or the future. The answer is: both. To be exact, the action of Atlas Shrugged takes place in the near future, about ten years from the time when one reads the book. The philosophical and political trends which are destroying the country in my novel, exist today and dominate our culture. Their practical results have not yet reached the stage portrayed in Atlas Shrugged, but we are moving in that direction. However, a trend can be stopped and changed. History is determined by men’s philosophical convictions. It is philosophy that brought the world to its present state, and it is only philosophy that can save it—a philosophy of reason, individualism and capitalism.
(By the way, Pal, don’t write such things as: “About this book I would like an honest answer.” I don’t give any other kind of answers.)
I don’t know quite what you meant when you wrote: “I should like to know if you are the person you put on paper or just another one who holds on to herself until she has a pen in her hand.” If what you meant is: do I really mean the things I write and do I practice what I preach?—the answer is: Brother, and how! No other type of person could have written my books.
With best regards—and waiting for your answer.