Letter 055, pg. 5
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devoted to you, who had the complete, enthusiastic, personal faith in you that I had. You know the kind of earnest person I am. And you were something serious to me, serious and important besides any questions of business. One doesn’t find that sort of feeling often in life—nor a person for whom one can feel it. I know you wouldn’t want to destroy that—just like that, without any reason. There must be a reason. What was it? To me—this is a funeral. The funeral of a person who meant a great deal to me. I am really writing this to the Ann Watkins I met five years ago. I think she would have wanted to understand. And, perhaps, you still care to understand. I even admit the possibility that you might feel exactly the same way about me—that it was I who let you down. But if so—why don’t you say it? Why don’t you explain it—for your own sake, if not for mine? Do you really think that one should end a relationship such as ours with a reference to an “instinct”—and nothing else?
Now, to come back to your letter, your saying that I “regard this office in the light of dirty kikes or reds” is just another little example of the whole situation. Wouldn’t it have been fairer to ask me about my side of the conversation with Miss Sorsby before you made conclusions and quotations? I did not refer to your office as “kikes” or “reds”. I merely told Miss Sorsby the story of our old friend Satenstein and told her what I thought of agents who tried to get unearned commissions. Which is what she was trying to do—on the old Satenstein technique of “your word against mine.” If she represents the attitude of your office—then you make the definition, not I. But I still don’t think that she does. It was not your attitude when I saw you last. That is why I don’t even consider your last letter as coming from you. I think you let her talk you into it—without taking the time to think it out. You state that you wrote me another letter, but changed your mind after you spoke to her. That, Ann, is the whole story. You have never acted like a Satenstein type of agent before. Why do you want to let someone else try to do it in your name? If you are not clear on the situation, why not investigate—yourself and in person?
You close your letter by saying that you regret there should be in the end repeated misunderstandings between us. That is exactly my own feeling. If you really mean it, if you do regret misunderstandings—please let us clear them up. I am more than willing. But any problem can be cleared up only in person, directly and on the basis of facts. If you wish to tell me your reasons for your changed attitude toward me—I’ll be more than willing to listen. But it must be a sincere conversation, Ann. Without resentment, without generalities and without “instincts.” What do any of us know about instincts? What do they mean? What do they prove? Only language can be a means of communication between people and a means of understanding. Words, thoughts, reasons. If we drop them—we will have nothing but misunderstandings left. If we want to face things honestly and reasonably, we can still end up as friends, and I think we both deserve that much—after the years we have behind us.
P.S. I am sending a copy of this letter to Margot—because she has been extremely nice to me and I want her to know the reasons for my leaving.
The Ayn Rand Archives contains no written response from Watkins. However, her agency continued to handle Night of January 16th and the foreign rights to The Fountainhead, though Miss Rand’s particular agents were people other than Watkins. Ayn Rand’s daily calendars contain several entries for phone calls and meetings with Watkins from 1943 to 1948.