Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The creepiness of Ayn Rand and her philosophy. To quote:

Rand’s style of vehement individualism has never been universally popular among conservatives — back in 1957, Whittaker Chambers denounced the “wickedness” of “Atlas Shrugged” in National Review — and Rand still has her critics on the right today. But it can often seem, as Jonathan Chait, a senior editor at The New Republic recently observed, that “Rand is everywhere in this right-wing mood.” And while it’s not hard to understand Rand’s revenge-fantasy appeal to those on the right, would-be Galts ought to hear the story Anne C. Heller has to tell in her dramatic and very timely biography, “Ayn Rand and the World She Made.”

For one thing, it is far more interesting than anything in Rand’s novels. That is because Heller is dealing with a human being, and one with more than her share of human failings and contradictions — “gallant, driven, brilliant, brash, cruel . . . and ultimately self-destructive,” as Heller puts it. The characters Rand created, on the other hand — like Galt or Howard Roark, the architect hero of “The Fountainhead” — are abstract principles set to moving and talking.

This is at once the failure and the making of Rand’s fiction. The plotting and characterization in her books may be vulgar and unbelievable, just as one would expect from the middling Holly­wood screenwriter she once was; but her message, while not necessarily more sophisticated, is magnified by the power of its absolute sincerity. It is the message that turned her, from the publication of “Atlas Shrugged” in 1957 until her death in 1982, into the leader of a kind of sect.


Enbrethiliel said...


I'd have to dig out my old copy of The Romantic Manifesto to get you the exact quote, but I remember well that Rand criticised her own favourite writer, Victor Hugo, for being unable to create three dimensional characters for his epics. I really had to laugh at the implication that Rand believed her own Howard Roark, John Galt, etc. were three dimensional and deeply human.

Gabriel Girl said...

I have to admit that I'm a fan of Ayn Rand, even as I try to pursue selflessness and femininity. Her overwhelming defense of the individual over the group is one that I care about a lot - especially since the groups seems to be leading us more and more astray nowadays. I will admit that she is strident, but overall I deeply admire her intelligence and passion. A person should always be able to think for themselves.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, and I have to admit that I like her screenplay for "Love Letters." I also love the film "The Fountainhead." She really detested Communism and conformity.