Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912-1958

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview
hand that modern free or "sprung" verse would avoid this difficulty, but in practice this form is the most artificial of all on the stage. Since it is impossible to decide where a line begins or ends without reference to the manuscript, free verse gives an impression from the stage of involved and high-flown prose. When the actor tries to avoid this effect by emphasis or pause he defeats all reality by obvious and artificial mannerism. Pentameter, when not stiltedly written, may be spoken with the effect of complete reality and still retain its poetic character. I leave it to the students of metrics to discover why this is, but of the fact I have no doubt. I have searched high and low for another verse form not so worn by use but I have discovered nothing suitable to the stage unless for special use in stylized comedy or burlesque. I wish you luck with your thesis which may perhaps answer some

questions for me. Give my regards to Professor Bassett who was a member of the department when I was at Stanford. 2

Sincerely

1.
Miss Reynolds, candidate for the M.A. in English at Stanford, was writing a thesis on Anderson and had sent him a questionnaire.
2.
Lee Emerson Bassett, professor of English at Stanford from 1905 until retirement in 1938, directed Miss Reynolds's thesis, but she did not complete it or take her degree.

56. TO JOHN MASON BROWN 1

[ October, 1937]

Dear Mr. Brown--

I am in receipt, via the Guild offices, of an invitation to take lunch with you and smoke a pipe of peace over a possible play subject, and I must say definitely that I will not smoke a peace pipe with you or any other critic because I have never quarrelled [with] a critic and never will. By the time I get a play written and on I dislike my work so much (though I usually have a tremendous admiration for the actress!) that I agree with the most implacable censor before he can get the words out of his typewriter. The morning after nearly every opening finds me trussed in a sack in the corner of some hotel room, a dozen knives

-60-

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