Letter 076

To Lorine Pruette

Lorine Pruette (1896–1976) was a well-known writer, psychoanalyst and feminist. In 1943, she reviewed The Fountainhead for the New York Times, a review that Rand was especially grateful for. In her biographical interviews, Rand commented: “That really saved my universe in that period. I expected nothing like that from the Times. And it’s the only intelligent review I have really had in my whole career as far as novels are concerned.” In her review on May 16, Pruette wrote: “[Ayn Rand] has written a hymn in praise of the individual. . . . you will not be able to read this masterful book without thinking through some of the basic concepts of our times.”

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139 East 35th Street
New York City

May 18, 1943

Miss Lorine Pruette
The New York Times Book Review
229 West 43rd Street
New York City

Dear Miss Pruette:

You have said that I am a writer of great power. Yet I feel completely helpless to express my gratitude to you for your review of my novel. 

You are the only reviewer who had the courage and honesty to state the theme of “THE FOUNTAINHEAD”. Four other reviews of it have appeared so far, in the daily papers—and not one of them mentioned the theme nor gave a single hint about the issue of the Individual against the Collective. They all spoke of the book as a novel about architecture. Such an omission could not be accidental. You have said that one cannot read the book “without thinking through some of the basic concepts of our times.” You know, as I do, that the theme is actually overstated in my novel, that it’s in every line. If one reviewer had missed the theme, it could be ascribed to stupidity. Four of them can be explained only by dishonesty and cowardice. And it terrified me to think our country had reached such a state of depravity that one was no longer permitted to speak in defense of the Individual, that the mere mention of such an issue was to be evaded and hushed up as too dangerous. 

That is why I am grateful to you in a way much beyond literary matters and for much more than the beautiful things you said about me and the book, although they did make me very happy. I am grateful for your great integrity as a person, which saved me from the horror of believing that this country is lost, that people are much more rotten than I presented them in the book and that there is no intellectual decency left anywhere. 

If it is not considered unethical for an author to want to meet a reviewer, I would like very much to meet you. I have met so many Ellsworth Tooheys that it would be a relief to see a person of a different order. 

THANK YOU.


Ayn Rand