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Lot #8129
Ayn Rand

Rand blames Mayer for the dropped adaptation of 'We the Living'—"He is afraid of producing an anti-Soviet play"

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Rand blames Mayer for the dropped adaptation of 'We the Living'—"He is afraid of producing an anti-Soviet play"

TLS signed “Ayn,” two pages, 7.25 x 10.5, October 14, 1937. Letter to Marcella Bannett Rabwin of Selznick International Pictures, in full: "I was delighted to hear from you and to know that you haven’t forgotten me. You say that you have been in the midst of furnishing a house, and I am precisely in the same position right now. I have spent this summer in Connecticut and have just moved back to New York. We have taken an unfurnished apartment and are now driven mad with problems of furniture, of which we have two beds and a table at the present moment. But the rest is coming, and, so far, we are very pleased with our new place. It seems much nicer than the furnished apartments one can get in New York.

It looks as if we’ll stay here for some time to come. There are no immediate prospects for our return to Hollywood, and I have two plays on my hands, which, if all goes well, may be produced this season. One is a new play I finished this summer. The other—my adaptation of ‘WE THE LIVING.’ You ask me about its production. Well, Jerome Mayer, who had it, has dropped his option on it recently, and for a very sad reason: he is afraid of producing an anti-Soviet play. When taking the option, he had assured me that he was not afraid of it, but he has a great many Red friends and they got the best of him. I am somewhat indignant about it, because it appears as if the Reds have established a nice little unofficial censorship of their own, and it is very hard to get ahead with anything anti-Communistic. But we shall see what we shall see. Right now, I have a very big producer interested in the play and expect to hear from him definitely within the week. If the politics do not stop him, he would be much better for the play than Jerome Mayer could have been.

This, then, is an account of my activities. But how about you? You mention in your letter that you are working in the daytime, but you do not say where and how etc. I notice by the letter head that you must be back with Selznick International. What are you doing now? How do you like it? I would like to know, for I am rather glad to hear that you are back at work. I have always felt that you were too good an executive to retire from the picture business. Frank joins me in sending our best regards to your husband and to Mrs. Eppes.” In fine condition. Accompanied by the original air mail envelope.

Rand's debut novel, We the Living, was published by Macmillan on April 7, 1936, nearly two years after its completion. Originally titled Airtight, the novel explores the struggles of the individual against harsh communist rule in Soviet Russia, and was later described by Rand as the most autobiographical of her novels. Not long after its release, Rand began to negotiate with producer Jerome Mayer on a theatrical adaptation of the novel. While Rand completed her initial draft in January 1937, Mayer struggled with both casting and raising production funds. These constant setbacks ultimately led to the production’s cancellation, and Rand’s assertion that Mayer was “afraid of producing an anti-Soviet play.” George Abbott eventually took over the production, and the play opened under the title ‘The Unconquered’ at the Biltmore Theatre on February 13, 1940. The play closed after just six performances due to universally negative reviews. An insightful letter from the revered scribe during the very height of America’s ‘Red Decade.'

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Letter Collection
  • Dates: #553 - Ended June 28, 2018

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