Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand

Overview
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand's first major literary success and brought her fame and financial success. More than 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide....

and Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States. Rand's fourth and last novel, it was also her longest, and the one she considered to be her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing...

and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism
Objectivism (Ayn Rand)
Objectivism is a philosophy created by the Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand . Objectivism holds that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception...

.

Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two initially unsuccessful early novels, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand's first major literary success and brought her fame and financial success. More than 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide....

.
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Quotations

You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.

One is that a man doesn't want people to know he's rich. Another is that he doesn't want them to learn how he got that way.

The choice--the dedication to one's highest potential--is made by accepting the fact that the noblest act you have ever performed is the act of your mind in the process of grasping that two and two make four.

I am, therefore I'll think

Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification

I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.

Honest people are never touchy about the matter of being trusted.

It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.

Encyclopedia
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand's first major literary success and brought her fame and financial success. More than 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide....

and Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States. Rand's fourth and last novel, it was also her longest, and the one she considered to be her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing...

and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism
Objectivism (Ayn Rand)
Objectivism is a philosophy created by the Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand . Objectivism holds that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception...

.

Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two initially unsuccessful early novels, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand's first major literary success and brought her fame and financial success. More than 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide....

. In 1957, she published her best-known work, the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States. Rand's fourth and last novel, it was also her longest, and the one she considered to be her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing...

. Afterward she turned to nonfiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.

Rand advocated reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 as the only means of acquiring knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

 and rejected all forms of faith and religion. She supported rational egoism
Rational egoism
In ethical philosophy, rational egoism is the principle that an action is rational if and only if it maximizes one's self-interest. The view is a normative form of egoism. However, it is different from other forms of egoism, such as ethical egoism and psychological egoism...

 and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force
Initiation of force
The initiation of force is the start, or beginning, of the use of physical and/or legal coercion, violence, or restraint. This is to be distinguished from retaliatory force and violence...

 as immoral and opposed all forms of collectivism
Collectivism
Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic, mystical or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists usually focus on community, society, or nation...

 and statism
Statism
Statism is a term usually describing a political philosophy, whether of the right or the left, that emphasises the role of the state in politics or supports the use of the state to achieve economic, military or social goals...

, instead supporting laissez-faire
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights
Individual rights
Group rights are rights held by a group rather than by its members separately, or rights held only by individuals within the specified group; in contrast, individual rights are rights held by individual people regardless of their group membership or lack thereof...

. She promoted romantic realism
Romantic realism
Romantic realism is an aesthetic term that usually refers to art which combines elements of both romanticism and realism. The terms "romanticism" and "realism" have been used in varied ways, and are sometimes seen as opposed to one another....

 in art. She was sharply critical of most other philosophers and philosophical traditions.

The reception for Rand's fiction from literary critics was largely negative, and most academics have ignored or rejected her philosophy. Nonetheless she continues to have a popular following, and her political ideas have been influential among libertarians and conservatives. The Objectivist movement
Objectivist movement
The Objectivist movement is a movement to study and advance the philosophy of Objectivism. It was founded by novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. The movement began informally in the 1950s and consisted of students who were brought together by their mutual interest in Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead...

 attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings.

Early life


Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum on February 2, 1905, to a bourgeois family living in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

. She was the eldest of the three daughters of Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum, largely non-observant Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

. Rand's father was 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
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, during which her sympathies were with Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

. Rand's family life was disrupted by the rise of the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 party under Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

. Her father's pharmacy was confiscated by the Bolsheviks, and the family fled to the Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

, which was initially under the control of the White Army during the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

. She later recalled that while in high school she determined that she was an atheist and that she valued reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 above any other human attribute. After graduating from high school in the Crimea, at 16 Rand returned with her family to Petrograd (the new name for Saint Petersburg), where they faced desperate conditions, on occasion nearly starving.


After the Russian Revolution, universities were opened to women, including Jews, allowing Rand to be in the first group of women to enroll at Petrograd State University
Saint Petersburg State University
Saint Petersburg State University is a Russian federal state-owned higher education institution based in Saint Petersburg and one of the oldest and largest universities in Russia....

, where she studied in the department of social pedagogy
Social pedagogy
Social Pedagogy is an academic discipline concerned with theory and practice of holistic education and care. The term 'pedagogy' originates from the Greek pais and agein , with the prefix 'social' emphasising that upbringing is not only the responsibility of parents but a shared responsibility of...

, majoring in history. At the university she was introduced to the writings of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, who would form two of her greatest influences and counter-influences, respectively. A third figure whose philosophical works she studied heavily was Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

. Able to read French, German and Russian, Rand also discovered the writers Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. He is best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov....

, Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

, Edmond Rostand
Edmond Rostand
Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism, and is best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac. Rostand's romantic plays provided an alternative to the naturalistic theatre popular during the late nineteenth century...

, and Friedrich Schiller
Friedrich Schiller
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life , Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...

, who became her perennial favorites.

Along with many other "bourgeois" students, Rand was purged from the university shortly before graduating. However, after complaints from a group of visiting foreign scientists, many of the purged students were allowed to complete their work and graduate, which Rand did in October 1924. She subsequently studied for a year at the State Technicum
Technicum
Technicum was a Soviet institute of vocational education. A mass-education facility of "special middle education" category 1 step higher than PTU, but aimed to train low-level industrial managers or specializing in occupations that require skills more advanced than purely manual...

 for Screen Arts in Leningrad. For one of her assignments, she wrote an essay about the actress Pola Negri
Pola Negri
Pola Negri was a Polish stage and film actress who achieved worldwide fame for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles from the 1910s through the 1940s during the Golden Era of Hollywood film. She was the first European film star to be invited to Hollywood, and became a great American star. She...

, which became her first published work.

By this time 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, either from a Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

 name or from the Hebrew word (ayin, meaning "eye").
In the fall of 1925, Rand was granted a visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

 to visit American relatives. Rand was so impressed with the skyline of Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 upon her arrival in New York Harbor
New York Harbor
New York Harbor refers to the waterways of the estuary near the mouth of the Hudson River that empty into New York Bay. It is one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Although the U.S. Board of Geographic Names does not use the term, New York Harbor has important historical, governmental,...

 that she cried what she later called "tears of splendor". Intent on staying in the United States to become a screenwriter, she lived for a few months with relatives in Chicago, one of whom owned a movie theater and allowed her to watch dozens of films for free. She then set out for Hollywood, California.

Initially, Rand struggled in Hollywood and took odd jobs to pay her basic living expenses. A chance meeting with famed director Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil Blount DeMille was an American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. He was renowned for the flamboyance and showmanship of his movies...

 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 met an aspiring young actor, Frank O'Connor; the two were married on April 15, 1929. Rand became an American citizen in 1931. Taking various jobs during the 1930s to support her writing, Rand worked for a time as the head of the costume department at RKO Studios. She made several attempts to bring her parents and sisters to the United States, but they were unable to acquire permission to emigrate.

Early fiction


Rand's first literary success came with the sale of her screenplay Red Pawn
Red Pawn
Red Pawn is a screenplay written by 20th-century novelist, philosopher and playwright Ayn Rand. It was the first screenplay that Rand sold to the buyer Universal Pictures in 1932...

to Universal Studios
Universal Studios
Universal Pictures , a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, is one of the six major movie studios....

 in 1932, although it was never produced. This was followed by the courtroom drama Night of January 16th
Night of January 16th
Night of January 16th is a play written by Ayn Rand, inspired by the death of the "Match King", Ivar Kreuger. First produced under a different name in 1934, it takes place entirely in a court room and is centered on a murder trial. It was a hit of the 1935-36 Broadway season...

, first produced by E.E. Clive 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
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

 produced a movie version of the play. Rand did not participate in the production and was highly critical of the result.

Rand's first novel, the semi-autobiographical We the Living
We the Living
We the Living is the first novel published by the Russian-American novelist Ayn Rand. It was also Rand's first statement against communism. First published in 1936, it is a story of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Rand observes in the foreword to this book that We the Living was the closest she...

, was published in 1936. Set in Soviet Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

, 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..." Initial sales were slow and the American publisher let it go out of print, although European editions continued to sell. After the success of her later novels, Rand was able to release a revised version in 1959 that has since sold over three million copies. Without Rand's knowledge or permission, the novel was made into a pair of Italian films, Noi vivi and Addio, Kira, 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.

Her novella Anthem
Anthem (novella)
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...

was written during a break from the writing of her next major novel, The Fountainhead. It presents a vision of a dystopian future world in which totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 collectivism has triumphed to such an extent that even the word 'I' has been forgotten and replaced with 'we'. It was published in England in 1938, but Rand initially could not find an American publisher. As with We the Living, Rand's later success allowed her to get a revised version published in 1946, which has sold more than 3.5 million copies.

The Fountainhead and political activism



During the 1940s, Rand became politically active. Both she and her husband worked full time in volunteer positions for the 1940 Presidential campaign of Republican Wendell Willkie
Wendell Willkie
Wendell Lewis Willkie was a corporate lawyer in the United States and a dark horse who became the Republican Party nominee for the president in 1940. A member of the liberal wing of the GOP, he crusaded against those domestic policies of the New Deal that he thought were inefficient and...

. This work led to Rand's first public speaking experiences, including fielding the sometimes hostile questions from New York City audiences who had just viewed pro-Willkie newsreels, 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
Henry Hazlitt
Henry Stuart Hazlitt was an American economist, philosopher, literary critic and journalist for such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The American Mercury, Newsweek, and The New York Times...

 and his wife, and Hazlitt introduced her to the Austrian School
Austrian School
The Austrian School of economics is a heterodox school of economic thought. It advocates methodological individualism in interpreting economic developments , the theory that money is non-neutral, the theory that the capital structure of economies consists of heterogeneous goods that have...

 economist Ludwig von Mises
Ludwig von Mises
Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises was an Austrian economist, philosopher, and classical liberal who had a significant influence on the modern Libertarian movement and the "Austrian School" of economic thought.-Biography:-Early life:...

. Despite her philosophical differences with them, Rand strongly endorsed the writings of both men throughout her career, and both of them expressed admiration for her. Once von Mises referred to Rand as "the most courageous man in America," a compliment that particularly pleased her because he said "man" instead of "woman." Rand also developed a friendship with libertarian writer Isabel Paterson
Isabel Paterson
Isabel Paterson was a Canadian-American journalist, novelist, political philosopher, and a leading literary critic of her day. Along with Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand, who both acknowledged an intellectual debt to Paterson, she is one of the three founding mothers of American libertarianism...

. Rand questioned the well-informed Paterson about American history and politics long into the night during their numerous meetings and gave Paterson ideas for her only nonfiction book, The God of the Machine
The God of the Machine
The God of the Machine is a book written by Isabel Paterson and published in 1943. At the time of its release, it was considered a cornerstone to the philosophy of individualism. Her biographer Stephen D...

.

Rand's first major success as a writer came with The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand's first major literary success and brought her fame and financial success. More than 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide....

in 1943, a romantic 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
Bobbs-Merrill Company
The Bobbs-Merrill Company was a book publisher located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Bobbs-Merrill was known for publishing such authors as Richard Halliburton, David Markson, Ayn Rand, James Whitcomb Riley, Walter Dean Myers, and Irma S. Rombauer. Bobbs-Merrill also published the early works of...

 on the insistence of editor Archibald Ogden, who threatened to quit if his employer did not publish it. While completing the novel, Rand was prescribed the amphetamine Benzedrine
Benzedrine
Benzedrine is the trade name of the racemic mixture of amphetamine . It was marketed under this brandname in the USA by Smith, Kline & French in the form of inhalers, starting in 1928...

 to fight fatigue. The drug helped her to work long hours to meet her deadline for delivering the finished novel, but when the book was done, she was so exhausted that her doctor ordered two weeks' rest. Her continued use of the drug for a number of years may have contributed to what some of her later associates described as volatile mood swings.

The Fountainhead eventually became a worldwide success, bringing Rand fame and financial security. In 1943, Rand sold the rights for a film version
The Fountainhead (film)
The Fountainhead is a 1949 American film directed by King Vidor, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Ayn Rand, who wrote the screenplay adaptation....

 to Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

, and she returned to Hollywood to write the screenplay. Finishing her work on that screenplay, she was hired by producer Hal Wallis as a screenwriter and script-doctor. Her work for Wallis included the screenplays for the Oscar-nominated Love Letters
Love Letters (1945 film)
Love Letters is a 1945 film adapted by Ayn Rand from the novel Pity My Simplicity by Christopher Massie. It was directed by William Dieterle and stars Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Ann Richards, Cecil Kellaway, Gladys Cooper and Anita Louise...

 and You Came Along
You Came Along
You Came Along is a 1945 romance film set in World War II with a screenplay by Ayn Rand. It starred Robert Cummings and, in her film debut, Lizabeth Scott. Robert Cummings' character has the same name of his character on his 1950's television show Love That Bob.-Cast:*Robert Cummings as Major Bob...

. This role gave Rand time to work on other projects, including a planned nonfiction treatment of her philosophy to be called The Moral Basis of Individualism. Although the planned book was never completed, a condensed version was published as an essay titled "The Only Path to Tomorrow", in the January 1944 edition of Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest is a general interest family magazine, published ten times annually. Formerly based in Chappaqua, New York, its headquarters is now in New York City. It was founded in 1922, by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace...

magazine.
While working in Hollywood, Rand extended her involvement with free-market and anti-communist activism. She became involved with the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals
Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals
The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals was an American organization of high-profile, politically conservative members of the Hollywood film industry...

, a Hollywood anti-Communist group, and wrote articles on the group's behalf. She also joined the anti-Communist American Writers Association
American Writers Association
The American Writers Association was an organization of writers. Formed in 1946, its members included Bruce Barton, John Dos Passos, John Erskine, James T. Farrell, John T...

. A visit by Isabel Paterson to meet with Rand's California associates led to a final falling out between the two when Paterson made comments that Rand saw as rude to valued political allies. In 1947, during the Second Red Scare, Rand testified as a "friendly witness" before the United States House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

. Her testimony described the disparity between her personal experiences in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the portrayal of it in the 1944 film Song of Russia
Song of Russia
Song of Russia is a 1944 American war film made and distributed by MGM Studios. The picture was credited as being directed by Gregory Ratoff, though Ratoff collapsed near the end of the five-month production, and was replaced by László Benedek, who completed principal photography; the credited...

. Rand argued that the film grossly misrepresented conditions in the Soviet Union, portraying life there 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".

After several delays, the film 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.

Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism


After the publication of The Fountainhead, Rand received numerous letters from readers, some of whom it had profoundly influenced. 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
Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan is an American economist who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006. He currently works as a private advisor and provides consulting for firms through his company, Greenspan Associates LLC...

, a young psychology student named Nathan Blumenthal (later Nathaniel Branden
Nathaniel Branden
Nathaniel Branden, né Nathan Blumenthal , is a psychotherapist and writer best known today for his work in the psychology of self-esteem from a humanistic perspective...

) and his wife Barbara
Barbara Branden
Barbara Branden is an American Objectivist writer, editor, and lecturer, known for her relationship and subsequent break with philosopher Ayn Rand.-Life:...

, and Barbara's cousin Leonard Peikoff
Leonard Peikoff
Leonard S. Peikoff is a Canadian-American philosopher. He is an author, a leading advocate of Objectivism and the founder of the Ayn Rand Institute. A former professor of philosophy, he was designated by the novelist Ayn Rand as heir to her estate...

. 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. Rand described the theme of the novel as "the role of the mind in man's existence—and, as a corollary, the demonstration of a new moral philosophy: the morality of rational self-interest." It advocates the core tenets of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism
Objectivism (Ayn Rand)
Objectivism is a philosophy created by the Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand . Objectivism holds that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception...

 and expresses her concept of human achievement. The plot involves a dystopia
Dystopia
A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

n United States in which the most creative industrialists, scientists and artists go on strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 and retreat to a mountainous hideaway where they build an independent free economy. The novel's hero and leader of the strike, John Galt
John Galt
John Galt was a Scottish novelist, entrepreneur, and political and social commenter. Because he was the first novelist to deal with issues of the industrial revolution, he has been called the first political novelist in the English language.-Life:Born in Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland, Galt was...

, 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 it 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, and in an interview with Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace (journalist)
Myron Leon "Mike" Wallace is an American journalist, former game show host, actor and media personality. During his 60+ year career, he has interviewed a wide range of prominent newsmakers....

, Rand declared herself "the most creative thinker alive." Atlas Shrugged was to be Rand's last work of fiction; a turning point in her life, it marked the end of Rand's career as a novelist and the beginning of her role as a popular philosopher. After completing the novel of more than one thousand pages, however, Rand fell into a severe depression that may have been aggravated by her use of prescription amphetamines.

In 1958 Nathaniel Branden established Nathaniel Branden Lectures, later incorporated as the Nathaniel Branden Institute
Nathaniel Branden Institute
The Nathaniel Branden Institute was an organization founded by Nathaniel Branden in 1958 to promote Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. The institute was responsible for the many Objectivist lectures and presentations across the United States of America...

 (NBI), to promote Rand's philosophy. Collective members gave lectures for NBI and wrote articles for Objectivist periodicals
Objectivist periodicals
Objectivist periodicals are a variety of journals, magazines and newsletters with an editorial perspective explicitly based on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Several early Objectivist periodicals were edited by Rand...

 that she edited. Rand later published some of these articles in book form. Critics, including some former NBI students and Branden himself, have described the culture of NBI as one of intellectual conformity and excessive reverence for Rand, with some describing NBI or the entire Objectivist movement
Objectivist movement
The Objectivist movement is a movement to study and advance the philosophy of Objectivism. It was founded by novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. The movement began informally in the 1950s and consisted of students who were brought together by their mutual interest in Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead...

 as a cult
Cult
The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices...

 or religion. Rand expressed opinions on a wide range of topics, including literature, music, sexuality, even facial hair, and some of her followers mimicked all her preferences, wearing clothes to match characters from her novels and buying furniture like hers. Rand was unimpressed with many of the NBI students and held them to strict standards, sometimes reacting coldly or angrily to those who disagreed with her. However, some former NBI students believe the extent of these behaviors has been exaggerated, with the problem being concentrated among Rand's closest followers in New York.

Later years


Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through her nonfiction works and by giving talks to students at institutions such as Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 and MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

. She received an honorary doctorate from Lewis & Clark College
Lewis & Clark College
Lewis & Clark College is a private institution of higher learning located in Portland, Oregon. Made up of an undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences, a School of Law, and a Graduate School of Education and Counseling. Lewis & Clark is a member of the Annapolis Group of colleges with athletic...

 in 1963. She also began delivering annual lectures at the Ford Hall Forum
Ford Hall Forum
The Ford Hall Forum is the oldest free public lecture series in the United States. Founded in 1908, it continues to host open lectures and discussions in the Greater Boston area. Some of the more well-known past speakers include Maya Angelou, Isaac Asimov, Noam Chomsky, Alan Dershowitz, W. E. B...

, responding afterward in her famously spirited form to questions from the audience. During these speeches and Q&A sessions, she often took controversial stances on political and social issues of the day. These included supporting abortion rights, opposing the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and the military draft
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 (but condemning many draft dodgers as "bums"), supporting Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 as "civilized men fighting savages", saying European colonists
European colonization of the Americas
The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. The first Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement in present day Newfoundland...

 had the right to take land from American Indians
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, and calling homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 "immoral" and "disgusting", while also advocating the repeal of all laws against it. She also endorsed several Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 candidates for President of the United States, most strongly Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

 in 1964
United States presidential election, 1964
The United States presidential election of 1964 was held on November 3, 1964. Incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. Johnson, who had successfully associated himself with Kennedy's...

, whose candidacy she promoted in several articles for The Objectivist Newsletter.

In 1964 Nathaniel Branden began an affair with the young actress Patrecia Scott, whom he later married. Nathaniel and Barbara Branden kept the affair hidden from Rand. When she learned of it in 1968, though her romantic relationship with Branden had already ended, Rand terminated her relationship with both Brandens, which led to the closure of NBI. Rand published an article in The Objectivist repudiating Nathaniel Branden for dishonesty and other "irrational behavior in his private life." Branden later apologized in an interview to "every student of Objectivism" for "perpetuating the Ayn Rand mystique" and for "contributing to that dreadful atmosphere of intellectual repressiveness that pervades the Objectivist movement."

A heavy smoker, Rand underwent surgery for lung cancer
Lung cancer
Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue and, eventually, into other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary...

 in 1974. Several more of her closest associates 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 never-completed television adaptation of Atlas Shrugged.

Rand died of heart failure on March 6, 1982, at her home in New York City, and was interred in the Kensico Cemetery
Kensico Cemetery
Kensico Cemetery, located in Valhalla, Westchester County, New York, was founded in 1889, when many New York City cemeteries were becoming full, and rural cemeteries were being created near the railroads which served the city...

, Valhalla, New York
Valhalla, New York
Valhalla is an unincorporated hamlet and census-designated place that is located within the town of Mount Pleasant, New York, in Westchester County. Its population was 3,162 at the 2010 U.S. Census...

. 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
Leonard Peikoff
Leonard S. Peikoff is a Canadian-American philosopher. He is an author, a leading advocate of Objectivism and the founder of the Ayn Rand Institute. A former professor of philosophy, he was designated by the novelist Ayn Rand as heir to her estate...

 the heir to her estate.

Philosophy



Rand called her philosophy "Objectivism", describing its essence as "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." She considered Objectivism a systematic philosophy
Systematic philosophy
Systematic philosophy is a generic term that applies to philosophical methods and approaches that attempt to provide a framework in reason that can explain all questions and problems related to human life. Examples of systematic philosophers include Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Hegel, and...

 and laid out positions on metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

, epistemology, ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

 and esthetics.

In metaphysics, Rand embraced philosophical realism
Philosophical realism
Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc....

 and atheism
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

, and opposed anything she regarded as mysticism or supernaturalism, including all forms of religion. In epistemology, she considered all knowledge to be based on sense perception, the validity of which she considered axiomatic, and reason, which she described as "the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses." She rejected all claims of non-perceptual or a priori knowledge, including "'instinct,' 'intuition,' 'revelation,' or any form of 'just knowing.'" In her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, published in 1979, is Ayn Rand's essentialised summation of the Objectivist theory of concepts and solution to the problem of universals...

, Rand presented a theory of concept formation and endorsed the rejection of the analytic–synthetic dichotomy.

In ethics, Rand argued for rational egoism
Rational egoism
In ethical philosophy, rational egoism is the principle that an action is rational if and only if it maximizes one's self-interest. The view is a normative form of egoism. However, it is different from other forms of egoism, such as ethical egoism and psychological egoism...

 (rational self-interest), as the guiding moral principle. She said the individual should "exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself." She referred to egoism as "the virtue of selfishness" in her book of that title
The Virtue of Selfishness
The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism is a 1964 collection of essays and papers by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. Most of the essays originally appeared in The Objectivist Newsletter, except for "The Objectivist Ethics", which was a paper Rand delivered at the University of Wisconsin...

, in which she presented her solution to the is-ought problem
Is-ought problem
The is–ought problem in meta-ethics as articulated by Scottish philosopher and historian, David Hume , is that many writers make claims about what ought to be on the basis of statements about what is...

 by describing a meta-ethical theory that based morality in the needs of "man's survival qua man". She condemned ethical altruism as incompatible with the requirements of human life and happiness, and held that the initiation of force was evil and irrational, writing in Atlas Shrugged that "Force and mind are opposites".

Rand's political philosophy emphasized individual rights (including property rights), and she considered laissez-faire capitalism the only moral social system because in her view it was the only system based on the protection of those rights. She opposed statism, which she understood to include theocracy
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

, absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

, Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

, fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

, communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, democratic socialism
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

, and dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

. Rand believed that rights should be enforced by a constitutionally limited government. Although her political views are often classified as conservative or libertarian, she preferred the term "radical for capitalism". She worked with conservatives on political projects, but disagreed with them over issues such as religion and ethics. She denounced libertarianism, which she associated with anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

. She rejected anarchism as a naïve theory based in subjectivism
Subjectivism
Subjectivism is a philosophical tenet that accords primacy to subjective experience as fundamental of all measure and law. In extreme forms like Solipsism, it may hold that the nature and existence of every object depends solely on someone's subjective awareness of it...

 that could only lead to collectivism in practice.

Rand's esthetics defined art as a "selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments." According to Rand, art allows philosophical concepts to be presented in a concrete form that can be easily grasped, thereby fulfilling a need of human consciousness. As a writer, the art form Rand focused on most closely was literature, where she considered Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 to be the approach that most accurately reflected the existence of human free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

. She described her own approach to literature as "romantic realism
Romantic realism
Romantic realism is an aesthetic term that usually refers to art which combines elements of both romanticism and realism. The terms "romanticism" and "realism" have been used in varied ways, and are sometimes seen as opposed to one another....

".

Rand acknowledged Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 as her greatest influence and remarked that in the history of philosophy
History of philosophy
The history of philosophy is the study of philosophical ideas and concepts through time. Issues specifically related to history of philosophy might include : How can changes in philosophy be accounted for historically? What drives the development of thought in its historical context? To what...

 she could only recommend "three A's"—Aristotle, Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

, and Ayn Rand. She also found early inspiration in Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

, and scholars have found indications of his influence in early notes from Rand's journals, in passages from the first edition of We the Living (which Rand later revised), and in her overall writing style. However, by the time she wrote The Fountainhead, Rand had turned against Nietzsche's ideas, and the extent of his influence on her even during her early years is disputed. Among the philosophers Rand held in particular disdain was Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, whom she referred to as a "monster" and "the most evil man in history", although Objectivist philosophers George Walsh and Fred Seddon have argued that she misinterpreted Kant and exaggerated their differences.

Rand said 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." She believed epistemology was a foundational branch of philosophy and considered the advocacy of reason to be the single most significant 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."

Reviews


During Rand's lifetime, her work evoked both extreme praise and condemnation. Rand's first novel, We the Living, was admired by the literary critic H.L. Mencken, her Broadway play Night of January 16th was both a critical and popular success, and The Fountainhead was hailed by a reviewer in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

as "masterful". Rand's novels were derided by some critics when they were first published as being long and melodramatic. However, they became bestseller
Bestseller
A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and...

s largely through word of mouth.

The first reviews Rand received were for Night of January 16th. Reviews of the production were largely positive, but Rand considered even positive reviews to be embarrassing because of significant changes made to her script by the producer. Rand believed that her first novel, We the Living, was not widely reviewed, but Rand scholar 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. Overall 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 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 reviewer called Rand "a writer of great power" who wrote "brilliantly, beautifully and bitterly," and stated that "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 most of them as either not understanding her message or as being from unimportant publications. Some 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
National Review
National Review is a biweekly magazine founded by the late author William F. Buckley, Jr., in 1955 and based in New York City. It describes itself as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion."Although the print version of the...

, conservative author Whittaker Chambers
Whittaker Chambers
Whittaker Chambers was born Jay Vivian Chambers and also known as David Whittaker Chambers , was an American writer and editor. After being a Communist Party USA member and Soviet spy, he later renounced communism and became an outspoken opponent later testifying in the perjury and espionage trial...

 called the book "sophomoric" and "remarkably silly". He described the tone of the book as "shrillness without reprieve" and accused Rand of supporting the same godless system as the Soviets
Religion in the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion and its replacement with atheism. To that end, the communist regime confiscated religious property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in schools...

, claiming "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber—go! Atlas Shrugged received positive reviews from a few publications, including praise from the noted book reviewer John Chamberlain
John Chamberlain (journalist)
John Rensselaer Chamberlain was an American journalist, historian of business and the economy, and literary critic, dubbed "one of America’s most trusted book reviewers."-Early life:...

, but Rand scholar Mimi Reisel Gladstein
Mimi Reisel Gladstein
Mimi Reisel Gladstein is a professor of English and Theatre Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her specialties include authors such as Ayn Rand and John Steinbeck, as well as women's studies, theatre arts and 18th-century British literature.-Life and scholarship:Gladstein was born in...

 later wrote that "reviewers seemed to vie with each other in a contest to devise the cleverest put-downs," calling it "execrable claptrap" and "a nightmare;" they said it was "written out of hate" and showed "remorseless hectoring and prolixity." Author Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor
Mary Flannery O'Connor was an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries...

 wrote in a letter to a friend that "The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail."

Rand's nonfiction received far fewer reviews than her novels had. The tenor of the criticism for her first nonfiction book, For the New Intellectual
For the New Intellectual
For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is a 1961 book by Ayn Rand. It was her first long non-fiction book. Much of the material consists of excerpts from Rand's novels, supplemented by a long title essay that focuses on the history of philosophy.-Contents:The excerpts from Rand's...

, was similar to that for Atlas Shrugged, with philosopher Sidney Hook
Sidney Hook
Sidney Hook was an American pragmatic philosopher known for his contributions to public debates.A student of John Dewey, Hook continued to examine the philosophy of history, of education, politics, and of ethics. After embracing Marxism in his youth, Hook was known for his criticisms of...

 likening her certainty to "the way philosophy is written in the Soviet Union", and author Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar , outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality...

 calling her viewpoint "nearly perfect in its immorality". Her subsequent books got progressively less attention from reviewers.

On the 100th anniversary of Rand's birth in 2005, Edward Rothstein, writing for The New York Times, referred to her fictional writing as quaint utopian "retro fantasy" and programmatic neo-Romanticism
Neo-romanticism
The term neo-romanticism is used to cover a variety of movements in music, painting and architecture. It has been used with reference to very late 19th century and early 20th century composers such as Gustav Mahler particularly by Carl Dahlhaus who uses it as synonymous with late Romanticism...

 of the misunderstood artist, while criticizing her characters' "isolated rejection of democratic society". In 2007, book critic Leslie Clark described her fiction as "romance novels with a patina of pseudo-philosophy
Pseudophilosophy
Pseudophilosophy is a term applied to philosophical ideas or systems which are claimed not to meet mainstream academic standards. The term is almost always used pejoratively and is often contentious...

". In 2009, GQs critic columnist Tom Carson described her books as "capitalism's version of middlebrow religious novels" such as Ben-Hur and the Left Behind
Left Behind
Left Behind is a series of 16 best-selling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, dealing with Christian dispensationalist End Times: pretribulation, premillennial, Christian eschatological viewpoint of the end of the world. The primary conflict of the series is the members of the Tribulation...

series.

Popular interest



In 1991, a survey conducted for the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 and the Book-of-the-Month Club asked club members what the most influential book in the respondent's life was. Rand's Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. Rand's books continue to be widely sold and read, with 25 million copies sold as of 2007 and another 800,000 sold in 2008. (This includes approximately 300,000 copies distributed for free by the Ayn Rand Institute
Ayn Rand Institute
The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism is a 501 nonprofit think tank in Irvine, California that promotes Ayn Rand's philosophy, called Objectivism. It was established in 1985, three years after Rand's death, by Leonard Peikoff, Rand's legal heir...

.) Although Rand's influence has been greatest in the United States, there has been international interest in her work.

Rand's contemporary admirers included fellow novelists, such as Ira Levin
Ira Levin
Ira Levin was an American author, dramatist and songwriter.-Professional life:Levin attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa...

, Kay Nolte Smith
Kay Nolte Smith
Kay Nolte Smith was an American writer. She was for a time friendly with the philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand, who was her leading literary and philosophical influence....

 and L. Neil Smith
L. Neil Smith
L. Neil Smith , also known to readers and fans as El Neil, is a libertarian science fiction author and political activist. He was born on May 12, 1946 in Denver...

, and later writers such as Erika Holzer
Erika Holzer
Erika Holzer is an American novelist and essayist who was a member of Ayn Rand's inner circle. Her novel Eye for an Eye was the basis for a major motion picture of the same name...

 and Terry Goodkind
Terry Goodkind
Terry Goodkind is an American writer and author of the epic fantasy The Sword of Truth series as well as the contemporary suspense novel The Law of Nines, which has ties to his fantasy series, and The Omen Machine, which is a direct sequel thereof. Before his success as an author Goodkind worked...

 have been influenced by her. Other artists who have cited Rand as an important influence on their lives and thought include comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 artist Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko
Stephen J. "Steve" Ditko is an American comic book artist and writer best known as the artist co-creator, with Stan Lee, of the Marvel Comics heroes Spider-Man and Doctor Strange....

 and musician Neil Peart
Neil Peart
Neil Ellwood Peart , OC, is a Canadian musician and author. He is the drummer for the rock band Rush.Peart grew up in Port Dalhousie, Ontario . During adolescence, he floated from regional band to regional band in pursuit of a career as a full-time drummer...

 of Rush
Rush (band)
Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in August 1968, in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario. The band is composed of bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart...

. Rand provided a positive view of business, and in response business executives and entrepreneurs have admired and promoted her work. John Allison
John A. Allison IV
John Allison was born on August 14, 1948, in Charlotte, North Carolina. He began his career with BB&T in 1971 following his graduation from the University of North Carolina with a degree in business administration...

 of BB&T and Ed Snider
Ed Snider
Edward M. Snider is the American Chairman of Comcast Spectacor, a Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company that owns the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL, the Wells Fargo Center, the Spectrum, the regional sports network Comcast SportsNet and Global Spectrum, an international facilities...

 of Comcast Spectacor have funded the promotion of Rand's ideas, while Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban is an American business magnate and investor. He is the owner of the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres, and Magnolia Pictures, and the chairman of the HDTV cable network HDNet....

, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and John P. Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, among others, have said they consider Rand crucial to their success.

Rand and her works have been referred to in a variety of media. References to her have appeared on television shows including animated sitcoms, live-action comedies, dramas, and game shows. She, or characters based on her, figure prominently (in positive and negative lights) in literary and science fiction novels by prominent American authors. Nick Gillespie
Nick Gillespie
Nick Gillespie is the editor of Reason.com and Reason.tv and was the editor in chief of Reason magazine from 2000 to 2008...

, editor in chief of Reason
Reason (magazine)
Reason is a libertarian monthly magazine published by the Reason Foundation. The magazine has a circulation of around 60,000 and was named one of the 50 best magazines in 2003 and 2004 by the Chicago Tribune.- History :...

, has remarked that "Rand's is a tortured immortality, one in which she's as likely to be a punch line as a protagonist..." and that "jibes at Rand as cold and inhuman, run through the popular culture." Two movies have been made about Rand's life. A 1997 documentary film, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life
Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life
Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life is a 1997 American documentary film written, produced, and directed by Michael Paxton. Its focus is on novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, the author of the bestselling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, who promoted her philosophy of Objectivism through her books,...

, was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature
Academy Award for Documentary Feature
The Academy Award for Documentary Feature is among the most prestigious awards for documentary films.- Winners and nominees:Following the Academy's practice, films are listed below by the award year...

. The Passion of Ayn Rand, a 1999 television adaptation of the book of the same name, won several awards. Rand's image also appears on a U.S. postage stamp designed by artist Nick Gaetano
Nick Gaetano
Nick Gaetano created the 35th Anniversary Edition cover art for the works of Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem, We the Living, Philosophy: Who Needs It, Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, For the New Intellectual, The Early Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto, and The Virtue of Selfishness...

.

Political influence


Although she rejected the labels "conservative" and "libertarian," Rand has had continuing influence on right-wing politics
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 and libertarianism. Jim Powell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute
Cato Institute
The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane, who remains president and CEO, and Charles Koch, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries, Inc., the largest privately held...

, considers Rand one of the three most important women (along with Rose Wilder Lane
Rose Wilder Lane
Rose Wilder Lane was an American journalist, travel writer, novelist, and political theorist...

 and Isabel Paterson
Isabel Paterson
Isabel Paterson was a Canadian-American journalist, novelist, political philosopher, and a leading literary critic of her day. Along with Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand, who both acknowledged an intellectual debt to Paterson, she is one of the three founding mothers of American libertarianism...

) of modern American libertarianism, and David Nolan, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

, stated that "without Ayn Rand, the libertarian movement would not exist." In his history of the libertarian movement, journalist Brian Doherty
Brian Doherty (journalist)
Brian Doherty is an American journalist. He is a Senior Editor at Reason magazine. He is the author of This Is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground , Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement and Gun Control on Trial: Inside the...

 described her as "the most influential libertarian of the twentieth century to the public at large," and biographer Jennifer Burns referred to her as "the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right."

Despite Rand's untraditionally Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 stance as a pro-choice
Pro-choice
Support for the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-choice movement, a sociopolitical movement supporting the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy....

 atheist, the political figures who cite Rand as an influence are most often conservative or libertarian members of the United States Republican Party. A 1987 article in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

referred to her as the Reagan administration
Reagan Administration
The United States presidency of Ronald Reagan, also known as the Reagan administration, was a Republican administration headed by Ronald Reagan from January 20, 1981, to January 20, 1989....

's "novelist laureate". Republican Congressmen
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 and conservative pundits have acknowledged her influence on their lives and recommended her novels.

The late-2000s financial crisis
Late-2000s financial crisis
The late-2000s financial crisis is considered by many economists to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s...

 spurred renewed interest in her works, especially Atlas Shrugged, which some saw as foreshadowing the crisis, and opinion articles compared real-world events with the plot of the novel. During this time, signs mentioning Rand and her fictional hero John Galt
John Galt
John Galt was a Scottish novelist, entrepreneur, and political and social commenter. Because he was the first novelist to deal with issues of the industrial revolution, he has been called the first political novelist in the English language.-Life:Born in Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland, Galt was...

 appeared at Tea Party protests. There was also increased criticism of her ideas, especially from the political left, with critics blaming the economic crisis on her support of selfishness
Rational egoism
In ethical philosophy, rational egoism is the principle that an action is rational if and only if it maximizes one's self-interest. The view is a normative form of egoism. However, it is different from other forms of egoism, such as ethical egoism and psychological egoism...

 and free markets, particularly through her influence on Alan Greenspan. For example, Mother Jones
Mother Jones (magazine)
Mother Jones is an American independent news organization, featuring investigative and breaking news reporting on politics, the environment, human rights, and culture. Mother Jones has been nominated for 23 National Magazine Awards and has won six times, including for General Excellence in 2001,...

remarked that "Rand's particular genius has always been her ability to turn upside down traditional hierarchies and recast the wealthy, the talented, and the powerful as the oppressed", while The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

alleged similarities between the "moral syntax of Randianism" and fascism.

Academic reaction


During Rand's lifetime her work received little attention from academic scholars. When the first academic book about Rand's philosophy appeared in 1971, its author 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. One of these was "On the Randian Argument" by respected libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick
Robert Nozick
Robert Nozick was an American political philosopher, most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , a right-libertarian answer to John Rawls's A Theory of Justice...

, who argued that her meta-ethical argument is unsound and fails to solve the is–ought problem posed by David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

. Some responses to Nozick by other academic philosophers were also published in The Personalist arguing that Nozick misstated Rand's case. 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.

Since Rand's death in 1982, interest in her work has gradually increased. Historian Jennifer Burns has identified "three overlapping waves" of scholarly interest in Rand, the most recent of which is "an explosion of scholarship" in the 2000s. However, few universities currently include Rand or Objectivism as a philosophical specialty or research area, with many literature and philosophy departments dismissing her as a pop culture phenomenon rather than a subject for serious study.

Academics with an interest in Rand, such as Gladstein, Sciabarra, Allan Gotthelf
Allan Gotthelf
Allan Gotthelf is an American philosopher, and a recognized authority on the philosophies of both Aristotle and Ayn Rand.-Academic career:...

, Edwin A. Locke
Edwin A. Locke
Professor Edwin A Locke is an American psychologist and a pioneer in goal-setting theory. He is a retired Dean’s Professor of Motivation and Leadership at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was also affiliated with the Department of Psychology...

 and Tara Smith, have taught her work in academic institutions. Sciabarra co-edits the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies
Journal of Ayn Rand Studies
The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is an academic journal devoted to the study of the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Established in 1999, its founding editor is New York University scholar Chris Sciabarra. At present, the other two editors are Stephen D. Cox and Roderick Long...

, a nonpartisan peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Rand's philosophical and literary work. In 1987 Gotthelf helped found the Ayn Rand Society, and has been active in sponsoring seminars about Rand and her ideas. Smith has written 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
Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

. Rand's ideas have also been made subjects of study at Clemson
Clemson University
Clemson University is an American public, coeducational, land-grant, sea-grant, research university located in Clemson, South Carolina, United States....

 and Duke
Duke University
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B...

 universities. Scholars of English and American literature have largely ignored her work, although attention to her literary work has increased since the 1990s.

Some academic philosophers have criticized Rand for what they consider her lack of rigor and limited understanding of philosophical subject matter. The Philosophical Lexicon, a satirical web site maintained by philosophers Daniel Dennett
Daniel Dennett
Daniel Clement Dennett is an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the Co-director of...

 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." Chris Matthew Sciabarra
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
Chris Matthew Sciabarra is a Brooklyn, New York-based political theorist. He is the author of three scholarly books—Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical; Marx, Hayek, and Utopia; and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism—as well several shorter works...

 has called into question the motives of some of Rand's critics because of what he calls the unusual hostility of their criticisms. Sciabarra writes, "The left was infuriated by her anti-communist, pro-capitalist politics, whereas the right was disgusted with her atheism and civil libertarianism."

Rand scholars Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen
Douglas B. Rasmussen
Douglas B. Rasmussen is professor of philosophy at St. John's University, where he has taught since 1981.-Biography:Rasmussen earned his B.A. from the University of Iowa, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University. Dr...

, while stressing the importance and originality of her thought, describe her style as "literary, hyperbolic and emotional." Philosopher Jack Wheeler says that despite "the incessant bombast and continuous venting of Randian rage," Rand's ethics are "a most immense achievement, the study of which is vastly more fruitful than any other in contemporary thought." 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
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
Chris Matthew Sciabarra is a Brooklyn, New York-based political theorist. He is the author of three scholarly books—Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical; Marx, Hayek, and Utopia; and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism—as well several shorter works...

 commented, "I know they laugh at Rand," while forecasting a growth of interest in her work in the academic community.

Objectivist movement



In 1985, Rand's heir Leonard Peikoff established the Ayn Rand Institute
Ayn Rand Institute
The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism is a 501 nonprofit think tank in Irvine, California that promotes Ayn Rand's philosophy, called Objectivism. It was established in 1985, three years after Rand's death, by Leonard Peikoff, Rand's legal heir...

, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading Rand's ideas and promoting her works. In 1990, philosopher David Kelley
David Kelley
David Kelley is an American philosopher, author, and advocate of Objectivism. He is founder and senior fellow of The Atlas Society. He lives in Washington, D.C..-Education and career:...

 founded the Institute for Objectivist Studies, now known as The Atlas Society
The Atlas Society
The Atlas Society — of which The Objectivist Center is a part — is a research and advocacy organization promoting "a culture that affirms the core Objectivist values of reason, individualism, freedom, and achievement." It is part of the Objectivist movement that split off from the Ayn Rand...

. In 2001 historian John McCaskey organized the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, which provides grants for scholarly work on Objectivism in academia. The charitable foundation of BB&T Corporation has also given grants for teaching Rand's ideas or works. The University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...

, the University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of...

, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States...

 are among the schools that have received grants. In some cases these grants have been controversial due to their requiring research or teaching related to Rand.

Selected works


External links