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

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview

October fifteenth), remaining with the play if it is successful until the first of June, and re-opening in the fall if we both consider that business warrants. It is agreed that you are to receive star billing and that your compensation during the run of the play will be fifteen hundred dollars a week against ten per cent of the weekly gross.

Sincerely Maxwell Anderson


81. TO BROOKS ATKINSON 1

New City
August 21, 1939

Dear Brooks Atkinson:

It's flattering to be regarded as a poet, though I don't think of myself that way, knowing very well that I'm only a practical playwright who has had the audacity to use verse in an effort to improve his plays. If I were a better poet maybe I'd be dreamier and less hard-headed in politics. But why a poet or artist should regard the extension of government as a benefit I can't see at all. A poet or artist is able to function only in a free society; his vision and the effort toward his vision are only possible where men are free to act and think without despotic repression. Arbitrary power in any form is his enemy, whether it be the power of a bank, a corporation, a labor official, a conquerer, or a government. It is fashionable nowadays to believe that economic justice is obtainable by means of an extension of governmental power into economic fields; but a poet or artist who knows history or even watches current events is aware that government control of industry leads inevitably to political despotism, under which no artist can function worth a damn.

But even as I write this I realize that this is exactly what I said before and you weren't convinced. Probably our political difference runs deep. To you the evils of capitalism appear more real than the evils of collectivism. Perhaps in the end it comes down to what we think the race ought to go toward. It's my opinion that the evils of capitalism are the evils of the jungle, the evils of collectivism those of the ant-hill. And since we must choose between them I prefer the

-90-

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