|Friday, 27 November 2009 09:34|
Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum
Born: February 2 1905 – March 6, 1982, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died: March 6, 1982 New York City, United States
Cause of death: Heart failure
Notable because: Since publication of 'The fountainhead' in 1943, her philosophical system of objectivism, promoting selfish ego above all in the name of high achievement enjoyed considerable popularity in America. A controversial figure who influenced many and smoked a great deal.
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand emigrated to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935-1936. She first achieved fame with her novel The Fountainhead, published in 1943, which in 1957 was followed by her best-known work, the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged.
Rand's political views, reflected in both her fiction and her theoretical work, emphasize individual rights (including property rights) and laissez-faire capitalism, enforced by a constitutionally-limited government. She was a fierce opponent of all forms of collectivism and statism, including fascism, communism, and the welfare state, and promoted ethical egoism while condemning altruism. She considered reason to be the only means of acquiring knowledge and the most important aspect of her philosophy, stating, "I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.
Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum (Russian: Алиса Зиновьевна Розенбаум) in 1905, into a middle-class family living in Saint Petersburg. She was the eldest of the three daughters (Alisa, Natasha, and Nora) of Zinovy Zacharovich Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum, largely non-observant Jews. Her father was educated as a chemist and became a successful pharmacist, eventually owning his own pharmacy and the building in which it was located.
Rand was twelve at the time of the Russian revolution of 1917. Opposed to the Tsar, Rand's sympathies were with Alexander Kerensky. Rand's family life was disrupted by the rise of the Bolshevik party. Her father's pharmacy was confiscated by the Soviets, and the family fled to the Crimea which was initially under the control of the White Army. She later recalled that while in high school she determined that she was an atheist and that she valued reason and intellect. She graduated from high school in the Crimea and briefly held a job teaching Red Army soldiers to read. She found she enjoyed that work very much, the illiterate soldiers being eager to learn and respectful of her. At sixteen, Rand returned with her family to Saint Petersburg.
She enrolled at the University of Petrograd, where she studied in the department of social pedagogy, majoring in history. At university she was introduced to the writings of Aristotle and Plato, who would form two of the greatest influences and counter-influences respectively on her thought. A third figure whose philosophical works she studied heavily was Friedrich Nietzsche. Her formal study of philosophy amounted to only a few courses, and outside of these three philosophers, her study of key figures was limited to excerpts and summaries. Of the writers she read at this time, Victor Hugo, Edmond Rostand, Friedrich Schiller, and Fyodor Dostoevsky became her perennial favorites. Along with a number of other non-Communist students, Rand was purged from the university shortly before completing. However, after complaints from a group of visiting foreign scientists, the Communists relented and allowed many of the expelled students to complete their work and graduate, which Rand did in October 1924. She subsequently studied for a year at the State Technicum for Screen Arts.
In the fall of 1925, she was granted a visa to visit American relatives. She left Russia on January 17, 1926, and arrived in the United States on February 19, entering by ship through New York City. After a brief stay with her relatives in Chicago, she resolved never to return to the Soviet Union, and set out for Hollywood to become a screenwriter. While still in Russia she had decided her professional surname for writing would be Rand, possibly as a Cyrillic contraction of her birth surname, and she adopted the first name Ayn, possibly from a Finnish name. Initially, she struggled in Hollywood and took odd jobs to pay her basic living expenses. A chance meeting with famed director Cecil B. DeMille led to a job as an extra in his film, The King of Kings, and to subsequent work as a junior screenwriter. While working on The King of Kings, she intentionally bumped into an aspiring young actor, Frank O'Connor, who caught her eye. The two married on April 15, 1929. Rand became an American citizen in 1931. Taking various jobs during the 1930s to support her writing, for a time Rand worked as the head of the costume department at RKO Studios. She made attempts to bring her parents and sisters to the United States, but they were unable to get permission to emigrate.
Rand's first literary success came with the sale of her screenplay Red Pawn in 1932 to Universal Studios. Josef Von Sternberg considered it for Marlene Dietrich, but anti-Soviet themes were unpopular at the time, and the project came to nothing. This was followed by the courtroom drama Night of January 16th, first produced in Hollywood in 1934, and then successfully reopened on Broadway in 1935. Each night the "jury" was selected from members of the audience, and one of the two different endings, depending on the jury's "verdict," would then be performed. In 1941, Paramount Pictures produced a movie version of the play. She did not participate in the production and was highly critical of the result.
Her first novel, the semi-autobiographical We the Living, was published in 1936 by Macmillan. Set in Communist Russia, it focused on the struggle between the individual and the state. In the foreword to the novel, Rand stated that We the Living "is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write. It is not an autobiography in the literal, but only in the intellectual sense. The plot is invented, the background is not..." Without Rand's knowledge or permission, We the Living was made into a pair of films, Noi vivi and Addio, Kira in Italy in 1942. Rediscovered in the 1960s, these films were re-edited into a new version which was approved by Rand and re-released as We the Living in 1986.
The novella Anthem was published in England in 1938 and in America seven years later. It presents a vision of a dystopian future world in which collectivism has triumphed to such an extent that even the word "I" has vanished from the language and from humanity's memory.
During the 1940s, Rand became involved in political activism. Both she and her husband worked full time in volunteer positions for the 1940 Presidential campaign of Republican Wendell Willkie. This work led to Rand's first public speaking experiences, including fielding the sometimes hostile questions from the audience "following pro-Willkie newsreels at a Union square movie theater" in New York City, an experience she greatly enjoyed. This activity also brought her into contact with other intellectuals sympathetic to free-market capitalism. She became friends with journalist Henry Hazlitt and his wife, and Hazlitt introduced her to the Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises. Both men expressed an admiration for Rand, and despite her philosophical differences with them, Rand strongly endorsed the writings of both men throughout her career.
Rand's first major success as a writer came with The Fountainhead in 1943, a romantic drama and philosophical novel that she wrote over a period of seven years. The novel centers on an uncompromising young architect named Howard Roark, and his struggle against what Rand described as "second-handers" — those who attempt to live through others, placing others above self. It was rejected by twelve publishers before finally being accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company on the insistence of editor Archibald Ogden, who threatened to quit if his employer did not publish it. The Fountainhead eventually became a worldwide success, bringing Rand fame and financial security. According to the Ayn Rand Institute, by April 2008 the novel had sold over 6.5 million copies.
In 1943, Rand returned to Hollywood to write the screenplay for a film version of The Fountainhead for Warner Brothers, and the following year she and her husband purchased a home designed by modernist Richard Neutra and an adjoining ranch. There, Rand entertained figures such as Hazlitt, Morrie Ryskind, Janet Gaynor, Gilbert Adrian and Leonard Read. Finishing her work on that screenplay, she was hired by producer Hal Wallis as a screenwriter and script-doctor, and her work for Wallis included the Oscar-nominated Love Letters and You Came Along, along with research for a screenplay based on the development of the atomic bomb. This role gave Rand time to work on other projects, including the publication of her first work of non-fiction, an essay titled "The Only Path to Tomorrow," in the January 1944 edition of Reader's Digest magazine. During this period Rand also outlined and took extensive notes for a non-fiction treatment of her philosophy.
During this period Rand developed a relationship with libertarian writer Isabel Paterson. The two women became friends and philosophical sparring-partners, and Rand is reported to have questioned the well-informed Paterson about American history and politics long into the night during their numerous meetings. Later, the two women had a falling out after what Rand saw as Paterson's bitter and insensitive comments during one of her Hollywood parties. Paterson's influence on Rand's later political theories has been a matter of ongoing debate, but Paterson biographer Stephen D. Cox credits Rand's public advocacy with keeping her old friend's political work The God of the Machine in print for many years, despite their previous break.
In 1947, during the Second Red Scare, Rand testified as a "friendly witness" before the United States House Un-American Activities Committee. Her testimony regarded the disparity between her personal experiences in the Soviet Union and the portrayal of it in the 1944 film Song of Russia. Rand argued that the film grossly misrepresented the socioeconomic conditions in the Soviet Union and portrayed life in the USSR as being much better and happier than it actually was. When asked about her feelings on the effectiveness of the investigations after the hearings, Rand described the process as "futile".
The movie version of The Fountainhead was released in 1949. Although it used Rand's screenplay with minimal alterations, she "disliked the movie from beginning to end," complaining about its editing, acting and other elements.
After the publication of The Fountainhead, Rand received numerous letters from readers, some of whom had been profoundly influenced by the novel. In 1951 Rand moved from Los Angeles to New York City, where she gathered a group of these admirers around her. This group (jokingly designated "The Collective") included future Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, a young psychology student named Nathan Blumenthal (later Nathaniel Branden) and his wife Barbara, and Barbara's cousin Leonard Peikoff. At first the group was an informal gathering of friends who met with Rand on weekends at her apartment to discuss philosophy. Later she began allowing them to read the drafts of her new novel, Atlas Shrugged, as the manuscript pages were written. In 1954 Rand's close relationship with the much younger Nathaniel Branden turned into a romantic affair, with the consent of their spouses.
Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, was Rand's magnum opus. The theme of the novel is "the role of the mind in man's existence—and, as a corollary, the demonstration of her moral philosophy: the morality of rational self-interest." It advocates the core tenets of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism and expresses her concept of human achievement. The plot involves a dystopian United States in which the most creative industrialists, scientists and artists go on strike and retreat to a mountainous hideaway where they build an independent free economy. The novel's hero and leader of the strike, John Galt, describes the strike as "stopping the motor of the world" by withdrawing the minds of the individuals most contributing to the nation's wealth and achievement. With this fictional strike, Rand intended to illustrate that without the efforts of the rational and productive, the economy would collapse and society would fall apart. The novel includes elements of mystery and science fiction, and contains Rand's most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction, a lengthy monologue delivered by Galt. Atlas Shrugged became an international bestseller. Rand's last work of fiction, it marked a turning point in her life, ending her career as novelist and beginning her tenure as a popular philosopher.
In 1958 Nathaniel Branden established Nathaniel Branden Lectures, later incorporated as the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), to promote Rand's philosophy. Collective members gave lectures for NBI and wrote articles for Objectivist periodicals that she edited. Rand later published some of these articles in book form. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through her non-fiction works and by giving talks, for example at Yale University, Princeton University, Columbia University, Harvard University and MIT. She received an honorary doctorate from Lewis & Clark College in 1963. For many years, she gave also an annual lecture at the Ford Hall Forum, responding afterwards in her famously spirited form to questions from the audience. In 1964 Nathaniel Branden began an affair with the young actress Patrecia Scott, whom he later married. Nathaniel and Barbara Branden hid the affair from Rand. Though her romantic relationship with Branden had already ended, Rand terminated her relationship with both Brandens in 1968 when she discovered Nathaniel Branden's affair with Patrecia Scott and his and Barbara Branden's role in concealing it, and as a result, NBI closed. She published an article in The Objectivist repudiating Nathaniel Branden for dishonesty and other "irrational behavior in his private life."
Rand underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1974. Several more of her closest "Collective" friends parted company with her, and during the late 1970s her activities within the Objectivist movement declined, especially after the death of her husband on November 9, 1979. One of her final projects was work on a television adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. She had also planned to write another novel, but did not get far in her notes. Rand died of heart failure on March 6, 1982 at her home in New York City, and was interred in the Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York. Rand's funeral was attended by some of her prominent followers, including Alan Greenspan.
A six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign was placed near her casket. In her will, Rand named Leonard Peikoff the heir to her estate. With her endorsement of his 1976 lecture series, she had recognized his work as being the best exposition of her philosophy
Rand saw her views as constituting an integrated philosophical system, which she called "Objectivism." The essence of Objectivism, according to Rand, is "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
Rejecting faith as antithetical to reason, Rand opposed any form of mysticism or supernaturalism, including organized religion, and she embraced philosophical realism. Rand also argued for rational egoism (rational self-interest), as the only proper guiding moral principle. The individual "must exist for his own sake," she wrote in 1962, "neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself."
Rand held that the only moral social system is laissez-faire capitalism. Her political views were strongly individualist and hence anti-statist and anti-Communist. Rand detested many liberal and conservative politicians of her time, including prominent anti-Communists. Jim Powell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, considers Rand one of the three most important women (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson) of modern American libertarianism, although she rejected libertarianism and the libertarian movement. Rand rejected anarcho-capitalism as "a contradiction in terms", a point on which she has been criticized by self-avowed anarchist Objectivists such as Roy Childs. Philosopher Chandran Kukathas said her "unremitting hostility towards the state and taxation sits inconsistently with a rejection of anarchism, and her attempts to resolve the difficulty are ill-thought out and unsystematic."
She acknowledged Aristotle as a great influence, and found early inspiration in Friedrich Nietzsche, although she later rejected his approach, holding it to be anti-reason. Philosophers Ronald E. Merrill and David Steele point out a difference between her early and later views on the subject of sacrificing others. For example, the first edition of We the Living contained language which has been interpreted as advocating a sort of ruthless elitism: "What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?"
She remarked that in the history of philosophy she could only recommend "three A's" —Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand. Among the philosophers Rand held in particular disdain was Immanuel Kant, whom she referred to as a "monster" and "the most evil man in history". Rand was strongly opposed to the view she ascribed to Kant that reason is unable to know reality "as it is in itself." She considered her philosophy to be the "exact opposite" of Kant's on "every fundamental issue". Objectivist philosophers George Walsh and Fred Seddon have both argued that Rand misinterpreted Kant. In particular, Walsh argues that both philosophers adhere to many of the same basic positions, and that Rand exaggerated her differences with Kant. Walsh says that for many critics, Rand's writing on Kant is "ignorant and unworthy of discussion".
Rand scholars Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen describe her style as "literary, hyperbolic and emotional," while stressing the importance and originality of her thought. Similarly, philosopher Jack Wheeler says that despite "the incessant bombast and continuous venting of Randian rage," he considers Rand's ethics to be "a most immense achievement, the study of which is vastly more fruitful than any other in contemporary thought." In 1976, she said that her most important contributions to philosophy were her "theory of concepts, [her] ethics, and [her] discovery in politics that evil—the violation of rights—consists of the initiation of force."
Rand's novels, when they were first published, were derided by some critics as long and melodramatic, and became bestsellers largely due to word of mouth. The first reviews Rand received were for her play Night of January 16. Reviews of the Broadway production were mixed, and Rand considered even the positive reviews to be embarrassing because of significant changes made to her script by the producer. Rand herself described her first novel, We the Living, as not being widely reviewed, but Michael S. Berliner says "it was the most reviewed of any of her works," with approximately 125 different reviews being published in more than 200 publications. Many of these reviews were more positive than the reviews she received for her later work. Her 1938 novella Anthem received little attention from reviewers, both for its first publication in England and for several subsequent re-issues.
Rand's first bestseller, The Fountainhead, received far fewer reviews than We the Living, and reviewers' opinions were mixed. There was a positive review in The New York Times that Rand greatly appreciated. The Times reviewer called Rand "a writer of great power" who writes "brilliantly, beautifully and bitterly," and it stated that she had "written a hymn in praise of the individual... you will not be able to read this masterful book without thinking through some of the basic concepts of our time." There were other positive reviews, but Rand dismissed many of them as either not understanding her message or as being from unimportant publications. A number of negative reviews focused on the length of the novel, such as one that called it "a whale of a book" and another that said "anyone who is taken in by it deserves a stern lecture on paper-rationing." Other negative reviews called the characters unsympathetic and Rand's style "offensively pedestrian."
Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged was widely reviewed, and many of the reviews were strongly negative. In the National Review, conservative author Whittaker Chambers called the book "sophomoric" and "remarkably silly", and declared that it "can be called a novel only by devaluing the term". He described the tone of the book as "shrillness without reprieve" and accused Rand of supporting the same godless system as the Soviets, claiming "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber—go!'" A few publications gave the novel positive reviews, but as Rand scholar Mimi Reisel Gladstein later described them, many reviewers "seemed to vie with each other in a contest to devise the cleverest put-downs," calling the book "execrable claptrap" and "a nightmare;" they said it was "written out of hate" and showed "remorseless hectoring and prolixity."
During Rand's lifetime her work received little attention from academic scholars. When With Charity Toward None: An Analysis of Ayn Rand's Philosophy, the first academic book about Rand's philosophy, appeared in 1971, its author William F. O'Neill declared writing about Rand "a treacherous undertaking" that could lead to "guilt by association" for taking her seriously. A few articles about Rand's ideas appeared in academic journals prior to her death in 1982, many of them in The Personalist. Academic consideration of Rand as a literary figure during her life was even more limited. Gladstein was unable to find any scholarly articles about Rand's novels when she began researching her in 1973, and only three such articles appeared during the rest of the 1970s.
Rand's books continue to be widely sold and read, with 25 million copies sold as of 2007, and 800,000 more being sold each year according to the Ayn Rand Institute. She has also had an influence on a number of notable people in different fields. Examples include philosophers such as John Hospers, George H. Smith, Allan Gotthelf, Robert Mayhew and Tara Smith, economists such as Alan Greenspan, George Reisman and Murray Rothbard, psychologists such as Edwin A. Locke, historians such as Robert Hessen, and political writers such as Charles Murray. United States Congressmen Ron Paul and Bob Barr, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Clarence Thomas have acknowledged her influence on their lives, and former United States President Ronald Reagan described himself as an "admirer" of Rand in private correspondence in the 1960s.
When a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club asked what the most influential book in the respondent's life was, Rand's Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible. Readers polled in 1998 and 1999 by Modern Library placed four of her books on the 100 Best Novels list, with Atlas Shrugged taking the top position, while another, The Virtue of Selfishness, topped the 100 Best Nonfiction list. Books by other authors about Rand and her philosophy also appeared on the non-fiction list. The validity of such lists has been disputed. Freestar Media/Zogby polls conducted in 2007 found that around 8 percent of American adults have read Atlas Shrugged. Although Rand's influence has been greatest in the United States, there has been international interest in her work. Her books were international best sellers, and continue to sell in large numbers in the 21st century. Sales of Atlas Shrugged grew significantly during the economic crisis caused by the 2007 credit crunch, in which some saw parallels to events in the novel.
Rand has been cited by numerous writers, artists and commentators as an influence on their lives and thought. Radio personality Rush Limbaugh makes frequent positive reference to Rand's work on his program. Magician and comedian Penn Jillette has acknowledged her influence. American fashion designer Ralph Lauren has named her as one of his favorite authors. Steve Ditko, co-creator of the Spider-man character, created several comic-book characters based on his Objectivist beliefs, including Mr. A and the DC Comics character the Question. The later graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore embodies a critique of Randian ideas in the character of Rorschach, which Moore credits to Ditko's influence. The Canadian rock band Rush has explored many Rand themes in their lyrics, including the song "2112," which is loosely based on Rand's Anthem. Rand or characters based on her figure prominently in novels by such authors as William F. Buckley, Mary Gaitskill, Matt Ruff, J. Neil Schulman, and Kay Nolte Smith. Author Terry Goodkind was influenced by Rand, and characters in his books express Objectivist ideas. The video game BioShock includes elements inspired by its creator's reaction to Atlas Shrugged. Rand's image appears on a U.S. postage stamp designed by artist Nick Gaetano.
Two movies have been made about Rand's life. A 1997 documentary film, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The Passion of Ayn Rand, an independent film about her life, was made in 1999, starring Helen Mirren as Rand and Peter Fonda as her husband. The film was based on the book of the same name by Barbara Branden, and won several awards. A film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged has been discussed for many years, and several attempts have been made to bring it into production, but none has ever moved beyond the planning stages.
Rand's work and persona have their detractors. Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason magazine, has remarked that "Rand’s is a tortured immortality, one in which she’s as likely to be a punch line as a protagonist," with "jibes at Rand as cold and inhuman, running through the popular culture." Edward Rothstein, cultural critic-at-large for the New York Times sees her fiction as "far from revolutionary ... somewhat quaint ...a Romantic utopia, in which the tensions of democratic life are not resolved but avoided" and suggests her work arises out of a "failure to reconcile democratic culture and high achievement". Johann Hari, a British journalist, wonders how Rand became an American icon, describing her as a damaged woman, a crazed, pitiable charlatan with an amphetamine addiction feeding her natural paranoia and aggression, and surrounded by a "tightly policed cult of young people" complete with show-trials; he concludes that the popularity of her ideas rests on "drilling into the basest human instincts".
A number of popular animated sitcoms have mentioned Rand or her works, including a Futurama episode where in the future Rand's works are found in the sewer, a South Park episode where Atlas Shrugged is described as a "piece of garbage," and multiple references in episodes of The Simpsons. Outside the world of animation, Rand has been referred to in a variety of shows, including game shows (Jeopardy!), dramas (The Gilmore Girls, Mad Men), and comedies (The Colbert Report). The Philosophical Lexicon, a satirical work maintained by philosophers Daniel Dennett and Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen, defines a 'rand' as: "An angry tirade occasioned by mistaking philosophical disagreement for a personal attack and/or evidence of unspeakable moral corruption." The Videogame Bioshock is set in a fictional dystopian representing a vision of how a society founded on Objectivism would all go wrong.
Since Rand's death in 1982, there has been gradually increasing interest in her work. However few universities currently include Rand or Objectivism as a philosophical specialty or research area. Some American universities have established chairs or centers for the study of Rand's views, and fellowships have been established to support individual scholars. Specifically, the Anthem Foundation has supported research on Rand at the philosophy departments of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Texas at Austin.
Some academic philosophers have criticized Rand for what they assert is a lack of rigor and limited understanding of philosophical subject matter. Many in the Continental tradition think her celebration of self-interest relies on sophistic logic, and as a result have not thought her work worth any serious consideration. According to columnist Sara Dabney Tisdale, philosophers have dismissed Atlas Shrugged as "sophomoric, preachy, and unoriginal" and have marginalized her philosophy. Chris Sciabarra has called into question the motives of some of Rand's critics on account of what he calls unusual hostility of their criticisms. Sciabarra says, "The left was infuriated by her anti-communist, procapitalist politics, whereas the right was disgusted with her atheism and civil libertarianism."
Writers on Rand such as Sciabarra, Allan Gotthelf, and Tara Smith have made attempts to teach her work in academic institutions. Sciabarra co-edits the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, a self-described "nonpartisan" peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Rand's philosophical and literary work. In 1987 Gotthelf helped found the Ayn Rand Society, which is affiliated with the American Philosophical Association and has been active in sponsoring seminars and distributing videotaped lecture courses on Ayn Rand. Smith has published several academic books and papers on Rand's ideas, including Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist, a volume on Rand's ethical theory published by Cambridge University Press. Rand's ideas have also been made subjects of study at Clemson and Duke universities. Scholars of English and American literature have largely ignored her work, although attention to her literary work has increased since the 1990s. In the Literary Encyclopedia entry for Rand written in 2001, John Lewis declared that "Rand wrote the most intellectually challenging fiction of her generation". In a 1999 interview in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Rand scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra commented, "I know they laugh at Rand," while forecasting a growth of interest in her work in the academic community.
In 1985 Leonard Peikoff established the Ayn Rand Institute, which "works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand's novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience." In 1990 David Kelley founded the Institute for Objectivist Studies, now known as The Atlas Society. Its focus is on attracting readers of Rand's fiction; the associated Objectivist Center deals with more academic ventures. In 2000 historian John McCaskey organized the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, which provides grants for scholarly work on Objectivism in academia.
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The revolutionary literary vision that sowed the seeds of Objectivism, Ayn Rand's groundbreaking philosophy, and brought her immediate worldwide acclaim.
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Editorial Review: ANTHEM is a dystopian fiction novella by Ayn Rand, written in 1937 and first published in 1938 in England. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age. Technological advancement is now carefully planned and the concept of individuality has been eliminated.
Equality 7-2521, writing by candlelight in a tunnel under the earth, tells the story of his life up to that point. He exclusively uses plural pronoun(s) ("we", "our", "they") to refer to himself and others. He was raised like all children in his society, away from his parents in collective homes. Later, he realized that he was born with a "curse", that makes him learn quickly and ask many questions. He excelled at the Science of Things and dreamed of becoming a Scholar. However, a Council of Vocations assigns all people to their Life Mandate, and he was assigned to be a Street Sweeper.
He accepts his street sweeping assignment as penance for his "Transgression of Preference" in secretly desiring to be a Scholar. He finds an entrance to a tunnel in their assigned work area. Despite his friend's protests that any exploration unauthorized by a Council is forbidden, Equality enters the tunnel and finds that it contains metal tracks. He realizes that the tunnel is from the Unmentionable Times of the distant past . . . (more at wisehouse-classics.com)
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Editorial Review: intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex.
Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life-from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy...to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction...to the philosopher who becomes a pirate...to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad...to the lowest track worker in her train tunnels.
Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller.
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Editorial Review: Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella by Ayn Rand, written in 1937 and first published in 1938 in England. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age characterized by irrationality, collectivism, and socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated.
Editorial Review: In mid-1962, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was given a partial transcript of an interview with Miles Davis. It covered jazz, of course, but it also included Davis’s ruminations on race, politics and culture. Fascinated, Hef sent the writer—future Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Alex Haley, an unknown at the time—back to glean even more opinion and insight from Davis. The resulting exchange, published in the September 1962 issue, became the first official Playboy Interview and kicked off a remarkable run of public inquisition that continues today—and that has featured just about every cultural titan of the last half century.
To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, the editors of Playboy have culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here is the interview with the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand from the March 1964 issue.
|Last Updated on Friday, 27 November 2009 16:09|