This letter to me is wonderful. I have started reading Rand’s Letters each morning and they are eloquent in style and are artifacts of an era when it was not possible to deliver words instantaneously to your intended recipient. The letters are crafted with great care given to context and intent that is rare to see in this, our age, of sensationalizing and professional rumor-mongering.
I love this letter because it is a heartfelt fusion of pride and gratitude. And Ayn Rand permitted herself the sort of pride that arises from hard-earned achievements. Rand only brushes with humility in the parts where gives credit to DeMille for his wise instruction and where she asks him to excuse her presumption that he might be interested in her gratitude or success. The former comes across as gratitude, the latter self-awareness.
I copy it here so that you may read it and so that I may benefit from typing it out:
Dear Mr. DeMille,
This letter is primarily to express my gratitude to you—at the distance of so many years. I have always wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your kindness and interest in me at a time when—if you remember—I was a very inexperienced, very bewildered and frightened little immigrant from Russia. I have waited all these years to show you that I had justified your interest in me, that I had something which you were kind and farsighted enough to see so far in advance.
If I have achieved any kind of success, I owe it to your instructions which I have remembered and tried to follow all these years. I have always hoped that I would not drop out of sight entirely, that the day would come when I would be successful enough to show you that you had not wasted the attention you had given me at my start in Hollywood. I cannot say that I have accomplished a great deal yet, but at least I am a writer and I feel that I can now thank you from the bottom of my heart, without asking you for help or for a job, just thank you and tell you that you have always been the person for whose sake I have wanted most to succeed, if you will excuse my presumption in this.
I am taking the liberty of sending you a synopsis of my story Red Pawn, which I had sold to Universal some time ago and which Paramount has just bought from them as a probable vehicle for Marlene Deitrich. I am now working here on the screenplay. I would appreciate it very much if you would read this synopsis—not because I want to try and sell it to you, since it is already sold, but because I am very anxious to show you what I have accomplished, particularly since it is accomplished in accordance with your ideas as to story construction and situations. I am a little proud of this story and I feel that it is, in a way, the best manner I know of to thank you for your help to me many years ago.
If you will be kind enough to read it, I will be very grateful if you would grant me a little time to see you afterwards.