emotions to extraordinary actions. And if it is to have the depth and reach of tragedy, it must pass before a setting that has in it something mysterious and titanic. It must rise above the usages of law, custom and religion into an elemental, spacious and timeless world, which we have all glimpsed but will never inhabit.
The people of such a world do not speak in the half-mumbled monosyllables of the average commuter hurrying with his toast in order to make a train. You cannot, of course, lift your dramatis personae off the ground in the first scene and make them playfellows of the gods, not if you draw your materials from the modern world as everybody knows it. But passion itself and the necessity for momentous decisions will lift them, if they have the courage to attempt a reshaping of their destinies without too much compromise with things as they are. Once they have broken the mould of formula that holds us so tightly, they can move free against a background of all that men and women have said and done since Helen burned Troy down.
[ New York City]
[ September, 1924]
Dear Mr. Woollcott--
Marry, sir, as for my friends they praise me and make an ass of me; now my foes tell me plainly I am an ass; so that by my foes, sir, I profit in the knowledge of myself, and by my friends I am abused: so that--if your four negatives make your two affirmitives--why then, the worse for my friends and the better for my foes.
Sincerely Maxwell Anderson