Monday, August 05, 2013

James M. Cain speaks on authors' rights.

This WNYC radio program with James M. Cain from October 20, 1946, discusses his plan for an American Authors' Authority designed, according to Cain in the Saturday Review, "to give a writer better terms, from publishers, employer, government and everybody else." This proposal was labeled as communist by writers such as John Dos Passos, John Erskine, Clare Boothe Luce, and Ayn Rand, who formed the American Writers' Association with other writers to block it. The Authors League (now known as the Authors Guild) seems to have been caught in the middle of the debate.

Ultimately Cain's plan was unsuccessful. Read the Saturday Review editorial on the topic, followed by the debate between Cain and James T. Farrell (author of the Studs Lonigan series) in the magazine:
Saturday Review editorial: ". . . the Authors' Authority proposal is dangerous and unworkable."
Cain--1st part, 2nd part: ". . . a group of freedom's passionate defenders have got together to resist a scowling villain with schemes like Dr. Goebbels's, meaning me."
Farrell response: ". . . Cain proposed to use the Screen Writers' Guild and the Radio Writers' Guild as instruments of coercion."
An additional note: Cain states during the program that his first novel (which would be The Postman Always Rings Twice) sells 500,000 copies per year.

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