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

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview
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be lifted out intact and set to music. Kurt Weill, who would make the musical setting, is as enthusiastic about the book and about this dramatic method for it as I am. We have worked together before, and you no doubt know of him.

It would be our task--as we see it--to translate into stage form, without dulling its edge or losing its poetry, this extraordinarily moving tale of lost men clinging to odds and ends of faith in the darkness of our modern earth. For the breaking of the tribe is only a symbol of the breaking of all tribes and all the old ways and beliefs.

Perhaps I should explain also that Kurt Weill and I are both members of the Playwrights' Company, that we are our own producers and would be in complete charge of the production, and that we are planning, if we receive your permission, to stage the play in New York next fall. But the permission must come first, naturally, before we go to work.

In any case, and no matter what you decide, I want to thank you for writing the book. I don't read novels any more. This is the first I've read in a good many years. But it's more than a novel, and I think it can be as touching and tragic in the theatre as on the printed page.

Sincerely Maxwell Anderson

1.
Paton (b. 1903), South African writer, teacher, and political leader whose career has been devoted to racial equality in South Africa, first attracted attention outside his own country with the publication of Cry, the Beloved Country by Charles Scribner in February, 1948. He wrote the novel during the latter half of 1947, while inspecting Scandinavian and American prisons, and Anderson heard about the novel in December, 1947, from Dorothy Hammerstein, who along with Anderson was sailing from England to America. On March 1, 1948, Mrs. Hammerstein brought Anderson a copy of the novel, and during the next few days he and Kurt Weill decided to dramatize it, the dramatization becoming Lost In the Stars. (For a detailed account of how Anderson became acquainted with Cry, the Beloved Country, see Laurence G. Avery, "Maxwell Anderson and Both Your Houses," North Dakota Quarterly 38 [Winter, 1970]: n. 8, pp. 18-19).
2.
Anne of the Thousand Days.

-222-

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