Correspondence between James Baldwin and Owen Dodson

Mr. Owen Dodson Dep't. of Drama Howard University,Washington, D.C.U.S.A.
Meilleurs voeuxpour lanovelle Année
[143 Waverly Place, N.Y.C.]<br />
Dear Owen:<br />
The NEW YORK TIMES, as usual, is far ahead of me. If there has been any sale of my play to anybody, if any director, anywhere, has been named no-one has yet bothered to bring these facts to the attention of the characterless author. If the TIMES story is not simply another of the insane B’way rumors which sometimes find their way into print – which is what it probably is – the best that I can say for it is that is premature. I am still very much alive, God knows why, and I very strongly doubt that THE AMEN CORNER is going to be played anywhere without my permission.<br />
The Theatre Guild has been talking about doing my play for over a year. Three months ago they suggested that if I came home, they would be willing to ‘discuss’ a possible Fall production. I replied that I was working on a novel and and couldn’t possibly undertake to cross the ocean for ‘discussions’ unless I had a stronger guarantee of their interest and unless they footed
the bill. That was the end of that. It doesn’t amount to a sale.<br />
In any case, I would certainly not have entered into any arrangements whatever without letting you know. And if, for any reason, I decided on another director I would have let you know first, and let you know why – and not have let you find out from the newspapers.<br />
For the rest, some facts, not necessarily in my defense: Arnold and I arrived in Paris nearly nine months ago with a hundred dollars between us. He waited three months before he got his first G.I. check – in the meantime, I, not very helpfully, fell ill. I was under a doctor’s care for about six weeks and still have doctor’s bills to pay. We got enormously into debt, naturally, which you, no doubt, merely consider as my typical ruthlessness and lack of character: nevertheless, we are still climbing out. The prize money went to my mother. I paid the NY. Phone bill. Well. There’s no point in going into a dreary story. The point is that my hands were full. Still are.<br />
As for my character, so do I know that art and real character don’t necessarily
mix. But perhaps something can be revealed by the effort of character which goes into the making of an artist. For I hope you don’t think that I’m over in Paris drinking champagne while I might be better ocuppied at home, working and paying my bills. I am the one who has to know what he must do, as I am the one who has to know what he must do, as I am the one who has to answer before his private and perpetual judgment bar – where no excuses are accepted. And I cannot stay at home now – put this down to frivolity or whatever you like; nothing will ever be paid that way. For me, right now, to stay at home would simply be the end of my life as an artist, which is to say the end of my life.<br />
But I think you think that, since other people make other adjustments, that I am simply being self-indulgent. OK. Still, no-one on earth can judge me more harshly than I judge myself. People are full of ideas of what Jimmy Baldwin should be and do. And if I followed them, I’d end up in the river, whereupon they’d say, Poor child. He didn’t make it. No character, you know.<br />
I am the one who knows my dangers. I’m the one who lives with them.<br />
I’ll send you money when I can.
I'll kepp you posted about the play.James Baldwin

Dublin Core


Correspondence between James Baldwin and Owen Dodson


Baldwin, James, 1924-1987; Dodson, Owen, 1914-1983; Sexual minorities


Letter from James Baldwin to Owen Dodson


Harold Jackman Memorial Committee


Countee Cullen-Harold Jackman memorial collection


1956 July 3


Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library


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