15 June, 1972
I shall start off by saying I don’t really know how to write this letter, and that it is a task which is as awful for me to perform for me as it may be for you to read.
You are far too brilliant and successful a writer, and I am far too much of an admirer of yours to patronize you with a listing of what is so obviously excellent about ‘Napoleon Symphony’. At the same time, I earnestly hope that our all too brief friendship will survive me telling you that the MS is not a work that can help me make a film about the life of Napoleon. Despite its considerable accomplishments, it does not, in my view, help solve either of the two major problems: that of considerably editing the events (and possibly restructuring the time sequence) so as to make a good story, without trivializing history or character, nor does it provide much realistic dialogue, unburdened with easily noticeable exposition or historical fact.
I’m very sorry that the subject of the letter could not be of more pleasure and benefit to both of us, and after saying all this, I can only thank you for trying this and hope that you will continue to accept my admiration and respect for you as an artist, and my great feeling of warmth and friendship for you personally.
When my work is rejected with grace, I always feel such sympathy for the person who must turn it down. It’s harder on that end, I think, than on mine.