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    Ayn Rand Autograph Letter Signed "Ayn." Eight pages, 5" x 6.75", on The Murray letterhead, New York, February 12, 1937. As a youth in Russian and later the Soviet Union, Ayn Rand (1905-1982), born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, was captivated by film and, as a student, entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screenwriting. It was around this time that she published her first work, a sketch of Polish actress Pola Negri. After defecting to the United States in 1925, she spent a few months with relatives in Chicago, eventually heading west to Hollywood. She took several jobs working in the studios and, in 1932, sold her first screenplay, "Red Pawn," to Universal Pictures with the help of friend, coworker, and next door neighbor, Marcella Rabwin.

    Here she writes to Marcella, shortly after the release of her first novel, the anticommunist "We the Living," in part: "I can't tell you how grateful I am," she writes, "for you 'review' of my book. I appreciate deeply not only your kind opinion of it, but also the fact that you let me know about it. I am very, very happy to know that you like it so much, and your letter gives me a great encouragement for the future." Rand scolds Marcella for claiming that her opinion holds "...'no importance for me.'" She continues: "You know that I have valued your opinion very highly always. Besides, I have not forgotten that you have, in a way, 'discovered' me, in helping me to sell my first story 'Red Pawn' makes me very happy to think that I have justified your interest in me at the very beginning of my 'career' when I had never sold a single story."

    While a youth in Russia, she witnessed both the Kerensky Revolution and Bolshevik Revolution, the latter of which she wholeheartedly condemned. She witnessed firsthand the rampant poverty and deprivation under Communist rule. Her feelings were made clear in "We the Living," as she attests to in her letter, saying: "If you liked the background of 'We the Living,' you must realize why I hate Soviet Russia and why I have always been rather violent on that subject. You can see what I have lived through. Of course, the story and plot of the book are purely fictional. (It is not my autobiography, as some reviewers thought) But the background and living conditions are all true, as I have seen them. In fact, when people ask me here whether things in Russia are really as bad as I described them, I always say, no, they are not as bad, they're much worse. I did have to tone down on the background - to make the book readable at all."

    She continues: "No, you didn't 'injure my first born' when you compared the book to 'January 16th.' ["Night of January 16th"was her first play, shown in Hollywood and later on Broadway] I know there can be no comparison between them. Personally, I think 'January 16th' is a piece of trash...I never thought much of the play when compared to the book. I really did work on the book, to the best of my ability. The play - I wrote in two months. It made money - that's all I can say for it. And I hope it will be forgotten. It's not the kind of writing I want to be known for." In fact, she had recently "...finished the dramatization of 'We the Living' for a producer who read the book and wanted to do it on stage. It will be done on Broadway early in the fall..."

    She mentions that she has been working "...on a new novel. No, not about Russia. There will be no single Russian or Communist in it. Strictly about America and New York. I feel very enthusiastic about this new undertaking, but it will be a long and difficult one." The work to which she refers is her penultimate novel, "The Fountainhead," which she began in 1935 and published in 1943. "The Fountainhead" proved to be her first major success as a writer. Her final and most successful work, "Atlas Shrugged," was published in 1957. For the remainder of her life, Rand wrote works of non-fiction promoting her philosophy of Objectivism, using reason to acquire knowledge and supporting limited government and laissez-faire capitalism. Folds are lightly soiled and toned; else fine.

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    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
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